Training camps open tomorrow and for the most part, it's when teams start getting serious about the upcoming season. Not totally though because most teams will have a few fill-ins at camp, players that will unlikely make the final roster but a guy a GM or talent scout wants to have a look at and test out.
And then there are the issues with still a couple of better known NBA-ers, such as Bulls G Ben Gordon and Knicks PG Stephon Marbury.
Gordon is a restricted free-agent. He currently has a qualifying offer of about $6m on the table for this season, but he wants a monster contract. Prior to the start of the 07-08 season, he turned down an offer of around $50m from the Bulls, figuring he'd get a lot more this past summer.
Things haven't quite worked out that way for Gordon and it seems that he and his agent rate his game a lot more than everyone else does.
There's no doubt that Gordon can shoot the ball well and his other major strength is his ability to get to the line. But he has has two major defects in his game.
- He's too streaky for a team to build its offense around. He can be a nightmare to match up against when he's on fire, but equally, that old basketball saying that 'he can shoot a team in or out of a game' fits him perfectly. You could say that atleast when he's off his game, he keeps believing in himself and shoots the ball just as much, but his team mates and coaches might not see it that way.
- Defensively, he doesn't give you much either. He's too focused on getting his next shot that he is a liability at the defensive end, especially for the amount of minutes he plays.
Gordon will probably bounce around a few teams during his NBA career. He'll be a hired gun, a compliment to a team in search of an offensive spark. The way it stands with him right now though, he'll only ever be a 'rental' type guy, they type of player who can be the final piece of the puzzle, but never a player that a team wants to be its leader.
Stephon Marbury on the other hand is going to get paid about $20m this year whether he plays or not. The fact that he recently purchased his own private Jet for $45m suggests that he has no plans on letting the Knicks off the hook for the final year of his contract. Fair enough, no sane person would just throw away $20m.
Starbury's NBA career is done though. That's not to say that he won't play in the NBA this season, he will for sure, and probably for a few more years after this. On talent alone, he could be a solid back-up point guard for a few years yet, but he brings more baggage than a airline holdall. He's only 31 but he won't ever be the player he could have been.
He's wasted his career and will be remembered as a pouting, sulking, overpaid baby who could have been one of the best point guards to have played the game.
He and Kevin Garnett were Minnesota's big hope but Marbury couldn't handle being the Garnett's side kick. While neither are in Minnesota anymore, KG is regarded as the consummate professional who finally got his dues last June.