View Full Version : Mitch Lawrence article from NY Daily News

09-29-2002, 10:06 PM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
For champs,
tipoff of trouble

Sunday, September 29th, 2002

NBA training camps open Tuesday. A look at some of the key issues as teams prepare for the Oct. 29 season-openers:

Potential trouble

1. The Lakers without Shaquille O'Neal, who had offseason surgery on toe. It's called the Big Void. Without the league's premier player for an unspecified amount of time, the defending champs will struggle.

2. Dikembe Mutombo with the Nets. We know what Mutombo will bring to the defense, but it's the other end the Nets are worried about. Look for Nets to put Mutombo at the high post, where he'll be least dangerous ... to his own team.

3. Boston's point guard. Where have you gone, Bob Cousy? With the Celtics choosing among Shammond Williams, Tony Delk or J.R. Bremer - not a front-line player among 'em - the Cooz could probably start today.

4. Minnesota. Kevin Garnett isn't happy with the T-Wolves offseason moves, their effort to cut his salary in a new extension, or the fact that Wally Szczerbiak is still a teammate. If they get off to a slow start, Garnett could be heading to Portland, which has the assets (Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells) to get the deal done and an owner (Paul Allen) who won't think twice about giving Garnett a raise.

5. Yao Ming and the Rockets. Did you hear how China did in the World Championships? Twelfth place. That's a bigger disgrace than the U.S.' feeble showing, considering that Ming was playing against inferior centers. But he had major stamina problems. His biggest problem in Houston? Getting touches.

Keep your eye on...

1. Michael Jordan - He'll come off the bench for the first time in his career, but does anybody really believe he's going to sit and watch the final six minutes of games?

2. Allen Iverson - After the summer he had, whatever blowups he has with his coach won't even compare.

3. Larry Brown - How much longer will he put up with Iverson?

4. Jerry West - Not a lot of interest in the Grizzlies, but you can bet at least 28 other people - his GM peers - will be watching his every move.

5. George Karl - You never know what he'll say - or if his Bucks will underachieve.

Teams on the rise

1. Nets - Jason Kidd is thinking of 60 wins, but why stop there? It's only the East.

2. New Orleans - Elden Campbell and P.J. Brown are on final years of contracts.

3. Washington - With Jordan and Jerry Stackhouse, Wizards will make the playoffs.

4. Indiana - The one team the Nets fear more than anyone else - in the East.

5. Clippers - They won 39 games last year and added Andre Miller.

Teams on the decline

1. Lakers - Relax, we're only talking about the regular season. Without Shaq, they'll drop to 50 wins from 58.

2. Utah - After struggling for 44 wins, it's final season of Malone and Stockton.

3. Detroit - Overachieved to win 50 last season.

4. Boston - Antoine Walker, Paul Pierce, Vin Baker and one ball.

5. Philadelphia - A revamped team still didn't come up with a proven scorer to complement Iverson.

Show us the money

The Clippers could make the playoffs, but they have three prominent restricted free agents this summer (Andre Miller, Elton Brand and Lamar Odom) and another starter (Michael Olowokandi) who will be unrestricted in July.

Rookie to watch

Other than Jay Williams. Many think Emanuel Ginobli, a shooting guard from Argentina, will help the Spurs and eventually displace Steve Smith. What makes Ginobli intriguing is that, unlike most foreign players who tend to be soft and stay on the perimeter, he's a hard-nosed slasher who loves contact and gets to the basket.

Veteran to watch

Around here, it's Antonio McDyess. After spending his career in laid-back Denver and Phoenix, can he take the pressure of New York?

Say goodbye to...

1. Hakeem Olajuwon - Odds are, he won't play a full season in Toronto. In the last four 82-game seasons, he's played in only 210 of 328 games because of injuries. He's still the only player to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP in the same season (1994).

2. John Stockton - DiMaggio's 56. Unitas' 47. Stockton will walk away after this season with his own unbeatable number - his final assist total. He has 15,177. Magic Johnson is No. 2 with 10,141. Mark Jackson is closest active player, with 9,840. Kidd? He trails Stockton by almost 9,800.

