There may be change afoot and Andrea's summer plans
Well, at least it gives me the weekend to write about the Suns and Spurs after cleaning up the debris of the losing teams.
So what now, Mr. Cuban?
Don’t you have to wonder what will happen with the Mavericks now that they’ve suffered another early playoff exit and the team built to contend for a championship suddenly looks old, unable to keep its composure and adrift?
The big question, of course, is whether or not Dirk Nowitzki decides to exercise his option to become a free agent in July and, let me tell you, if he does, it changes everything. All season long, no one expected him to ever consider it but after that loss to San Antonio, which marked the third time in four years the Mavs have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, it’s sounding like all bets are off from reading the Dirk quotes post-game:
"I wanted to obviously have a long playoff run here and go for my dream again. And now I'm just obviously too shocked and too disappointed.
“I haven't really thought anything about my future yet. I guess I've got some time now to think about some stuff, think about my options.”
Now, before anyone goes all crazy on us and starts the Bosh back home thoughts, consider this: The only time Bosh ever spoke openly about Dallas was with my man Eddie Sefko before the all-star break and Bosh’s point was that it’s tremendously hard, what will all the tugs on a guy’s time, to go play in your hometown.
So I’d scratch the Mavs off the list, at the moment.
But here’s something to ponder:
Not only have the Mavs lost in the first round three of the last four years, they are the only team since the league expanded the first round to a best-of-seven in 2003 to lose as a No. 1 seed (2007 to Golden State) and as a No. 2 seed (2010 to San Antonio).
There is no way Mark Cuban settles for that kind of dubious legacy so if you’re looking for a good team that might make substantial change this summer, the Mavs could very well be it.
I’m going to point this out and take the hits.
Perhaps all you folks out there who bombard me with the “they have to get rid of the Euros” crap might have noticed: Milwaukee: Point guard learned to be a pro in Italy, Argentine small forward, Turkish power forward.
San Antonio: French point guard, Argentine shooting guard.
Phoenix: Brazilian backup guard, Slovenian backup guard.
(I know, I’m lumping South America with Europe but I trust you get my point).
Speaking of international basketball, I’m told that today in Italy, Andrea’s going to let them know that, yes, he plans to play for the national team this summer.
But it’s not like he’s going to start today and end in early September and wear himself out.
Italy, which didn’t qualify for the worlds, has to take part in a qualification tournament just to get into next summer’s European championships and that’s why it’s not really a surprise that Bargnani will play. If they don’t get into the Euros, they can kiss any chance at the 2012 Olympics goodbye and it’d be a huge setback for the federation.
Now, I’m sure most of you are aware that I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with guys playing for their countries in the summer because of the prestige it brings and the patriotic obligation they feel.
And in Bargnani’s case, since the two things he has to work on more than anything else are rebounding and weak side defensive help, playing games and taking part in practice scrimmages are the absolute best things for him. Rebounding comes from working in games, so does help defence; it’s not something that can really be taught in too many drills so him getting scrimmages and games has to help.
It truly was the glitterati at the Canada Basketball thing yesterday afternoon.
They had all the big shots there – Wayne Parrish, Maurizio, Leo, Rowan Barrett made an appearance, CB president Therese Quigley was there to show the flag – and it sure was nice of them to have it atop the CN Tower because that’s only about the third time I’ve ever been up there and the view is breathtaking.
Anyway, as I sat there, it struck me as there was one guy missing:
The dude with the top hat and white moustache who climbs out of a closet holding a satchel with a big red dollar sign on it and oodles of bills spilling out the top.
You know, like the guy from Monopoly, Rich Uncle Pennybags.
Because I get a feeling that’s what might turn the bid in Canada’s favour.
If you look at it from a logistical standpoint, it’s a no-brainer:
NBA-ready arena to host the event with all in the inherent amenities, including built-in security plans that are top-notch.
First-class hotels within walking distance of the arena.
Practice facilities a short drive away.
A fan base that would ensure support for every team, sometimes to the detriment of the Canadian team but that’s an issue for another day,
A chance to enhance the reputation, and the visibility, of FIBA Americas here.
But if Brazil or Argentina come rolling in at the last minute with a big cheque that enhances the profit, Canada’s toast.
And that sucks.
Now, before some of you go off half-cocked, or fully-cocked, about the government portion of this small budget (and $6 million’s really not that much) the money is already there in a set-aside for hosting this type of event and if basketball doesn’t spend it, someone else will.
Last call for mail, folks.
Shoot it off here so we can put it together a weekend delivery.
Oh yeah, another night off from in-game blogging stuff, I’m afraid. I’ve got some stuff to do that’s going to keep me away from the couch, sadly. Hopefully, it does allow me to find time on a stool, though.
As much as I like Game 7s, I wonder if we’ll actually get one in this round of playoffs.
The three games tonight all seem to set up for the teams leading 3-2 to close things out, don’t they?
I guess the biggest chance for an upset would be in Oklahoma City, if the Thunder can ride the wave of emotion they get from their fans to one more win. But as I wrote today, that Kobe fella has a way of doing whatever it takes and he blankets Westbrook again, well, I have a feeling that one’s over.
I have absolutely no faith in the ability of the Atlanta Hawks to finally find some cohesion and win a big road game, despite a wide disparity in individual skill.
And to suggest the Utah Jazz won’t be ready to close out a series at home is probably folly.
Too bad, was shaping up to be a nice Sunday of Game 7s.
Okay, I need to go figure out who I like in the Cavs-Celts and Suns-Spurs series because there’s space in the paper and on this site over the next couple of days.
And, to tell you the truth, as I wrap this up about 8:15 a.m. Friday, I really have no idea who’ll win or in how many games.
Guess I’ve got some thinking to do.