Dwyane Wade has said his return to Miami next summer hinges upon the team’s ability to be a title contender.

This has to be a power play. Dwyane probably wants to see more done this offseason so he’s trying to force Riley’s hand a bit by threatening to leave. Wade knows full well they won’t contend with the crap that’s around him. Mark Blount is the starting center!! Dwyane is either trying to increase his own perceived value for upcoming contract negotiations or he’s basically telling Pat Riley to make a move sooner rather than later.

It would be absolutely stupid for Dwyane to sign anywhere other than Miami next summer. He’s already won a title there and he knows Riley will do whatever it takes to win. Riley has already proved that. What does New York have that is more attractive than Miami? 25 wins a year? Ok Dwyane, good luck with that. What does New Jersey have? Devin Harris is a guy you feature in the backcourt, not a complement to a better guard. I doubt Dwyane wants to share the ball. If Cleveland loses LeBron, which I don’t think they will, they could be a landing place for Wade. Chicago? That’s hometown fantasy talk.

Dwyane Wade will re-sign with Miami and he knows it. It’s the best fit for him. It’s the best chance to win for him. This ‘ultimatum’ seems like a primadonna move by a guy who seems to be letting fame get to his head a little. Mr. T-Mobile is trying to play GM. Dwyane works for the Heat, not the other way around (I say this as a Heat fan and D-Wade fanatic!!). If he wants to go to New York or Chicago next year for big bucks, then by all means he should go. But good luck repeating the success he’s already accomplished with Miami.

I was flipping through the channels when I came across something on Fox News about North Korea. As I was watching they broke in with breaking news that Steve McNair had been found shot to death in Nashville. I was absolutely stunned. I quickly turned on ESPN but found no mention, not even on their bottom line ticker. I tried MSNBC to no avail. I turned on CNN and sure enough they were carrying the story now too. A couple minutes later ESPN cut off it’s coverage of rugby (nothing more American on the 4th than rugby!) to bring the news. Steve McNair, shot to death at age 36.

From a football standpoint, McNair was one of the toughest dudes to ever suit up. He pretty much played the last 4 years of his career with chronic back problems, yet he still managed to share an MVP with Peyton Manning in 2003. I enjoyed watching the guy play for the simple fact that he never gave up. Whether it be on his teammates, on a season, on a game, or even on a play, Steve McNair never gave up. This was perhaps never more defined than in the closing minute of Super Bowl XXXVI. The Titans were driving into Rams territory looking to for the tying score. On 3rd down McNair dropped back to pass but all his options were covered. He danced around to his left and then took off to his right. Rams DE Kevin Carter chased him down from behind and dove for McNair, grabbing onto his jersey at the shoulder. McNair was able to shed Carter’s grasp all the while keeping his balance as he began to fall forward. After regaining his footing McNair fired a bullet 30 yards downfield to Kevin Dyson, setting up the next play that came to be known as “One Yard Short”. Steve McNair just never relented.

This whole act just seems senseless. How could a guy who is perceived as a great man, a great role model get caught up in something like this. But then I remembered Kirby Puckett and how revered he was until the news came out about his infidelities. Soon details started rolling in that the woman McNair was found with wasn’t his wife but a “friend”. It makes you wonder what he was doing alone in an apartment with a woman who isn’t his wife. Now there are reports the same woman was arrested for DUI on Thursday, with McNair as a passenger. I will not jump to conclusions about the relationship of the woman to McNair (for all we know she’s a childhood or family friend), but something just doesn’t feel right here.

This tragic event has brought upon so many questions that may never be asnwered. I hope the person responsible is brought to justice and the facts, no matter how unflattering they may become for McNair, are brought to light. I just feel right now for his wife and his kids. A wife lost her husband today. Children lost their daddy. And for what? Hopefully we’ll find out soon, but no matter the reason, it sure wasn’t worth two human lives.

R.I.P Air McNair.


Hedo Turkoglu backed out of his verbal agreement with Portland on Friday and instead chose to sign with the Toronto Raptors. The deal is reportedly 5 years and $53 million. In my opinion, I wouldn’t give $10 million dollars a year to a guy who’s managed 15 ppg just twice in his career, both the last 2 seasons. But if you’re going to sign him, the salary seems about right.

As for Portland, they have to feel like the ugly duckling ditched at the prom for the hot cheerleader. Turkoglu reportedly chose Toronto because it’s a “more international and cosmopolitan” city than Portland. I can’t complain with his reasoning, but Portlanders should basically realize he called their city boring.

In other NBA news, Joe Dumars is meeting with former Mavs coach Avery Johnson about their coaching vacancy. Wasn’t Avery criticized in Dallas for his team’s failure to play good team defense? Doesn’t Detroit pride itself on good team defense? Is Joe Dumars changing the team’s style or is he going senile?

Really? This could be seriously interesting. Kobe and Ron, together. Kobe might not be the egomaniac he was 5 years ago and Artest isn’t the psycho fan abuser he was 5 years ago, but two headstrong personalities like these are bound to collide. Everyone remembers Artest getting up in Kobe’s face during the playoffs. Now imagine that every day in practice. Think they’ll play nice? Maybe for a while. Who knows what will happen. Maybe it will work out all peachy keen, but it will sure be interesting drama in LA next season.Rockets Lakers Basketball

Photo: Carlson/AP

From a basketball standpoint the deal makes absolute sense. Artest is an upgrade over Trevor Ariza and gives Los Angeles yet another offensive weapon while boosting their perimeter defence. If Phil Jackson can get Artest to stop jacking up stupid 3’s, the offense could be even more efficient than it was last year.

