January 3, 1999

In December, some former Dream Team players met in Atlantic City for a charity game which was largely ignored. I couldn't even find a box score when it was over. Although it wasn't much like a real game as the millionaires tip-toed along in an effort to avoid injuring themselves, the following fantasy notes could be made:

- Shawn Kemp showed up to the charity game noticeably out of shape. His fantasy value should be accordingly devalued. Having just signed his huge contract, what incentive does he have to work out hard during the vacation - err - lockout.

- Although it was just a pickup game, Tim Hardaway showed he is still sharp by leading his team to victory in the fourth quarter.

- Patrick Ewing was also a step slow, confirming suspicions that his role as Union President has taken away from his game. He also winced when his injured wrist was hit showing it could be a factor still.

- Alonzo Mourning showed no ill affects from his knee surgery. The lockout preserved his fantasy value for the shortened season.

- Tom Gugliotta showed that his has recovered from his ankle injury from last season. This game was important for him as a free agent to show teams he can play at his pre-injury levels.

- Charles Barkley stated that Jordan will not return and I believe him. If you are in a fantasy draft before the lockout do not take Jordan since it could be a wasted pick. Jordan has not announced his retirement in order to give the players some leverage in bargaining talks. He said he will only play for Phil Jackson and I believe he won't go back on this statement.

- Penny Hardaway was well enough to play. Well, I guess it was an all-star game, something that Penny will suit up for. He should still be avoided in a regular season fantasy draft until he shows more durability.

- Mitch Richmond appeared to be somewhat out of shape judging from the sweat he worked up in pre-game warm ups.

- The fact that Charles Barkley did not play is in indication he may not be in shape and did not want to huff and puff in front of everyone. Charles has never been known to work out hard in the off season and he may be even more out shape than Kemp.

- Dominque Wilkins is looking to return to the NBA and was shopping his skills at the charity game. If he does earn a contract, he will be a role player with minimal fantasy value.

Other Notes:

- Ron Mercer of the Celtics scheduled workouts for the Celtics which ended up being canceled since no one showed up. If the Celtics aren't working out (in fear of arriving at a post-lockout Pitino camp out of shape) then who is?

- Dirk Nowitzki will sign and play for the Mavericks as opposed to staying in Germany. He was recently house hunting in Dallas. Nowitzki has probably been playing in more competitive games than most NBA players through his participation in European league play the past couple months. Whether he can contribute on the NBA level remains to be seen, but he may be in better shape than most when the season begins.

- Other players in Europe during the lockout are Arvydas Sabonis, Vlade Divac, Marco Milic, and Dino Radja (remember him?). While playing overseas may provide more competition than shooting around in a gym it also presents the opportunity for an injury.

- Oliver Miller has been working out with the Mavericks. Although always over weight, when playing he has always been a decent per minute fantasy performer.

- Michael Finley showed that he can hit uncontested jumpers as he hit 16 in a row in a charity game that did feature Tim Hardaway but not any defense.

- Marcus Camby and Nick Van Exel (who have the same agent) sued to be able to play in Europe. This is a move to keep their options open and it is unlikely they will actually play there. Never the less, if your league drafts before the lockout is over do not take them.

- Grant Hill may have ruffled some of the brother's feathers by not being more vocal for the players during the lockout. This may translate into some tough D being played on him when the season begins, perhaps further lowering his field goal percentage which was only at 45 percent last season.

- Those who are currently free agents may be in the worst shape when the lockout is over since many are avoiding intense workout for fear of injury. An example is free agent Rik Smits, who is one of the few Pacers not participating in the Pacers regular lockout workouts.

- Free agent Darrick Martin is reportedly receiving a lot of interest from teams. This could translate into a starting role for him when the season begins.

- Michael Olowokandi has threatened to go to Europe but this is will not happen unless the NBA season is canceled which is unlikely. Still avoid him in any drafts held before the lockout is over.

- Brent Barry appears unlikely to re-sign with the Heat. This would be a boost for his fantasy value.

- George Karl will be reunited with Center Ervin Johnson in Milwaukee. This may not be good for Johnson's fantasy value since he rode the bench for Karl in Seattle.

- Oded Kattash is an star Israeli point guard who may sign with the Knicks. His signing may reduce the fantasy potential of Charlie Ward (if he remains in New York) and Chris Childs. Kattash may even be worth taking with your last pick in a fantasy draft. Charlie Ward is a free agent who could end up with a starting role as some teams have expressed an interest in him. Last year Ward averaged 6 assists per game playing only 28 minutes per game.

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