NBA PM: Could KG Leave Boston?
Garnett, Celtics Haven’t Discussed Extension
Kevin Garnett was on Dan Patrick’s radio show on Thursday to discuss a number of topics. One of the more-pressing issues to Celtics fans is the future of their star player, but Garnett told Patrick that he and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have yet to discuss a contract extension.
“Truthfully no, I haven’t,” Garnett told Patrick, as quoted by Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe. “Danny (Ainge)—I think in passing, every joking moment that we have, he’ll throw something up in the air and we’ll laugh at it. But it’s not concrete, no.”
Patrick asked Garnett if he’d sign another contract in Boston after his current one expires next summer, but KG didn’t have a solid answer.
“I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve made that decision. I’m enjoying the guys I’m playing with. I’m enjoying the game.”
The Celtics would obviously like Garnett to return, but nobody knows the financial parameters Ainge will be working with when next summer’s free agency period arrives. He can’t be worth over $20 million per season, as he is set to make in 2011-2012, but it’s hard to say exactly how much of a pay cut he would have to take to remain in Green. Obviously, Boston would like to take a shot at Dwight Howard, but if that’s not an option, Garnett’s return would be the next best thing. The real question is, would Garnett be offended if the Celtics waited until summer to begin negotiating with him, essentially making it obvious that he was the team’s second choice behind Howard?
Is Russia’s Search for a Point Guard Finally Over?
Who remembers J.R. Holden?
Well even though he was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. and attended Bucknell, most American basketball fans might struggle to place him because he made his impact on the game in Russia. And Holden didn’t just shine in the VTB United League. At the end of his first season with CSKA Moscow back in 2003 Holden became a Russian citizen with help from President Vladimir Putin, which allowed him to play for the Russian National Team.
The real reasoning behind Russia’s courtship of Holden is simple. The country has no issue producing centers and forwards, but point guard has been a sore spot since legendary playmaker Vasily Karasev stopped playing for the national team. Holden was simply a quick answer to a big question: Who will take the reigns of the Russian National Team?
Through two games of this edition of EuroBasket, 22-year-old point guard Aleksey Shved looks to have the inside track. Shved is averaging 8.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 2.5 APG while playing combined 42 minutes in wins over the Ukraine and Georgia. It may not sound like much, but Shved—who was completely passed over in the 2010 NBA Draft—was cut by coach David Blatt before EuroBasket 2009, according to FIBA.com, so it’s a step in the right direction.
By continuing to develop with club team CSKA Moscow for the past two seasons (does that team have every Russian player?), Shved had finally done enough to make the national team. And perhaps just as importantly, the national team is finally welcoming younger players.
“Alexey Shved has gotten so much playing time because he is good,” Blatt told FIBA.com. “I made a commitment a long time ago that this national team was not going to be made up only of old players. We were constantly bringing in new players. We were constantly renewing the team. So the future is good for this team. And Shved is doing a nice job for that.”
Despite being young, inexperienced and slender compared to other players (at 6-5, he weighs only 190 pounds), Shved seems comfortable against top class competition. He’s also at ease playing the point, which isn’t necessarily his natural position.
“I do not feel any additional pressure,” Shved said. “I am not nervous… I am happy to play for the national team.
“I am ready to play whatever position coach wants—point guard, shooting guard, small forward or power forward,” he continued. “Hopefully, I have enough strength and power for that… I was adjusting to the point guard position all of training camp and the exhibition games. So I would say I am used to playing the point.”
Most importantly, Shved’s teammates have embraced him as their playmaker, which is vitally important should the team qualify for the 2012 London Games.
“He is a talented guy and a good friend,” said teammate Andrey Vorontsevich. He improves year by year, especially in the means of basketball IQ. He helps our national team a lot whatever position he plays—point guard or swingman… I feel very comfortable with him on the court. He sees the floor well, knows where to find myself and all the other guys on the court.”
“He has the ability to become a great player,” Vorontsevich added.
Russia has played only two games and Shved has been on the floor for just about half of the time, so it should be obvious to anyone that his and his team’s biggest challenges are still to come. Russia’s biggest remaining test in the group stage is a strong Slovenian club led by Zoran and Goran Dragic as well as power forward Erazem Lorbek. In the Dragic brothers, Shved will get to face two similar players who can provide a stiff defensive challenge, and that should go a long way toward his development.
Shved isn’t ready to shine in the NBA, but if he can reach some modest goals during EuroBasket (become comfortable at point guard, improve shooting and play tough defense), he could earn a starring role in the Olympics—and from there, the NBA is only a short step away.
Why Do Billionaires Keep Spending on Sports Franchises?
Frank McCourt’s tenure as owner of the Dodgers has gone about as badly as anyone could have imagined. Essentially, McCourt bought the team on credit—not necessarily his credit—and has mortgaged everything from the Dodgers ticketing agency to the upper deck urinals in an effort to keep the team for himself, or at the very least from his ex wife. Maybe that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the point is, the Dodgers are in tough shape financially and Los Angeles’ collective finger is pointed directly at McCourt and Jamie McCourt.
How does this affect the NBA? Well McCourt has reportedly been offered $1.2 billion to sell the team to Bill Burke, the founder of the Los Angeles Marathon, and a group of Chinese investors, according to a report by Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times. If that offer seems unfathomable, that’s because it almost is.
But despite the obvious hardships that the Dodgers face (their stadium is aging and the roster needs to be revamped at certain positions, to name a few issues), the team could still sell for a record price.
The same situation can be seen in the NBA. Many fans are wondering how the NBA owners continue to claim their financial model is broken despite the hoards of billionaires that line up every time a franchise goes on the market. The Warriors—not exactly the cream of the NBA crop—were sold for $450 million in July, and other middling teams like the Nets, Pistons and Hawks have all been sold within the last year or so.
Well, NBA fans may be getting their answer from the Dodgers. The truth is, it’s not hard to sell a major American sports franchise. From a billionaire’s perspective, teams are prestigious to own, a great way to build one’s reputation as an entrepreneur; and even if they do lose some money, it’s nothing compared to the losses they incur in their other ventures. Wayne Huizenga was able to buy the Florida Marlins, Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers, in part, because of his earnings from Blockbuster Inc. But as rich as the company made him in the early-1990s, Blockbuster was reportedly carrying over $900 million in debt by March of 2010 and In April of 2011 it was acquired by Dish Network for pennies on the dollar. Huizenga sold the company to Viacom in 1994, so he hasn’t been exposed to all the losses from Blockbuster. But the point is, sports franchises can’t create the economic vacuum that other larger-scale operations can. And because of that, they’re a relatively innocuous investment, regardless of whether the financial model is broken or not. Anyone who can afford to buy and sell blockbuster can certainly afford a pro team that doesn’t always break even.
So if it seems odd that Mikhail Prokhorov would want to buy the New Jersey Nets—a team that is supposedly losing money—it’s important to remember that the man has billions, and even if the previous collective bargaining agreement was slanted in the players’ favor, he understandably has confidence in himself to make a profit in almost any situation. Simply put, billionaires think it’s cool to own a pro team, regardless of whether or not it makes money. That doesn’t mean David Stern isn’t going to try to do what he can to fix the situation, but it does mean that the NBA’s next owner is always right around the corner.
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