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Sports Watching & Wondering

John Randolph RogersBIG DECISIONS FOR THE LAKERS!

The Lakers and their Fans enjoyed winning the NBA Championship and the Parade and the Parties that followed. It now seems like that was a long time ago. The sad reality is that Free Agency begins at 9 p.m., Pacific Standard Time, on Tuesday, June 30, 2009. Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, and Shannon Brown are now Free Agents. That means that they are free to sign a contract with any team that offers them one. The issue of these three is somewhat complicated by the fact, that while Kobe Bryant has a year left on his contract, he does have the option of also declaring himself to be a Restricted Free Agent.

Some years ago, the Players Union and the NBA Owners agreed to Salary Caps for each of the 32 teams. The Owners said that the Salary Caps were necessary to prevent them from going bankrupt in the competitive bidding for Players. In other words, the billionaires were asking the millionaires to protect them from themselves. The Owners told the Players that they were losing money. The Owners did not open their books, but the Players believed them, and agreed to restrict their salaries.

So, given those circumstances, there is not enough money to pay $14M to Odom, $3M to Ariza, and $800,000 to Brown. I think that the Lakers would like to keep all three players, especially since they want to do everything in their power to keep Bryant happy. I also think that there is a general feeling among Laker Fans, that they did not get more than $8 million worth of basketball from Odom last year. Lakers

So, it seems to me, that if he is to remain with this team, he will have to take a considerable pay cut. He has expressed a desire to remain with the Lakers, but if he does not receive a satisfactory offer from them, then he might receive one from some of the other teams.
In my opinion, Ariza is the player that the Lakers just have to keep. He has been in the league for three years, and he is just coming into his own as a big-time player. His career has been slowed by injuries, but he has overcome those. He has the desire, the athletic ability, and the size to become a major star. He is always a dependable performer, and he has developed a reliable three-point shot. He is also seven years younger than the sometimes lackadaisical Odom.

So, I think that signing him will be the Lakers first order of business. After that, they will look to see if there is any money left over for Odom and Brown. Bryant has said that he wants the Lakers to take care of Odom and a Ariza, but he has not indicated that he is willing to take less money, in order for that to happen. As the Lakers look to next year, they can anticipate Bryant demanding at the least a five-year contract from between $25 million and $35 million per year. So, if you have any ideas as to how this can be accomplished, please contact General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

I think that Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig made several blunders in the way that MLB has dealt with their illegal substance issues. The first one was his failure to realize just how rampant the use of illegal substances were. Then, once he had found out, he made the problem bigger than it had to be. It also probably surprised him that the use of these illegal substances did not bother the fans as much as it bothered him. Baseball reveres its long ago hero's, and the records that they set. So, Commissioner Selig seemed obsessed with protecting these records, even though most fans don't know or care what they are. Now that MLB has test procedures that will detect the use of illegal substances, the game has solved its problem. So, it probably would have been a better strategy for the Commissioner to take the attitude that what is done is done, and that the game will move forward. That is the approach that the NFL Commission took when he discovered that the New England Patriots had been illegally videotaping their opponents.

The commissioner ordered all of the evidence be sent to him, and then he quickly destroyed it. Therefore, no one will ever be able to find out if the Patriots cheated their way to the Super Bowls. No one is demanding that some of their victories be forfeited.

NFL teams and fans are not suing each other. We will never know how bad it would have been, if the videotaping evidence had ever been made public.

At first, Selig thought that he was just after Barry Bonds. He did not like Bonds, and the feeling was mutual. Then, to his horror, he has discovered that many of the league's major stars used illegal substances. He apparently did not consider that this was even a possibility. Now the teams and the fans don't exactly know how to treat players who have been caught cheating. If they liked them, before they were caught, they probably still do. Team owners and sportswriters have been able to influence the behavior of the best ballplayers, because they could vote to keep them out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Retired ballplayers are obsessed with the idea of one day being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. It is as if their life would not be complete, if they did not receive that singular honor. Since some of those whose records would have ordinarily had them voted in, now may not be, since they were caught cheating. It will be up to those who do the actual voting. What will they do when it comes to Bonds, Sosa, Clemens, Rodriguez, et al?

By the way, Lena Horne the lady of my dreams since I was a teenager, had her 92nd Birthday, on June 30, 2009. I know that I speak for millions of your fans, when I wish you a Happy Birthday.

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