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.


Anonymous said...

Ernie got Caron Butler from a draft pick bust who was a free agent and leaving. Good GM one of the better ones.

Rod Thorn has also done a good job although this last 18months has been a bit rough. See how it plays out this year.

Pax is trigger shy but he's top notch in every other area.

Anonymous said...

Some of your suggestions seem off the mark. During his years as GM, Paxson has traded the team's leading scorer (twice) and the teams leading rebounder/shot blocker. He also made the biggest off-season signing of last year's free agency. ..a move that can't be called 'gutless' considering the player was widely hailed as on the downslope of his career.
Paxson may not have landed KG or Gasol but let's look at both of those situations.
First, Paxson offered Chandler, Deng and the '08 draft pick for KG. Can that really be called 'gutless'? Three young and talented players is a lot more than the Wolves ended up getting.
As for Gasol, nobody knows what was offered but an offer was made. And is anybody in Chicago that watches this team upset that the offer was not taken? No. Gasol plays soft defensive, has limited mobility and is about un-super as a superstar can get. Plus, he has a ridiculous contract that would cripple any team. Is having both Ben Gordon AND Luol Deng for the price of Gasol worth it? I think so, especially considering longevity.
As for Kobe, he could definitely help the Bulls but only so much if they trade half of their team to get him.
For me, the Bulls are enjoyable specifically because they DON'T have a superstar (and yes, I am biased). They expend maximum effort, they don't whine or get arrested in the offseason. There's no pretending that any one player is more important than the rest. The distribute the ball, play defense, win games, etc.
Also, they are by far and away the youngest of any of the competitive teams in the East. Hell, they're the youngest competitive team of ANY team in the league(Portland not included b/c no Oden or any playoff games.. ...yet).
If they make you gag, so be it. I'm not here to flame you, just to say that maybe they're not so bad to everybody. Maybe, it would be nice if there were a few more teams like them, as a matter of fact.
I CAN tell you one thing though, Paxson clearly has not sat idly by and done nothing. His moves have led directly to Removing: Crawford, Curry, Chandler and Tim Thomas. Adding: Deng (via trade), Wallace, Thomas and Noah. Just because none of the additions have Shoe Commercials, does that make Paxson gutless?

greenlove said...

So I kind of agree with most of what you're saying. Especially about the Nets being infuriating. They are going to get slowly worse each year with nothing to show for it. They weren't good enough last year, and they aren't going to be good enough this year. I think a lot of teams in the East aren't realistic about how good they are to themselves. I agree with your call about Detroit and Boston. But how did Detroit lose to Cleveland last year? Sure Lebron was getting every call, but still.

Anonymous said...

Do you really believe what you just wrote?

Anonymous said...

Boston and Detroit are the only teams with any chance at a ring.

And kindof miami if theyre really motivated and Wade pulls an '06 wade'.... but really only if they land ron artest or make some kind of move.

Chicago may be trying to mimic what detroit did, but detroit only won the title after they landed the post presence, their final piece- rasheed wallace. Before that they were just a nice 50 win team with a east conference finals ceiling. Just as chicago is now until they land a Pau Gasol or Jermaine Oneal or at least an eddy curry.

Cleveland if they land bibby, Washington if they land a post player and start playing defense, NJ if they land Jermaine Oneal... otherwise theyre all just 1 piece away and dead in the water, every one of them besides Boston and Detroit (mainly Boston because Detroit aint the same anymroe either since larry brown left, and more since post-allstar break of 06 and especially since big ben left).... dont get me wrong all those teams are nice and are good and the east has improved a lot but without what i mentioned these are not true contenders.

Boston is gonna dominate, I hate boston but i wont lie to myself. They would be an elite team out west among phoenix and dallas and all them, they will be a POWERHOUSE in the east and should roll thru..... in my opinion they may win the whole thing not just the east and they will be EVEN better for year 2 after a full summer of loading up and filling out the roster around the core 3 superstars for a SERIOUS championship run. I do hate Boston but I am happy for Ray Kevin and even Pierce.. and I will admit they are the near sole-reason for me purchasing league pass this year for the first time ever in 26 years of diehard NBA fandom... they are gonna be a special team for the next 4 or 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Haha I AGREE 100000 PERCENT.









Anonymous said...

While we're getting ahead of ourselves, let's wish for the last Superstar-laden team to get back together and remind us of how well those arrangements often work out. ....ladies and gentleman, the '05 Lakers. Shaq, Kobe, Payton and Malone. I wouldn't hand ANY trophies to any team just yet. It's a long season, especially for veterans.
And I don't understand this obsession with trading for a superstar. The only trades of the past 20 years that seemed to work were Barkley to the Suns (who somehow managed to maintain a strong bench after the trade) and, maybe, Rasheed to the Pistons. Of course, at the time, 'sheed was considered the anti-superstar so that trade even qualifying is a bit debatable. More often, these trades end up like Pippen to the Rockets (remember that gem?).
Oops, there was the Shaq trade, though I'd like to disqualify that one based on how terrible the trade was and the fact that the refs gifted the Heat with their rings. ...and Shaq's contribution was pretty putrid.
I, for one, don't put a lot of stock in superstar trades.

Anonymous said...

What is the problem with the Nets? (not trying to argue, just wondering). The Kidd-Carter combination works well. Miki Moore seems to add a lot of talent as well.

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Anonymous said...

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