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UEFA: Ukraine does not have any problematic objects posted by UkraineEURO2012

Over three hundred days before the start of Euro 2012 and Ukraine nas no building objects problems.

This was stated by the leaders of UEFA, Michel Platini, Gianni Infantino, according to Channel 5.

Olympic Stadium Renovation completed at 90%. Work in the Lvov stadium scheduled for completion in October. At the same time open and complex in Kiev.

Sports arenas in Kharkiv and Donetsk for two years as ready to receive visitors.

Also before the end of the year and expand the country's air gates - the airport "Borispol". The new terminal is to increase passenger numbers by half - to 12 million people a year.Continue reading "UEFA: Ukraine does not have any problematic ..."

Todd F. Dixon

Free Agency: Who the Redskins should and shouldn't sign posted by Todd F. Dixon

Okay, now comes our only "successful" part of the season as history has gone.  The Redskins always make a big splash in free agency and usually strikeout.  There have been a couple years when they took the year off and didn't do a whole lot (last year) but they are poised to make some big moves this year according to most credible sources.  As usual they are linked to many big-name free agents and will spend a lot of money unless they listen to me!

Nnamdi Asomugha - The Raiders free agent corner has been linked to so many teams and is widely regarded as the best free agent on the market.  He will be comanding 16-18 million a year and on the wrong side of 30 is a big thumbs down for me.  He is not a big turnover machine and is only good on one side.  He would not be good with our scheme nor opposite DHall.  We could get a few players for that price that would contribute and I want us to STAY AWAY!!

Santonio Holmes - He is a mold of Santana Moss and yes he is younger and a little more dynamic but he will command high dollars and is a locker room bane.  He also has off-the-field issues and would be a wasted of money.  The Skins have said he is their "Top" priority but they should just bid up and let him go back to the Nets, errr Jets.

Braylon Edwards - The other Jets free agent WR has also been linked to the Skins.  He also has problems off the field and has a history of not hanging on to the ball.  We do not need him at all, and it would be another waste of money.

Randy Moss, Ochocinco, and T.O. - Um.......hell no!  Fast fact: Vinny Cerrato actually offered 2 first round picks for Chad Ocho, so glad he is not with us anymore.

Continue reading "Free Agency: Who the Redskins should ..."


Ukrainian team will prepare for the Euro 2012 abroad posted by UkraineEURO2012

On the eve of starting the finals of Euro 2012 Ukraine national football team will hold a short training camp in Austria or Germany.
As part of this planned series of friendly matches, in particular, meeting in Vienna against Austria on 1 June.

This was told by the vice-president of the Football Federation of Ukraine Vladimir Lashkul. According to him, this is due to the requirements of UEFA, according to which national teams can not hold friendly matches in the host country for three months before the start of the tournament and a month after his graduation.

Recall that the coming friendlies team will play Ukraine on June 1 against a team of Uzbekistan in Kiev at the Dynamo stadium name Lobanovsky and June 6 against the French in Donetsk Donbass-Arena.Continue reading "Ukrainian team will prepare for the ..."

Les Leonard

Big Daddy Rides Brees’ Avalanche to the Bottom posted by Les Leonard

     What emotion described your mood after Sunday’s Superdome debacle? Did you feel disappointed, humiliated, angry, or betrayed? Big Daddy felt so humiliated by the Saints half-hearted effort. Only Brett Farve understood Saints fans embarrassment after his wood-stroking photos surfaced on the internet. Several of Big Daddy’s co-workers revisited the Madden Curse theory, citing Drew Brees’ God-awful performance in which 2 of his 4 interceptions resulted in pick-sixes. Others wondered if Cleveland Head Coach Eric Mangini instructed former Saints Scott Fujita and Mike Bell (two integral pieces to last year’s Super Bowl Championship team) to hire a Voodoo priestess to cast an Early Halloween spell on Drew. One thing is certain, the Browns’ coach unleashed his bag of tricks on the Crescent City, soundly out coaching Sean Payton all afternoon. Saints fans can only pray that the Black ’n’ Gold will collect tons of treats come Halloween night when Pittsburgh comes to town. In this edition of the Section 645 Saints Beat, Big Daddy tailgates in Champions Square, reports live from Section 645, recaps the Cleveland game, watches the New Orleans Hornets season opener, attends legendary Martinque chef Nat Carrier’s Birthday Bash, and releases his World Famous Pregame Information.

