In 1993, when he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the years before rookie scale contracts, Vin Baker signed a 10-year agreement with the team. That deal included an opt-out after the sixth season, by which time Baker had made nearly $17.3 million. He then signed a seven-year, $86.7 million contract with the Seattle SuperSonics, though he chose to negotiate an opt-out settlement after five years in order to make himself a free agent, strangely negating the final two years of the deal. The smaller contracts that Baker played on over his final few seasons put his official career earnings at nearly $100 million. Half of that career was spent disappointing his teams and various fan bases, as Baker struggled with weight issues and an admitted alcohol problem. Though he made four consecutive All-Star teams from 1995 through 1998, Baker’s confidence tailed off in 1997-98 (especially at the free throw line), and his weight ballooned extensively in the lockout months following that campaign. Baker was still held in high enough regard in 2000 to be awarded a spot on Team USA’s men’s basketball entry at that year’s Summer Olympics. Though the team isn’t as fondly remembered as other recent Olympic outfits, it still earned a gold medal in the tournament. According to Grey Flannel auctions, via Sports Illustrated , Baker has decided that he doesn’t need his medal any more, and he’s deciding to put it up for auction. From the Gray Flannel description : The gold-plated silver medal weighs 6.85 oz, is 5mm thick and measures 68mm across. It is attached to a 39” turquoise-blue ribbon embroidered with “SYDNEY 2000” in silver. The medal features a design by Australian designer Wojciech Pietranik; it depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, seated above the stadium and chariot along with “XXVII OLYMPIAD SYDNEY 2000”. This translates to “Games of the 27th Olympiad Sydney 2000”. The artist’s initials “WP” appear at the bottom of the design in relief. The verso of the medal features the Olympic rings along with an image of the Sydney Opera House and an Olympic torch. “BASKETBALL” and “MEN” have been engraved along the perimeter. The medal is in MINT condition and comes in a white leather case. The minimum bid starts at $35,000, and the auction runs until August 20. Whether or not Baker is selling the medal because of financial constraints is anyone’s guess, but we can at least try to make an educated one. Baker still has lawsuits pending against his former business advisers, seeking eight figures’ worth of reimbursement from one Daniel Brodeur. From the Hartford Courant in 2012: According to the lawsuit filed earlier this month in Superior Court in Middletown, Baker says Brodeur and the accounting firm "advanced their own interests to the detriment of mine, and breached their fiduciary responsibilities, obligations, and duties imposed on them by engaging in … dishonest, disloyal and immoral conduct." According to Baker's application for prejudgment remedy, Baker says that "virtually all of my earnings were spent and/or my investments lost all or nearly all of their value, such that my home in Durham was foreclosed and I was forced to liquidate substantial assets for little or no value, leaving me without resources to meet my financial obligations and living expenses." Brodeur on Thursday called Baker's allegations "unfounded." Brodeur said he worked closely with Baker's parents throughout the years and that his firm was "just one aspect" of Baker's financial team. "He had other business advisors," Brodeur said. Vin Baker, in a more recent New York Daily News interview , professed that his career earnings were actually around $105 million, which gives us further insight into the uncounted amount he received in his 2004 buyout. In that same interview, Brodeur is quoted as saying that Baker lost “in the neighborhood of $16 to $17 million” in his settlement with the Boston Celtics, a pretty steep price to pay for wanting to work for another team. That decision may have been clouded by drinking. As of the Daily News interview from 2013 , Baker claims to have been sober for two years, and it features him doing volunteer work at his local church, while studying to get a master’s degree in divinity at a theological school in Manhattan. It’s unclear as to how much Baker’s medal will fetch. It certainly is a rare artifact, but a memento from a somewhat-disgraced player working on a rather unloved Dream Team entry ( Saturday Night Live even produced a parody ad to mock the team’s endless mean-mugging ) isn’t exactly the hottest buy around. Which is a shame. We hope things turn up for Baker, starting with this auction . - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
The argument against NBA teams tanking games is tired and silly. For decades, pro squads have given up on entire seasons in order to develop young talent and secure high-end draft picks, but it wasn’t until 2013-14 the hyperdrive media and those who tend to fall in lockstep with their favorite TV/radio shows and/or writers started to kvetch about things. Recently, Grantland’s Zach Lowe broke the news about the league considering a percentage-based variation on determining draft lottery odds. We strongly discouraged the league to pass on the idea , and we weren’t alone. The Philadelphia 76ers – the squad that lost 26 straight games last season while sitting out its top draft pick, a franchise that may sit out its current top draft pick for most or not all of 2014-15 – are also strongly objecting to the idea. Thanks a lot, Sixers. Way to tramp down the clichés and play against role. From Brian Windhorst at ESPN : The NBA is pushing toward changes to the draft lottery system by next season but is facing a strong objection from the Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise that could suffer the most from it, multiple sources told ESPN.com. […] The