By Justin Shockley

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (L) and teammate Tyson Chandler react as they defeat the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship in Miami, June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)


When the first reports came out saying that the NBA lockout had been resolved, the casual basketball fan probably had very little to say other than a murmur under their breath about athletes and owners being greedy and obnoxious. For the casual fan the NBA won’t be relevant again until Christmas Day when they can actually watch a game again and even then their fervor or lack thereof for professional basketball will be even less than it has been in previous years.

The free agent market this year will not help create excitement for this year’s shortened season either most because the 2010 and 2012 classes have legitimate superstars like Lebron James in 2010 or Dwight Howard next summer. It is probably safe to assume that there will not be a prime time television special so that Marc Gasol can tell the world if he decides that he will be “taking his talents to the Garden State”. In fact, many causal basketball fans are probably content with watching college basketball when they get a craving for some hoops, and are most likely more interested in who will be on the next season of “Dancing With The Stars” than they are about this year’s free agent class.

While superstars are hard to come by in the current free agent market, this year has some really solid players including a few true centers that could help a team win a championship down the road. With the abbreviated preseason and soon to be a ticking clock for free agents, the next few weeks will teeter on interesting but definitely not be edge-of-your-seat spellbinding.

Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, and Nene are some of the biggest names in free agency this year and also happen to be true centers with big talent.

Tyson Chandler
Photo: Keith Allison/Flikr

Gasol is a superbly talented center with a wealth of experience to be only 26 years old, thanks to his extensive play internationally. With his size, passing ability, and overall skills Gasol will warrant a five or six year deal worth about 13-15 million dollars per year and can be a legitimate puzzle piece for a team hoping to win a championship soon.

Tyson Chandler is older than Gasol at 29 and his health is a bigger question mark than other available players because he has feeling a pain under right rib cage, but his emotional play, off court leadership, and unselfish team oriented nature are truly a great intangible package for a team to have. The Mavericks can attest to just how important Chandler can be because despite Dirk’s uncanny ability to be clutch, their championship hinged on Chandler’s play and presence in many ways. If the Mavericks decide not to pay big money to keep Chandler it would a mistake barring more injuries and if they don’t pay him, someone else definitely will.

Nene Hilario
Photo: Keith Allison/Flikr
As for Nene, yes, it’s true he may not be the biggest center in the NBA but his rebounding ability (when completely healthy) and wonderful offensive presence is a tremendous asset to have on a team looking to be a contender. Nene is also 29 years old and has a knee that is as rickety as an old rocking chair and he has missed way too many games the last three seasons to pay him huge money.

For teams that don’t mind a gamble, Nene could be a pick up worth about 7 to 10 million a year but any kind of gamble with that much money can be unnerving. Indiana, New Jersey, and Houston could be the most likely to roll the dice.

There are other free agents in this year’s field that could have an impact on the league such as Greg Oden, Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan, Vince Carter (if he is waived as expected), and Josh Howard. As it stands however, the free agent market is lackluster when compared to recent and upcoming years and there is just no denying it. The biggest thing that will excite basketball fans in the near future is that possibility that Chris Paul will be traded which will get a rise out of even casual fans. Call us crazy, but no one really cares what Jason Kapono is doing this year…unless there’s a chance he is going to be on the new season of DWTS.

Hey, if you want to keep up with all of the latest basketball headlines in one place, check out

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant arrives for a news conference announcing the players rejection of the league’s latest offer on Monday and the process to begin disbandand the union in New York November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)


By Marcus Shockley

Julius Erving, a.k.a. “Dr. J” to those of us who remember his silky moves and ability to defy gravity on the way to the hoop, has managed to secure a nice bonus on some of his memorabilia, netting $3.5 million at a recent auction:

Southern California-based SCP Auctions reports more than 140 items from Julius Erving’s personal collection sold for a record $3.5 million. The auction ran from October until Sunday.
Among the highlights: His 1974 New Jersey Nets ABA championship ring sold for $460,471; 1983 Philadelphia 76ers championship rings sold for $244,240; 1983 All-Star game MVP trophy ($115,242); final game-worn jersey from May 3, 1987 ($88,826); and 1974-75 ABA MVP trophy ($173,10)

Meanwhile, as allegations of child abuse surfaced at Syracuse, the fallout has already begun. Isaiah Whitehead (SG, 6’2″, 2014) has dropped Syracuse from his recruiting list, and it isn’t coincidence, as his mother cited the recent stories as the reason for eliminating the Orange:

[…]in light of the investigation of Syracuse men’s basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine, the nationally ranked sophomore won’t be attending the school, his mother, Ericka Rambert, said. Fine has been accused of allegedly molesting two former ball boys, allegations that Fine and longtime Orange coach Jim Boeheim vehemently deny.

Some say that the offense run by D-III Grinell is designed to score as many points as possible while barely playing a whiff of defense, but even the 5-man substitution pattern makes it hard to account for Grinnell’s Griffin Lentsch, who scored 89 points in a win over Principia, breaking the D-III single game record:

Lentsch shot 27-for-55 from the floor, including 15-for-33 from 3-point range. He was 20-for-22 from the foul line. He played 36 minutes.

You might think launching 55 shots, including a whopping 33 from behind the three-point arc, makes Lentsch a ballhog. All I can think of is five guys on Principia in the huddle who are all thinking ‘whose man is that, anyway?’.

Unsurprisingly, the NBA players rejected the owner’s latest offer, leaving the NBA season in more doubt than ever.

Well, not to me. I predicted this over a year ago, but, ahem.

This has also led to a rash of new activity with foreign teams, as NBA players suddenly are trying to grab up the few remaining roster spots. The common misconception is that NBA players can simply get a contract with a team overseas, and normally it would be pretty easy if it wasn’t for the fact that they are competing with 400 other NBA players at the same time. The hard truth is that only a select few NBA players will get offers, such as Tyson Chandler, who was just offered by Zhejiang Guangsha in China.

Even more of a reality is that there are three things that have been apparent for some time:

Tyson Chandler
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

* The NBA players are not going to be able to continue to keep the business model they’ve grown accustomed to in place;

* The NBA player representation is not up to par;

* The NBA owners, this time around, are not the same addle-headed group that agreed to the last contract.

Younger fans may not be aware of this, but for many years, losing money while owning an NBA team was considered how business was done. Inexplicably for owners in other sports, teams in the NBA could be bought, lose money for several years, and then sold at a profit to the next billionaire.

Those days are over.

Back in November of 2010, I cited the fact that the last straw for the owners was the Summer of Lebron, and how it really riled the already angry ownership. It’s interesting how many people want to compare Lebron to Jordan (Lebron being merely the latest, actually), but Jordan has one major accomplishment in his career that gets overlooked by most. Before Jordan, players made really great money. After Jordan, players made gargantuan money.

Micheal Jordan revolutionized sports, not just basketball, in that everything we see in place today – the massive contract of A-Rod, the major endorsement deals of college players as soon as they get drafted – all started with Jordan.

After Jordan, players made significantly more. After Lebron, players (at least NBA players) will make significantly less. An interesting juxtaposition, although I doubt you’ll see it on SportsCenter.

Finally, several recruiting outlets are reporting that Anrio Adams (PG/SG, 6’3″, 2012) has qualified and has committed to Kansas, joining this year’s Jayhawk recruiting class.