The NY Daily News sez: WASHINGTON - Dikembe Mutombo did not need Patrick Ewing's blessing, just his advice. And by the time the two longtime friends finished their late night phone conversation, Mutombo was sure that New York is the right place for him. "I think getting Dikembe would be a good move for the Knicks," Ewing said yesterday. "I think he can help a lot of teams."
The void left at center by Ewing's departure three years ago is about to be filled by Mutombo, who will sign a two-year contract with the Knicks either tomorrow or Friday.
The Nets officially placed Mutombo on waivers yesterday, and it will take 48 hours before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Although the Knicks, owners of the league's highest payroll, are over the salary cap, they can offer him part of their $4.9 million mid-level exception. Mutombo, 37, would earn approximately $9 million over two years.
Scott Layden, the Knicks president, was uncharacteristically candid last night when he told reporters that he will pursue Mutombo.
"He just went on waivers and certainly we have interest in him," Layden said before the Knicks lost to the host Wizards in their exhibition opener, 104-86, last night. "We've had interest in him for a long time."
Layden tried to obtain Mutombo immediately after the Knicks granted Ewing's request to be traded in September of 2000. The Knicks and Sixers nearly completed a deal last summer that would have included Mutombo, who was eventually traded to New Jersey.
Several teams, including Toronto and Philadelphia, have interest in Mutombo, but because of the luxury tax, those clubs are not willing to offer more than the $1.07million veteran minimum.
Mutombo has already been quoted as saying that he wants to play in New York, and Layden acknowledged that Mutombo's agent, David Falk, has expressed "interest on their end."
There are concerns over how much basketball the 7-2Mutombo has left in his creaky legs. He played just 24 games last year for the Nets and had his season interrupted by wrist surgery. Mutombo was used sparingly and began to complain over his lack of playing time.
"I'm still surprised the Nets got rid of him," Ewing, a Rockets assistant coach, said.
Mutombo, one of the NBA's most feared defensive players, gives Don Chaney's team a shot-blocking and rebounding presence in the middle.
"That's one of the reasons we miss Patrick," Chaney said. "He stayed back there and he protected everyone in that lane. He didn't get credit for that."
The Knicks' opening-night lineup could consist of Mutombo, Kurt Thomas, Keith Van Horn, Allan Houston and Howard Eisley, unless Layden is able to trade for point guard Nick Van Exel. Michael Doleac started at center last night and scored four points. Rookie forward Maciej Lampe led the Knicks with 16 points. Van Horn had 10.
Mutombo believes that he can play 30-plus minutes a night, which sounds a bit ambitious. He would, however, give the team stability at the center position and is regarded as one of the most community-minded and charitable players in the league.
Mutombo's years of community service should not be overlooked as one of the reasons the Knicks are pursuing him. "He's been a player both on and off the court who has been a great asset to his teams," Layden said.
Ewing would rather focus on the fact that Mutombo would be joining two more Georgetown alums on the Knicks roster, Othella Harrington and rookie Mike Sweetney, who had 12 points last night.
"That's always a good sign," said Ewing, Georgetown class of '85. "But tell Dikembe he can't have No. 33.
Originally posted by BigVitoMarkWow, that's really surprising. The word got out up here over the weekend that he was going to sign with the Raptors.
After the Hakeem disaster (which I totally called it the day he signed while the media here was gushing about it) I'm thinking the Raptors might (and should be) a little reluctant to give an aging big man with injury problems who's in his late 30s... It seems for big men once they go over the hill the slide down the other side is a fast one
If I'm the Raptors, I wouldnt touch Mutombo with a ten foot pole. I don't think he's got much left in the tank, and certainly wouldn't be worth the money. The problem is, by and large, the basketball public up here is still learning and as soon as they hear "(big name here) is coming to the Raptors", they're overjoyed. There's no genuine following for the Raptors (much like the Blue Jays); they get by on the fact that they draft enough Stoudamire's and Carter's to capture the casual fans. If Carter leaves and they don't have the next "hottest player in the NBA" waiting in the wings, there'll be no more basketball market here. As a result, I think the team is going to keep looking for over-the-hill former superstars, because that's what the majority of their fan base wants.
Deke won't get the Bricks, er Knicks to the playoffs but at least they finally have a center that's taller than 6'-9"
"Deep down, we worry that our lives will pass us by without ever seeing the Red Sox win a World Series ... which is what this whole thing is really about in the first place. That's why Red Sox fans are so insanely passionate about our team. We're haunted by the possibility of living an entire lifetime -- 80-90 years, followed by death -- without celebrating a World Series title. That's not a curse; it's an imaginary guillotine that hangs over us every season. We're just waiting for it to go away, that's all.
That's pretty simple, isn't it? Well, it's true. I have made thousands of arguments in this column -- some of them good, some of them bad, some of them insane -- and feel more strongly about the above paragraph than anything else. Blaming Babe Ruth's ghost for 85 years of failure makes for a cute story, and as WEEI's Gerry Callahan likes to joke, the premise put Dan Shaughnessy's kids through college. But it's not true. It's a myth kept alive by writers, columnists, talk show hosts and producers of slanted documentaries for HBO. The only "curse" is that the media keeps bringing it up.
But plenty of sports fans battle similar demons, don't they? What about Cubs fans closing in on the 100-year mark? What about Bills fans losing those four straight Super Bowls, including the horror of the Norwood Game? What about Browns fans losing their team, for God's sake? Who's more tortured than Maple Leaf fans? You think Astros fans have had tons of fun over the past four decades? You think the Bengals and Cavs have been laughing it up?".....ESPN.com's Bill Simmons
Originally posted by BigVitoMarkIf I'm the Raptors, I wouldnt touch Mutombo with a ten foot pole. I don't think he's got much left in the tank, and certainly wouldn't be worth the money. The problem is, by and large, the basketball public up here is still learning and as soon as they hear "(big name here) is coming to the Raptors", they're overjoyed. There's no genuine following for the Raptors (much like the Blue Jays); they get by on the fact that they draft enough Stoudamire's and Carter's to capture the casual fans. If Carter leaves and they don't have the next "hottest player in the NBA" waiting in the wings, there'll be no more basketball market here. As a result, I think the team is going to keep looking for over-the-hill former superstars, because that's what the majority of their fan base wants.
You're absolutly right. The basketball knowledge in Toronto is pretty low, I'll even say basketball know-how for me is slim. But even *I* figured out. 40 year old (Hakeem) who I haven't hasn't done anything productive for about 5 or 6 years and going downhill fast isn't a good signing... I could understand the fans loving the "name", but how bad is our media to be claiming it was the big man T.O needed to push them over the hump. Then again the basketball media in this city by large are a bunch of ass kissers.
I might just be reinterating what Triple Prep just said but I'll say it anyway. There is a bigger race in the East to get the final spots, but once the playoffs roll around the West will be just as competitive if not more competitive than the East.