rough draft of this plan was met with opposition by 76ers management, which is in the midst of a multiseason rebuilding project that is dependent on a high pick next year. The 76ers, sources said, are hoping to get the NBA to delay the plan's implementation for at least a year because it would act as a de facto punishment while just playing by the rules that have been in place. The 76ers, however, may struggle to gain support from Silver or fellow teams for holding off on the changes. Philadelphia's planned sink to the bottom has caused a drag on revenues in one of the league's largest markets and has upset some other teams, sources said. The Sixers want the NBA to pass on preventing them from doing the best possible job they can to improve their franchise. This is essentially what this boils down to. The 76ers will lose again in 2014-15, possibly more often than they did in 2013-14, when the lottery “rewarded” them with the third overall pick. Philadelphia will then enter the 2015 offseason with two of the best young big men in the game, the 2014 Rookie of the Year, another high-end lottery pick, a coveted stashed prospect still developing overseas and a massive amount of cap space. Philadelphia is taking a year off, because after years of trying to overpay overrated talent under various personnel bosses including Billy King, Rod Thorn, Ed Stefanski and Doug Collins, the 76ers are rebuilding the right way. And sometimes “the right way” takes two seasons. Compare this Sixers setup with what we’ve seen in recent years in Dallas and with the Los Angeles Lakers. Those Lakers just signed Carlos freakin’ Boozer. They just signed Jordan Hill to a contract that nears eight figures per year, one they will no doubt decline the second year of the deal. They could waive Steve Nash, but don’t want a portion of his contract carrying over into the 2015 and '16 offseason. The team just took on a draft pick for the right to pay Jeremy Lin $14 million in actual payroll this season, and unless Linsanity breaks out in Pacific Time this season he most certainly won’t be around past 2015. Dallas? The Mavericks let their starting center go in the offseason following their 2011 championship, and he went on to win the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011-12. Dallas did nothing but hire a series of rentals in the 2011 and 2012 offseasons, only diving in to dole out multiyear deals in 2013. It punted away two years of Dirk Nowitzki’s near-prime in order to hoard cap flexibility for the following summer, knowing full well the peak output of the team it was creating would be 45 wins or so at best. What about Orlando, dismantling a division winner in 1999 in anticipation of the next offseason? What about when Seattle decided it didn’t want to pair Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis with Kevin Durant in 2007? What about Jerry Krause, rolling over cap flexibility in both 1999 offseasons (there were two, technically), and in 2000? And in 2001? And in 2002? What about this?
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Forward Center . Sure, they're in Sin City to vie for spots on the U.S. senior men's national team roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, but as soon as Damian Lillard and Chandler Parsons got together, you knew exactly what they were going to talk about . Casey Holdahl takes us inside the conversation. PF : SB Nation , USA TODAY Sports and The Triangle . Let Paul Flannery, Jeff Zillgitt and Jared Dubin introduce you to Michele Roberts, the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association , who might be the only person standing between all of us and a lockout come the summer of 2017. SF : Eye on Basketball . Zach Harper looks a few months into the future and wonders what we can, or should, expect from a re-upped Dwyane Wade in a post-LeBron context with the Miami Heat next season. (Also, Zach had some dork on his podcast today .) SG : The New York Times . Scott Cacciola on the divergent paths forward being taken by the Los Angeles Clippers, who want nothing more than to shed their Donald Sterling-dominated past, and the Los Angeles Lakers, who want nothing more than to focus on their Showtime days to avoid facing the future. PG : Denver Post . Christopher Dempsey on Arron Afflalo occupying a different role in his return to the Denver Nuggets, going from just one of the young guys to a veteran expected to lead the charge back to the postseason. 6th : SB Nation . Mike Prada on why speculation on whether Kevin Durant will sign with the Washington Wizards in two years — though far, far away and (to some of us, at least) pretty insane — is reasonable within the context of today's NBA news and roster-building cycles. 7th : TrueHoop . Longtime Durant watcher and Daily Thunder proprietor Royce Young won't believe KD's going to take a page out of LeBron's book until he sees it: "[Durant] may not be a boisterous leader, but he’s also not one to follow." 8th : Hang Time . John Schuhmann reports from Team USA camp in Las Vegas on the chances that Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee could earn a spot on the U.S. roster for the FIBA World Cup, thanks to the likes of Blake Griffin and Kevin Love pulling out of contention. 9th : Rip City Project . For as gifted and multifaceted a player as he is, Nicolas Batum at times frustrates Portland Trail Blazers fans with his inconsistent offensive production, which can sometimes be attributed to the scoring primacy of All-Stars Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, but at others seems more due to the Frenchman floating. Is this simply the way things are going to be for the versatile swingman, or could there still be a breakout campaign ahead? 10th : Red94 . Remembering the mid-1990s rivalry between the Seattle SuperSonics and the Houston Rockets. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.