Monday, July 2, 2012

Detroit Pistons to sign Ukranian big man Vyacheslav Kravtsov

Outside of Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe, the Detroit Pistons have been devoid of quality big men the past two seasons. Team president Joe Dumars is out to change that. The Pistons are stocked at the guard and small forward positions and want to improve their depth at the center and power forward positions.

While the moves haven't been major and the players are unproven Dumars is set on improving the depth along the front line. With Monroe already on the roster, the Pistons drafted University of Connecticut big man, Andre Drummond with the number 9 pick in the draft. Even though there were questions surrounding Drummond it could prove to be a solid pick. The Pistons were lucky to have what was considered a top five talent fall into their laps for the third straight year.

Looking to add more younger, cheaper talent the Pistons signed Ukranian seven footer Vyacheslav Kravtsov.

Kravtsov, an athletic seven-footer, averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22 minutes per game last season for BC Donetsk in the Ukrainian league.

Kravtsov, 25, was undrafted in 2009 and played for the Celtics' summer-league team in 2010. He's known as a defensive presence, and the Pistons have been familiar with him for some time. Pistons assistant coach Brian Hill was an assistant on the Ukrainian national team last summer.

His scouting report lists him as a "phenomenal shot blocker who likes nothing more than contesting absolutely anything on its way up" and that he's "athletic, strong and can explode in and around the hoop on offense although he's still trying to find consistency with anything from range."

Word is that he did have some dominant games against Jonas Valanciunas and Enes Kanter, both of whom were top five lottery picks in 2011. Any basketball fan knows that doesn't mean a whole lot.

Hopefully this can turn out to be more Mehmet Okur than Darko Milicic.

NFL easing up on blackouts

Good news for Jacksonville Jaguars fans that can't watch the games on television since they had a hard time selling out.

According to a report at, the NFL will be relaxing the blackout rules. The league will no longer require that home games are sold out to be televised on local television. I don't care what the suits say, this idea makes perfect sense.

This season, games can be televised locally even when just 85% of tickets are sold. The Wall Street Journal reports that teams will be able to set their own "seat-sales benchmark" -- as long as its at least 85% of total capacity -- and when that benchmark is met games can be televised. "To discourage teams from setting easy benchmarks," says WSJ, "teams will be forced to share more of the (ticket) revenue when they exceed it."   

The relaxed blackout rules also make it easier for fans to view the games at home since a majority of hardcore NFL fans can't afford the tickets to go to a game in today's economy.

Daunte Culpepper knows it's the end for him

There was a point when it looked like Daunte Culpepper would be one of the best NFL quarterbacks that would ever play. Once a debilitating knee injury hit him he wasn't the same player. He lost it just as fast as Jake Delhomme and Steve Blass.

But I'll give Culpepper credit. He's not trying to hang on. His last game action came with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL in 2010. His last NFL action was with the Detroit Lions in 2009. At a camp at his alma mater, Central Florida, Culpepper resigned himself to the fact that his career is over.

"As far as me playing, I think I am done,'' said Culpepper, 35. "That part of my book is closed. The next chapter is, I have kids and I will be coaching them.

"I will be part of athletics and a part of sports, hopefully my whole life. It makes me feel good. I love to compete. Now I'll be competing in men's leagues, in basketball and softball and stuff.''

"I am retired, obviously, and I am raising my kids and living in South Florida,'' said Culpepper, a three-time Pro Bowl selection. "That's a full-time job.''    

Culpepper's only hope of landing an NFL contract would have been as a reserve role, but at age 35 with no game experience the past two seasons, there was nearly no chance of that happening. Culpepper was a three-time Pro Bowler in the NFL. He passed for 4,717 yards, rushed for 406 yards and totaled 41 touchdowns and 11 interceptions during the 2004 campaign, but a serious knee injury the next season all but ended his career as an NFL starter.