It’s a testament to the desperate state of NBA centers that Kyrylo Fesenko is relevant news with training camp starting this weekend in some places, but them’s the breaks.
Marc Stein of ESPN reports via Twitter that Fesenko has decided to pass on an offer from the Houston Rockets and accept a one-year, $1 million offer from the Jazz to re-sign.
It brings to a close the kind of frustrating summer some promising free agents go through, where they’ve shown they can contribute, but not enough to get bidders lunging for their checkbooks. Fesenko received interest from several teams but if Stein’s report is on target, nothing materialized to match Utah’s offer. In Utah he’ll find himself in a similar situation as he would have in Houston, buried relatively deep in the depth chart, but not so far down he can’t see minutes.
Fesenko showed some life in the playoffs and gives every indication that he can contribute at this level. The big questions have been about his maturity, but they haven’t been the kind to stick with a player for years, just the little things he needs to grow out of. Now Jerry Sloan may have a chance to see if he can grow the kiddo up a bit more, while getting some frontcourt depth out of him.
The Rockets decision to not up the ante for Fesenko could be in part due to several factors, including their interest in Erick Dampier, or their rumored discussions in the Melo trade talks. Or, you know, they could just be insanely deep and not willing to go ga-ga over a kid that’s shown only potential when they’re trying to win now.
LeBron James had questions about Cleveland, its ownership and the grand plan. He didn’t have those questions (or far fewer ones) about Miami.
Dirk Nowitzki was a free agent this summer too, although nobody expected him to move. He told Mavs Moneyball it was owner Mark Cuban’s commitment to winning that made sure he did not leave.
“I would say the key point is that our owner Marc Cuban immediately came to me and said: ‘Hey, Dirk, we both sit in the same boat. ” The same boat, that was it. He wants to be champion, I want to be champion, he dreams of it, I dream of it. If I would’ve left, I would have thought, I give up, I did not make it. It would have seemed to me like running away.”
But he may have been more tempted than people thought.
“Granted, there was a moment, if the Miami Heat would’ve had reported exactly at that time [as Cuban], ‘they want to build a super team with me, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James’, it would have been very tempting and almost a guarantee for the title. When they got Chris Bosh it was clear, the best options do I have and keep in Dallas, because all the other clubs are not further than us in the fight to the ring for the NBA Champ. Not Chicago, not New York, and neither the New Jersey Nets can guarantee me a better result and not to drop off again in April to end the season prematurely.”
With Dirk in the fold, the Mavericks remain very good. On that second tier in the West, hoping the Lakers come back to them a little.
LeBron James in another jersey is not that jarring (unless you live in Cleveland). Nowitzki in another jersey… can’t picture it.
The Heat were expected to swoop in and grab Erick Dampier fresh off the waiver wire to bolster their weak center rotation. After all, how many teams can use a veteran center with possible injury issues who can’t really jump at this point?
Daryl Morey’s got a suggestion for you.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets have extended a two-year, $4 million contract offer to Dampier, well above the minimum contract he’d be receiving from the Heat, who at this point have to stuff contract money in the pillow sheets. Morey wouldn’t confirm the report, but did say the team was looking to add players. Dampier can mull it over and decide if he likes Houston’s situation more than his other offers.
Funny story, if the Rockets do add Dampier, here’s a list of frontcourt players they’ll be employing next season: Chuck Hayes, Jordan Hill, Brad Miller, the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra, Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries, the cast of popular television show “Glee,” Mike Harris, Alexander Johnson, Luis Scola, former ABA star Bob Netolicky, Patrick Patterson, Brad Miller, Yao Ming, and Erick Dampier.
Miller was added to provide a big body behind Yao Ming’s frail feet, but his rebounding numbers have plummeted so significantly, Dampier actually looks like a fit. With the Rockets trading David Anderson, they need size. It’s another indication of the recurring theme throughout the Western Conference: “The best way to combat the Lakers isn’t through talent, it’s through size.”
Jermaine O’Neal had options this summer — he was a skilled big man who would be playing for a very affordable contract. Two contenders in the East wanted him, Miami and Boston.
O’Neal has been near the top looking down on the rest of the league before, with Indiana in the pre-brawl years. It was a long fall from there. He’s learned a lot, much of it the hard way. He gets now how sacrifice is needed for winning.
So when it came to choosing between Miami and Boston, O’Neal went with where they have proven they will sacrifice, not just where people have talked about it, O’Neal told the Boston Globe.
“There’s no ego [in Boston], and it’s hard to find no egos,” O’Neal said. “As good as individual players are, especially when I look at a situation like Miami, none of those guys had to really deal with sacrificing.
“That’s what made Boston more intriguing for me and a situation I thought would be better for me. These guys [in Miami] are all really good individual guys that are used to shooting 20 times a night just last year. These are all young guys.
“So no matter what you say or how you say it, they’re going to still want the credit. But I know the Boston Celtics aren’t about that.”
The book is still out on Miami — they are saying all the right things, these are all guys who may be young but are wise in the game beyond their years. LeBron, Wade and Bosh may be ready to make the necessary sacrifices. But they have to prove it.
Boston has proved it. It’s why they have a ring and were on the verge of another last season. O’Neal felt more comfortable with that.
And because he did, Boston is even closer to a title.
Tim Thomas only played in 18 games for Dallas last seasons. When he did he gave them some solid veteran play off the bench, and 7.5 points in just under 16 minutes.
For the first part of the year, Thomas was recovering from knee surgery. But he talked with NBA.com’s Alex Garcia about the second half, when Thomas needed time to take care of his family and ill wife.
“It was about taking care of my wife, but I watched basketball as much as I could and I always kept up with what Dallas was doing,” he said. “I reached out to everybody right before the playoffs and wished everybody well.
“Of course I watched the playoff games and thought about situations where I could have helped. It was tough to know that the guys were going to war and I wasn’t there to help, but at the same time everybody was reaching out with their prayers for my wife.”
Thomas said he got an outpouring of support from throughout the Mavericks organization. So while he could have looked around, Thomas said he wanted to come back to the Mavs, to repay them for the understanding and care they had shown him.
“I wanted to come back and help my team, but things happened in the household,” he said. “The team allowed me to go and to try to work things out. When things started going downhill, they allowed me to stay home and take care of what’s most important — your family. I really appreciate that from them. I’m happy that everything worked out as far as my wife’s health.”
This season will be the 14th in the NBA for the 33-year-old.