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Dude's just a Barrel of Laughs

Mitchkupchak_hlqnatkf_1 Remember how way back in the day, some of you guys were cursing Kupchak for not issuing this cat a purple and gold uni at all costs? Mitch may just know what he's doing every now and then.

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RIVER HILLS, Wis. -- Latrell Sprewell answered his front door with his face contorted into his unmistakable scowl, his anger barely under control as he made it clear he was not accepting visitors and was in no mood to talk.

"Get off my property right now or I'll send someone out there to take your head off!"

So ended the briefest of encounters early Sunday afternoon a few miles north of downtown Milwaukee, the biggest mystery of the NBA season no closer to being explained by the only person who has any of the answers.

Inside the sprawling yellow brick home with the massive wooden jungle gym in the backyard resides the best basketball player in the world without a job, an athlete who could help some team win an NBA championship three months from now if it could just get a reading on whether he's willing and/or able to set aside his shame and lace 'em up for the first time since the Minnesota Timberwolves played their final game last season.


Not a single word has been spoken publicly in almost a year by Sprewell, whose agent heard from the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks earlier in March, each of the Western Conference's top teams making inquiries about the former All-Star whose mercurial ways have made him one of the most controversial players of the past decade.


Seeking some answers, ESPN.com reached out to Sprewell through his agent and his publicist, as well as through voice mails on his cell phone, before resorting to the oldest reporting technique in the book -- showing up on his doorstep in the hopes that the sight of a familiar face from his days in New York might coax him into providing some sort of insight into whether he's considering a return to the NBA before this season ends.


Under collective bargaining rules, Sprewell can sign with any playoff-bound team up until the last day of the season and still be eligible for the postseason. (Players who already were on NBA rosters but who were waived in-season must have been waived by March 1 to be playoff-eligible.)

That rule was brought to Sprewell's attention by the NBA players union last week, but what -- if anything -- he plans to do with that knowledge is unknown.

The deep thump-thump-thump of a woofer-fueled bass line was causing the windows in Sprewell's front foyer to shimmer as he answered his door on the third ring wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and sweat pants. His order to skedaddle was heeded without hesitation or argument.

"Watch out for the dogs," a Bucks scout had warned.

But judging by Sprewell's demeanor and his growl, the biggest threat to life and limb was standing on two legs, not four. Good luck to the next Jehovah's Witness who tries to engage him in a friendly discussion of the Bible.

"I have no idea what's driving Latrell. I can't figure it out, and he doesn't articulate what he's thinking," said Robert Gist, Sprewell's longtime agent.

The Mavericks called about two weeks ago when they were dealing with a flurry of injuries.


"He said he would call back the next day. He never did. So we dropped the idea," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said via e-mail.

The Spurs also put in a call to Gist's office about a month ago, though nothing came of it.

"These teams recognize Latrell's value, and they've gone to their top players to ask them whether Spree would be a good fit," Gist said.

Sprewell made $14.6 million last season in the final year of a contract he signed after rehabilitating while with the New York Knicks. Sprewell led the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals after serving a 70-game suspension for his attack on former Golden State coach P.J. Carlesimo early in the 1997-98 season.


After turning down a three-year $21-million extension from the Timberwolves, explaining he had "a family to feed," Sprewell went unsigned last summer as an unrestricted free agent.


According to Gist, Sprewell made the mistake of waiting on the Los Angeles Lakers at a time when the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers all were expressing interest in signing him. But the Timberwolves and Lakers were unable to agree on a sign-and-trade deal that would satisfy both teams, and then other teams turned to other free agents. So by the time training camps started, Sprewell's only choice was to play for the veteran's minimum, which he feels is beneath him.

"It may have been the transition, going from making $14.6 million to $1 million because the rules say you're only worth this much. Making that adjustment probably took some time," said Gist, who believes Sprewell's pride -- and his hesitance to subject himself to public second-guessing over his "family to feed" quote -- is part of what's keeping Sprewell from returning to the NBA.

This guy didn't realize how he good he had it with 3 years 21 million. It goes to show that your game (and legs) goes with age, but your ego doesn't

Hey man, lay off! The guy's got a family to feed!

You think this is some kind of game or something!

with 21 mil i can have a few extra families. ;)

They should stick Latrell on the "Surreal Life".