     Saints fans had Champions Square jam packed by 10 am. Some listened to the pregame concert, while others watched CBS’s coverage of the NFL Today on the big screen. No matter which option the Who Dat Army soldiers choose, they all munched down funnel cakes, hot dogs, and pretzels, watching down their tailgating eats with semi-cold $5.00 draught beers prior to entering the Superdome, where buying drinks smarts worse than a nun’s 3-sided ruler in parochial school. Once Big Daddy’s posse temporarily quenched their thirst, our group huddled around WWL’s Saints radio broadcast outside Gate C to catch some of Bobby Hebert’s, Deke Bellavia’s, and Mike Detillier’s pregame thoughts before ascending to hallowed Section 645 grounds near the summit of the Big Easy’s coolest man made mountain.

Continue reading "Big Daddy Rides Brees’ Avalanche to the Bottom"

Colin Linneweber

Chicago's Rain Man Picks Purdue To Win The National Championsip posted by Colin Linneweber

An autistic teenager from Chicago has incredibly assembled a flawless NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket as the Sweet 16 is set to commence tonight.  

Despite the myriad of shocking upsets, Alex Hermann has somehow selected all 48 games correctly. 

The website reported that the betting chances of having an unblemished bracket entering the Sweet 16 are one in 13,460,000. 

“It’s amazing,” Hermann, 17, told Chicago’s NBC affiliate. 

Hermann managed to comprise his perfect bracket by studying numbers to find an ideal combination. 

However, Hermann veered from his strategy when he selected the Purdue Boilermakers as the eventual winners of the national championship. 

Hermann predicted that the Boilermakers will ultimately take scissors to the nets in Indianapolis because his older brother, Andrew, attends Purdue. 

The fourth-seeded Boilermakers next game is scheduled for Friday night against the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils.  

The Autism Society defines autism as “a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and skills.” 

Hermann’s story is the most intriguing one regarding autism since the Oscar-winning movie Rain Main premiered in March 1989. 

If Purdue does capture the title, Alex Hermann’s account will be this year’s

Continue reading "Chicago's Rain Man Picks Purdue To ..."

Andy Charles

Collinson gets his big chance posted by Andy Charles

That collective sigh you heard was the one coming from New Orleans Hornets fans when they learned that All-Star point guard Chris Paul would be missing for maybe as long as two months in the wake of knee surgery.

Paul needs arthroscopic surgery for a cartilage tear in his left knee, an injury suffered in freak fashion seconds from the end of the loss to the Chicago Bulls last week when he collided with a photographer on the baseline as he went to retrieve an errant shot.

Results of a scan showed that Paul had a partial tear of his meniscus, an injury that really cannot be played through and could develop into something serious if left untreated for a long spell of time.

But maybe, just maybe, Paul’s absence will not be felt as badly as some NBA Predictions first thought, based on the performance of his replacement Darren Collinson in the 109-102 overtime win over a decent Memphis outfit on Saturday night.

Collinson played all but a few minutes of regulation and ended the game with 17 points and a superb Paul-esque 18 assists, working well in tandem with fellow rookie Marcus Thornton in the backcourt.

But is playing two rookie guards, with very little depth to come off the bench, what the Hornets need in the middle of a fierce playoff race that sees eight teams covered by only three-and-a-half games (as of Monday).

Sure the Hornets have plenty of experience further up the court in David West, Emeka Okafor and Peja Stojakovic, but another injury among their current starting five would put them in deep trouble with most NBA Bets and there isn’t really much coming off the bench that could be traded for an established veteran to help out.

