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CHRISTMAS IN JULY
Posted by Rob Peterson on July 2 2004 1 p.m. ET

SUNS UNWRAP NASH ON FIRST MORNING

I can only imagine the scene. Robert Sarver in his team-issued footie pajamas, standing at the top of the staircase, smile on his face, looking down at his Christmas in July.

From his vantage point, you could understand why Sarver beamed. He had just led a huge investment group in their purchase of the Suns, the team he cheered for growing up, for an NBA-record $401 million. (Don't you wonder why not just $400 million? Why the extra mil? But I digress... )
-- East Valley Tribune via Suns.com

(Oh, I see. This story explains the extra million.)
-- Arizona Republic via Suns.com

With the "I"s dotted and the "T"s crossed, Sarver acted like an excited kid. He couldn't wait to play.

"I'm glad to get the paperwork and money stuff out of the way," Sarver told the Arizona Republic "and get on to the fun stuff - basketball."

He wasn't kidding. ESPN's David Aldridge reports Sarver's Suns will offer Kobe Bryant a six-year, $100-million deal.
-- ESPN.com

So, in two days, Sarver will have potentially spent (place the pinky to your lips like Dr. Evil) half-a-billion dollars. And look what it could net him: One of the NBA's most successful franchises and one of the game's premier players.

And, according to reports, Sarver and GM Bryan Colangelo have nabbed one of the game's premier point guards. Steve Nash plans to return from whence he came.
-- Dallas Morning News (Registration required)

Merry Christmas in July, indeed.

Of course, signing Nash essentially puts the kibosh on the Kobe-to-Phoenix rumors.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

But like hot products of Christmas past, Bryant (Cabbage Patch Kobe?) is a rare commodity and he'll have plenty of suitors. For example, take the Lakers' Staples Center roomies, the Clippers. They're interested and they have cap space. (They always do). This time, however, they just may use it to woo Bryant across the hall.
-- Orange County Register (Registration required)

The Clippers, meanwhile, aren't saying much, lest they alienate their own restricted free agent, Quentin Richardson.
-- L.A. Times (Registration required)

OK, the Clippers are saying something. They'll do "whatever it takes" to make Kobe a Clipper. I could think of a million things. We'll see how sincere the Clippers will be.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Of course, Kobe could be swayed by the Lakers' choice to replace Phil Jackson. Has anyone heard any rumors?
-- L.A. Times (Registration required)

(We interrupt this blog with a programming note: We will address the Lakers' coaching situation later in the blog. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.)

Either way, it will cost the Lakers or the Clippers or anyone, such as the Bulls (yes, Bulls) who wants to sign Bryant.
-- L.A. Daily News and Chicago Tribune (Registration required)

As for the Mavs, they said they wanted to keep Nash and this Dallas scribe thought that the Mavs keeping Nash was a must.
-- Both Dallas Morning-News (Registration required)

And with Nash's departure, another Metroplex writer thinks the Mavs don't have a plan.
-- Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Registration required)

Well, at least the Mavs retained this guy.
-- Dallas Morning-News (Registration required)

DADDIES WARBUCKS

As for the other teams with copious amounts of money to spend -- the Jazz, the Nuggets, the Hawks, Bobcats and Spurs -- it looks as if they will entice numerous free agents with their bulging wallets.

Seems Denver has plenty of golden nuggets to throw at free agents and GM Kiki Vandeweghe can't wait to spread it around.
-- Denver Post

According to one report, the Nuggets have already invited three players to visit.
-- Boulder Daily Camera

While the Nuggets have jumped into the free agent pool, the Jazz have just dipped their toes in.
-- Deseret News

Regardless, uncertainty marks the market.
-- Newark Star-Ledger

Others, like the Grizzlies plan to be perfidious.
-- Memphis Commercial-Appeal (Registration required)

But then again, if Erick Dampier comes calling, well, the Grizzlies could be persuaded to pursue the pivot man.
-- Memphis Commercial-Appeal (Registration required)

LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME!

We also have numerous teams who will try to retain their own free agents. One of those teams is the world-champion Pistons, who want to retain Rasheed Wallace.
-- Detroit News

And 'Sheed will stay in Detroit if he knows what's good for him.
-- Detroit News

But other teams want Wallace's services, as well. And don't forget Mehmet Okur. Other teams want him, too.
-- Detroit Free Press

The deposed champs, the Spurs, need to keep restricted free agent, Manu Ginobili. "Manu is our priority of the summer," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said.
-- San Antonio Express-News (Registration required)

Despite all the bleating about cutting payroll, the Nets want to keep Kenyon Martin, considering Jason Kidd will be out indefinitely after knee surgery.
-- New York Post and New York Daily News

BLUE-LIGHT SPECIALS

And other teams are shopping, too.

