The Pistons can afford to wait for Dele, but not forever. If Detroit puts him on the retired list, the $5.67 million comes off the team's cap. That's not an issue now, but the money could come in handy next summer, when Grant Hill's contract is up and the Pistons may have to make some roster moves.
"My gut feeling is that Bison won't come back this year," says Detroit coach Alvin Gentry. "It would be one thing if he were around here. Then he might start missing the game. But it's hard to get fired up [about NBA basketball] when you are in Beirut."
Or in the depths of a depression that makes nothing—not even $36 million—seem very important.
Marion Leads New Wave
Rising Suns Around the NBA
Quick: Who was the leading preseason scorer for the Suns? The answer may surprise you. It was rookie Shawn Marion, the 21-year-old small forward out of UNLV who has wowed everyone with his hops, his court savvy and his refusal to adhere to the wait-my-turn rookie mentality. While the more celebrated new Sun, Penny Hardaway, has struggled with Phoenix's motion offense, Marion looks as if he were born to it. Though he was only the ninth pick in the draft, Marion has been named by some coaches—Portland's Mike Dunleavy among them—as the early front-runner for Rookie of the Year.
Marion isn't the only preseason revelation. Here are four others, by position:
G—James Posey, Nuggets. Questions about Posey's shooting ability accounted for some of his slippage to the 18th pick in the draft. But with outstanding play at both ends of the floor, he appears to have beaten out Chauncey Billups as the starting two guard and to have knocked veteran Bryant Stith out of the rotation.
G—Erick Strickland, Mavericks. Strickland was such a disappointment last season that coach Don Nelson contemplated dumping him for nothing. But the Mavericks were decimated by injuries in the preseason, and Strickland, a career 37.7% shooter, emerged from the pack, averaging 18.0 points and shooting 48% from the floor. "Thank god for Strick," Nellie said last week.
C—Kelvin Cato, Rockets. To the casual fan, Cato, who was acquired from Portland in the Scottie Pippen deal, was merely a throw-in to make that trade work capwise. In truth he was the key to the deal. The big man showed vastly improved offensive skills in camp, and his shot-blocking ability had some (perhaps overexcited) Houston folk comparing him to the young Hakeem Olajuwon. The 6'11" Cato had a triple double against Cleveland on Oct. 15: 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 blocks. Ten days later the Rockets signed him to a four-year extension.
F- Bonzi Wells, Trail Blazers. The Blazers, deep at every position save one, went into camp hoping to find a backup for shooting guard Steve Smith. They found one in Wells, who had only seven NBA games under his belt but meshed nicely with the Trail Blazers' abundant talent.