Free Agent Signings
The free agent signings are starting to slow down as we wrap up the first week in August, but there were still a few big names around.
Greg Oden and his bad knees signed a two-year deal for $2.1 million and a player option for next season with the HEAT and that was without any guarantee that the once future superstar will be ready to play by the time the season starts. When a team has come off back-to-back NBA Championships and has a deep roster, they can afford the occasional risk and Oden might just get a ring before he is out of the game for good.
Mo Williams just received a two-year deal for $5.6 million with a player option for next season from Portland. Williams is a nice acquisition as the Trail Blazers just got a little deeper and a little stronger, but it’s probably still not enough for a postseason run.
The Bucks signed and traded Brandon Jennings to the Pistons on a three-year $24 million deal that saw Brandon Knight as the key player sent back to Milwaukee. The Bucks were happy to get a younger and cheaper version of Jennings for their roster going forward and Jennings said he wouldn’t have to be chucker with the Pistons front court talent. It would lob-city in Detroit this season.
2013-2014 NBA Schedule Released
The myth of the Los Angeles Lakers will not go away quietly even if there is a better than even chance they’ll be tanking for Wiggins before this season is over. The Lakers are scheduled to play the fourth most nationally televised games this season with 29 including both Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day games. Only the Bulls, Knicks and Thunder appear more times on National television. The NBA Champion HEAT are on just 27 times.
The Raptors have a reasonably balanced schedule, but face the HEAT twice, Brooklyn and Chicago at home in November. The Home Opener will be against Boston on October 30th and Raptors fans should get ready for Friday Night Basketball as their team kicks off the weekend 21 times this season, 12 times at home and 9 times on the road.
One of the big questions the Raptors have raised themselves this summer is the absence of Canadians on Canada’s only NBA franchise. With the Cleveland Cavaliers a mere 5.5 hour drive from downtown Toronto, there is a risk that a bad Raptors’ season could lead to Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson’s Cavaliers becoming Canada’s team. So, obviously, the NBA schedule only has the Cavaliers visiting Toronto once this season.
National Teams Becoming the Focus
The amount of news emanating from North America about basketball is slowing down, but there are still NBA players working hard for their National teams this summer.
USA Basketball ran a camp for potential future team members right after the NBA Summer Leagues wrapped up and National teams in Europe have opened training camps and started playing friendly exhibition games in preparation for 2013 Eurobasket in September. NBA teams are required to release players to their National teams five weeks before the start of the tournament, although some European NBA players have been back home for some time now.
The Knicks received some bad news from Italy this week when forward/center Andrea Bargnani came down with respiratory tract infection and is now expected to miss at least the start of Eurobasket, although nothing is certain at the moment. The bigger impact could be on his conditioning when the Knicks training camp starts in October and this story may have a familiar ring to Toronto Raptors fans. Bargnani’s play was not always easy to explain in Toronto.
On a more positive note, the 2013 NBA Summer League MVP Jonas Valanciunas put up an easy double-double in Lithuania’s win over Belgium in the Toronto Raptors center first friendly.
Team Canada will be playing exhibition games on August 8th and 10th in Toronto. Click here for ticket information.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the ACC. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of ProBballReport. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors
Posted by Stephen Brotherston at 8:00 AM