Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images via ESPN
How cool has this summer been for the sport of basketball? There has been something for just about everyone, whether it be global, national or local. About the only places that haven't been touched by events this off-season have been Belarus and the city of Houston.
Globally, we have the upcoming Olympics, Olympiakos' signing of Atlanta's Josh Childress, and high schooler Brandon Jennings rejecting college ball to play for the Italian League's Lottomatica Roma, for at least one year. Those events threaten to change the game of basketball as we know it, both on and off the court.
Nationally, we have had significant NBA player movement--Baron Davis, Elton Brand, Marcus Camby, Richard Jefferson, Jermaine O'Neal, and James Posey among others--the draft, which has helped renew enthusiasm if not the fantasies of fans outside of Boston, and major coaching changes, with Mike D'Antoni, Scott Skiles, My Cousin Vinny DelNegro and Michael Curry joining new clubs. And, of course, we've had a major WNBA brawl, as well as outdoor basketball.
Locally, we have our Timberwolves performing like an actual, competent front office, with draft day acquisitions and player re-signings that offer hope to the long suffering fans here in the tundra. I'm not sold on Kevin Love yet, but compared to a Mike James signing, or a Ricky Davis/Mark Blount trade, even the most cynical of fans have to admit the movement afoot over the last few months is promising, if only on paper. The re-signing of Telfair and Gomes is particularly welcome, especially when one considers the type of contracts being signed--no six year committments to questionable talent (the Jaric conundrum). While the logic of preparing for a potential 2010 free agent sweepstakes is dubious--no major free agent previously has had ANY interest in coming here--the effect of trying to manage the cap in preparation for that extravaganza will have a positive impact on developing a real future for the Wolves.
A storm cloud on the horizon is the whole Donaghy/NBA referee mess. As much as Commissioner Stern wants this to go away, this issue has serious legs to it, and doesn't seem to be forgotten any time soon.
Any way one slices it, these 2008 off-season events will continue to impact this sport, probably for years to come. If the upcoming NBA regular season is half as interesting, it's going to be quite a time for basketball fans around the world.