By Jessika Morgan, for NBA.com
Posted Aug 12 2009 12:46PM
In the NBA, there's a place for every player and every player has his place. At least that's the idea. By now, most free agents have done what they're going to do, most rookies have signed, probably most of the major trades are done.
Still, a few unanswered questions remain ...
When the Timberwolves selected 18-year-old Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio with the fifth pick in the Draft, he already was under contract to his pro team back in Spain. Getting out of that contract, according to Timberwolves president David Kahn, is now proving "very problematic."
Rubio is still trying to get his team, DKV Joventut Badalona, to relax its demand for a $6.6 million buyout. And the Wolves, by NBA rules, can't help much. They can offer only $500,000 toward freeing Rubio.
So will Rubio borrow the money so he can come to the NBA? Will his Spanish team ease its demands? Will the Wolves have a place for him if he comes, considering they signed another young point guard, Jonny Flynn, with the sixth pick in the Draft?
It's been a wild offseason for the Wolves, who finally named Kurt Rambis their coach earlier this week. Until the Rubio question is answered, it's not going to settle down.
Iverson, a former MVP and 10-time All-Star who has averaged 27.1 points a game in his career, is the biggest free-agent who hasn't yet settled into a basketball nest. AI, now 34, has had plenty of lookers, evidently, from the Clippers to the Heat to the Knicks.
He met in mid-July to speak with Clippers' coach Mike Dunleavy and they talked about Iverson's willingness to come off the bench. Iverson, a starter for most of his career, reportedly didn't want to start behind Baron Davis (or anyone else for that matter).
Miami also was said to be looking to sign AI. Heat president Pat Riley reached out to Iverson recently, according to reports, and planned to offer him $2 million for a year's contract. But that probably means coming off the bench, too, to spell Dwyane Wade and/or Mario Chalmers.
NBA.com's Art Garcia laid out the problems that some teams have with Iverson. But the Greek club Olympiakos reportedly has offered him $10 million to play, much more along the lines of what AI is used to making. Stay for pennies on the dollar and a backup spot, or head overseas? For his part, Iverson says he's just looking for a "happy situation."
Boozer lives in Miami during the offseason and has said he'd have interest in playing there next season. "It's like paradise here, and I would love to be part of the Heat," he told the Miami Herald.
His current team, the Jazz, will have a say in that, though.
The Jazz, already over the salary cap for next season, have committed to the younger, cheaper Paul Millsap. But moving Boozer and his nearly $13 million contract has not proven easy to do. Still, Boozer says the two sides have an unofficial agreement to get him traded.
To where, though? To Miami? To the Bulls? To the Nets? (Boozer has been linked to both of those places, too.) A good bet: He won't be playing for the Jazz at the end of next season.
As hard as they may have tried -- or not -- two teams that made the Playoffs last season, the Heat and the Jazz, have done little more than tread water this offseason. The Jazz matched an offer sheet and retained Millsap, a huge part of their future. But they've added no one else but Eric Maynor, their first-round Draft pick, as they struggle to reduce their payroll.
The Heat have asked around enough -- hello, Boozer and Iverson? -- but have landed nothing of note yet. Their bid for Lamar Odom fell short when he decided to return to the Lakers.
Not spending big bucks in an economy like this may work out for both of these teams -- and others like the Knicks and Bulls -- in the long run. But, for now, fans in those cities may be a little deflated watching the same team that fell short last season taking the floor again.
How does a team meld the league's most impressive offensive force, someone who can drain a 3-pointer and slash to the basket with power, with a huge, dominant guy who favors hovering below the basket? The Suns' Steve Nash said that former teammate Shaquille O' Neal will be a good fit with LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
"I think he realizes that he's not in the prime of his career ..." Nash told The Associated Press near the end of July. "He's still a great player, but LeBron is going to be the focal point."
No one's going to know exactly how James and Shaq will fit until they play a few real games together. O'Neal seemingly knows his place -- it was a "business decision" to come to Cleveland, he said, where he's trying to get "a ring for The King" -- but his struggles on defense and the mere space he takes up in the lane will make for an adjustment period.
However it works out, it should be interesting. The Cavs will get a huge test on Christmas Day when they play Kobe Bryant and the defending champion Lakers in L.A.
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