Continue reading "Collinson gets his big chance"

Les Leonard

Big Daddy Feels Turbulence on Cloud 9 posted by Les Leonard

     New Orleanians began their work week all smiles again Monday morning courtesy of the Saints’ record-setting 9-0 start. Even though our wallets were decimated for the ninth straight game, Saints fans ain’t complainin’. As the Saints aim to complete their second of three triumphant visits to the Sunshine State Sunday, Big Daddy mentally prepares to go where Who Dat has gone before. In this week’s edition of the Section 645 Saints Beat, Big Daddy congratulates former U.S. Representative from Louisiana’s 2nd District William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, reports the action live from the Kingpin, recaps the Tampa Bay game, examines recent Saints scares, forecasts the New Orleans Hornets season, and releases his World Famous Pregame Information.

     Who wasn’t relieved when U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III made his wise decision? Wednesday Ellis ruled that William Jefferson will remain free while he appeals his 11 count federal conviction. Obviously, Dollar Bill isn’t a flight risk because he’s such a devoted God-fearing family man. Bill’s ability to spend priceless family time during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Mardi Gras, and the Saints first Super Bowl with his wife and kids has to be the feel-good story of the year. Do you think Lifetime will make a syrupy holiday special depicting the Jefferson’s tight-knit family? Perhaps the made-for-TV gem would teach struggling Americans how to afford Ivy League educations for their offspring like the Jeffersons did with their five amazing children. Since locals love “making groceries,” the movie could show people where to find those special frozen pie crusts that chemically react when ordinary freezers transform them into extraordinary devices that produce cold hard cash.

Continue reading "Big Daddy Feels Turbulence on Cloud 9"

Andy Charles

posted by Andy Charles

Allen Iverson’s sometime glittering career in the NBA could just be over after he left the Memphis Grizzlies early into his tenure with the franchise.

Although Iverson was given permission ‘to leave to attend to personal business’ late last week, his time in Memphis had already started to become a sideshow with more talk about him being asked to come off the bench than anything else.

Iverson had only played three times for the Grizzlies before leaving ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Los Angeles Clippers, and had not played badly in averaging 12.3 points and 3.7 assists despite his displeasure at not being in the starting line-up as Memphis preferred to start Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo in the backcourt.

The 34-year-old also complained at a lack of communication with coach Lionel Hollins, as he revealed: “It’s probably going to always be hard for me and him to see eye-to-eye, because we’ve never even talked to each other. Obviously that’s what you do if you’re trying to accomplish the same goal.”

Hollins was non-committal about Iverson returning to the team, issuing a ‘no comment’ and admitting he had no idea if he would be back in the short or even the long-term.

Memphis had been anticipated as one of the league’s improvers this season but have started the campaign just as in most recent years with their 1-6 record the joint worst in the Western Conference and better than only the injury-hit New Jersey Nets overall.

But it is Iverson’s future dominating the sports pages, with retirement the latest word to rear its ugly head despite comments from owner Michael Heisley that Iverson had not intimated to him that he was thinking about calling it a day.

Continue reading ""

Scott Shepherd

First Impressions posted by Scott Shepherd

The NBA season is officially underway (unless you live in Chicago or Milwaukee).


After several hours parked in front of the NBA League Pass for the past two days, it’s time for some first impressions.


The Good


Ty Lawson


How good was he last night? I predicted the Denver Nuggets to be the third best team in the West this season, and that was assuming that Ty Lawson would play like a rookie point guard.

But his 17 points, six assists, and four rebounds, plus very solid fourth quarter minutes in a close game against a decent Utah team, shows that he may be a real X factor for this team moving forward.


Brook Lopez


Lopez was a monster last night, finishing with 27 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks, and four assists. Of course, the Nets lost, mainly because they couldn’t hold off the mighty T’Wolves down the stretch, but it certainly wasn’t because of Lopez.


Los Angeles Lakers


I know they were playing the Clippers, but the champs didn’t miss a beat. This could have been the most lopsided seven-point game I’ve ever seen.