The Sixers want Mark Blount.
-- Philly Daily News (Registration required)

The Heat have their eyes on three players.
-- Miami Herald (Registration required)

New Celtics coach Doc Rivers has to change his pitch to get free agents to come to the Hub.
-- Boston Globe

And then there are those, such as the Knicks, who have their noses pressed to the glass like kids looking into a pet store. They want to bring one home, but wheeling and dealing will be tough.
-- Bergen County Record

But they do want Jamal Crawford.
-- New York Post

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers decided not to exercise their option on soon-to-be (in my estimation) All-Star forward Carlos Boozer. This decision surprised some.
-- Cavaliers.com and Willoughby News-Herald

COACH O.K.

I'm sure you've heard by now: The Lakers have reportedly offered their head coaching job to Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.
-- L.A. Daily News

Will it keep Kobe in Lakers' purple and gold? Will it keep Shaq, whose family, according to his wife Shaunie, has outgrown its 18-bedroom mansion in Beverly Hills? Will it persuade both of them to stay?
-- ESPN.com

(Outgrown? I've never lived in a home with 18 rooms let alone 18 bedrooms. Wow!)

To which I say if he decides to take it, "Good luck, Coach K." As successful as you were at Duke, the NBA is a different (and better) animal.

Just please, please, please, leave this guy behind.
-- ESPN.com

He was a nuisance on draft night and the third paragraph in his most recent column is beyond the pale:

"Shaun Livingston was recruited to attend Duke, yet he basically held the university hostage, making it wait and wait until he decided to stay in the draft. You spend hours trying to bring in the best diaper dandies, and then you have to wait for answers."

The Clippers' first round pick held a university hostage? Boo-hoo! Livingston, an adult, did what was best for him and possibly his family, just as Krzyzewski would be doing if he takes the Lakers job.

And what about the players Coach K would leave behind if he left Duke now? What about them?

Strange how college coaches can move to-and-fro and all is good, but when a young man wants to take his future into his own hands, he's selfish and the world is coming to an end.

And while the current state of college ball may have something to do with Krzyzewski contemplating leaving Duke, the job that's being dangled in front of him may have a lot more to do with it.

Of course, I'm being mild. Here's the master of the rip job on a somewhat similar subject.
-- New York Post

TIP-INS

Now, Vince Carter wants out of Toronto. What? And not even give Sam Mitchell a chance?
-- Toronto Star

Rob Babcock, the new Raptors GM says, "Nuh-uh. No deal."
-- Toronto Sun

BORN FREE?
Posted by Rob Peterson on June 28 2004 1:15 p.m. ET

TRADES, FREE AGENTS AND NEW COACHES

I'd like to thank Randall (Randy) Kim for writing Click in my stead last Friday. Another fine job by Mr. Kim (aka "Nails," my editor/boss).

Though, I don't know how he can say the Bucks didn't make a second-round steal this year. To get a 20-year old power forward with a year under his belt for the 45th pick is somewhat sneaky good. Two words for you: Zaza Pachulia! He has, as everyone is obligated to say when assessing a young talent, tremendous upside.

Bucks GM Larry Harris said he obtained Pachulia from the Bobcats, who selected him in the expansion draft, because Zaza used his tremendous upside upside the Bucks' head during a Magic win over Milwaukee on Jan. 19.
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"He was very effective in the win they had over us down there," Harris told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I was there. I didn't remember all the stats until we did the background check on him, but I knew he played really well."

(I can't believe I just used three paragraphs on Zaza Pachulia. But I digress...)

By that logic, if everyone tried to obtain someone who played well against them, then everyone would try to trade for Shaq. Right?

Oh, wait.

This week on July 1, "teams may begin negotiating, but not sign, free agents," according to official league lingo. Teams can start signing free agents on July 14. And while the free agent list features some prominent names -- Kobe Bryant and Kenyon Martin -- the NBA is abuzz with trade talk.

Shaq wants out of L.A. in the worst way and he's not shy about expressing his feelings.
-- Houston Chronicle

By the way, if you have $7.5 million in your couch cushions, I know where you can buy a 12,500 square-foot crib -- complete with Superman logos -- in a gated Beverly Hills community.
-- L.A. Times (Registration required)

"The tennis court was converted into extra parking for O'Neal's numerous cars," the Times reports, "and a sports court for basketball practice. It can be turned back into a tennis court at the buyer's request."

That's good to know.

