Summer league is in full swing and the Blazers will sign Derek Anderson today. The NBA free agent war continues, and the contracts we’ve seen so far have been anything but reasonable. It’s another week of the off-season in the NBA.
Derek Anderson: You have to love this move if you’re a Blazer fan. Anderson is young, quick, athletic and basically a player who can play three positions. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play the point guard spot some. Anderson was second on the Spurs in scoring last season, and there’s no doubt he’ll give Bonzi Wells a run at the starting spot at shooting guard.
With the addition of Anderson, there should come the subtraction of Steve Smith. Smith has asked Blazer management to trade him and he may be headed to San Antonio in a sign and trade deal for Anderson. Smith is a clutch player the Blazers would miss, but he’s a defensive liability against the quicker two guards. You’d think he could back up Scottie Pippen at the small forward spot, but that doesn’t look like it will happen. Bottom line, Smith won’t be around too much longer.
Zach Randolph: Can you say a steal in the draft? It looks that way right now. Randolph averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds in the Los Angeles summer league to lead the league, and he had 39 points in his first game in the Utah summer league Monday. He’s a scoring machine around the basket and he should see some minutes if he continues to score like he does during the regular season. Defense is always a key when a rookie comes into the league, and Randolph does have some work to do in that area. But when you score like he does, he will see some minutes.
Erick Barkley: Maurice Cheeks has enjoyed watching Barkley improve his game in the summer league. Barkley averaged 18 points and seven assists in five games in Los Angeles, and the real question is whether or not he could back up Damon Stoudamire next season. With no back-up point guard on the Portland roster as of yet, it may be Barkley’s spot to lose. He’s still inconsistent from game to game, but his outside shot is much improved and his assist numbers are up. Defense will be the key with Barkley though. Cheeks wants his team to play defense, and that will be the ultimate test for Barkley during the rest of the summer league.
David Robinson: The Admiral worked out his new contract with the Spurs, but who really won in this battle? Robinson was miffed that the Spurs wanted to cut his contract in half from $14 million to $7 million. With the new luxury tax, the Spurs didn’t want to go over the salary cap. Robinson didn’t want to take a cut though. The Spurs lost Anderson, Samaki Walker and Avery Johnson, and frankly, they won’t be as good next year with no guard help.
Antonio Davis: He’s angry that Chicago’s General Manager Jerry Krause tried to snowball him with a different contract. Krause, famous for his terrible work at getting rid of great players (Jordan, Pippen, etc…), told Davis he’d sign him for the contract he wanted. Krause then came back with a contract $10 million less than what he had told Davis, and Davis and his agent couldn’t believe it. Davis resigned with Toronto, and now he’s circled the Bulls on the schedule for motivation in the 2001-02 season. Yet another Jerry Krause moment.
Patrick Ewing and Horace Grant: Yes, the Orlando Magic just raised the average age on their team from 27 to 36. It’s amazing what two very old guys can do to a team. Both players are way past their prime, but veteran players and playoff experience is just what the Magic will need next season. Grant Hill should be back and Tracey McGrady should be even better next season. The Magic are Eastern Conference contenders now with the addition of Ewing and Grant.
Mitch Richmond: Somehow the Lakers were able to sign Richmond to the league minimum last week, giving them another perimeter player to kill the Blazers. Richmond was lost in Washington, but he can still shoot and he will be a perfect third player for the Lakers, much like Glen Rice was two years ago. It’s a great pickup for the Lakers, and may put an end to the JR Rider epic in Laker land. And with that, we put an end to another free agent saga in the off-season NBA report.