The 2012 London Olympics will be the 20th anniversary of the original Dream Team — Bird, Magic, Jordan and a host of other NBA stars putting on a show in Barcelona and reclaiming the gold medal for the United States. That team was the spark that lit the fire of NBA globalization.
But it’s possible no NBA players will be on Team USA at the London games to mark the anniversary.
There are a whole lot of ifs that have to fall into place, but it could be that still locked out NBA players will skip the Olympics. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo lays out how we could get to that disaster.
In the doomsday scenario, where labor strife causes the cancellation of the 2011-12 NBA season, and the work stoppage drags into June and then July, there’s little, if no chance, the great American players could play in the Olympics. Team USA is too tied to the NBA – too much of a David Stern production – for the players to break ranks and play. In the post 9-11 world, that’s a tricky subject PR-wise for the players, but several union, USA Basketball and agent sources believe this worst-case labor scenario would cost Team USA its NBA stars.
It has happened before, sort of — in 1998 the players were locked out for the FIBA World Championships and Team USA had to be built from college and unsigned guys (Brad Miller was the star of that team).
This time around it would be interesting to see if players might break ranks — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and the rest are global brands now and the Olympics is a big chance to promote that brand. There is more pressure on them to be at the London games then there was on the guys to play a FIBA tournament 12 years ago.
But clearly USA Basketball is thinking about this — that is why they are sending a team of D-League stars to the Pan American games this October. Consider that a dry run.
Let’s hope that we don’t have to see it in action a year from now.
Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:
After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:
The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.
Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.
It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.
In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.
This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.
At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.
Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.
But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.