Thursday , Jul , 24 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

Contenders Reload

As the summer heats up so does the free agency action. The Lakers have made the biggest splash landing the top free agent point guard, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone. Almost everyone is in agreement that the Lakers can start planning that championship parade now, but before ya go writing off every other team out West remember a couple of things.


Contenders Reload
1- The San Antonio Spurs are still the NBA Champions until further notice and
2- Lakers, Kings, Mavericks, and Minnesota still have no one to stop Tim Duncan, as they all displayed last season.


The big things for the Lakers won’t be Payton, and Malone but whether or not Kobe will be fully focused, or even a free man, after these assault charges . Shaq ,everyone said just didn’t take enough time and effort into training and preparing after his toe surgery to be in top condition for last season. I watched a player who seemed uninterested, Shaq has done it all, MVP, scoring title, NBA titles, All-Star games, he’s a person that needs alot of motivation otherwise he seems to lose interest and start into new endeavors (acting,rapping, being a cop??). The Lakers haven’t been the only team trying to improve itself, the ever underachieving Timberwolves traded for Sam Cassell and 6 more fouls (Earvin Johnson). While that won’t be enough to even get by Dallas let alone San Antonio in their own division, it shows that Minnesota realizes that when one top team starts making moves you have to be able to also improve your own team.Michael Olowokandi signed with Minnesota as one of the top free agent centers on the market. Olowokandi replaces Radoslav Nesterovic who went down to San Antonio to replace David Robinson. Nesterovic will never be mistaken for “The Admiral” in his prime, Radoslav will benefit from all the double teams on Duncan and be a admirable replacement.Elton Brand singed a offer sheet with Miami, but the Clippers who had the right to match it and keep Brand did so and have appeased at least some of the Clipper faithful. Andre Miller signed with Denver, to make a formidable combination with Carmelo Anthony.


In the East the Nets seemed to stay as the team to beat, getting Kidd to stay and also Alonzo Mourning. “Zo” may  or may not be an effective player, he didn’t play at all last season and has been sidelined quite a bit the last few years battling a kidney disease. It’s a pretty large gamble the Nets took on Mourning, many saw it has a way to keep Kidd, trying to convince him that the Nets were improving. The rest of the East has been fairly quite, the Bucks trade with Minnesota (Cassell& Johnson for Joe Smith) has had little impact, while Juwan Howard signing in Orlando will definitely help out McGrady with the scoring deprived Magic. The Chicago Bulls trying to bring back a sense of glory gone by, have made former Bull John Paxson their GM, and now brought back Scottie Pippen to finish out his career. Washington got itself one of the hottest free agents, GIlbert Arenas, with Stackhouse re-signed and Arenas aboard the Wizards got one of the top scoring backcourts in the East, unfortunately for Wizard fans they still have one of the worst frontlines. All-Star center Brad Miller still remains a top priority for many teams, trying to sign him including Indiana, Denver, Miami, and Utah.


As of the time of this article a major trade was developing involving Philadelphia, Minnesota, New York, Atlanta and possibly another team. Keith Van Horn would go from slightly harassed in Philly, to all out  embarrassment in New York. The Knicks would send Latrell Sprewell to the ever improving T’Wolves who may actually get out of the first round this season. Terrell Brandon would get sent to Atlanta basically just to move around some payroll, he won’t be playing due to career ending injuries, but the Hawks get his contract off their payroll next year. Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson goes from the Hawks to the 76ers, Philly gets an upgrade over Van Horn, while neither player does much other then score, Robinson is a much more consistent threat. Another team not yet identified is also rumored to be involved, so keep yourself updated on all the latest at