Last week I lost one two teammates and I gained one. As I scrolled through ESPN.com last week, I saw the breaking news that Justin Reed and Mike James were being traded to Houston for Juwan Howard. I guess this is the really hard part of the business of NBA basketball. When you go to battle with the same guys every day you get close to them. I’m going to miss Mike and Justin. Clearly, Houston loves Mike James and almost signed him last summer. I think that Justin Reed is only really lacking the right opportunity. It seems like he played really well here for us, especially when he got extended minutes.
Today, I was in Rochester Minnesota giving a “Life in the NBA” talk at Rochester Athletic Club. I can’t remember how many times people asked me if Kevin Garnett was going to get traded, but it was a lot. I really think that there is not going to be any trades involving Kevin Garnett. I sure hope not. I know for a fact that Kevin loves Minnesota and he likes the guys in the locker room. But I’m also aware the realities of professional sports and that from a business standpoint, anything can happen to anyone. The thing about Kevin is that he makes everyone around him better. Three years ago, Sam Cassell had an all-star season, Sprewell had a great year and many other guys on our roster had career years. When you have someone like Kevin Garnett on your team, everyone is going to benefit.
In warmups before the game Sammy told me I needed a haircut. I told him I would get him a bottle of Rogaine for his bald head. We both had a good laugh out of it. Sam Cassell is one of my all-time favorite teammates. At halftime of tonight’s game against the Clippers, he walked by Trenton Hassell and I, grinned and said, “I’m hot fellas.” As if his 20 first half points wasn’t evidence enough. Sam Cassell almost put the Clippers on his back and beat us at the Target Center last night. Luckily for us, Randy Foye rose to the ocasion and saved us in the fourth quarter.
I wanted to talk about Sam for a second though because not only is he one of the best players this game has ever seen, but he rubs off on his teammates. From a basketball standpoint, Sam has the ability to raise his teammates’ scoring averages by big jumps. He just makes everyone around him better. When Sam was here in Minnesota, Fred Hoiberg had a great year, Sprewell was at the top of his game and Kevin Garnett was the MVP of the entire NBA. It was almost like our entire team all had career years. Now he is doing the same thing with the Clippers. Sam has such a huge personality, I think the fans loved watching Sam interact with the refs almost as much as watching the game. When we lost Sam we lost not only a great floor leader but we lost a good friend.
I was sad to see him go. I’m not sure Sam could have done anything more to help the Clippers win tonight. But despite his 31 point night, we got a huge lift from an up and coming future star in Randy Foye.
Randy has been patiently awaiting his opportunity to perform in the clutch. Tonight we caught a glimpse of a player who can shoulder some of the load that Kevin Garnett takes on a nightly basis. Randy is built like a tank and his much stronger than most guards in the NBA but is still quicker than most guards too. Randy reminds me of a lot of what I see in Chauncy Billups and Dwayne Wade. Tonight Randy stepped out and hit threes, finished shots around the basket and he came up with some huge rebounds. Randy scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone!!! The thing that makes Randy the most unusual for a rookie though is his calmness and his level of poise in a big game like tonight’s. Composure is one thing that coaches can’t teach and Randy Foye has it in spades.