The good people of San Francisco would like to let O'Neal know they would welcome him with open arms.
-- San Francisco Chronicle

So do the folks in Sacramento. They want you, despite all you've said. All is forgiven, you big lug.
-- Sacramento Bee

(Meanwhile, Bryant signs contract to join Lakers. Ha! The headline got me too.)
-- Columbia Missourian

From Shaq we go to T-Mac as Grant Hill (Grant Hill?) thinks the trade between the Magic and the Rockets swapping Tracy McGrady, et al. for Steve Francis, et al. will go down soon.
-- Florida Today

I wonder whatever gave him that idea:
Francis plans to visit Orlando today | Francis eyes get-together with Magic
-- Florida Today and Houston Chronicle

Seems the man trying to trade McGrady, Magic GM John Weisbrod, has two reputations. In Orlando, he's as cool and as hard as the ice upon which he used to play.
-- Orlando Sentinel (Registration required)

In Houston, he's a knucklehead.
-- Houston Chronicle

Regardless, some think the Magic want more for T-Mac.
-- Florida Today

FREE-AGENT FRENZY

You want rumors. Pshaw! These guys supposedly set the record straight about NBA free agents.
-- San Antonio Express-News (Registration required)

The Warriors' Erick Dampier wants out, so much so he's giving up a guaranteed $17 million to be a free agent. Something about onions comes to mind.
-- Contra Costa Times

The Bulls have little room to work with when it comes to free agents.
-- Arlington Daily Herald

The Jazz are another story.
-- Deseret News

JUMP ON THE CAROUSEL

A strange and potential non-story out of Denver. On Sunday, the New York Daily News reported the Nuggets are on the verge of replacing Jeff Bzdelik.
-- New York Daily News

To which Denver GM Kiki Vandeweghe says: Say what?
-- Rocky Mountain News

Yet, even if Vandeweghe wanted to, he wouldn't be able to hire Sam Mitchell, who looks as if he's destined to coach the Raptors. This paper says expect an announcement Tuesday.
-- Toronto Sun

Also, it looks as if Del Harris won't be coaching the Hawks next season.
-- Dallas Morning-News

Me? I'm not in line for any NBA head coaching position. Just wanted to clear that up.

TIP-INS

The Bobcats like Emeka Okafor so much, they don't want him to go far, far away.
-- ESPN.com

As for the No. 1 pick, Dwight Howard, a columnist has already saddled him with this: The Can't Miss Kid. I have nothing to add.
-- Orlando Sentinel (Registration required)

Sam Smith plays Bulls GM again. I wonder if Smith plays fantasy basketball as a hobby, too?
-- Chicago Tribune (Registration required)

From one Smith to another, as Stephen A. Smith gets props for his NBA Draft work on ESPN.
-- Washington Post (Registration required)

And finally, don't count out the Lakers just yet.
-- Newark Star-Ledger

Hey, I just report it.

When Nash returns to Phoenix, he may want to get another summer haircut.
(Jonathan Daniel
Getty Images/NBAE)

2003-04 ARCHIVE
June 25 -- The Draft Blog
June 21-26 -- Draft Week
June 5-15 -- C&R's Finals
June 5-15 -- The Finals Blog
June 1 -- Love 'Em, Hate 'Em
May 24 -- Three's Magic
May 17 -- Unsung Heroes
May 10 -- Kero-Whacked!
May 3 -- Fugazy Like a Fox
April 26 -- Click Gets Randy
April 19 -- Playoffs CW, IQ
April 12 -- Give Them Away
April 5 -- Fight for First
March 29 -- Prime Time
March 22 -- East Bests West?
March 15 -- Very Scary Bears
March 8 -- Sick and Tired
March 1 -- West Side Story
Feb. 24 -- Surfing the Nets
Feb. 17 -- City of Angles
Feb. 13-15 -- All-Star Blog
Feb. 9 -- Git Up, Git Out
Feb. 2 -- Lobbying for L.A.
Jan. 26 -- Midwest is Best
Jan. 19 -- More Central
Jan. 12 -- Grand Central
Jan. 8 -- Starbury Time
Dec. 29 -- American Rookies
Dec. 22 -- The Greatest Gift
Dec. 15 -- Hail the Kings
Dec. 8 -- Spurs Sportsmen
Dec. 1 -- Holiday Exchange
Nov. 24 -- Hive Talkin'
Nov. 17 -- Clip and Save
Nov. 10 -- Short People

BACKCOURT
Check out NBA.com's "Destination Finals", The Finals and NBA Draft 2004 sections for a complete recap of all of the recent action.

FRONTCOURT
The week that will be:
July 1: Start negotiating!

WEEKLY KERR
My boss likes Steve Kerr's Yahoo! column. I like my job. Here's this week's link to Steve's piece on ... the NBA Draft. Kerr opines on the winners and losers of said selections.