If it hadn’t been for the extended period in the second quarter where D.J. Mbenga tried to show his limitless range the Clippers would have lost by 20.


The Lakers starters (minus their second best player, Pau Gasol), were nothing short of dominant all game. They just toyed with the Clippers for most of the game, and clamped down where it mattered most.


Boston Celtics


Continue reading "First Impressions"


The NBA, Where Desperation Happens posted by Chad

So, things aren't looking good for the NBA right now.  There are a lot of reasons, the economy, it struggles compared to the other sports anyway, superstar bailout calls, the "thug" image, and mainly the fact the refs don't really know how to call the game.  I have a hard time watching somebody get 4 steps through the lane and a 4 second later continuation call; sorry, but that's not basketball.  Toss in the fact that these refs that don't apparently enforce the rules are going to go on strike and they also gamble on basketball.. things aren't looking good.  Teams are desperate to pack the stands.

Don't worry fans!  The Nets have an amazing, really incredible, inspiration, and entirely chaotic way to get fans in teh stands.  Only good things can happen here, and that's a promise.  If you fork out 25g's for 10 games of the team's best seats you can put in a list of players that you want to come hang out with you for an hour.  You can have them at home, a birthday party, the office, or anywhere else you'd like to go.  No word on bachelor parties, hanging out at their house, or even the Gold Club all the guys love so much down in the ATL.  Patrick Ewing knows what I'm talking about.  So, lets say you have the cash and the desire to do this.. you really need to consider your options.  I'll help you take a look at the Nets top guys:

1.  Yi.  How could he not be #1?  The possibilities are endless!  Does a translator come with or do you just have to akwardly try to teach him English in that hour?  Where would you go with the guy.. the zoo?  Your crib?  What if you want to drive somewhere, does that mean you get to ride in his car since he can't fit in yours?  Does you have a lazyboy at home?  If so, you might be able to tape him going one on one against it.  My money says put it on Yi; it wouldn't be the first time he's knocked a chair to the ground in victory.  I'd love to see it.

Continue reading "The NBA, Where Desperation Happens"

New Jersey Nets News

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Paying tribute to the NBA's 1996 offseason, the wackiest one by miles (Ball Don't Lie)

