Simply because he stood 7 feet 6 and was second pick of the 1993 NBA draft, Shawn Bradley was given an eight-year, $44.2 million contract by the Philadelphia 76ers. Because he was the 30th pick of the second round of that same draft, Gheorghe Muresan, 7-7, had to struggle to make the Washington Bullets before earning a one-year contract at the rookie minimum of $150,000.
When Bullets general manager John Nash said during training camp that he wouldn't trade Muresan -- still a project -- for Bradley, there were chuckles. But who's laughing now?
Through his first three games of the season, including last night's loss in Chicago, Bradley has looked like anything but an NBA player.
First, the good news about Bradley: He can say he has improved his offensive output in every game. But that's only because his six points last night followed two points on Saturday against Orlando after a scoreless performance on opening night against Milwaukee.
His numbers in his first three games: 50 minutes, eight points, eight rebounds, three field goals. Bradley's strength is supposed to be his ability to block shots, but last night he had his first block after fouling out of the first two games.
If there's any proof that the NBA needs a rookie salary cap, it's Bradley, who, because of his frail frame, never may develop into an effective player on this level. You have to wonder what front-office officials are thinking when they unload ridiculous amounts of money on unproven players -- in this case, one who spent two years on a Mormon mission after playing just a single year at Brigham Young.
After suffering a dislocated knee last season that limited him to 49 games, Bradley opted not to rehab in Philadelphia -- under the eyes of team officials -- during the off-season. Think about it: When you know you're going to be paid $44.2 million, would you rather spend the summer with your wife or in the gym struggling with a trainer?
And what about that other guy, Muresan? He spent the entire summer working out and working on his game, and was rewarded with a four-year contract. And the Bullets are reaping the benefits, as Muresan has developed into a capable backup.
Muresan for Bradley? Any doubts, keep an eye on tomorrow's game in Philadelphia.
Matchup of the week
The most interesting matchup of the week occurs at Golden State to night, when the Warriors play host to the Miami Heat. The two teams last week made a trade that sent Rony Seikaly west in exchange for Billy Owens.
It's a trade that appears to fill the needs of the Warriors, for years desperately in need of a real center. If Chris Webber ever ends his holdout, pairing him on the front line with Seikaly makes Golden State an instant contender.
In Miami, everyone is wondering just where Owens will play on a team that already has Glen Rice and Kevin Gamble at small forward.
"Yeah, it puzzles me," Rice, who averaged 21.1 points last season, told reporters in Miami. "I have no idea who's going to play small forward, but I'm not going to be satisfied taking a back seat to anyone."
The deal leaves the Heat with John Salley and Matt Geiger at center -- though yesterday Miami traded for 7-foot Kevin Willis.
Geiger was ready for the challenge.
"We'll all miss Seik, but I'm psyched," said Geiger, apparently concerned more about playing than wins and losses. "Maybe this is an opportunity for me to be there at key times. I'm ready."
Ready, yes. Able?
Quote of the Week
Underachiever Benoit Benjamin, the center for the center-less New Jersey Nets, offers this humorous gem: "I feel like I'm a great player. I figure I'll have my place in the history books one day."