Tuesday, September 25, 2007
NBA Preview: John Paxson's Pipe Dream Is Your Nightmare
Well, I've been writing about Eastern Conference parity all summer long, and I have no choice but to really illuminate the core of it. The foreignness of Toronto, or the spunkiness of Philly and Atlanta - those are fun things about Eastern parity; but the reality is much bleaker. Parity in the East is not a good thing - actually it's terrible. I only recommended it in small doses, both for your mental health and your basketball perspective. After a summer of Eastern immigration (KG, Z-BO, Rashard etc.) I wish I could promise you more, but I can't.
The two most talented teams in the East are Boston and Detroit. We've obviously discussed the C's, and have gone in depth about the Pistons as well. What holds both these teams back from elevating their status above everybody is the atrocious coaching. Insane coaching masks the true excellence that both these teams ought to be able to achieve. This will be most obvious come playoff time, but will probably rear its ugly head well before then, and reflect itself in underwhelming winning percentages for both teams.
The club after Boston and Detroit with the most talent I suspect to be Chicago. And I kind of gag when I say Chicago is the favorite in the East. That basically sums up everything that is wrong with the conference. The Bulls are a nice team - they have lots of young talent and some veteran help. But that should not be enough to get you into the Finals. To win the championship you basically need a superstar - something the Bulls severely lack. The one exception in the last 25 years was Detroit in '04. I suspect that John Paxson is trying to mimic that Detroit team. I would suggest he try to mimic all those other championship teams instead.
So trade for Kobe. I know Luol Deng could become a superstar, but that's a huge gamble. At 22 he certainly can't be qualified as near that stratosphere yet. Meanwhile he and Gentle Ben are about to become expensive, and all of a sudden the Bulls are going to be in luxury tax limbo. What I'm saying is simple - go for it now! I have little faith that Paxson will pull the trigger, ever, because he didn't go after Gasol last year and strikes me along with Rod Thorn as the most gutless GM in basketball. Maybe Paxson's plan will work, maybe Ty Thomas will turn into Amare Stoudemire, but I am sick of Chicago as they are constituted.
Still my wariness towards the Bulls is nothing compared to my feelings towards Thorn and his New Jersey Nets. I fucking hate the Nets. This is the same goddamn team every year, and they have the audacity to call themselves contenders. The Nets are not contenders, they are a completely adequate team that is lucky enough to play in a conference where there are no real contenders. I am so sick of people believing that the Nets really could be good. They are not good; I don't care if they win 50 games this year, they still suck, and have no legitimate shot at winning the championship. How can you watch this team consistently and not get sick? It's the same old shit, and it's completely Thorn's fault for not pulling the trigger on a substantial deal since he traded for Carter. Either go for broke or blow it up, Rod, but for the love of God do not stay pat for another year. Brooklyn will not want your sorry asses.
Then there are the Wizards of Ernie Grunfeld, Thorn's bastard son. Arenas said this past week that the Wizards were the best team in the East. The fact that Gilbert can even utter this without the interviewer pissing himself laughing shows how despicable the conference is. Let me tell you what you have to look forward to from the Wizards this year - absolutely fucking nothing, except the inevitable Brendan Haywood - Etan Thomas cagefight. I mean you know something is fucked up with Grunfeld when he refuses to trade either of these mediocre centers even though they keep on fighting each other. He's got Gilbert and Caron Butler, two of the more intriguing players around, and this team is just torture to watch. That should not happen. It's not Eddie Jordan's fault, it's not Jamison's fault, it's not Gilbert's fault, it's not the dueling centers' fault, and it's not "Big Boi" Blatche's fault. It's Ernie's. Let's stop giving him credit for being a good GM when he has done nothing to vastly improve his team. Arenas can opt out next year - we'll see who's brilliant then.
So this crap is the reality of Eastern parity. I'm sorry I got so worked up, but it is a minor crime to humanity that the Bulls, Nets and Wizards are on national TV so much. As you can see, I respect much more the teams that go for broke or blow it up to those that are just consistently adequate. I think adequacy such as New Jersey's is much worse - because the Nets obviously don't care about reaching the summit nearly as much as filling seats by having Vince Carter dunk (and take incredibly ill-advised three pointers.) As a fan, these are the type of things I get pissed about. The Timberwolves are much more interesting.
This year we have four outstanding teams out West - Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. For the sake of the NBA, let's hope an outstanding Eastern team can join one of them in the Finals, whether it takes a trade or a firing. I'm getting tired of always having to stay up late to watch fantastic basketball.
To see the entire NBA preview, click here or the label below.