This has been one crazy offseason! (I suppose. Kind of.) We’re a week into things, and with precious little to show. Kobe Bryant’s contract extension from last fall eliminated his name from the free agent ranks, Dirk Nowitzki’s long-expected paycut took another big name out of things, and the (very much understandable) patience that LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are working with as they decide the most important contracts of their careers have kept actual basketball news to a minimum. And we kind of like actual basketball news, and less agent and executive-driven rumor. One thing is for sure, though. With the ever expanding world of social media, paired with long-held traditions of overextending oneself while talking about potential moves on the Internet, radio or TV, quite a lot has been said about things that currently hold very little of substance so far, leading many to presume that this is the nuttiest offseason on NBA record. It isn’t. And, no, 2010’s turn also pales in comparison to what we saw in the summer of 1996, when a series of league-altering moves were made in a just a few weeks’time, with future Hall of Famers and team-shifters dancing about while one move led to another. Hundreds of millions were spent, franchises and careers were restructured, and the aftereffects can be felt to this day –as Phil Jackson and Pat Riley currently attempt to win with a franchise player making a cap-teetering salary all over again. With thanks to the minds at Pro Basketball Transaction Archive , we decided to list some of the more notable moves of that summer, in chronological order. 4-29-96: John Gabriel promoted to Orlando Magic general manager. No more was the affable Pat Williams, he of those good luck charms and lottery wins, going to be the last voice in charge. Gabriel, the slicked-back power broker who helped put the Magic’s 1995 Eastern winner together, would be asked to run the show in full as the team anticipated the most important summer of the franchise’s young lifetime. 5-01-96: Pat Croce takes over as both Philadelphia 76ers owner and president. Croce’s whirlwind turn lasted just four years, but during that time he was able to draft Allen Iverson, convince Larry Brown to take over as coach, while showing the necessary patience needed to work behind his two combatants in Brown and Iverson and make the 2001 NBA Finals. 5-01-96: Ross Perot Jr. takes over as Dallas Mavericks owner. Perot Jr. replaced the beloved Donald Carter, who helped established some great Mavericks teams of the 1980s, and some of the worst teams in NBA history in the early 1990s. Perot Jr. was nearly as bad, and the city of Dallas had just about had it with their flailing Mavs by the time Mark Cuban took over in early 2001. 5-13-96: Tom Thibodeau and Ron Adams fired as Philadelphia 76ers assistant coaches. Just two of the more respected basketball minds in modern NBA history, cleaning their lockers …5-14-96: Magic Johnson retires. Magic Johnson’s 1996 stint with the Lakers has been taken to task, he was criticized for being both out of shape and for possibly trying to grab some of the limelight that Michael Jordan’s return to basketball was standing under. He was also damn good as a Laker in his brief run, though, and for one of the greatest players in NBA history to announce his retirement, almost anonymously, in this offseason? Speaks to its depth. 5-23-96: Jeff Van Gundy promoted from interim to head coach as New York Knicks. In the years since Van Gundy helped save a Knick franchise that was in the midst of an identity crisis, his work has taken on the life of the gold standard for dogged assistants that get a midseason chance as the top dog, and help turn things around. The Knicks have flailed away since Van Gundy left the team in early 2001-02. 6-6-96: Danny Ainge hired as Phoenix Suns assistant coach. Ainge had nearly the same success as Van Gundy when he took over for Cotton Fitzsimmons eight games into the 1996-97. Inheriting a winless team, Ainge went ridiculously (as in, “Wesley Person as power forward”) small, finishing 40-34 with one of the more entertaining rosters we can recall. 6-6-96: John Calipari hired as New Jersey Nets head coach and president. John Calipari signed for five years and $15 million. Technically, he was allowed to make more money than any other coach in the NBA because he held final say on all personnel decisions (even though GM John Nash did the in-between work). The former University of Massachusetts coach went 72-112 in two and a half years as Nets coach. 6-13-96: Mark Jackson, Ricky Pierce and a first round pick traded from Indiana to Denver for Jalen Rose, Reggie Williams and a pick that turned into Erick Dampier. Jalen Rose is still complaining about his first year in Indiana , and for good reason. 6-14-96: Pete Carril hired Sacramento Kings assistant coach. Hired by Princeton product Geoff Petrie to help young head coach Eddie Jordan, Carril would be a major part of the Chris Webber-led squads that made the NBA’s fans so darn happy between 1999 and 2005. 