In today's column, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes that much of the Bucks success lies on the capable shoulders of Larry Sanders. The big man inked a four-year, $44MM deal with Milwaukee this offseason that will put him at the center of a very different team than the one that went to the playoffs this past season. “He’s one of the key, if not the key, piece for us moving forward,” GM John Hammond said of Sanders. “Larry is one of the top shot-blockers in our business. And I think he’s only going to get better defensively. We’re really excited to have him part of our organization, moving forward long term.”
In an Eastern Conference where the Celtics and Hawks in rebuilding mode, and the Magic, 76ers, and Bobcats are lottery-bound, teams like the Bucks , Cavs , Pistons, Wizards, and Raptors will have an opportunity to take a step forward, in Washburn's estimation. Here's more from today's column..
- The fact that former Hawks forward Ivan Johnson couldn't land a mini mid-level deal despite being a solid 29-year-old rebounder is an indication that it will be a tough market for the remaining free agents looking for more than the minimum. Teams with salary-cap space would much rather invest money in younger players and prospects than veterans while contenders have filled their rosters, leaving only training camp invitations. There's also speculation that teams are wary of the luxury-tax threshold with the increased penalties brought on by the new CBA. The Celtics are one team that has been in the process of shedding salary – like Shavlik Randolph and Terrence Williams – for that reason.
- Former Celtics veteran Chris Wilcox is still without a club as September gets underway and he'll have to find a home rather quickly. While he wants to play in the NBA, he's open to other possibilities. “I am open to going overseas,” Wilcox said. “At the same time, I would love to stay here in the NBA. If it’s something that I have to do, then I’ll do it.”
- Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who was appointed as GM of the Kings' D-League affiliate, could be an NBA GM candidate in the coming years. The retired forward has been in the Sacramento front office the past three seasons and has been considered a rising exec. It's worth noting that Abdur-Rahim stayed in the Sacramento front office in the face of the team’s ownership and coaching change.