Wade Rehabs, Yi Reneges, Team USA ReloadsSummer league play is over and it will be a few days until Team USA opens up minicamp in Las Vegas, so there is no on court NBA action at the moment. However, there are a few interesting stories developing off of the court:
(1) Word out of Miami is that Dwyane Wade's surgically repaired left shoulder and left knee may not be completely healed by October, possibly causing him to miss the start of the regular season.
This is a "developing situation," as news networks like to say. I don't recall anyone previously mentioning even the possibility that Wade may not be ready to go in time for the 2007-08 season, so it is strange to hear that everything is supposedly going according to plan but he may miss some games anyway. The most important thing is not whether or not Wade misses a few games but how close to 100% he is once he does return to the court. Shoulders and knees are delicate and important joints to an explosive athlete like Wade, so both his range of motion and durability will bear watching. In any case, with Shaquille O'Neal aging and Wade at least somewhat banged up, it looks more and more like Superman and Flash will have to be content with one NBA title, which is less than could have reasonably been expected from O'Neal after he led the Lakers to three straight championships from 2000-2002.
(2) Chen Heitao, who runs the Guangdong Tigers, has declared that his player Yi Jianlin, chosen sixth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 draft, will not play for Milwaukee. Chen Heitao contends that this has nothing to do with Milwaukee as a city but is purely a basketball decision, indicating that the Bucks have a surplus of big men and that Yi would not get enough playing time to continue his development, which could in turn have a negative impact on his performance for the Chinese national team.
This story makes no sense on every level. First, the Bucks knew that Yi and his representatives had publicly stated that Yi would never play for Milwaukee but they drafted him anyway. Yes, they had every right to do so on principle, but "on principle" will average 0 ppg and 0 rpg this season; why didn't they either draft an equally talented player who they could actually sign or simply trade the pick and acquire a veteran player? Second, neither Yi nor anyone else should be able to manipulate the draft by not reporting to a team. The purpose of a draft is to prevent the best teams/cities from gobbling up all of the young talent. As a human being, Yi has the right to do whatever he wants but as a basketball asset he should be punished for not reporting to Milwaukee; he should never be allowed to play for another NBA team unless he or that other team compensates the Bucks. Milwaukee's problem is that Yi does not have to ever come to the NBA; he could just keep playing in China--again, that is why the Bucks should never have put themselves in the middle of this fiasco. Third, the idea that playing for Milwaukee will impede Yi's development is absurd. If he truly is a legitimate star in the making, then he will benefit from practicing against and playing with NBA players. It didn't hurt Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett to take their lumps as young players before becoming superstars. If Yi's representatives are worried that he will never crack Milwaukee's rotation then maybe he wasn't worth being taken sixth overall. I just don't see how playing in China will help his development more than playing against NBA players. Hasn't Yao Ming's game grown by leaps and bounds since he came to Houston?
(3) In August, Team USA will play in the FIBA Americas tournament in Las Vegas in order to earn a spot in the 2008 Olympics. The revamped national team program has a pool of 32 players, 12 of whom will be selected to play in a given event. Only 17 of the 32 will be available this summer, though. Coach Mike Krzyzewski will likely be choosing his roster from this list: Carmelo Anthony, Shane Battier, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Kirk Hinrich, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Jason Kidd, Mike Miller, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd, J.J. Redick, Amare Stoudemire, Deron Williams.
One would assume that, barring injury to some of the more experienced players, young Durant and Redick have no chance of making the final cut. Chandler and Miller will also likely be out, although Miller may be worth keeping around because of his shooting. Who will be the fifth man out? Kobe, LeBron, Melo, Bosh, Amare, Battier, Howard, Hinrich, Kidd and Williams seem to be mortal locks to make the team, based either on their skills or their prior participation (and thus greater familiarity with Coach Krzyzewski's system). So I expect Billups, Prince and Redd to fight over the last two roster spots.
posted by David Friedman @ 6:51 PM