More max-space slots than max-level players

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nba_gay.jpgSomeone is going to get very overpaid in this summer’s free agent market.

Not LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh — those are guys who deserve max contracts (which will be about $16 million the first year, depending on factors with the salary cap not yet determined). And they will have choices on where they want to play because at least eight teams spent the last few weeks clearing out all sports of cap space so they could offer a max contract this summer.

But there are not eight free agents this summer worthy of max money, and that’s where the problem lies. There are eight fan bases that have high hopes and expectations — and eight general managers feeling enormous pressure to make something happen.

Let’s play a hypothetical: LeBron decides to re-sign with Cleveland this summer to start, then Chris Bosh decides he wants to play with Derek Rose in Chicago and takes their max-salary slot. Then Dwyane Wade decides to stay in Miami after the Heat finally swing an Amare Stoudemire trade.

What is Donnie Walsh going to do in New York? What is Mike Dunleavy going to do with the Clippers? Rod Thorn with the Nets? They will all be under pressure, and so they will get in a bidding war over the second tier of players. Suddenly everybody wants Joe Johnson and he is being offered a max or near max deal. Same with Rudy Gay. Both very good players that can be good fits with others around them. Neither max players.

A smart general manager may try to hold on to that space until the following free agent class the next summer, which is deep as well. Plus, with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming the financial rules for teams is changing, some may want to wait.

But that is a hard sell to fans, that you just gutted their team for cap space and now you are going to sit on it for a year. There will be an outcry.

Which means someone is going to get very overpaid this summer.

John Wall drops J.R. Smith with crossover, makes layup (VIDEO)

John Wall
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John Wall is one of the hardest players to guard in the NBA. J.R. Smith found that out the hard way on Tuesday night when Wall sent him flying with a behind-the-back dribble before making an easy layup.

The Wizards beat the Cavs, who are now 13-5 on the season.

Sixers to retire Moses Malone’s number next season

Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone

Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.

There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.