The Finals has just been concluded and the Warriors fans (and anti-Lebrons) will surely remain in cloud nine for quite a while. After all, the opening games will not happen yet this November again. The time for some of the players to find homes or new homes in the league, however, has already started. The Draft, which should have been concluded by the time this paper hits the stands, is our greatest concern as one of our own is vying for a chance to be officially drafted. Then there is the free agency and the contract renewals.
First Home Grown Filipino in the NBA
Bobby (RayRay) Parks, Jr. has just completed work-outs for the Utah Jazz, the Brooklyn Nets, the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics and now has a legit chance to become the first home-grown Filipino to be rostered in the NBA. Parks, son of an American who became a PBA legend and a Filipina, actually played basketball in the US during his 8th and 9th grade and in high school but followed his ailing father back here and played college basketball for the National University Bulldogs. He also played for the NU-BDO and the NLEX Road Warriors for the PBA D-League. That definitely makes him more of a home-grown player rather than a US-based athlete.
I’m crossing my fingers that he gets drafted. (Personally, I like him going to the Celtics or the Jazz here.) I know our basketball here is way behind than what they have there in the States but he has shown during his UAAP days that he can carry a team on his back. He led the Bulldogs to the semi-finals after a paltry record the year before during the time he won back to back MVP awards during his UAAP stint. He is somewhat different with Japeth Aguilar, who was the “true-blue” Filipino closest ever to make it in the NBA. Time in time again, Aguilar exhibited negative suspicions on his defense and failure to carry a team on his back. Parks is the opposite of this. He can defend and shown excellent production to lead a team. I can see him being an asset to any NBA team and a player worthy minutes on the floor at probably the 1 or the 2.
On the sentimental side, he exhibited an admirable personal trait when he opted to gave up the chance to stay in the US to be beside his cancer-stricken father and I am wishing he gets rewarded for it.
Kevin Love, Monta Ellis Opts out
Come July 1, Love and Ellis become free agents. Both players almost simultaneously declined the player options in the final year of their contracts last Thursday, June 25 (Philippine time). This means they can now chose which team they will sign a contract for although they can always sign a new contract for their old teams who owned the so-called “bird rights”. This right enables the old team to offer higher salary base for a longer period of time.
Ellis was the first to signify his intention to opt out. According to Yahoo Sports, he was set earn $9.7 million in the last year of his $25 million three-year contract but opted to test the free agency waters. The Mavericks are supposed to have interest in Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge or Clipper Center Andre Jordan and the money they could save from upping Ellis’ pay could be used in getting these free agents. That is especially if they loss Tyson Chandler also due to free agency.
Shortly thereafter, reports have surfaced that Love has also decided to test becoming a free agent. According to ESPN, Love is leaving around $16.7 million on the table by foregoing his player option. It will be recalled that Love came to Cleveland via a blockbuster trade that involved the Cavs giving up their 2013first round draft pick Anthony Bennett, 2014 first round draft pick Andrew Wiggins, and a first round draft pick this year.
If Love leaves, this was a big one-year rental failure for the Cavs. Not only do they loss three young potential players that they can build around Lebron, they have not utilized Love for the most important time of the year due to a season-ending injury. Not that they won the championship this year if Love had been on the floor but he could have definitely made a difference in the closely fought finals series.
Worse, their arch-rival Celtics are one of the most ardent suitors for his service. Love has not closed the door on Boston in spite of the fact that it was Celtic Kelly Olynyk who caused the injury to Love in what he describes as a “bush league” play. It will definitely cement the Celtics-Cavaliers rivalry if Love finally decides to go back to Boston. It was the then triad of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen who once denied Lebron James and Cleveland a championship by eliminating them in the Eastern Conference finals which become one of the causes of his deciding to jump fences to become a Miami Heat.
Andrei Kirilenko, the former Jazzman, Timberwolf and Net retired. “AK-47”, as he was known in the NBA in reference to the model of the famous Russian rifle, was a multi-faceted player in his heyday. He averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.8 blocks a game during his career. His best year came during the 2005-2006 season with the Jazz when he averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals, and 3.2 blocks along with a NBA All-Defensive Team roster spot.
His versatility was more highlighted by his 2004 and 2005 membership in the NBA All-Defensive Second Team, the All-Star spot he got in 2004 and his NBA All-Rookie first team award during the 2001-02 season. He led the league in blocks during the 2004-05 season, finishing with a total of 136 for an average of 3.32 per game despite playing only 41 games.