Posted: Friday November 18, 2005 3:20PM; Updated: Monday November 21, 2005 11:23AM
A career 18.3 ppg-scorer, it may only be a matter of time before Latrell Sprewell is on the court this season.
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
The dollar amounts have changed, but the rhetoric is still the same from the Latrell Sprewell camp a year after the shooting guard turned down a three-year, $21 million contract extension offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nearly a month into the season, Sprewell, who infamously explained his rejection of Minnesota's overture by saying he had "a family to feed," is unemployed and, according to his agent, willing to sit out the season rather than play for the NBA veteran's minimum of $1.1 million. "Anyone who thinks he should play for that, that's absurd," Sprewell's representative, Bob Gist, told SI.com this week. "He might as well retire."
"Latrell doesn't need the money that badly. To go from being offered $7 million to taking $1 million, that would be a slap in the face."
Gist said he considers the offer rejected last year a fair one. "The Timberwolves' offer was close to a [fair] valuation," he said. (Sprewell averaged 12.8 points and 2.2 assists in 80 games for the T'wolves in 2004-05.) "If you look at his stats, I think $7 million - $10 million [per year] is what veterans like him are commanding."
Gist said the Detroit Pistons, L.A. Lakers and Denver Nuggets have expressed interest in signing Sprewell since NBA training camps opened in October, but none was a good match for his client. Salary cap inflexibility hampered the Lakers, and Sprewell balked at Detroit's intention to use him as a sixth man off the bench. "Denver had a strong interest," Gist said. "I'm not sure who dropped the ball there, my client or the Nuggets."
Gist also said he doesn't believe Sprewell is being blackballed because teams feel he carries too much baggage to sign. "Any G.M. that tells you that, he's not real bright on the facts," said Gist. "I can understand fans saying that. But people in the industry, who have accesss to information about what kind of guy Latrell really is, that's irresponsible."
The best bet for Sprewell now is to stay in shape and wait for a contender to make a major trade or suffer a major injury that will open a hole at shooting guard or small forward that he can fill. That also would allow Sprwell to be received as a savior, and he might find upward room to negotiate a more appealing contract.
For now, though, Gist said Sprewell is working out at home in Milwaukee, and is prepared to stay there for a while. "I think he can wait the season out," said the agent. "He doesn't need the money, not where he can play for a million dollars."