At this point in the season, Sprewell wouldn't have enough time to be effective for any team. That's my opinion. The NBA is a living and breathing machine. It marches on with or without you. The NBA doesn't need Sprewell.

mike

All BS aside, I've played ball with Spree's brother several times (although none recently) and when asked about the situation, he'd be like "man he's trippin'" it must be hard to go from 14 mil to one, but not as hard as going 14 to 0....
His brother is pretty good for a gym player but thats about it ....
We all (the guys playing with him at the gym) had fun messing with him.
"hey Terrel are you hungry man, I got this power bar if you want"
"or hey Terrel want me to get you a gatorade or something"

Meanwhile his Mercedes with 22" rims (Spreewell rims of course) is out front.

Good Times...

The Children! Won't somebody please think of the Children?!

My Dad kept our family of 6 fead on 60K a year. That's gotta be one big a#$ family if 21 mil isn't enough. :)

21 mil and not satisfied?.. man... you know what they say.. "A hungry man is an angry man!" Spree must be angry...

Starving children is no joke guys. If the NBA had any respect for its players Spree would be getting a pension at least to feed those kids.

Andrew Z,

Sprewell should TOTALLY be on the 'Surreal Life'.

Let Sprewell rot in the Knicks.

Some people here are trying to bringin big names for the Lake show. First it was Ron Artest, now it is KG. To tell the truth, we have all the pieces here and we don't need Sprewell. Wilcox is probably a good sell because of him being a FA. But the only realistically options here are KG and Boozer. There are ways to get them without giving up Bynum, Kwame, Kobe, or Lamar. We have 2 1st Rounders this year and they are very valuable for any team. We could use 1 for another very young player and the other for a trade. But this team is very young and is doing better than the other young teams in the NBA. We could use only 1 First Round and use the other first round and second round for trades for good players. This team will reach the championship next year. We just need 1 good Power Forward without sacrificing either of the 5 I listed above. We have a great bench that has improved since the 2004 Season. Here are the benches:

SF: Luke and Jim Jackson
PF: Cook and Turiaf
C: Mihm or Bynum
PG: Sasha or McKie
SG: Profit and Devin Green

We could do a trade involving Mihm so we can have possibly a good draft choice.

WAIVE VON WAFER AFTER THIS SEASON

Since these guys are playing descent off the bench we have a solid backup corps. With a starting lineup of Kobe, Lamar, Smush, and Kwame, we could make a run at the championship. And all we need is a solid PF in terms of Wilcox, Garnett, or Boozer.

"Love me or hate me, it's one or the other"
-Kobe Bryant

Arthas,
We don't know if we have all the pieces here. A lot of coin flips are going to have to come up heads for this group to be a serious title contender. There is potential, but it will be surprising if they all improve to the point they need to. If possible, a proven player should be obtained.

""Good luck to the next Jehovah's Witness who tries to engage him in a friendly discussion of the Bible"".

Good to go-Danny Haszard

"Amare Stoudemire has been sent back to the sidelines for further rehabilitation work on his left knee, Phoenix Suns coach and general manager Mike D'Antoni said Tuesday.

Stoudemire will not play Tuesday night against the Bucks in Milwaukee and is "probably doubtful" for at least another week, D'Antoni said in a telephone interview."

As much as I'm a fan of Stoudemire, I kinda knew this was coming. To be honest, this kid may never be the same. I'm just happy he signed a big contract before he got injured. I'm not saying it's over for him, but the contract sure is a good piece of insurance for the kid.

mike

Arthas,

I agree with exhelodrvr, this team, if given the opportunity, needs to obtain at least one more proven players. Just because Kwame has hit a good stretch lately, we shouldn't, in the words of the Wolf from "Pulp Fiction" start sucking...(hope you've seen that movie).

Anyway, we don't have two first rounders this year, Phoenix has our pick and we only have Miami's, plus Boozer and KG make BIG money so we would have to send big money back to actually have the trade be able to go through. Unfortunately our only big money players are Kobe, Lamar, and Kwame. If we were to ever get Boozer or KG the package going back would have to start with "Odom/Kwame and..."

guys help me out.. anyone with Insider on ESPN.. can you copy and paste the article of Chris Sheridan, about playoff help - give these guys a call.. its about the remaining free agents available.. help me out lakerville! thanks...

If that is the attitude of Sprewell, he would not fit in Zen's triangular concept. He will come, wait when he already dry & being denied. AK, BK, Jk or MT perhaps you saw the game bet/ NJ & Phoenix? How should the Lakers play the Suns? We are going to meet them twice in the next few weeks.

