I always figured if money wasn’t an issue for me, my vice would be sports gambling. There’s no off-season. There’s always something new to interest you. And every Las Vegas sports book is within 10 feet of a $7.99 buffet. You know how cheap those 127 items come to at $7.99?
Only in sports gambling can a season end one night and you already have a chance to “invest” in the next season at breakfast the following morning.
Which leads to this week’s Tuesday Countdown. Did you know somebody’s already not projecting greatness for your Atlanta Hawks — and general manager Rick Sund hasn’t even made a roster move yet?
Just got word from Bodog.com, which actually isn’t a casino but rather an online sports book. They’ve just put out their odds to win the 2010 NBA championship and — the LeBron James muppet may not want to hear this – the Los Angeles Lakers are a slight favor to repeat as champions at 9-4, followed by Cleveland at 3-1 and Boston at 9-2. Your Hawks? Bodog has them listed at 50-1, which is tied with Miami, Chicago and Phoenix Miami, and ranks 13th in the NBA and fifth among teams in the Eastern Conference (behind Boston, Cleveland, Orlando and Detroit). The complete list:Odds to win 2010 NBA Championship
This is a prime opening to note two things: Beginning Wednesday morning, Mark Bradley and I will have an online point/counterpoint on one issue every week. I have proposed calling it, “I’m right. He’s wrong,” but I’m not sure that’s going to fly. HELP: We need you to suggest names. (This should be good. I feel like I just let go of an underhand pitch with a whiffle ball.) This week’s topic is: If you could make only one major move with the Hawks this season summer, what would it be? I don’t believe either of us is picking, “Trade Josh Smith,” since we’ve both weighed in to the contrary. But on that subject: Why won’t these rumors go away?
An enterprising reporter (work with me here) from the Entertainment Sports Programming Network reported that the Hawks have been working hard to find a taker for Smith – because, you know, you really have to labor to get somebody interested in a young player who can rebound, sky and run the floor, knucklehead tendencies notwithstanding. Our Sekou Smith summarized the situation fairly well. Even if you believe that the Hawks actually are entertaining this – and I don’t – there’s a poison pill in Smith’s contract that states he gets $6 million if he’s traded. That’s $6 million above his contract. In this economy, do you know how many already discounted seats on all-you-can-eat-Tuesday-hotdog night a team needs to sell to make back that $6 million?
OK, once more with feeling. Sund is really considering a MAJOR move, he should look at trading Joe Johnson, not Smith. I’m not suggesting he do either. But Johnson is entering the final year on his contract and he disappeared in the playoffs again. There could be a sense of, “This is as far as he can take us.” He’s a great complimentary piece, not a centerpiece. Smith is aggravating, yes. But there’s an upside to him and the real possibility that if you trade him, he turns into the somewhat stable superstar you always hoped for but somewhere else.
I am not making this up: ESPN actually quoted two unnamed sources saying that Phoenix is not on the verge of a trade with Cleveland involving Shaquille O’Neal and the clubs have not spoken in the past few days. So let me get this straight: Two sources told a reporter — on background, not for attribution — that two teams haven’t spoken to each other and are not about to make a trade? And this is news?
Why not just make this part of a series? What better way to pass the long days of summer? “ESPN has learned today that Joe Lapchick is not on the verge of making a comeback with the Montreal Canadiens and the two sides haven’t spoken in recent weeks, at least in part because Lapchick doesn’t speak French, can’t skate and is also dead. On a related note, Hubie Brown has not been contacted by the Brazilian Olympic women’s soccer’s team about its vacant job, according to well-placed sources and a guy who just knocked on my door trying to sell me new windows. ESPN will bring you updates later today on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNNews and ESPNU but not ESPN-Favre, unless Brett says it’s OK.”
Looking for that perfect summer getaway? Here’s an idea: Ethiopia! Got an email advertising a three-night trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for Evander Holyfield’s exhibition fight July 25 against Sammy Retta. The bout is being billed as the biggest event in Africa since Ali-Foreman, which I’m pretty sure was bigger. Anyway, the email did not include prices but it includes airfare on Ethiopian Airlines, accommodations and a tour of downtown Addis Ababa, which I would imagine includes the market, the post office, the train station and the Ace Hardware store. As an alternate vacation choice, two unnamed sources tell me you can always just drive to Destin because it’s closer, cheaper and you don’t have to watch two old guys looking pathetic fighting each other, unless they’re fighting over their place in line at “Big Kahunas.”
Got a Twitter from Jamal Anderson. Asked him where he’s been. Response: “Witness Protection Program…working as a roadie for the New Kids On the Block! hahahahaha….” Not sure but I believe he’s not quite ready to open up yet.
Four years ago the Thrashers traded Dany Heatley for Marian Hossa after Heatley requested a trade (after the NHL lockout and two years following the car wreck that killed teammate Dan Snyder). Now both players are having their issues. After four seasons in Ottawa, Heatley has requested a trade – and, no, he’s not coming back to Atlanta – even though there are five years and $37.5 million remaining on his contract. Hossa? He has played in the Stanley Cup finals two straight years. But he lost to the Red Wings as a Penguin and then — after leaving Pittsburgh in free agency and taking less money in Detroit — lost to the Penguins as a Red Wing. He also disappeared in the playoffs. Know why? Because he’s the Joe Johnson of hockey – a great complimentary player but not a guy to build around. Now he’s going into free agency coming off a post-season in which he went goal-less with three assists in the finals and failed to score a goal in 14 of the last 15 post-season games. And no, he’s not coming back to the Thrashers, either.
Gani Lawal announced he is pulling out of the NBA draft pool and will return for another season at Georgia Tech. Paul Hewitt, you’re on the clock.