Nine days into the lockout and a big heaping bowl of Beef Stew will cure what ails you. Now, if only the teams and players would take a helping from the Crock pot we would all be in better shape. Oh well, on with the Stew…
Yao Calling it Quits
As the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on Friday morning it ushered in a new era in NASA’s history as it will be the last mission flown by the shuttle. Mission control in Houston, as it has done many times before, took over control from the Kennedy Space Center as the shuttle and its rockets climbed into the sky. It was a bittersweet moment as the future of American space travel now has questions surrounding it. On the same day, though not as grand in its scope as human exploration beyond Earth, the city of Houston was met with more bittersweet news.
Yao Ming, the seven-foot six-inch center for the Houston Rockets announced that he planned to retire. The Rockets spend a small fortune acquiring the rights to Yao from the Chinese government and selected him with the number one overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.
His career will be noted for moments of greatness mixed with nagging injuries that limited and eventually sidelined his career. Yao is one of only two players over seven feet tall to have averaged 20 points and ten rebounds for a season. The other is Shaquille O’Neal, who also retired this summer.
Here at the Beef we were never avid supporters of Yao as we have taken the stance that the breed of player which he was is a dead position in the league. However, his contributions cannot be dismissed. With Yao came the global marketing of the NBA. Yes, there were foreign players before him but none of them had the appeal and marketability that he had. He is responsible for the boom in popularity the league has seen in China over recent years. If it was not for Yao would NBA players regularly sign with Chinese clubs as their NBA careers are dwindling? Would there be talk of a barnstorming tour of China if the lockout persists? No. Yao opened the doors and the NBA is better for it.
Turkey on Rye
With Deron Williams planning to suit-up for Besiktas, Allen Iverson‘s former team, the interest in Turkey has never been stronger especially after the team announced that it would pursue Kobe Bryant as well. There is just one problem though, how does a lower tier Euroleague team have the sway, and by sway I mean money, to lure NBA talent to play for them? Williams’ one-year deal is said to be worth $5 million. However, the team has not released any numbers in terms of compensation. In Williams’ case, Besiktas’ coach Ergin Ataman said that the team’s president, Yildirim Demiroren, would find a sponsor to provide his salary.
When and if Williams touches down in Turkey he will likely not be the only NBA player on his team. Zaza Pachulia, of the Atlanta Hawks, has also structured a deal to play with Besiktas is the lockout cuts into the NBA season. It is always nice to see a friendly face in a foreign country.
Sonny Weems was one of the first players to show interest and then actually sign a contract to play overseas when the lockout started. However, it was not announced where he would sign although he already had a one year contract that did not have an opt-out clause. Now we know where he will play. Weems will play in Lithuania next season for Zalgiris Kaunas, the same team that Omar Samhan plays for.
Are they News Worthy?
While players around the league seem to be leaping at the opportunity to play overseas, one player has a different stance. Jonas Jerebko of the Detroit Pistons, though being a Swedish national, has no intentions of pursuing playing time in Europe or elsewhere. He wants to remain in the NBA. Detroit has offered him a qualifying offer of $1 million and will be able to match any offer he receives from other teams, when the lockout is over, as he is a free agent.
Where as Jerebko wishes to remain in the NBA, his teammate DaJuan Summers had different plans. Summers inked a two-year deal to play in Italy when the Pistons did not extend a qualifying offer to him earlier this summer.
Another player looking to play overseas is Adam Morrison. Yes, the same Adam Morrison who was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats and eventually wore a suit on route to a ring with the Lakers. He did not play in the NBA last season and is looking to take his career elsewhere. Morrison may not have to look across oceans for playing time, however.
Canada’s newest basketball league, the National Basketball League of Canada, is looking to attracted minimum level salary NBA players to join their ranks during the lockout. Chances are this would be appealing to some current NBA players who are currently weighing their options and are not excited about the possibility of playing outside of North America. One has to imagine that the choice to play in Canada would be relatively safe as well, unless they somehow gain the following of the Vancouver Canucks and fail their fanbase horribly.
Can’t do no Wrong
After making it official that Frank Vogel would be the team’s full-time head coach, the Indiana Pacers have hired former Portland trail Blazers’ general manager Kevin Pritchard. He has been brought in a director of player personnel. Pritchard’s duties will include that of scouting and helping the team make decisions in free agency, whenever it eventually takes place. He is best known for turning around the franchise in Portland which was struggling after its “Jailblazer” days in the early part of the millenium.
While most teams have been relatively quiet during the lockout and watching their players sign contracts to play overseas, the Pacers have been making all the right moves to better themselves as an organization. This is a team on the rise in the league and it would not be surprising if they are mentioned as an elite team in the Eastern Conference in the coming years as their personnel and front office decisions have been on-point thus far this summer.