Now that the lockout is over, after the pathetic machinations of the bumbling David Stern/Billy Williams/Derek Fisher "trifecta of stupid" almost plunged the league into a year-long lockout after its' most successful season in years, it seems as if we have some issues to address going forward-
1) Chris Paul mentioning the storied "history" of the L.A. Clippers franchise was as over the top as it was patently untrue. Chris, I understand you're happy to get out of New Orleans, but you're layin' the disingenuous hyperbole a bit too thick there, buddy. The Clippers HAVE no storied history, unless having exactly two winning seasons in the last twenty years counts for something. Paul must also keep in mind he's playing for an Donald Sterling, an owner whose infamous for sitting on the sidelines while heckling HIS OWN PLAYERS.
And he's racist on top of that. He has a history of being sued by tenants of some of his real estate properties, and the comments attributed to him about them over the years are straight out of Bull Connor's Alabama. Sterling is an absolute riot. I'll give anyone 2 to 1 odds that both Chris Paul AND Blake Griffin are outta there in two years. This is the Clippers we're talking about, and they are doomed to fuck things up. But they can have fun now as they are on the upside and the Lakers are going in the exact opposite direction.
No, the biggest move that will resonate in Lakerland is Kobe Bryant's impending divorce from his wife Vanessa. Bryant, who's played through some serious distractions before during his rape trial in Colorado (settled out of court, so the consensus is "Yes, he was guilty"), can summon his laser-like focus like no other. But this is different. This newest fiasco involves the deterioration of his home life, which will not only cost him his family but tons of money. TONS. The Colorado incident happened when he was a younger man, and he is an old 36 this year at a time when the team will be depending on his diminishing skills more than ever. If he was the Kobe of yesteryear, I wouldn't bet against him. But the combination of father time, aching knees, impending trade rumors involving their two other best players and the divorce will be too much for even the Black Mamba himself to overcome. Welcome to the beginning of the end for the Lakers as they are currently constructed. Stay tuned. It's going to get ugly.
And Dwight Howard will not make the situation any better, because they still desperately need a point guard and have no bench whatsoever. Besides, is Howard so desperate to get out of Orlando he is willing to throw more of his formative years down the drain playing second fiddle to an aging nutbox in Kobe Bryant and guards Derek Fisher and Steve Blake, the worst backcourt tandem since Sacco and Vanzetti? I see the Oklahoma Thunder running these cats out of the gym. If the Lakers see a light at the end of the tunnel, it's the Thunder coming at them like a runaway train. As an aside, their second unit consists of the artist formerly known as Ron Artest...and four white guys. I rest my case.
3) The Knicks mightily overpaid for Tyson Chandler, both in money and in years. They are stuck with him until 2015. Giving up Chauncey Billups was a good move, because he is no longer "Mr. Big Shot". They have a serviceable front line, but Stoudemire's knees will have to hold up (highly unlikely) and Carmelo Anthony is going to have to play some semblance of defense, another improbability that may see the Knicks bounced out of the NBA Playoffs again in the first round.
Then you have their "point guard by committee" situation with an overwhelmed Tony Douglas, a clearly running-on-fumes Mike Bibby, who left his best years back in Sacramento 8 years ago, and Baron Davis, who will miss at least one month due to a back ailment he conveniently forgot to address during the NBA's protracted summer vacation. They inexplicably went after shooting guard Jamal Crawford, as if they need another chucker who refuses to play defense. Remember, Crawford was the guy Lance Stephenson scored 40-plus points on in a summer league tournament. Lance was FIFTEEN YEARS OLD at the time, and Crawford already a seasoned professional.
You'll be surprised by who I mention here as a possible fit for the Knicks backcourt-Sebastian Telfair. Yes, he is undersized, cannot shoot and is for all intent and purposes an NBA drifter destined to forever sit on the bench of whatever team needs to fill a roster spot. But he is fast, can handle the ball better than most and his mentality is pass-first. He has been in the league seven years, but four of those don't really count because he should have been in college. His knees and back aren't messed up and he still has remnants of the youthful bounce in his stride that has abandoned aging veterans Bibby and Davis years ago.
A player like Telfair is what this run-and-gun team needs, because there is no way Chris Paul or Deron Williams will sign with a team that can't sign them to a max contract. All that talk about these guys wanting to play for a championship is all well and good, but not too many of these cats are willing to leave millions of dollars on the table just to play in New York. If this were true, why have the Knicks NEVER been able to attract any All-Star caliber free agents until recently?
The last time the Knicks won a championship, John Shaft was trolling the gritty streets of Harlem and Frank Lucas was wearing his matching chinchilla coat/fur hat to Madison Square Garden prize fights. That is a long time to be irrelevant. Sure, those Patrick Ewing-led teams of the 1990's put up a good fight, but Patrick never got to play with another All-Star caliber player the whole time he was in New York.
But they do get style points for finally putting an end to the Eddy Curry Era, and that right there is reason enough to give owner James Dolan a pass for doubling ticket prices from one day to the next. There are plenty of New Yorkers who can afford it in a town where some Eurotrash Russian mail-order whore recently purchased an apartment for $88 million dollars with daddy's Russian trust fund cash so she can have a place to crash during college semesters.