6-16-96: Johnny Davis hired as Philadelphia 76ers coach. In the immortal words of one ESPN scribe whose name I cannot remember, “Allen Iverson wasn’t going to slow down for John Thompson, you think he’s going to slow down for Johnny Davis?”Davis would last one year. 6-20-96: Phil Jackson signs a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Chicago Bulls. When Jackson asked for money comparable to what John Calipari was making, Bulls GM Jerry Krause sniffed that Calipari actually held two jobs, and that Jackson was only due for one. Jackson would go onto make half of what Calipari would the next year, while winning 69 games. This really happened. 6-21-96: Dallas deals the sixth pick in the 1996 draft (Antoine Walker) and a 1997 overall pick (Ron Mercer) to Boston for the ninth pick (Samaki Walker) and Eric Montross. Dallas, working with a new owner in Ross Perot Jr. and new coach in Jim Cleamons, actually dealt down in one of the greatest drafts in NBA history and gave up a first round pick for 1997 in order to grab Samaki Walker and the next ten years (!) and $18 million of Eric Montross’contract. 6-26-96: 1996 NBA draft. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Peja Stojakovic, Stephon Marbury, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Marcus Camby, Kerry Kittles, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Erick Dampier, Shandon Anderson, Tony Delk, Derek Fisher, Malik Rose. Solid night out. 7-4-96: New York Knicks sign Allan Houston to seven-year, $56 million deal. After making overtures at free agents Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller, the Knicks “settled”on the less-heralded Houston. Houston opted out after five years and re-upped for a six-year, $100 million contract because Knicks, that’s why. 7-11-96: Los Angeles Lakers deal Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for Kobe Bryant. Just your typical deal sending a borderline All-Star center in the prime of his career to a team for an 18-year old shooting guard that was cautioned by many that his first few years in the NBA would turn out nothing like Kevin Garnett’s relatively steady rookie year from months prior. This move also opened up over $4.7 million in cap space for the Lakers, to potentially be used later on frontcourt help. 7-12-96: Chicago Bulls sign Michael Jordan to a one-year, $30.4 million contract. Just the greatest player ever, signing for what was then the largest one-year take in NBA history, only to be topped next summer by Jordan’s next one-year take of over $31 million. If Carmelo Anthony signs to a maximum contract extension with the New York Knicks this summer, during the final year of the deal he will approximate what Jordan made with this contract, while working at two years older than MJ, and without the benefit of Scottie Pippen’s tiny (ranked 122nd in the NBA that year) deal. You can understand Phil Jackson’s hesitation. 7-14-96: Miami Heat sign Alonzo Mourning to a seven-year, $105 million contract. The NBA, with this deal, finally had its first $100 million player. 7-14-96: New York Knicks trade Anthony Mason to Charlotte for Larry Johnson. Johnson, whose 12-year, $84 million contract was the reason that Charlotte had to deal Mourning to Miami the previous fall, had declined badly the previous season. With Don Nelson out in New York, though, Anthony Mason was looked on as someone who wouldn’t be ready to once again cling to a Patrick Ewing-heavy offense, so the two teams traded headaches in a deal that sort of worked out for both sides. 7-14-96: Indiana Pacers re-sign Anthony and Dale Davis to seven-years and $80 million, combined. Anthony made a bit less, Dale a bit more, and in all incredible value for each player. 7-14-96: Houston Rockets re-sign Hakeem Olajuwon to a five-year, $60 million contract. Just one of the greatest players in NBA history, plopped down in the postseason, signing the final massive contract of his career. 7-14-96: Miami Heat sign Juwan Howard to a seven-year, $98 million deal. Howard was coming off of the only All-Star appearance of his career, something nobody in their right mind would anticipate in 1996. He could now pair with Alonzo Mourning in what was assumed to be a fearsome future frontline. 7-14-96: Washington Bullets send Rasheed Wallace and Mitchell Butler to Portland Trail Blazers for Rod Strickland and Harvey Grant. With both Mark and Brent Price failing as Bullets point guards in the season prior, Washington dealt what was seemingly a superfluous player in Wallace (with Chris Webber and Most Improved Player Gheorghe Muresan around) for one of the league’s best playmakers. 