While all eyes are on the Warriors this summer, don’t lose sight of what those Crazy Kings of Sacramento have done lately.
Why, rookie general manager Vlade Divac has rolled the dice so many times already, the Kings are qualified to become the first pro team in Las Vegas.
Sourpuss Rajon Rondo has been brought in to run the offense for at least one season. This could be the last chance to resurrect his career, which might bring out the best in him. Then again, probably not.
Divac was lucky that loose gun Monta Ellis and health risk Wesley Matthews accepted less money to sign elsewhere. But he did well to reel in Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos and potential steal Omri Casspi in the free agent market.
When all is said and done, the Kings will go as far as DeMarcus Cousins takes them. Which will be to basketball hell or the brink of the playoffs.
Balls’ early prediction: Coach George Karl will either resign, be held hostage, get canned and/or be completely bald before the end of the season.
HE DID WHAT?! Know how athletes say it’s not about the money when it’s about the money?
In the case of veteran David West, he really means it. The Warriors made a reasonable offer to West, who had been an unrestricted free agent, but he accepted nearly $11 million less to sign with the San Antonio Spurs instead.
This is not good news for the Champs, who have pretty much stood pat this off season while the Spurs zoomed past them. West provides insurance on the front line, and that’s not a bad thing to have for ancient Tim Duncan, who will turn 80 before next postseason. Or maybe it’s only 40.
At 34, West considered the Spurs to be his best (last?) chance to win an NBA title, which was his sole motivation to accept the minimum $1.5 million offer. He could have re-signed with the Indiana Pacers at $12.2 million for one year.
West has earned the right to choose his destination. Nonetheless, he hasn’t scored any points with the Players Association, which frowns on deals that are substantially less than market value.
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS: This week Michigan announced a deal that would have Nike outfit its sports teams through 2027 at least. The terms won’t be known for a few more days, but the way Nike has thrown around money in its attempts to take down Adidas and Under Armour lately, the numbers are sure to boggle some minds.
That means those $8 pleated khakis that Harbaugh buys at Walmart about are about to go up in price.
BEEN THERE, HEARD THAT: So the World Cup is over. Now what for women’s soccer in this country?
For any number of reasons, women’s professional soccer has always been a tough sell here. At a time when competition for the sports dollar is at an all-time high, there aren’t enough sponsors and advertisers to take it to the next level. Hundreds of athletes from all professional sports sent Twitter messages to Team USA members before and after their World Cup clinic last weekend, but that’s pretty much the extent of the interest.
It’s not that there’s a shortage of elite female players at the moment. Much like women’s tennis in the 1970s, there no place for them to pursue pro careers. The National Women’s Soccer League is about the only local option — bet you didn’t know there was an NWSL — but at an average salary barely into four figures, few athletes can afford to make that kind of commitment even in a 20-week season.
The time for women’s soccer to make a dent in this country was at the turn of the century, when it had the momentum of the 1999 World Cup champions and the market to itself. But now that several European teams have lured many of the better players in the world, that boat appears to have floated years ago.
THE LIST: The chances for a Warriors’ repeat have increased slightly since the day they won the NBA title last month, but according to the bookmakers, the Spurs have helped themselves a lot more since then. Here are the championship odds for the contenders on June 17 and today, per Bovada:
Cavaliers Then: 3/1 Now: 11/4
Warriors Then: 5/1 Now: 9/2
Spurs Then: 10/1 Now: 9/2
Thunder Then: 7/1 Now: 15/2
Bulls Then: 10/1 Now: 16/1
Mavericks Then: 33/1 Now: 20/1
Rockets Then: 18/1 Now: 20/1
Clippers Then: 10/1 Now: 20/1
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