The middle of the Lakers lineup is set for the next few years as they just inked their starting center to a 4 year $58 million dollar deal, eliminating any thoughts of losing him in free agency next summer. The first three years are worth $42 million, with a Laker option on the fourth year worth $16 million. Not only does this secure Andrew’s stay with the club, this move should also convince Kobe Bryant to stay put when his contract is up. That sucks for us Bulls fans because there was hope that he would still want to come to Chicago. Stranger things have happened though, so we’ll see how that one plays out. But I’m very happy for the big fella. He obviously worked hard during the time that he was injured as well as in the offseason. He was the missing piece in the Lakers championship puzzle last year and him being back is the reason they’re favored to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of this season.
Good news UNC fans, the Tarheels received 31 first place votes unanimously making them #1 in the 2008-2009 preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll for the first time ever.
The other 4 teams in the top 5 are as follows:
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Well, it looks like Steph & Eddy’s days may be numbered in the Big Apple. Neither of them played last night in the Knicks season opening win against the Miami Heat, and it doesn’t look like either of them are going to crack Mike D’Antoni’s rotation either. In the case of Stephon Marbury, I’m not really convinced that what happened last night was a “coaching” decision. It’s very obvious that this was an order handed down by upper management. I know Steph can be disruptive, but there is no way that this guy can’t fit into the up-tempo style that D’Antoni is trying to run. It seems unfathomable to me that you would bench an All-Star and essentially say that he’s not good enough to play in your system, and then play Mardy Collins instead. Talk about a slap in the face!
Now Eddy Curry, well that’s a whole different story. I can see why D’Antoni wouldn’t want to play him. Here is a guy who doesn’t take being a professional basketball player very seriously at all. Physically, he has all the talent and skills to be a dominant big man. Mentally, he just doesn’t have the drive or desire to put in the necessary work to be that kind of player. That would frustrate just about anybody and I can’t blame D’Antoni for benching him. Right now, with the shape that he’s in Eddy Curry couldn’t survive in his fast paced, up-tempo system. And that’s why he’s riding the pine. Some reports have suggested that once he gets into game shape he could find minutes in the rotation, but my guess is that because he’s so fragile mentally, he’s already “checked out”.
So Steph even though I’m not really a fan, I do feel for you bro. I know that you got booed during pre-game intros last night, but there were some fans in the Garden chanting “We want Steph.” and that’s gotta make you feel good right? Eddy, not only are your days as a Knick numbered, if you don’t put forth the effort to become a good pro, your days in the league might be numbered. I usually don’t root against Chi-Town guys, but I’m just being real here. Playing in the NBA is an honor and a privilege, not a right.
His first points as a pro came on a nice hop-step drive to the rack right past Richard Jefferson. That would set up what would be a great season debut for the rookie PG straight from the south side of “The Chi”. Starting in the backcourt he established a rhythm for the team offensively from the jump ball. Like a good PG should, he ran his team and set up his teammates for easy baskets and gave rookie head coach Vinnie Del Negro his first win. He finished the game with 11pts, 9 dimes and 4 turnovers. His 9 assists tied a record by a #1 draft pick, putting him the same company as Jimmy Walker (Jalen Rose’s dad) who holds the record with 10 and LeBron James who also had 9 dimes in his rookie debut.
The only thing that I didn’t understand about last night was Del Negro’s decision to start Thabo Sefalosha in the backcourt with D. Rose. He said the lineup gave him more size, but it was clear from the beginning that Thabo couldn’t guard Michael Redd as he dropped the first 4 Bucks points of the game on him, including the first 2 pts where he took him down in the post and just worked out, faking Thabo all the way out of the play. Michael Redd went on to put up 30pts. But either way, they won and I’m happy about it. Next up for the Bulls is the Celtics in Boston on Friday, Halloween night! Oh well, I guess starting the season 1-1 ain’t bad.
In the words of the late great Biggie Smalls, Greg Oden is “Fragil-e”. In college, he broke his wrist. His first year in the league, he had micro-fracture surgery that had him out all of last season. Last night, 2 1/2 minutes into his “rookie” season and NBA debut, he went up for a rebound and came down on Derek Fisher’s foot. He did show a lot of heart and managed to finish out the first half but when the second half kicked off he remained in the locker room prepping for an X-ray. The verdict? Inconclusive. The team is calling it a sprained right foot, to me it looked more like an ankle injury after viewing the replay, but he’ll have an MRI done today. Portland fans are probably having flashbacks of Bill Walton, the last Portland big man with a bad foot. The only difference is that Bill brought the city a championship, hopes that were placed on this big fellas shoulders. Or maybe even worse, after what’s happened with G.O. so far they could be having Sam Bowie flashbacks! Either way I feel bad for this kid and the entire city of Portland because they had a lot riding on their big man and the expectations this season were very high. They just can’t seem to catch a break…no pun intended.