IS OKAFOR A MISSING PIECE FOR HORNETS?
In a swap of players who had been taken second overall in an NBA Draft, Emeka Okafor was traded to the New Orleans Hornets (+4000 to win the NBA title) for Tyson Chandler, who goes to the Charlotte Bobcats (+10000). Okafor, who was taken to Emil Lagasse's restaurant in the French Quarter to celebrate with Hornets' brass, said, "I was in Charlotte hoping to make it to the playoffs and elevate the organization to higher levels. Circumstances changed. I'm a Hornet. I'm happy to be a Hornet. Now that the circumstances have changed, the goals have changed." Okafor is a 14 ppg scorer in his NBA career, but is better known as a rebounder and shot-blocker, and apparently the Hornets feel that he is big enough to play in the middle alongside David West, due to that vaunted shot-blocking ability. Chandler was the cornerstone of a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder (+12500 to win the NBA title) during last season, but that deal was voided when Chandler failed the physical (toe injury).
Jason Williams, point guard for the Heat when they won an NBA title, thought that he might be back - with the New York Knicks (+6000 to win the NBA title), but after working out for the team at its practice facility he did not get a contract offer from them. The Knicks, who have had bad luck finding someone to be a backup at the point guard spot, may be fixated on Ramon Sessions, who is restricted as far as his free agency is concerned. The Bucks probably can't match the offer if the Knicks make Sessions their mid-level cap exception (which would require about $34 million) but the question is whether Sessions is worth that kind of money. Sessions, out of the University of Nevada, averaged 12.4 points this past season and dished out 7.5 assists per game as a rookie in 2007-08.
Blake Griffin and his Los Angeles Clippers (+12500 to win the NBA title) will open against Los Angeles Lakers (+230) on October 27 to kick of their NBA Schedule. Griffin strained a right shoulder and had to pull out of a minicamp for USA Basketball, but his injury will not require surgery.
The Memphis Grizzlies (+15000 to win the title) have taken the unusual step of getting rid of their full complement of college scouts, which really can't hurt them a whole lot this season but will have its effect in the seasons to come. In the NBA three are only two rounds of drafting, and apparently they must have felt that when their turn comes, they are more than equipped to take the "obvious" player. Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal opened his column in reaction this by saying "The Grizzlies really should get rid of their ushers. The seat numbers are right there on the tickets, aren't they? Can't people find their own seats?"
By the way, Memphis is said to be interested in Jason Williams. He's played for them before, so I guess they don't really need to "scout" him.
Allen Iverson was clearly unhappy that he was relegated to bench duty with the Detroit Pistons (+4000 to win the title), so he ended his season on account of a "bad back." Now word comes that Iverson may wind up in Europe. Olympiakos, a club in Greece, is reportedly making an offer of $10 million for two years. He made almost $21 million last year, and he isn't going to approach that kind of money, not after people saw how the Denver Nuggets (+1200 to win the title) improve so much after trading him and how the Pistons got a headache once he came aboard. Nate Robinson, who the Knicks are trying to replace, was offered the same deal. Whoever signs with the Greek team would be joining Josh Childress, the former member of the Atlanta Hawks (+5000) who is coming back for another season.
It was a little disappointing not to be able to sign Lamar Odom, and it doesn't look like any talks with Iverson are going to result in anything, but the Miami Heat (+4000 to win the NBA title) thinks it is relatively set for next season, according to Pat Riley. The team doesn't plan any major roster moves, but wants to sign Dwyane Wade to a contract extension and get a big-name free agent player to team with him. They feel that some of the component parts are in place - Michael Beasley at the forward spot, Jermaine O'Neal at center, point guard Mario Chalmers - and there are going to be two first-round picks next season.