4) We don't need any more evidence to affirm the obvious-what the league needs more than anything else is contraction. New Orleans, Sacramento, Minnesota, and Charlotte are bogus, irrelevant franchises that have to go. Here is why-
A) The grand city of New Orleans rallies around five things-police corruption, political scandals, hedonism, entrenched poverty, and the Saints. And don't blame Hurricane Katrina for the lack of support. The hurricane washed away a large majority of poor folks in places like the Ninth Ward who cannot afford to go to any type of anything, much less an NBA basketball team. The Hornets don't need to relocate to a larger market-they need to be scrapped because they suck.
B) The Maloof Brothers, the Las Vegas casino owners who were awash in cash only a few years ago, are now crying poor, hijacking the municipality of Sacramento to build them a new stadium or they'll leave. Not happening. They've been irrelevant for so long the league forgot to include their games during the initial first draft of the season schedule. DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans are two me-first dickheads who will do nothing to make people forget the guard/center tandem of Magic and Kareem, so forget about them. We can't wait for the San Andreas Fault to unleash it's fury and wash half of California into the sea. The Kings need to go RIGHT NOW.
C) Michael Jordan has been an unmitigated disaster as a husband, golfer, general manager and now owner of the woe begotten Charlotte whatever-the-fuck they're called. One of the best players to ever walk the Earth is responsible for two of the worst first-round draft picks in NBA history-Qwame Brown and Adam Morrison. He was also one of the owners vociferously fighting for a basketball-related revenue split with the players of 47%. As if this hard-line stance is going to win him any favors with potential free agents down the road. He could have had the commissioner set his team's player split of BRI set at 4.7%, and the Bobcats would STILL lose money. That's because they suck, and will continue to suck until Jordan either leaves or the team is shut down, preferably both. There is better basketball in the state of North Carolina on the college level, so the Bobcats are doomed and deserve to get whacked.
D) Minnesota just signed another point guard, JJ Barea, for $19 million over four years. They drafted three in the first round a couple of years ago, and are married to Ricky Rubio, who plays well only on Youtube España. This is a perfect example of what is really hurting small-market teams; dumb-ass owners and general managers. Minnesota is so stupid they have their best player, Kevin Love, on the trading block. And for what, to rebuild? Isn't a 20-something, overachieving rebounding machine supposed to be the type of player you build a franchise around? Not in Minnesota, whose starting five this year will consist of five point guards, all under 6'3".
*The Toronto Raptors get honorable mention here, but they are so irrelevant I heard the US is planning to invade Canada just to keep them from playing any more games.
5) If there is any evidence that Danny Ainge is one of the worst GM's in the league, just look at what he's done ever since the Celtics won the title and you'll realize if it wasn't for the team and the coach he has now, he'd be doing play-by-play commentary on ESPN and playing golf with Charles Barkley. Having to be subjected to that man's horrible swing is enough for anyone to want to check out and go straight to Hell, but Ainge has earned a spot right next to Sir Charles on the putting green for his abominable moves.
Forget about the deals he pulled off to bring in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The Garnett deal was the doing of Kevin McKale in his attempt to rebuild a franchise going nowhere with Garnett at center. Allen was thrown at them by a desperate Seattle team looking to rebuild and unload his mammoth contract. Going forward, they had no use for an aging shooting guard who played absolutely no defense whatsoever. His metamorphosis was due to three things-his commitment to physical fitness during the off-season, Doc Rivers' emphasis on team defense, and having Pierce and Garnett on hand to put a foot up anyone's ass that wasn't on the same page.
Having gone to two straight NBA Finals with basically the same crew intact, Ainge decides to get cute. First, he trades big man Kendrick Perkins, who if he hadn't gotten hurt during the Finals in 2009, the Celtics would have won another title. He tries to replace Perkins with the biggest array of cast-offs and bums this side of the Bowery. Jermaine O'Neil, always a favorite of mine, is woefully past his prime. He's so past his sell-by date his fumes are running on fumes. Shaquille O'Neil was a joke with no punchline ever since he decided he was too cool to stay his fat ass in shape, which is the main reason he was shuttled out of Los Angeles. Neither player could fill the shoes of Perkins, who this year has come back in the best shape of his career and will thankfully miss the decline of the Celtics as teams like Miami and Chicago run roughshod over what was once a proud franchise.
Ainge then trades the combo of Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Nate Robinson. These two guys are professional basketball oddities would have ended as journeymen if not for the roles they played while at Boston. Both these guys are high-energy characters who play with passion and feed off the cheers of the crowd. They gave the Celts a much needed boost while the starters rested. They too are gone. And now, one of their supposed key players, Jeff Green, is out for the season due to a heart ailment.
And Ainge had the audacity to put Rajon Rondo, their best player, on the trading block recently, hoping to land Chris Paul, which in perspective is even more stupid than anything Ainge has ever done as a GM. Paul is a great player but has a bad knee which can go any minute now. Rondo has no knee issues, was the main reason they won a championship in 2008 and last year played through extraordinary pain when his elbow was bent in what motorcycle riders call "an angle of no return" during a freak accident on the court. He's been through the wars with these guys and never has received the full credit he deserves. There would be no "Big Three" without Rajon Rondo. And this is the thanks he gets. Don't get rid of Rondo-get rid of Ainge. HE'S the one who sucks.