HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
The ‘Dead Money’ Issue
By Jason Fleming
One of the biggest issues NBA owners want to address in a new collective bargaining agreement is the issue of "dead money." What, exactly, is dead money?
This is the money paid to players who fit into one of the following categories:
1 – Injuries have reduced their skills so much they aren’t living up to their contract or maybe not even playing.
2 – Players who simply don’t fit the franchise’s vision of the future and have been relegated to the end of the bench.
3 – Players who have cap figures despite being waived.
Basically owners want an out clause of any of these types of contracts. They are more than willing to hand out the mega contracts for players who either are actively contributing at a high level or have the ability to improve, but it’s the bad deals, the ones always mentioned in the press, they want to be able to escape.
Now, the flip side of this discussion is always teams don’t have to spend the money they do. They don’t have to give players these huge deals. No, that’s true, they don’t – but when a team wants to contend they need to spend money. A lot of times they feel good when the contract is signed – it’s about living up to the deal. They want players to take some ownership (read: risk) of that part of it.
Lewis Surprised, Upset by Trade
By Bill Ingram
To say that Rashard Lewis was surprised to learn that he had been traded to the Washington Wizards would be a vast understatement. The truth is, he simply didn’t believe it at first.
"I heard the trade rumor, actually the day I got traded . . .I heard about it that morning," Lewis tells HOOPSWORLD. "But you know, you hear a lot of rumors in the NBA, so you look at it and wonder ‘what if’ and don’t really think about it. There’s always rumors before the All-Star break, before the deadline hits. Then it happened and I was definitely surprised to be going from a team that was definitely contending to a team that’s rebuilding. I was upset about it, but didn’t want to bring negative energy to a new organization, so I had to think about the positive things about it, stay positive and come to the team with positive energy and hopefully we can try to turn it around a little bit."
"He’s had a great attitude," says Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. " I think he understands where we’re at. We set a game plan with what we’re going to do from day one. If we were going to get a veteran player he was going to be somebody that we thought would be a good leader and was going to be here long-term, and that’s what Rashard Lewis is. We knew we were going to have to do a lot of development and that we’d go through some growing pains. Rashard knows that, he’s bought into it, and he’s been a great leader. I think he’s enjoying playing, too, because we’re utilizing him a lot. We’re not just using him as a spot-up perimeter shooter, one-dimensional, we’re moving him around and he’s getting more comfortable with that. I think it was an adjustment early, but more and more he’s becoming a focus of what we’re trying to do."
76ers Find a Winning Identity
By Stephen Brotherston
Two-time All-Star Elton Brand, World Championship gold medal winner Andre Iguodala, an up and coming point guard in Jrue Holiday, some solid veterans and a host of promising young players all added up to zero expectations for Philadelphia at the start of this season. After last year’s debacle, most experts put the 76ers back among the Eastern Conference’s lottery hopefuls again.
The Sixers did little to dispel the experts’ preseason pronouncements as new head coach Doug Collins led his team to a 3-13 record into late November.
"I put up on the board earlier in the year that we were 0-6 against Toronto, Cleveland, and Washington," said Collins.
Fortunately for Collins and the Sixers, things were about to change. Since the 0-3 road trip at the end of November, Philadelphia has a respectable 18-13 record.
Is Kobe Shooting Too Much?
By Eric Pincus
The Los Angeles Lakers survived the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night with a 114-106 overtime win.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak did not make any trades during the game (link).
Not only did the Lakers get through a team they traditionally have trouble with, LA won a game in which Kobe Bryant took over 19 field goal attempts.
After starting the game with just three shots (all misses) but seven assists and an eight-point first-quarter lead, Kobe took the load upon himself late, finishing with 32 points on 13-25 shooting along with 11 assists.
That strategy didn’t seem to work and while the Lakers had a shot to win near the end of regulation, Bryant chose to take the shot over a double-team instead of passing to a wide open Lamar Odom (who was desperately waving for the ball).
Fredette’s New Stardom is a Joke
By Luke Byrnes
Some things are simply impossible to explain.
How is it even remotely possible that, suddenly, NBA superstars and so-called basketball experts have, after one big game, started proclaiming Jimmer Fredette is the best college basketball player in the country?
As BYU defeated San Diego State, which was ranked No. 4 nationally at the time, in a Mountain West Conference clash of two of the top teams in the country, a star was born in college basketball. Fredette – a 6-2 point guard from Glen Falls, N.Y. – dropped 43 points on the Aztecs, who came into the game undefeated, helping the Cougars to a 71-58 victory.
As big as the win was for the Cougars in the chase for the MWC regular season title, it was, apparently, even bigger for Fredette.
Who is Expendable in Atlanta?
By Lang Greene
The Hawks find themselves in a bit of a quagmire. The club features one of the top five shooting guards in the game and two young players who undoubtedly possess All-Star level abilities. The problem is in the ultra-competitive Eastern Conference power structure it may not be enough to take the franchise further than the second round of the postseason.
Although the Hawks don’t receive the respect from national (and local) followers of the league it’s clear something special is brewing in Atlanta. Despite suffering from an assortment of injuries, adjusting to a rookie head coach and working in a completely new offensive scheme this season the Hawks are once again on pace to record fifty plus victories and a fourth straight playoff appearance.
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