Saturday, February 26, 2011

The State of the NBA Pt. I...

Many trades went down before the NBA deadline that expired last Thursday, some good, some useless and others inexplicable. There are grumblings now that Dwight Howard will be the next soon-to-be free agent that will take his talents somewhere other than where he's currently playing, despite the fact that he can sign a more lucrative extension with the Orlando Magic. The talk is also of the current trend of star players choosing a city to go to and making it happen, much to the chagrin of small/mid-market teams.

Here are my thoughts on this-

Why do mid-market teams deserve to keep players when it's obvious they can't or won't improve their respective teams?

Carmelo Anthony was in Denver for 7 years, Lebron was in Cleveland for an eternity. How much more time does a franchise need?

Cleveland is in a terrible spot because no free agents want to live and work there. That's the harsh reality. Chris Bosh did not want to go there, Carlos Boozer took off, so James had no choice but to leave. And believe me he did everything in his power to talk to him and other players into joining him. They all declined. Denver got as far as they possibly could with their current set-up, and I don't blame Carmelo Anthony for looking for a new start with another team in a city he actually WANTS to live in.

So where is the loyalty, you ask? Pro sports isn't about loyalty, it's about money and access to whatever it is the players, fans and owners are looking for. When you have a team owner like the infamous Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers sitting on the sidelines heckling HIS OWN PLAYERS, it's easy to recognize that not everyone has the same agenda.

As far as team loyalty is concerned, here's another issue to consider-when a team focuses on clearing salary cap space to save money as opposed to making deals to bring in complimentary players to take the franchise to the next level, their star players have a right to be upset. Why should a great player waste the best years of his athletic life playing with a bunch of hobos that don't give a shit about making the playoffs?

How long do players like Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard have to play with dog franchises who won't spend money to compete, or can't or won't make trades to improve themselves? Or worse, make terrible trades that land them in a worse position than they were previously?

Just look at what Boston did. They traded their best defensive low-post presence, Kendrick Perkins because they didn't want to lose him to free agency without compensation. General manager Danny Ainge thought he was asking for too much money when renegotiating a new contract, yet with this bonehead move, one of the worst in the history of the league, they just cost themselves the title THIS YEAR.

And with Bostons' collective age, their window of opportunity is closing rapidly. It's all downhill for them next year. So instead of two or three titles in as many years, they will only garner one. One title that will up costing them a lot more money than Perkins was asking for.

Being a mid-market team didn't stop Oklahoma City from improving themselves. They wound up trading a young talent who, given their current roster was redundant in Jeff Green and some low-post corpse who couldn't guard a tree. Given this, what's stopping the other teams in similar markets besides brain-dead front office executives who are bad at their jobs and culturally out-of-touch Caucasian owners who think their players are their property? If you think I'm kidding about this, recall please the Cleveland Cavalier owner's comment when Lebron James left. He sounded like a slave master who found out his prize slave made it up North-except this time the Underground Railroad ran south and wasn't manned by Harriet Tubman but by Pat Riley.

Oklahoma City still isn't as talented as the Lakers, but as we've seen this year, L.A. seems unmotivated and stale. The are ripe to be taken out by a younger, faster and hungrier club and let's not forget it was the Thunder who inexplicably took their playoff series with the Lakers to 6 games, back when they didn't know what they were doing and looked as if they were just happy to be there. That's not going to be the case if they meet again this time around.

As for the Knicks, they got Carmelo Anthony, their best offensive perimeter scorer since Bernard King, and that was in the mid-1980's. The jury is still out on this one, given that they were beaten by Cleveland last night, a terrible game that really underscores what is truly wrong with them-they still suck. Chauncey Billups, a throw-in the Knicks had to take to get the deal done, has been running on fumes these last couple of years, and his game has gotten progressively worse out in Denver-shooting jumpshots on fast breaks, not running the offense properly, and more and more he resembles a tired, old bison from the wild west grazing in the meadow waiting for someone in a stagecoach to ride by and put him out of his misery.

More than any other position, point guard is a young man's game. The top NBA point guards are nowhere near 30 years of age, so for the Knicks to improve Billups has to go. I guess he'll do until Deron Williams or Chris Paul decide to take their talents to NYC, but the team is going nowhere except towards a first-round exit in the playoffs with the squad they currently have.

But hey, at least Carmelo's pseudo-celebrity wife LaLa Vasquez can market herself as...I have no idea what. I heard she got a job hosting some program on VH1, which tells you something about her ambitions running way ahead of her talent if that's the best she can do. But that's how C-list celebutantes married to famous athletes roll, so don't hate the player, HATE THE GAME!!!

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