7-15-96: Atlanta Hawks sign Dikembe Mutombo to a five-year, $50 million deal. Mutombo had been unhappy in his final year with Denver, reportedly complaining to Nuggets coach Bernie Bickerstaff that his offensive gifts were being wasted in Colorado. The Hawks dutifully cleared cap space and signed Mutombo for less than half of what former Georgetown teammate Alonzo Mourning signedfor earlier in the summer While so many other teams were renouncing rights to free agents in order to clear up cap space, the Hawks seemed a little ahead of their time in 1996. They were one of the few teams to take the modern approach of trading serviceable players (in this case, Stacey Augmon and Grant Long, both just a little past their primes) to another team for conditional draft picks –to Detroit, in this instance. Augmon and Long would go on to clash with Pistons coach Doug Collins, and the Hawks weren’t able to do anything with those picks, so it didn’t really move the needle much despite its forward-thinking. 7-15-96: Portland Trail Blazers sign Kenny Anderson to a 7-year, $50 million deal. Have fun with his somewhat wasted potential all you want, but Kenny Anderson was a former All-Star available to sign as a free agent in 1996, which is something you’re not seeing in 2014 (though Kyle Lowry certainly should have been an All-Star last winter). 7-16-96: Orlando Magic re-signs Horace Grant to a five-year, $50 million deal. We discussed this at greater length here , but the bottom line is that the Magic were paying through the teeth for what was likely an under the table deal for Grant that it struck when it needed to hire Horace on the cheap the previous summer. Shaquille O’Neal, seeing that his veteran teammate was now making eight figures, took note. 7-16-96: Los Angeles Lakers trade Anthony Peeler and George Lynch to Vancouver, along with two second-round draft picks, for two future second round draft picks. Seems kind of weird, considering that Peeler and Lynch were big parts of Del Harris’rotation the previous season. Maybe Jerry West has lost it. 7-16-96: Atlanta Hawks re-sign Steve Smith to a seven-year, $50.4 million deal. As Mutombo made half as much as Mourning, the Hawks would be able to re-sign the team’s swingman without raising David Stern’s eyebrows. 7-16-96: Seattle SuperSonics re-sign Gary Payton to a seven-year, $85 million contract. Payton heard overtures from Pat Riley in Miami prior to re-signing, and this is yet another example of an All-Star and Hall of Famer available to be plucked off of the free agent pile, no static at all. 7-18-96: Miami Heat sign P.J. Brown to a seven-year, $36 million contract. Solid value. 7-18-96: Miami Heat re-sign Tim Hardaway to a four-year, $17.7 million contract. UNBELIEVABLE VALUE. 7-18-96: Los Angeles Lakers sign Shaquille O’Neal to a seven-year, $120 million contract. With the Lakers renouncing free agents and lopping off over $7 million in 1996-97 cap space by trading Divac, Lynch and Peeler, the team was able to sign an absolute whopper in the 24-year old O’Neal. Shaq signed for over $40 million of what Orlando decided to initially offer, smarting at both that offer and local criticism for having been swept out of the final round in each of his playoff seasons to date. The Magic had the East’s best record in 1999 and made the Finals in 2009, but the franchise has never been the same. Meanwhile, O’Neal went on to win three titles with the Lakers and one with the Miami Heat. All because Jerry West had the foresight to take advantage of a brand new collective bargaining agreement, and zone in on one free agent buy. And, Kobe Bryant also. Dude got Kobe and Shaq in less than two weeks. 7-22-96: Seattle SuperSonics sign Jim McIlvaine to a seven-year, $35 million contract. The chase for Jim McIlvaine wasn’t the height of absurdity. The man averaged five blocks per 36 minutes in his final year in Washington and was a reliable low post center off the Bullets’bench that season. In the three games that I saw, at least. The market for him was silly part. Various cap-rich outfits were looking to sign McIlvaine to either take over their starting center slot, or to even pay him big money to act as a reserve all over again. The problem was that Jim couldn’t rebound, he couldn’t score, he turned the ball over toomuch …and that the NBA did away with re-negotiating contracts in the 1995 CBA. This irked Shawn Kemp, who had his previous contract restructured twice under the rules of the former collective bargaining agreement. Seemingly unaware that the SuperSonics could not re-do his deal (Shawn made just $3 million the year before) for more money up front, he sulked through the season and was eventually traded in the weeks prior to 1997-98’s start. Kemp eventually signed yet another extension (different from a re-negotiation) with Cleveland, and finished his career with over $91 million in earnings. 