Michael Finley signs with Spurs, Yao to stay in Houston, and more...
Finley to Be a Spur
"To be a part of a championship team, I'm excited. This is the closest I've ever been to a championship. I'm looking forward to the challenge of helping this team repeat…In a nutshell, they're already a championship team but they have room for improvement. And I feel my game can help them in the areas where they need improvement."
Does anybody else wonder if Fin did this just to see what would happen? Following the signings of Big Shot Rob and Nick the Quick, David Stern had all but ordered “San Antonio” to be engraved on the 2006 championship trophy. With Mike now on the squad, the Spurs are one of the deepest clubs in NBA history, with enough talent that you could split the roster down the middle and make two playoff teams.
With Tim Duncan providing the most consistent post production in the league while Manu and Tony hold down the perimeter, the Spurs now also boast the best bench around, with two premier clutch shooters in Nick and Rob, and a swingman capable of putting anything up to fifteen and five on the sheet.
Finley decided to shun minutes and money in favour of wins, and I can’t criticize him for that. What I will say, however, is that he runs the risk of having an asterisk placed next to any championships he wins while a part of this team. To some, it will seem as if he’s running the last leg of a relay race with a fifty-yard lead. While I’m not guaranteeing San Antonio will repeat, if they do, Fin will have to question whether he contributed to it or simply widened the gap between the Spurs and the rest of the league.
Yao Signs Maximum Contract
Just when we thought the pens had been put away (Finley’s deal aside), the tallest man in the league inks a maximum contract which keeps him in Houston for another five years. Some will grumble that he hasn’t come close to showing the game he was expected to by now, but I don’t see how the Rockets could have given him any less money than they did. As one of three true centres of any value in the league, he’s worth the money simply for the fact that he doesn’t downright suck. With the triple-headed monster of McGrady, Ming and Swift, the Rockets have a strong core which, if properly nurtured, should one day take Houston the furthest they’ve been since Hakeem.
Will Yao ever reach his potential, though? That’s the million-dollar question, and one which I don’t think any of us are qualified to answer right now. Certainly progress has been made, but not quite as much as the franchise would have hoped when they selected him with first pick in the draft. However, at 7’5’’, he needs only to add a few more elements to his game to become on the league’s biggest threats. With nothing more than a little aggression, a few more post moves, and better defensive awareness, he’d be undoubtedly one of the top five players in the game. As it is, he’s hovering on the edge of the elite, poised to make that jump into the upper echelon of players. If Yao finally “gets it”, the other centres are going to get it. That, however, may never happen.
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