NBA AM: Michael Jordan Anoints Bogut A Star
The past two offseasons have been very busy for the Milwaukee Bucks.
After the club surprised the league in 2010 by posting a 46-36 record and a near first round playoff upset over the heavily favored Atlanta Hawks, the team signed veteran forward Drew Gooden to a five-year $32 million deal and also acquired high scoring wing Corey Maggette from the Golden State Warriors.
Unfortunately their fortunes didn’t improve in 2011 as the team stumbled out to slow start to begin the season and suffered another injury riddled campaign leading to a missed playoff appearance.
Back in June Milwaukee acquired veteran shooting guard Stephen Jackson from the Charlotte Bobcats and point guard Beno Udrih from the Sacramento Kings in draft night deals.
Whether those moves catapult Milwaukee back into the postseason mix is yet to be seen, however one issue hindering the squad from consistently competing at a high level has been the health, or lack thereof, of center Andrew Bogut.
Charlotte Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan believes if Bogut can return to form and stay healthy he’d be one of the best centers in the league and a true centerpiece in Milwaukee.
“I love Bogut’s game,” Jordan told the Herald Sun in an interview. “He’s made a very good start and he’s definitely gonna be a star. His big problem is that he’s been dealing with that elbow injury. But he is a star to be reckoned with (and) will be a star for some time.”
Jordan knows a few things about star power winning six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls and is arguably the best player to ever lace the high tops. He feels Bogut could be the main piece a franchise such as Milwaukee could build around long term.
“Bogut is a good piece to build around for Milwaukee,” Jordan said according to the report.
Jordan also took time to weigh in on the ongoing lockout reinforcing his belief that the current financial model is damaged and needs to be repaired immediately.
“The model we’ve been operating under is broken,” Jordan said. “We have 22 or 23 teams losing money, (so) I think we have gotta come to some kind of understanding in this partnership that we have to realign. I can’t say so much … but I know the owners are not going to move off what we feel is very necessary for us to get a deal in place where we can co-exist as partners. We need a lot of financial support throughout the league as well as revenue sharing to keep this business afloat.”
CSKA Moscow Gunning For Durant: From most accounts it appears the ongoing labor dispute between league owners and players will stretch into the fall and eventually lead to the cancellation of some early regular season games.
Throughout the summer we’ve witnessed a plethora of lower tier NBA players seek playing contracts from foreign markets while most of the league’s stars (excluding Deron Williams) have remained non-committal about seriously making the jump.
Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant previously set an October 1 date on when he would decide if pursuing an overseas alternative would be a possibility.
But that hasn’t stopped suitors from expressing their interest in the two-time NBA scoring champion or his agent from entertaining those lucrative deals.
According to multiple media outlets Durant’s agent Aaron Goodwin is in talks with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow to join the club if the lockout cuts into the upcoming season.
The deal would reportedly be worth $1 million per month and also include an opt-out clause which would allow the star to return to the NBA once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is reached.
CSKA Moscow has a few advantages over other interested international parties.
The team has huge popularity emerging as winner of the EuroLeague in two of the last four seasons and Durant’s former teammate center Nenad Krstic recently signed with the club. It is also the franchise New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov used to own.
Durant led Oklahoma City to the Western Conference Finals this past season before falling to the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
Whenever the lockout concludes, Durant will enter the season as one of the early favorites in the league’s MVP race.
Brandon Knight Missing College? Early entrants in the 2011 draft knew they were taking a huge risk in foregoing their collegiate eligibility with the uncertainty surrounding the league’s ability to timely secure a new CBA.
However a lot of guys rolled the dice for a chance to play at the highest level and hoped for a speedy resolution to the league’s financial shortcomings.
So it’s natural as we approach the lockout’s two month mark for a few of those players to be somewhat missing their college days.
One of those guys is Brandon Knight who the Detroit Pistons selected with the No. 8 overall pick.
The 6’3 point guard played one season at the University of Kentucky and recently went back to the school for workouts.
“I definitely miss (college) already,” Knight told the Detroit Free Press. “You build a close relationship with your teammates, your coach, your assistant coaches and also with the fans. The entire place. You build a new family. But once you move on, you can’t really look back and regret the decision you made. The best thing you can do is move forward.”
Although the Pistons issued a qualifying offer to Rodney Stuckey before the lockout making him a restricted free agent, it is Knight who is widely expected to be Detroit’s point guard of the future.
The lockout may not be a huge hurdle to overcome for established veterans, but younger players miss out on the chance to compete in summer league which provides them an early opportunity to play against NBA level competition and gain familiarity with a team’s system before their rookie season.
Greg Monroe, a Pistons first round selection in 2010, feels summer league is an invaluable learning environment for younger players.
“You learn the plays, and you’re getting early chemistry with the young players on the team,” Monroe said. “It also gives you some confidence going into training camp knowing that you already have a little bit of experience.”