7-23-96: Minnesota Timberwolves trade J.R. Rider to Portland for James Robinson, a first round pick of the Blazers’choosing, and Bill Curley. The second in new president Kevin McHale’s attempts to rid the Wolves of poor locker room influences (the first being Christian Laettner’s trade five months earlier) on Kevin Garnett. Later in 1996, Rider would be arrested after he was caught smoking pot out of a Coke can. 7-31-96: NBA voids Miami’s contract with Juwan Howard, citing alleged circumvention of the salary cap. At the time, to many, this looked like the NBA playing sides when it came to the new money Heat (led by a guy in Pat Riley who was less than a year removed from quitting the Knicks via fax) and longtime Washington owner Abe Pollin. Pollin would introduce a new team name and new arena for Washington in 1997, and seeing Howard leave as a free agent for no compensation was just a little too much to work through. Stern has looked the other way from time to time, but he did have the truth on his side in this one. Riley used Tim Hardaway’s Larry Bird rights to go over the cap to sign Tim, but only after the Heat had returned Alonzo Mourning for his massive contract, while signing Howard and P.J. Brown outright. Proving that Riley had a deal in place with Hardaway prior to the Howard and Brown signings was just about impossible, so he had to get into the incentives list in Hardaway’s (who struggled with weight issues in the past) contract. Riley’s indignation was easy for writers at the time to lap up. The Washington Bullets are allowed to go over the salary cap to re-sign Juwan Howard, but the Heat aren’t allowed to? Isn’t that playing favorites? Well, no. And that’s why Riley failed to list all the performance bonuses potentially available for Brown and (especially) Hardaway as he sent in the paperwork for review. Because Brown’s deal didn’t take Miami over the cap and because Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning were members of the Heat that could utilize his Bird Rights, it was Howard that had to watch his contract fizzle. Riley, ever the “world’s out to get me, man”-type even while working in flashy towns while handing out giant contracts, was absolutely livid. 8-5-96: Washington Bullets sign Juwan Howard to a seven-year, $105 million deal. In time, though, the Howard non-deal was looked upon as an eventual favor of sorts. Brown was the better fit alongside Mourning, and in 2000, the Heat looked to be ready to re-tool as potential championship hopefuls after adding All-Star Eddie Jones and eventual Heat All-Star Anthony Mason in the offseason, while re-signing Hardaway to a more appropriate $12 million contract. Had Howard’s contract been on the books that year, those two All-Star signees never would have become members of the Heat. 8-5-96: Chicago Bulls re-sign Dennis Rodman to one-year, $9 million deal. Rodman at his peak in Chicago, taking advantage of a relatively drama-free year with the championship team. Add the greatest rebounder in NBA history to the list of 1996 transactions. 8-7-96: Detroit Pistons re-sign Otis Thorpe to three-year, $15 million deal. Thorpe had worked well with Detroit Pistons coach Doug Collins the year before, but he and the coach would clash the following year, which led to Detroit dealing OT to Vancouver in the summer of 1997. Why Grizzlies GM Stu Jackson wanted the moody 35-year old Thorpe for his rebuilding team is anyone’s guess. Why he gave up a top pick that would eventually turn into a top three selection in the fabled 2003 draft, something that is to Memphis’vexation to this day. 8-19-96: Phoenix Suns trade Charles Barkley and a second-round pick for Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Chucky Brown and Mark Bryant. Perhaps the biggest personality in NBA history –to say nothing of his Hall of Fame playing skills –being dealt not too long after the prime of his career for a package (Cassell would later be dealt for Jason Kidd) that would re-invigorate both teams. One of the NBA most forgotten blockbusters. 9-17-96: Utah Jazz re-sign John Stockton to a three-year, $15 million deal. Just another Hall of Famer, signing in September. 9-30-96: Indiana Pacers re-sign Reggie Miller to a four-year, $36 million contract. After declining with the Knicks, Miller sets in after a frustrating end to 1995-96 to take on a deal through the prime of his career. THAT’S an offseason, with teams in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, New York, Seattle, and Atlanta effectively re-tooling to take on the 72-win Bulls. Even the Pacers, who disappointed the following year, would go on to take Chicago to seven games in the 1998 Eastern Conference final. The team that eventually bested all but Chicago in 1996-97, following that vaunted offseason? The Utah Jazz, who merely re-signed a series of helpers (the great Adam Keefe, Howard Eisley, Greg Foster) and added a second round pick in Shandon Anderson on their way to the franchise’s first NBA Finals. Sometimes it’s all about the internal development. You realize as much when Adam Keefe plays longer into an NBA season than Shaquille O’Neal. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

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