Posts Tagged ‘Suns’

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Despite the fact he was still rehabbing a tear in his Achilles tendon, Kobe Bryant was awarded a two-year contract extension on November 18th. The terms of the contract are two years for approximately $48.5 million.

Bryant and the Lakers have faced a lot of backlash since the move, with fans and analysts calling Bryant selfish for taking so much money from a team that has plenty of other issues. Bryant took to his twitter page the next night to defend the extension. Bryant tweeted “The cap rules players have to be “selfless” on To “help” BILLIONAIRE owners R the same cap rules the owners LOCKED US out to put in #think.” He also tweeted “Don’t just learn ur sport .. Learn the sports industry #futureathletes.”

There is no denying the impact that Kobe has had in the NBA and that he has earned this money. However, Bryant may need to take some of his own advice and learn the sports industry. If nothing else is true about this industry, the one fact of the industry is loyalty means nothing. With these tweets and the situation in general, a bigger question can be raised. Should teams have to pay homage to there former stars?

To start this off lets look at some of the contracts of the biggest stars in major sports. Derek Jeter, at the age of 39, just signed a one-year contract for $12 million. This comes after he signed a three-year contract for $45 million at the age of 36. Playing in a total of 17 games last year, Jeter hit .190 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. He then injured his ankle and was done for the season.

Bryant’s and Jeter’s situations are even more similar when you look at the situations of their teams. Both the Yankees and the Lakers are in a free fall. Both teams have money tied up in bad contracts and have a general lack of talent on their respective teams. Yet, Jeter and Bryant had no issue taking these large contracts that deter their teams from fixing their issues.

The argument for Jeter and Bryant making their salaries is that they need to be paid not only for what they will do, but what they have done. It is undeniable that these two are among the best of all time in their respective games. Jeter led the Yankees to 5 World Series rings & may go down as the greatest shortstop of all time. Similarly, Kobe has 5 rings and arguments (granted to a lesser extent) have been made that he is the greatest basketball player of all time.

The question ultimately comes down to this. Do teams have pay their long tenured players more because of their past actions. The answer to this question varies. Look at Jim Irsay. He only had to pay Peyton Manning what his contract already was. Instead he released Manning and selected Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. This move was praised by some and criticized by other. However, there was one universal agreement, there is no loyalty in sports.

This example can go even further. When Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, he was bombarded with criticism for having a lack of loyalty to his players. Yet, the deal was better for the team, as a whole, in the long term as they brought in expiring contracts and future draft picks to build their team with.

The one option not many people mention is why don’t these players just take less money. That’s the situation of future Hall of Fame PF Dirk Nowitzki. Reports have surfaced that Nowitzki will want to slash his salary by more than half next season so that his team, the Dallas Mavericks, can continue to rebuild. This is an admirable situation, which, unfortunately, does not happen as often as it should in the professional sports.

So is it wrong to trade Pierce or release Manning? At the end of the day, an owner, general manager, and coach need to decide whom they have to be loyal to. Do you have to be loyal to a specific player or an entire team? Last time I checked, there are 52 players on an NFL team and 24 on and MLB team. So why must you be loyal to the minority? Yes this is a utilitarian type of thinking, but it isn’t as far fetched, as it may seem. Must there be more loyalty to Kobe Bryant then an entire team and that teams fan base? That is the ultimate question.

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Ever since the monumental draft night trades in 2008, the NBA has essentially become a league of superpowers. Players have foregone the ideal of rivalries for example, Magic vs. Bird in favor of joining forces to gain guaranteed championships. This started on that infamous night and has continued with signings of LeBron James to the Miami Heat and Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets. With Carmelo Anthony set to join the free agent market after this coming season, speculation is heavy that he will go out to the west coast to join the Los Angeles Lakers. While a combination of Carmelo and Kobe may seem scary to some, an even more terrifying group may be forming down south.

Recently, on his Grantland podcast, Jalen Rose suggested a more than real possibility that Kevin Durant will be taking his talents to Houston to team up with Dwight Howard and one of his best friends, James Harden. Durant is eligible for free agency in 2016, which would be when he is midway through his prime. If Durant has not won a championship by then, it is more than likely that he will be packing his bags and going to H-Town. Another motivation for Durant to go the Rockets, He played his college ball at the University of Texas. The possible return has its storyline already written.

However, on PTI Friday, host Michael Wilbon made another interesting suggestion for Durants possible destination. Wilbon suggested that Durant might go to the Washington Wizards to team up with PG John Wall and blossoming SG Bradley Beal. This possibility has an even better storyline, based on the fact that Durant was born and raised in Washington D.C.. The Wizards will have a younger and faster core than the Rockets. They will also probably have more cap space to bring in a couple of smaller pieces, which could entice Durant even more.

This potential move from OKC won’t only affect Durant. This move could potential change the power shifts in the NBA. The reason for this is, with Durant gone, Russel Westbrook is likely to move out of Oklahoma City as well. Potential landing spots for him could include the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, or even the Houston Rockets (assuming Durant doesn’t go there). Any of those teams, with the addition of Westbrook, could be extremely deadly going forward.

These hypothetical moves have a lot of variables in play within the next few years. What if Kyrie Irving goes to the Lakers? What if Dwight Howard gets upset in Houston? What if John Wall leaves Washington? Most importantly, what if this superteam trend dies out? These are all valid questions, but assuming the majority of these things don’t happen, it is very possible we will see two new superpowers in the NBA, while the Thunder take the brunt of the storm.

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With Tip-Off fast approaching here’s an in-depth look at the league, Team by Team.

Toronto Raptors

Where They Have Been:
The Raptors have been dwindling at the bottom of the Atlantic Division ever since the departure of Chris Bosh. Granted, they were never a force to begin with, but they have been abysmal as of late. Things don’t seem to be looking up for the sole Canadian team in the NBA.

Who They Have: Starters
A big start for the Raptors this offseason and their new GM Masa Ujiri, was dumping the disappointing former #1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani (and his contract) on the New York Knicks. The new starting five consists of Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valanciunas. While the front court of Johnson and Valanciunas is a bit weak, the Raptors do have a very strong back three in Gay, Derozan, and Lowry. Gay has yet to blossom into a superstar, but he is a star who can easily average 20 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG a game. Lowry is one the more underappreciated PG in the league, partially because of his ability to move around the court so fluidly. A very good passer who can shoot the ball, they may have a floor captain in him. Derozan is a scorer who isn’t a fantastic shooter, but can get to rim and finish with explosiveness and decisiveness. He can split defenders better than many in the league and can be looking at a nice scoring season for Toronto.

Who They Have: Bench
The Raptors are fairly thin outside of their backcourt. While the addition of Tyler Hansborough and D.J. Augustin were nice, they are paper-thin otherwise on the bench. Terrence Ross hasn’t panned out the way the front office had hoped, Landry Fields hasn’t earned a dollar of the $21 million he’s making, and Steve Novak can’t doing anything besides shoot a 3 from the corner.

What To Expect
While the Raptors started playing well after the Rudy Gay trade, I wouldn’t have high hopes for this team. Other than a strong back three, they are virtually empty as far as starting talent. Tyler Hansborough could prove to be well worth his deal, but if that’s what it takes to get a Raptors fan excited that should say it all.

Record
34-48