Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gossip Mongering

Just passing along a few things, which may or not shape the world in the upcoming weeks.  Rumors are always tricky, since you have the following possibilities:
It’s true, it’s serious, and it’s going to happen
It’s true, it’s serious, but things might change
It’s true, but it’s not something that’s serious
It’s false
So odds favor nothing coming of these things.  Too bad Peter Vescey never figured that out.  Still beats Sam Smith, who just wastes his Chicago Tribune readers’ time by playing GM on his playstation and writing about all the make-believe trades that excite him.  

Still, where there’s smoke, there’s a player on the trading block.  If the same name keeps coming up over time, it tells you that there may be something to the talk.  Gary Payton’s last two or three years as a Sonic were rife with trade speculation.  While I know they are adamantly opposed to doing so now, I would think the Wolves will start listening to KG offers within a year’s time.  

Without further ado, here’s the chit-chat I find most credible:
The Knicks circus isn’t about Brown-Thomas so much as it is owner James Dolan vs. Larry Brown.  Dolan is the one that feels most undermined by Brown throwing players under the bus and whining to the media.  It’s almost a certainty that Thomas will take over, and since there will be no need to interview coaches, Dolan is leaving Brown to twist in the wind.  Consider: Thomas can take over at any time, seamlessly, so Dolan can wait for other franchises to shore up their coaches and ensure that there’s no job waiting in the wings for Brown.  It would take nothing short of a miracle for Brown to quit and leave $40 million on the table, but this way he can’t take Knick money while making some other team look good.

Toronto probably has not made up their mind with the number one pick in the draft.  The players that fit their backcourt needs (Roy, Williams) would be a reach at #1, but nobody’s breaking the bank to trade up with them either.  In this draft, there’s only marginal difference in value in the top 6 picks.  The Raptors seem to have Bargnani penciled in, but would love it if Portland made them a nice offer to swap picks.

Portland (this ties into the above) and Charlotte seem to really like Adam Morrison.  The only thing that seems to hurt him as he visits teams is his diabetes, which has spooked a few clubs.  He’s made up for it by looking brilliant in workouts and even impressing GMs by not placing conditions (I won’t scrimmage against rival players, etc).

The Lakers and Phil Jackson are said to have a major love affair with Brandon Roy, my way too early pick for rookie of the year (it’s only fitting that he be R.O.Y.), with Jackson seeing him as a Ron Harper type.  This is said to be the real reason why Chicago has been surprising people with rumblings that they’d take him at #2, despite their strong 3-man guard rotation.  It’s been suggested that there may be a draft day deal involving (who else?) Lamar Odom.  That sounds like a hefty price, but bare in mind that Chicago is under the cap and could take his $12.5 million 06/07 salary in return for a trade exemption.  That would give L.A. Roy, end the Odom experiment, and give them the ability to trade for a big salary forward (Carlos Boozer?) to help build up their team.      

People are also scratching their heads in the wake of Shelden Williams’ pronouncement that he’s been promised to go in the top 5 by some unnamed team.  That team has been backtracked to Atlanta.  Kudos for them not going after Rudy Gay and having the bravery to end their search for more underdeveloped 6-8 small forwards to stack the roster with.  Shelden is ready to play, though he’s unlikely to be much of a scorer.  

It’s sounding more and more like the Pacers might blow up their team, with Jermaine O’Neal’s name surfacing in multiple trade rumors.  It’s still my bet that Peja has his sights set on a different city, and Stephen Jackson could be had for lunch at Subway.  This is another team that may make a draft day deal.

Off the NBA beat, the baseball scandal centering around Grimsley’s as of yet unleaked finger pointing may become an even bigger deal once the names are known.  Dan Patrick claims to have been told some of the names, and that “two will shock you, and one will surprise you.”  Add this with talk that Chris Mihlfeld is a central figure in this along the lines of Gary Anderson (Bond’s trainer).   Mihlfeld is said to be a major source of the steroids, amphetamines, and rock candy that players were dipping into…and he’s also been Albert Pujols’ personal trainer since before he was drafted.  Refer again to my opening disclaimer – I’m not going to say that this is 100% ironclad and FDA approved.  However, I’ve ALWAYS hated the Pujols-defenders’ arguments that he didn’t morph from skinny to huge like McGwire and Bonds.  The man was drafted in ’99, right in the thick of the juicey-juicey era.  You think he couldn’t use in high school?  In the minors?  He doesn’t pass my sniff test - the guy is abnormally huge.  When you could hop in the ring and blend in next to the Rock and Stone Cold, I have questions.  Again though, it’s not like I have any of his used needles with me.


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