NBA Sunday: Lockout Good for Vets
Is the Lockout Good or Bad for Older Players?
I was listening to sports talk radio the other day in Chicago and heard local talking heads complaining that the lockout could rob us all of a prime year in Derrick Rose’s development. The same is obviously true for Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin, among others, and there’s certainly a lot of merit to the idea that we could completely miss a 2011-2012 season that could have provided opportunities for these players to further themselves as young NBA legends.
But whether or not those guys play isn’t hugely important in the big scheme of things; they’ve got plenty of years left on their respective careers. The more interesting question is how the lockout may affect some of the league’s older players who don’t have 10-15 years of playing years left ahead of them.
Dallas’s Jason Kidd, for example, is coming off his first championship at age 38 with the intention of playing three more seasons. Since he said that immediately after beating the Miami HEAT back in June, some of us were skeptical it could be done. Legs that old often have a hard time keeping up with, well… with Derrick Rose, for one.
Kidd will turn 39 before the end of the next season (should there be one), as will Juwan Howard, Grant Hill, Theo Ratliff, and Kurt Thomas. Steve Nash, Marcus Camby, Derek Fisher, and Ben Wallace all will turn 38. Thomas, the league’s oldest player, has said he’d like to maybe do another year or two, but the lockout could rob him of that.
Unless, of course, a year off doesn’t necessarily mean just another number tacked on to the player’s age (and knees, for that matter). It could also mean a full 16 months of rest and proper training to gear up for those last couple of seasons all these older players want to do. They’re either one year older or one year healthier, depending on how one looks at it.
It could also come down to a certain level of motivation. Imagine you’ve worked all but one or two years of your career, and extenuating circumstances allow you to take a year off. When work resumes, you’re given the opportunity to just retire early, or come back and work one more calendar year. Psychologically, that could be very difficult to do, and some of these older players (like Shaquille O’Neal, perhaps) may just decide that it’s time to hang ‘em up.
For someone like Kidd, Nash, or Hill, all of whom are pretty healthy despite their ages, it’s hard to imagine age making too much of a difference. Wallace, Howard, and Thomas, however, might be a different story.
Yes, we’re losing potentially memorable seasons from some of the league’s best young rising stars, but we could also be losing the last years of a handful of potential Hall of Famers. It’s hard to decide which is a bigger crime.
Will Besiktas’s Frozen Accounts Hinder D-Will Signing?
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express tweeted yesterday that, “due to soccer match fixing allegations, Besiktas’ bank accounts are frozen, preventing Deron Williams’ team from signing players.”
This is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which comes in a later tweet from Givony: “This soccer scandal came at a bad time for Besiktas. Hearing they feel they were close to signing Kobe Bryant, for 450k per month.”
Not sure how credible that particular bit of information may have been, but the real repercussions of this might have more to do with the already-signed Williams (they did get that one in before the accounts were frozen) because it’s very hard to pay players when the bank won’t let you access your money.
According to a Reuters article about the scandal, “A Turkish court jailed the coach and deputy chairman of Istanbul club Besiktas pending trial on Wednesday in a match-fixing investigation which has overshadowed preparations for the new soccer season, media reports said.
“The Istanbul court has already jailed 26 people including the chairman of champions Fenerbahce, who feature highly in the probe, and the latest ruling targeted a second of the city’s ‘Big Three’ clubs which dominate Turkish football.”
There was no confirmation that the accounts had actually been frozen, but if that’s the case it could put D-Will’s plans to play in Turkey in serious jeopardy. Forget their inability to sign any new players—Kobe included—this could be a problem for the players they already have.
Marcin Gortat Headed to Russia
According to the Eurobasket website, Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat has signed a contract with Spartak Saint Petersburg of the Russian Professional Basketball League. He will join former Arkansas standout and Lakers draft pick Patrick Beverley on a team that won the Soviet/Russian Cup in 2011.
Not a lot of specifics have been released yet, but the assumption here has to be that the deal is just for one year, and there probably will be some sort of stipulation that allows Gortat to return to the Suns when the lockout ends, should that be before the end of the Eurocup season. Gortat is, after all, under contract with Phoenix for three more seasons and about $22 million, and with Phoenix already one of the older teams in the league, keeping their primary young star happy and healthy has to be a legitimate concern as Gortat heads back over to Europe.
After being traded to Phoenix last season, Gortat’s numbers jumped to 13 ppg, 9.3 rpg, and 1.3 bpg—all of which were more than double his previous career highs. Spartak is getting one of the best burgeoning centers from the NBA and the star of the Polish National Team.
Born in Lodz, Poland, Gortat was signed by LDS Lodz in 2002, then joined on with RheinEnergie Cologne for four seasons before coming over to American to play in Orlando. He won a domestic championship with RheinEnergie, so he’s no stranger to success in European hoops. Clearly he’s looking forward to keeping his skills sharp, and this is a solid, if risky, way of going about that.