Hello Hariyahu, (previous blog) no flags on the top of the cars yet? Have you seen any? We're still in a rainy season, fans want to experience sunshine first in the Lakerland. However, we're no bandwagon. We were one of first bloggers who advocated that this team is coming around ever since we notice the transformation of LO/Kwame from dormant to aggressive. I still consider the development a work in progress while MT believes they could go all the way to championship. OK so be it, as MT suggested we could only play one game at a time. We may have an impressive strikeforce on the first salvo. Can we rely on the remaining horses if or when Kobe/LO/Kwame are fouled out, suspended or injured? This is precisely why JJ & McGie were hired at this late stage of their career to lead the support group. Where are their contributions?

Mike T.,

Amare might be out? Thank God.

I know it's horrible. Amare's a good player and if I weren't such a crazed Laker fan, I'd root for him, but truth be told, we don't need to be going up against Amare Stoudemire in the playoffs. Nope, we don't.

bUCKY,

Here you go:

Latrell Spreewell isn't the only unrestricted free agent out there who can sign with an NBA team and still be eligible for the playoffs. Most can even sign after the 82nd game, as long as it's done before playoff rosters are due.

Also available are Shawn Kemp, Wesley Person, Darvin Ham, Glenn Robinson and a handful of others who have sat out the current season without being on any team's active roster.

Under NBA rules, players who were active prior to March 1 had to be waived before that date in order to retain their postseason eligibility. That rule affected Tony Delk, who was waived by Atlanta and signed with the Detroit Pistons; Tim Thomas, who left Chicago and joined the Phoenix Suns; and Jim Jackson, who was waived in Phoenix and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Players waived after March 1 cannot compete in the postseason, which is one of the factors contributing to Antonio Davis's remaining unsigned after the Toronto Raptors waived him last week. If a team fighting for a playoff spot, such as Utah or Chicago, wanted to add Davis, it would be able to use him only until the regular season ends. With the 37-year-old recovering from a back strain, don't count on it.

Here is a position-by-position look at who is available before the playoffs arrive:

Centers
Let's say you're an Eastern Conference team that stands a fairly good chance of running into Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat in the playoffs. You need another six fouls, but where do you find them?

The pickings are slim, but 43-year-old Kevin Willis has been out there all season just waiting for a call from what would be his seventh NBA team. Zendon Hamilton spent time with the 76ers and Cavs this season on 10-day contracts, and Elden Campbell, a Shaq-stopper specialist with the Pistons each of the past two seasons, has been on the shelf all year.


Others: Jahidi White, Andrew Declercq, Vladimir Stepania.

Power forwards
Ham has been sitting in Dallas all season wondering why the phone hasn't rung, while Kemp claims to have dropped 50 pounds after being as high as 320.

Robert "Tractor" Traylor failed a physical with the Nets last summer because of an enlarged aorta that he underwent surgery to correct, but he turned down a chance for a tryout with New Jersey earlier this month. Marcus Fizer played for Seattle under a 10-day contract after March 1, making him ineligible for the postseason.

Others: Christian Laettner, Marcus Haislip, Jerome Moiso, Clarence Weatherspoon.

Small forwards
Robinson has not been heard from since making a cameo for the San Antonio Spurs last season and winning a ring, and defensive specialist George Lynch has been gathering dust since the Hornets waived him at the end of training camp.

Bryon Russell plans to be a coach someday, but he can still return for the playoffs if someone wants him. The Sonics cut Russell after acquiring him in the trade deadline day deal that sent Reggie Evans and Ruben Patterson to Denver. Another player who was traded and cut was Lee Nailon.

Others: Kaniel Dickens, Terence Morris, Rodney Rogers, Eddie Robinson.

Shooting guards
Sprewell is the cream of the crop, but nobody knows whether he'll ever play again, and he isn't saying. The Nuggets had some interest in Person, but opted to sign Howard Eisley for the remainder of the season instead.


Fred Hoiberg tried out for the Suns and was considering trying to become the first NBA player to play with a pacemaker, but ultimately decided against it. Penny Hardaway has been idle since being waived by Orlando after it acquired him from New York in the Steve Francis deal.

Others: Dajuan Wagner, Rodney Buford, Ron Mercer, Dion Glover, Lucious Harris, Anthony Peeler.

Point guards
The cupboard is pretty bare here now that Eisley will be remaining with the Nuggets. Most of the available free agents are players who couldn't cut it in the NBA, including Frank Williams, Mateen Cleaves, Gerald Fitch and Troy Bell.


Jay Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft, worked out earlier this season for Cleveland, Toronto and Miami before deciding he wasn't healed enough from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash to play full-time in the NBA -- although he'll likely attempt another comeback next season.

