NBA Sunday: Why Change Agents?
D-Will Changes Agents, Nets Making Push for Dwight Howard?
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams has changed agents, leaving Bob McLaren, known mostly for work with professional baseball players, and signing on with Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management.
In terms of “official news,” the well is pretty dry in the NBA right now, but this is a notable move because Chris Paul also changed agents to Leon Rose over the course of the last year. Both will likely be free agents in a year, so the change means they want as much clout as possible heading into what probably will be the last huge payday of either player’s career (assuming the new CBA doesn’t limit to contracts to some unreasonably short number of years).
While McLaren didn’t really represent a large smattering of NBA talent, Schwartz has done well for quite a few current hoops bigwigs, including Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, and Lamar Odom. He also represents future superstars Blake Griffin and Kevin Love, both of whom are still on their rookie contracts.
Not that there was ever any doubt that Williams would be offered a max contract or anything, but the move to a more powerful agent could help D-Will end up in the best possible situation to compete for a championship. If that ends up not being New Jersey, the clout of a powerful agent can help get a player to where he really wants to be. Just ask Carmelo Anthony was a strong, persistent agent can do towards getting you where you want to be. He had exactly one team he really wanted to play for, and that’s the team his agent forced him towards. Williams may end up needing representation that could do something like that for him eventually as well.
Stein’s report mentions that the team will “make a hard push for Howard in an attempt to convince him to commit long term,” but that’s no surprise. What team won’t be making a strong push for Dwight once the lockout is lifted? And does New Jersey have anywhere near the assets to put together something worthwhile for Orlando in a trade they really, really don’t want to make?
Likely not, which illustrates why a big gun agent like Schwartz was necessary. And anyway, with the CBA so close to changing and Williams’s former agent focusing so heavily on baseball, someone a little more in-tune to pro basketball was probably necessary. It won’t help him get more money, but it will help him play ball where he wants to play ball. Whether that ends up being New Jersey or not, though, is still a question far from an answer.
Keeping Hoops Fans Busy
I’ve heard some people say December, others January, and the most pessimistic analysts have thrown out the idea that there might not be any season at all. No matter how you shake it, there’s a very strong likelihood that that we’re not going to have an appropriate portion of NBA entertainment on our plates this year. That means those of us that are admittedly addicted to basketball are going to have to find other outlets.
So what are those outlets, and how do we eek enjoyment out these particular Plan B’s? Obviously, college basketball will go on as scheduled, and there are more legitimate NBA prospects in the field this season than there have been in quite a few years. There’s also the D-League, which will reportedly go on unimpeded these year, and international hoops, which may include an unprecedented number of NBA players.
Why should we care about college, D-League, and foreign ball? For starters, that’s where literally every NBA player eventually comes from. Secondly, there actually are some stories worth following in all those leagues.
Expect most of the attention head towards college, though, where all sorts of teams hold plenty of interest for those looking to find an escape in the absence of the NBA. Kentucky might be the most exciting to watch, as they’ve got just a huge smattering of players that could end up in the League someday. Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones are the most notable, but Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist, and Doron Lamb could all end up drafted, too. Not that Kentucky doesn’t always end up with loads of draftees, but this year’s group seems particularly stellar.
North Carolina will be their main contender for a national championship with several first-round talent of their own—Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson all are returning this year after flirting with the idea of the draft, while new recruits James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston make the team even more ridiculously deep with talent.
As for Duke, they may have lost Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith, and Kyle Singler in the most recent draft, but they usher in plenty of really good new recruits, most notably Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook, both of whom have NBA potential. Plus, with three Plumlees, none of which are multiples, there’s a fun dynamic forming there where like 20% of the roster is related to one another.
Baylor’s got two top-five draft picks for 2012 on the same team in Perry Jones and Quincy Miller, Syracuse will be good with awesomely-named guys like Rakeem Christmas, Scoop Jardine, and Fab Melo leading the charge, and UConn will try to defend their title without Kemba Walker (which I think we all know is pretty unlikely).
And these are just the players and teams we know will be good. There are always some surprises, too, which means you’ve all just been given an introduction to non-NBA basketball for the upcoming several months. We’ve got to have some sort of basketball to watch, right? Luckily, college hoops should be especially entertaining this year if you can find it in yourself to care about the NCAA. Even those of you that haven’t in the past might just have to dig in.
As bad as the lockout will be for the NBA, it could potentially be very good for college basketball, and it’s good for the rest of us that we’ve at least got some high-level hoops to enjoy in the meantime.
Stoudemire Wants to Join Kobe in China?
Kobe Bryant is getting creative. Since NBA players can’t make any money playing basketball this next year, or even play against the best competition in the world, Bryant and his agent Rob Pelinka are considering putting together a barnstorming team to take part in exhibitions all across China.
Now, according to The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, it looks like Amar’e Stoudemire might also consider joining in on the phone, at least if he can get his knees insured should anything go wrong.
Stoudemire would join Bryant and maybe rookie Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams in heading out east (like, Far East) to play some basketball and make some money while the lockout gets resolved. Other Pelinka clients could also join in on the action since he’s the one working so hard to organize the tour. That means Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, and Carlos Boozer could eventually get invited, as well.
As for Stoudemire, the Knicks obviously hate the idea of having their fragile franchise player gallivanting around in exhibitions that mean nothing when so much of their storied organization depends on him being healthy for the rest of his contract. His knees are bad enough as it is. A lockout could even be considered a blessing, as that potentially gives Stoudemire more time to heal for the new season. This, however, could be unnecessary risk just because a lockout is making him restless
It’s the same reason Kobe, similarly open to injuries at this juncture of his career, probably shouldn’t be taking the risk with so few championship years left on his own legs. But if the league isn’t going to let him play, he can just pack up and play elsewhere.
There wouldn’t be an exorbitant amount of cash to be made at these exhibitions, so the risk/reward seems a little off. Still, as an owner of a team, you have to know that if Kobe or Amar’e ruins his body overseas, they’re in big trouble as an organization. Perhaps that serves as extra motivation to get a deal done quickly? “Give us a new CBA, or will keep being dangerous in Asia! We mean it!”
In any event, this could potentially be a really fun thing for the people of China to have happen, and it would at least give casual fans some fun highlights to watch on Sportscenter in the absence of the usual NBA pizazz. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s hard to see why these guys would take the risk, unless they’re just planning on just sort of going through the motions in these things like a Harlem Globetrotters game.
The idea seems to be picking up steam, and the more players that express interest, the more of a chance there is that it actually happens.