As for Ariza, this opens the door for him to swap places with Artest in Houston. It also makes Cleveland a suitor since they were hard on the Artest trail. The Artest deal is $18 mil for 3 years, which should set the precedent for the Turkoglu deal among others. All in all a big domino to fall so far.

The bonanza has been far from a bonanza. Nik Antropov is off to Atlanta, Mark Recchi re-signed with Boston and that’s pretty much it so far. Alex Tanguay is still out there. Koivu too. Dany Heatley is still refusing to be traded. And the Panthers are still doing nothing. The following is a pictoral representation of what will happen if the Panthers go into next season with Stephen Weiss and Cory Stillman as their top forwards:


More updates if anything happens, like the Panthers SIGNING KOIVU AND TANGUAY HINT HINT

Everyone knows the NBA free agency of 2010 is “The Summer of LeBron” and for good reason. He is the best player in the league (sorry Kobe). But it’s not just LeBron. Or Chris Bosh. Or Dwyane Wade either. The number of high quality free agents available next summer is simply staggering. And if it turns into the spending spree most people think it will, next summer will change the landscape of the league for the next decade. We could see contenders become bottom feeders while annual lottery teams like New York and New Jersey become contenders.

Yet at the same time there seems to be a growing worry over the economic impact the recession will have on next summer. Certain analysts believe that it would be better for players like LeBron and D-Wade to extend now instead of later (as Kobe just did), especially with the threat of another lockout coming after the 2010-11 season. Some believe the salaries offered next summer could be significantly lower than has been believed. But the way players like Bosh, James, and Wade are acting it seems their agents are okay with standing pat for now.

Anyways, back to the absurd amount of talent possibly available next summer:

Key: P=Player Option ETO=Early Termination R=Restricted T=Team option

  • Jamal Crawford
  • Joe Johnson
  • Rajon Rondo- R
  • Ray Allen
  • Paul Pierce
  • John Salmons (hey, I think he’s good)
  • LeBron James- P
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas
  • Josh Howard- T
  • Dirk Nowitzki- ETO
  • Kenyon Martin- ETO
  • Kwame Brown (juuuust kidding, but he is available)
  • Tracy McGrady
  • Luis Scola- R
  • Yao Ming- ETO
  • Marcus Camby
  • Rudy Gay- R
  • Jermaine O’Neal
  • Dwyane Wade- P
  • Michael Redd- ETO
  • Tyson Chandler- ETO
  • Al Harrington
  • Steve Nash
  • Amare Stoudemire- ETO
  • LaMarcus Aldridge- R
  • Brandon Roy- R
  • Manu Ginobli
  • Richard Jefferson- ETO
  • Andrea Bargnani- R
  • Chris Bosh- P
  • Carlos Boozer
  • Mehmet Okur
  • Mike Miller

Now I doubt we’ll see players like Roy and Bargnani leave via an offer sheet, or players like Dirk and Yao exercise their ETO’s, but just the thought that these guys could be available is mind boggling. Out of everyone with an ETO, I see Michael Redd as the only guy who will absolutely invoke it. I said in a previous post on the Bucks non-tendering Villanueva that Redd must need a hug. The Bucks are hapless right now.

I see superstars, all-stars, all-pros, number one picks, and olympians in that list. You see why people are going gaga over next summer? Even players like Ron Artest and Allen Iverson available this summer may only be tendered one year deals in anticipation of 2010. I could be overblowing this like all the analysts, or I could be right. The NBA could be changed for the next 10 years come October of 2010.

Free agency offically kicked off today but teams aren’t actually allowed to sign players until the 8th. The biggest news of the day comes from Detroit where Joe Dumars apparently isn’t caught up in the 2010 hype and wants to win now. $95 million went out of the Pistons organization today to Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Personally, the Villanueva signing is great for Detroit. Rasheed Wallace wasn’t being brought back and Villanueva filled that hole. They swapped one aging PF for another entering his prime. And Villanueva has practically the same game as ‘Sheed with the inside-outside combo. Ben Gordon on the other hand…I don’t know. Is he the 6th man? Is he moving to PG? Where’s he playing? Richard Hamilton wasn’t pleased with being demoted to the bench last year and his play suffered for it. I don’t think Rip would take kindly to being pushed back to the bench. I’m interested to see what Detroit does with Rip this summer, if anything, and how they incorporate Stuckey, Rip, and Gordon into their rotation.

The Knicks have delusions of grandeur as they try and woo Jason Kidd away from Dallas. Apparently Donnie Walsh think Kidd will be resigned to spending the twilight of his career on a perennial loser like New York. Kidd can’t sign and hope the Knicks land LeBron. He wants to win now. And unless Boston or another contender comes calling Dallas offers him the best shot at winning right now.

The Clippers Traveling Circus traded Zach Randolph to Memphis for Quentin Richardson. Amazingly, the Clippers have done 2 positive things this week. They drafted the obvious best prospect in Griffin and traded away a terrible contract in Randolph to make room for Griffin to start right away. For being supremely talented, nobody seems to want Zach Randolph around. How many teams is this for him now? 5? 6? He’s turning into Shawn Kemp without all the baby mommas.


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