Others: Tierre Brown, Anthony Goldwire, Erick Strickland, Kareem Reid.

Jon K,

I'm a huge Laker fan too, but wishing something bad on a kid is bad ju-ju brother. As a basketball fan, you have to admit, that dude is bad ass to watch. I know he would cause trouble for us, but still, I hate to see someone with so much talent get hurt. Here's hoping he recovers quickly and 100% (karma investment on behalf of the Lakers).

Andrew Z.

Exactly my point. I hate seeing greatness being brought down this way.

mike

Andrew Z,

I'm not wishing anything bad on him, I'm just happy he's hurt.

I'm wishing bad mojo on Steve Nash, it's different.

I really hope Amare comes back with his old form.
Watching him handle Duncan last playoff's was so cool and made me a fan of his. He's easily among the more fearless and explosive guys in the league with Kobe, Wade and Tracy.

Andrew Z,

Nice extensive post to bUCKY.

Ok, maybe I'm crazy, but if Mihm isn't gonna play wouldn't it be a good idea to sign Elden Campbell to back KB up for the rest of the season and playoffs? Big body, good defender, 6 more fouls...

Jon K,

I'm not saying bad mojo on Amare, I'm saying being happy the guy's hurt is bad mojo on you!! We need all the help we can get right now.

I also like watching Steve Nash play and would be bummed if he got hurt. I want the Lakers to beat whoever they play at full strength, so no excuses can be made. I hope the team feels the same way.

As for the extensive post, just a copy and paste my man, not an original thought in there.

Gerry B,

Good point, we sure could use one more big body going forward. I believe the playoffs will only magnify Bynum's inexperience right now. he may not know the offense but at least Elden has some experience. And the weather will be nice out here, it would be like a vacation he gets paid for.

Is it possible that they're sitting down Amare...cause he's a chemistry blocker? Probably not...but it's interesting if they are. On the other hand...it probably is better for us if he's benched right now...cause these are valuable bonding/court conditioning things he's missing...so prob good for lakerville.

Spree is hilarious, he actually wanted to play for us? When was is it during the 2004 season or 2005? Probably got tired of reaching the conference and wanted "the closer"

It's Faith...yeahhhhh!

When I do that Faith, think of Everybody loves Raymond, when the old man, whenever he sees Ray, he says: Hey look it's Ray, and does this little cheer. That's what I'm doing. LOL.

mike

lol Mike

i really hate that people give mt all this credit for being a kwame lover since thats what ive been preaching for months if you dont believe me check my blogs he's not the only one whos gave kwame love ak/bk back me up! anyways i also said that we should keep the current roster and that we were one player away but people have short memories. i kinda like the match up with the suns based on the fact that amare will be out that is huge!the fact that kwame is peaking right now is a big plus in that i stated earlier in the season that he could be our second scorer and next season he will step into that role he is a man child but back to this season because of his emergence and amares fall if we slow the game dowqn and make it a half court game then that could give the suns fits maybe not enough to win the series but enough to make some noise!I dont think raja bell knows what he has in store for him and hes shaking in his boots hes in for a world of trouble plus we have someone on the team that has played with them this season and knows the quirks of the offense big plus dont you think? all in all i love our chances and sorry for the whinning but mike isnt the only one who has been singing kwames praises

Smooth d,

I believe you! I didn't start blogging until after the Christmas game against Miami. It's possible people might be giving me credit for the Kwame sighting, because I put some pretty detailed stuff about it in this blog, and me and AK had some pretty heated conversations about it. But that in no way makes me the first person to recognize Kwame as the player he's becoming before our eyes. In the end, it's just conversation, what do I get out of it, to first or last? Nothing!

mike

Sprewell should have been cited criminally and locked up for attacking coach Carlesimo. Who in the hell does he think he is?

correction for my last post

to be first or last. Nothing!

mike

mike you are right this is not a competition and i shouldnt be worrying about it you make good points and are a regular on this site so we are on the same team keep hittin us with that fire!

Smooth D,

(Kong Like) I give you PROPS! Good job man, way to see a talent!

What's that stink?
Holy crap! It's Sonny Belfast, back from the latest Queen-humping!
LOL

Mike,ur a big dumb a$#!

You all are hating on spree. The lake show would be in the 6th or 5th spot if we were willing to give the cash. Just watch some tapes from last year when he was the only one trying to push the wolves into the playoffs. Notice that team ain't doing it this year with out spree. That same heart and passion that makes spree so good is also the thing that has prevented him from signing for 1/14th of his value. For some self respect is priceless.


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