Has anyone else noticed that an inordinate amount of teams, like stubborn teenagers listening to their parents, are finally solving problems that they've had for years...? For all the shock and awe that's gone on lately, I don't think I'm alone in simply shaking my head in confusion that a lot of these problems weren't fixed in similar fashion sooner. I mean, come on, what's been happening lately except a lot of what we already thought should be done? Here's a breakdown of recent NBA news that all seemed to be coming from a mile away:
Team/Player: Los Angeles Lakers
Long-Time Issue: With analysts coast-to-coast scoffing at how tightly Mitch Kupchak held onto Andrew Bynum during the past few years (passing up the likes of Baron Davis, Jason Kidd, and Ron Artest), combined with this past summer's Kobe Bryant fiasco (the Bynum-bashing tape, the trade demands, the Chicago Bulls chants), people everywhere realized that Los Angeles wasn't going anywhere without one of two things happening: either Kobe Bryant was gonna recieve some major help (read: not just Derek Fisher) or #24 would be getting shipped to the United Center.
Recent Solution: The Lakers picked up the NBA holy grail: a budding, young stud, who already has a reliable track record of all-star level talent, and (get this:) plays a big position, which is notoriously harder to fill. And to top it all off? The Lakers were able to snatch Pau Gasol for simply Kwame Brown, Jarvis Crittinton, and a bag of magic beans. It's no damn wonder the top 5 teams in the conference are calling bullsh*t quicker than miggy's Marion-for-Arenas trade in the fantasy section. Kobe Bryant's looked like a kid in a candy store the past 4 games... I can't imagine what it'll be like when Bynum gets back.
Team/Player: Phoenix Suns
Long-Time Issue: Ever since the Steve Nash era began in the Grand Canyon state, experts everywhere have voiced 2 major concerns as to why the Suns may never win the big enchalada: (1) the lack of a true big man that can control a half-court game and (2) Steve Nash's hour-glass of a career coming towards empty disturbing quicker than Chris Paul, Baron Davis, or Deron Williams'.
Recent Solution: Phoenix decided to make like Boston and put all their eggs in the "sooner than later" basket, aquiring the most dominant player in a half-court system to ever scratch Spalding. Don't let the Suns' kool-aid drinking PR staff try and fool you into believing this is a long-term relationship: Shaquille O'Neal's legs look worse than Chris Webber's... and it's probably not a long ways away before Steve Nash's start looking like desert topping, too. By aquiring O'Neal, the Suns effectively counter Los Angeles' Twin Tower system in the playoffs. Amare is more finese than Pau, Shaq is more power than Bynum. Although its not the cost efficient, long-term success guarentee that the Lakers boast, it's a one (possibly) two year solution to Los Angeles' legal-steroid of a trade, giving Steve Nash a level playing field to continue working his magic in his prime.
Team/Player: Golden State Warriors
Long-Time Issue: Don Nelson and Chris Webber were never, and had never, been on the same page throughout either man's career. They were mortal enemies, equally responsible for blowing up the Golden State Warrior franchise, and the most unlikely solution for bypassing Utah's obvious physical advantages over them in the rapidly approaching playoffs had to have been whatever ludicrous executive in Chris Mullin's cabinet that suggested calling up CWebb and extend a 14-year overdue olive branch.
Recent Solution: Said ludicrous executive got a fat raise and Chris Webber is now listening to Don Nelson, who is now treating Webber like a king, the way both had envisioned in 1994. While Webber is still clearly getting in shape, he brings smart passing, a consistent midrange J, and (most importantly) a big bodied, veteran game that Golden State can use to nuetralize (or mildly disrupt ) the pesky likes of Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap in the post season.
Team/Player: Shawn Marion
Long-Time Issue: There's a reason every message board for every team has a "Shawn-Marion-to-them" rumor floating around somewhere. Matrix had worn out his welcome in Phoenix. He was tired of fat, Arizonan disc jockies calling him overpaid. He was tired of always being whispered in trade talks year in and year out. And, whether he admits it or not, he was tired of being seen as a team's 3rd gun when, clearly, he is among the league's brightest, all around stars. Whatever the reason, Marion clearly was not happy as a Sun and everyone predicted he'd opt out of his $17 million/year contract as soon as possible.
Recent Solution: Marion finally got a ticket out of Phoenix to be Dwayne Wade's tall, athletic sidekick for the newlook Miami HEAT. Pat Riley is kissing his ass night and day, Miami will likely fight hard to retain Marion (who will be looking for a similar, if not higher, paycheck), and the spotlight is now blisteringly on Marion to see what kind of energy this previously-concieved 3rd option can bring to the 9-40 HEAT. Unfortunately, Marion will probably miss leading his division, going deep in the playoffs, and catching passes from a clever Steve Nash. He'd better hope the HEAT get a top 3 draft pick this year, otherwise they're probably looking at another year or two of rebuilding.
Team/Player: Memphis Grizzlies
Long-Time Issue: The Grizzlies, eerily, had a damn-near identical record with or without all-star, Pau Gasol, in the lineup. With one of the league's most coveted young stars, along with a handful of young, promising talent, like Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, and Rudy Gay, Memphis was clearly set for a rebuilding mode and should have been repaid nicely with a plethora of young talent and high draft picks for one of the league's rarest items.
Recent Solution: Nothing. Pau Gasol was traded, but it would be a serious crime for me to claim that anything got "solved". Kwame Brown's contract will expire, but those recent whispers of M8E coming to town are simply famously shared pipe dreams of Southern residents looking for a Monta Ellis return. Golden State will not allow that restricted free agent to walk. Meanwhile, Memphis fans have to be subject to a frontcourt featuring Darko Millicec, Kwame Brown, and Jason Collins... which, for decency's sake, doesn't sound legal in many states, but I'm not surprised it's allowed in Tennessee.
If the New York Knicks lose a couple bad contracts and Dallas aquires Jason Kidd for young talent, I'll die laughing.
Talk about any other sports here.
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