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Thursday, August 12, 2004
Method to free agency's madness?

By Frank Hughes
Special to ESPN.com

Let's start with one of my favorite things: a nice juicy conspiracy theory.

Between now and next summer, the league and the player's association need to get together to construct a new collective bargaining agreement lest they sustain (unwisely) yet another work stoppage. Whether it's a strike or a lockout, who cares? The point is they need to get something done.

With that in mind, it is starting to make sense to me why so many mediocre players -- Adonal Foyle, Brian Cardinal, Derek Fisher, Jamal Crawford -- commanded such incongruously large contracts this summer.

Think of it this way: If enough owners pay obscene contracts to so-so players now, when David Stern goes in to negotiate with Billy Hunter over the course of the next nine months, Stern can point to this summer's fiscal lunacy and say: "See, Billy, the system must be working if so many average players are making such lofty salaries. Now why do we need to change a system that pays Brian Cardinal more than the gross national product of Guam. Now, sign here on the dotted line, William, and we'll get next season under way."

It is a preemptive measure, if you will, that sacrifices Memphis, Golden State (twice, but, hey, they're the Warriors) and New York while solidifying the future finances of 26 other organizations.

  • I have a question: If Kobe Bryant had had sex with three different women in the days leading up to his encounter with his accuser in Colorado, would anybody even flinch?

    In fact, HBO has made an entire series called "Entourage" -- which, by the way, is well worth viewing (if you are a guy, which I assume you are) -- based on the notion that four guys in Hollywood are attempting to get more tail than the Brothers Grimm.

    Sleep with seven women in seven nights? Bravo. But if you are the woman accusing Kobe, and you happen to have a voracious sexual appetite, it's enough to make you think she is a criminal.

    Another thing bothers me about the proceedings of the last few months: In a few years, when this trial clears up and everything is forgotten, somebody might want to check the bank account of the person who "accidentally" e-mailed the information to all the media outlets.

    Oh, and since somebody in the office "accidentally" placed the name of the victim on a Web site, why is that person's name not included in all the news accounts? Shouldn't that person at least be held marginally accountable?

  • So I see that Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber cleared up any confusion about who, exactly, he was ripping after the Kings got ousted from the second round of the playoffs.

    David Stern
    Everybody thought it was Peja Stojakovic -- by the way, how do you get Peja out of Predrag? -- but it turns out Webber was just generalizing.

    "I'm from the 'hood, and we used to love playing the local preparatory school because our lives in the inner city, economically, the drug dealers we saw, the people we saw getting murdered, gave us a toughness in life. One where we're living for other people and that no day is promised. Basketball is real serious to me," Webber told the Sacramento Bee.

    Here's my issue: Guess where Webber went to high school?

    Detroit Country Day.

    No, not Detroit Urban Day. Not Detroit City Day. But Detroit Country Day.

    His good buddy Jalen Rose went to Southwestern, which happens to be in the 'hood, but Webber himself went to Country Day, whose tuition is probably more than the gross national product of Guam. Sure, they likely paid Webber. After all, who didn't? Other than Vlade Divac, of course.

  • So take a look at these two quotes. The first is about Gary Payton after he was unceremoniously traded from Los Angeles to Boston.

    "He could have been a free agent earlier this summer, but he made a commitment to the Lakers, and I feel that the Lakers should have made a commitment to him, and they didn't. That, to me, is wrong."

    The second quote is about Shareef Abdur-Rahim, whom the Trail Blazers have yet to trade even after Abdur-Rahim, who makes $14.6 million, told them he wanted to be gone.

    "We are absolutely asking for a trade. I think they (the Blazers) will oblige our request. If they don't, it becomes an ugly situation, because Shareef doesn't return to Portland."

    Meaning a holdout? "Yes."

    Here's the kicker: Both quotes are by agent Aaron Goodwin. Goodwin represents Payton and Abdur-Rahim.

    Am I the only one here who sees a certain inconsistency?

  • Talk about a bad week: First you get traded from the Lakers to the Celtics. Then you find yourself splitting up with Vanessa Williams.

    I wonder if the two are somehow related.

    You want another conspiracy theory: Vanessa told Rick Fox that he can say that he filed for divorce so he can save face. Cuz you know there is no way he is divorcing her. Not with that hair and the end of his career just around the corner.

  • How bummed would you be if you are Larry Brown and you wake up one day in Athens and realize that your team in Detroit is actually better than the one put together by USA Basketball?

    Frank Hughes, who covers the NBA for the Tacoma (Wash.) News-Tribune, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.