There was Ben Gordon. Then Ron Artest. And James Posey. Hell, Hedo Turkoglu even threw his name into the discussion after his uncontrollable waffling. Each rumor came and went. And then came again. And then went again. And after sifting through the wreckage we found Ben Gordon in a Piston’s jersey, Artest in L.A., Turkoglu in Portla—er—make that Toronto—and frankly I really don’t care about James Posey and neither should you.
But something else happened this summer. No hands were shaken, dotted lines signed, nor charter jets boarded and bound for Greece. By way of hushed whispers and not-so-hushed pundits churning the rumor mill, Olympiacos established themselves as a legitimate player in the NBA’s meat market for years to come.
The latest rumors involve the vertically challenged pogo stick, Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks. Whereas the other names (except for James Posey who, again, should not be allowed to penetrate your thoughts) seemed a bit farfetched, this whole Robinson thing feels kind of real. Consider the following:
- Robinson is due $2.2 million next year under his current contract, and Olympiacos supposedly can show him a bigger number. Mini-feuds between Nate and Coach Mike D’Antoni make me think the Knicks won’t rush to match such a lucrative offer sheet.
- The Knicks say they want to renew Robinson’s deal, but I’m calling their bluff. The oft-mentioned offseason of 2010 is only 82 games away and every dollar spent today is another dollar they’ll be without next summer. LeBron, Bosh, Wade, Ginobili and Co. won’t come cheap, salary cap or not.
- Olympiacos was at the forefront of the movement to allow three non-EU players on Greek teams so that they could snag some more Americans. If they want to maximize the benefits from the ruling, they’ll have to sign a talented American in a place of need. With Lynn Greer off the team, it makes perfect sense to replace one small scoring American point guard with another. Papaloukas could then be free to quarterback the offense and distribute.
Nate Robinson is not a star, but he has all the intrigue and marketability you could hope for in a free agent signing. Just as Robinson cleared Dwight Howard to win his second Slam Dunk title, so would he leap over Josh Childress—afro and all—to become the highest profile signing in this new era (the Childress era? Nah, we’ll work on a name later) that’s barely a year old.
Until, of course, next week’s rumors roll around.