However, factors beyond the control of the teams that lost their free agents also figured in, factors that have to do with the advantages of large markets over small. Orlando couldn't compete with the entertainment opportunities Los Angeles offers actor (Kazaam) and rapper O'Neal. Detroit didn't have a high-profile fan like film director Spike Lee to appear in a video encouraging Houston to sign with his team, the way New York did. The little-known Childs found out quickly what moving across the Hudson River could do for a player's visibility. Within days after Childs signed with the Knicks, GQ magazine called about a photo shoot.
8. Whose bank account ballooned in this free-agent bonanza even though he won't score a single point next season?
Agent David Falk—whose clients include Gatling, Jordan, Howard, Mourning, Mutombo and point guard Kenny Anderson—negotiated an estimated $356 million in contracts for those six players in the space of a week before leaving for a European vacation last Thursday. We're guessing Falk didn't fly coach. His most notable accomplishment may have been the seven-year, $50 million contract he negotiated for Anderson with the Blazers. (As of last weekend the deal was on hold pending conclusion of the trade of Portland point guard Rod Strickland to Washington.) As one of Falk's rival agents put it, "If Falk convinced them Kenny was going to get anything close to that somewhere else, Falk's worth every penny he makes."
9. What is the riskiest signing so far?
The Knicks took a gamble by putting their team in the hands of Childs, a point guard who just three years ago was playing for the Miami Tropics of the United States Basketball League and trying to bring his alcoholism under control. After being confronted by Tropics owner-coach John Lucas, Childs checked himself into a Miami rehab facility, and he says he has not had a drink since June 26, 1993. His skills no longer dulled by alcohol, Childs averaged 12.8 points and seven assists last season. The Knicks like his toughness as much as his quickness. But they have to be concerned about making such a long-term commitment to a player who has had only one successful NBA season.
10. Is there anyone the average fan should root for?
The best candidate is guard Bryant Stith, who re-signed with the Nuggets for five years and $22 million even though the Pistons offered $25 million over the same period. "My mother asked me if I wanted to play for money or did I want to play for a team with all my heart," Stith says. "I really wanted to play for Denver from my heart. This team gave me my start. I'm the captain here." Stith is one of the few free agents who have any right to insist that it's not about the money.
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