3. David Robinson - Retiring at season's end with Hall of Fame resume: MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and four berths on First Team All-NBA. But he didn't win big until Tim Duncan arrived in the Alamo City.

Figure they'll be traded

1. Sam Cassell - He didn't like Big Dog Robinson getting traded - "How does that help us?" - but it won't matter when he's gone.

2. Derrick Coleman - On final season of contract with 76ers, which makes him attractive.

3. Elton Brand - Clips aren't going to give him max money, but plenty of teams will be glad to take him off Donald Sterling's hands.

4. Tyrone Hill - Cavs want to dump.

5. Mike Miller - With Grant Hill tearing it up in workouts, Magic looking to move their swingman.

Coaches on hot seat

1. Frank Johnson - Suns ownership expects a winner.

2. Lon Kruger - Hawks guaranteeing playoffs.

3. Paul Silas - Hornets need to take next step in playoffs.

4. Sidney Lowe - Grizzlies GM Jerry West has Mike Dunleavy's cell number at the ready.

5. John Lucas - If Cavs lose enough to get LeBron James, Luke deserves an extension.

Top-paid for 2002-03

1. Garnett, Minnesota - $25.2 million

2. O'Neal, L.A. - $23.5 million.

3. Juwan Howard, Denver - $20.6 million.

4. Alonzo Mourning, Miami - $20.6 million.

5. Scottie Pippen, Portland - 19.7 million.

* * *
Slam dunks

* What teams have the most cap space - at least $10 million under a projected $42 million cap - to land free agents next July? San Antonio, the Clippers, Utah and Denver. Among those, only San Antonio is considered a desirable place to play. What teams will be $5-$7 million under the cap and might be looking to increase it this season by trading for a player on the last year of a deal? Seattle, Miami, Washington, Detroit, Orlando and Indiana. What teams have no cap space for next summer? Like you needed to ask. The Knicks are already committed to $97 million in salaries for 2003-04, a league high, with Dallas, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Philly all at least $15 million above projected $42 million figure.

* Of course Larry Bird presented Magic Johnson at his Hall of Fame induction this weekend. Who'd you expect? "I wanted him to do it, and he just said 'Yes.' It wasn't a hard sell at all," Johnson said. "It's like when they called me to be in Boston for his retirement ceremony. I didn't hesitate. Since that time when we taped a commercial at his home in French Lick (Ind.), we have been great friends and great rivals. We always respected each other, but we didn't really know each other before that. . . . When he came out to play in my charity game, my first one (in 1986), that really did it. That jump-started our relationship to where it is today. From then on, anything he wanted, I would do, and anything I wanted, I knew I could count on him."

* Miami is rebuilding, so where is Pat Riley going? Nowhere. Riley needs to be coaching for the Heat to have a shot at landing Tim Duncan or Jason Kidd this summer. Then what's Riley going to do, stop coaching if he lands a blue-chip talent? No, he's going to want to stick around and coach. His 10-year agreement with owner Micky Arison expires in 2004. "My goal and my objective right now is to coach and try to get this team to where it once was, by the end of my contract," Riley said this past week. "This team deserves to be back."

09-29-2002, 10:21 PM
I dont know what Mavs have to offer btu they better take some attempt at getting Brand without trading one of the big 3.

10-01-2002, 11:14 PM
<< I dont know what Mavs have to offer btu they better take some attempt at getting Brand without trading one of the big 3. >>

Even Sterling is not stupid enough to trade an all-star pf for anything the Mavs have besides the big 3.

10-02-2002, 07:47 AM
Sterling not stupid enough ?

Come on, the guys the most stupid owner in the entire league...hands down. Gets good young players, trades or loses them, gets more young (and cheap) players, trades or loses them, and so it goes around and around....try reading the Clips message board and see what the clip fans think about this doofus.

Sterling is stupid enough !

10-02-2002, 07:49 AM
David....that was a really wonderful post. Thanks so much !