Is the economy in recession? Not in the NBA!
Sure I've heard the stories about how current NBA free agents will struggle with their salaries because of the recession. While I realize free agents in sports will always collect salaries that redefine inflation, this year's moves by NBA general managers have been especially baffling.
Starting with Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons, who perhaps is trying to explain to the residents of Detroit why the economy is so bad by over-paying for bad investments.
Let's start at the beginning of the confusion. Why would you ever trade away an NBA Finals MVP? A guy dubbed by fellow players around the league as "Mr. Big Shot" was traded for a guy dubbed "Mr. Too Many Shots." Almost immediately after this trade was processed, the Pistons began a downward slide and the Nuggets began making their bid for second best team in the west behind the Lakers.
While I could go on for hours as to how stupid of a trade this was, regardless of financial ramifications, seemingly this was the point where Dumars caved in and decided it's time to feed what is bad in the NBA(players who look to score first...see Rodney Stuckey). After missing the playoffs for the first time since they signed Chauncey, Dumars justified that transaction by making two more stupid moves.
First he signed Charlie Villanueva, a guy who can be intriguing with his size and mobility, but has proved to be a bad seed since his issues with picking a university to commit to. Did you really need to invest five years and $35 million on a very poorman's version of Lamar Odom? Could you not have tendered a league minimum to Tim Thomas and call it a night?
As if that was not bad enough, Dumars raised the stakes by signing Ben Gordon to a five year, $55 million dollar deal! Wow, this to a player who has no idea what defense is. He has constantly proved to be a liability as a ball-handler and defender and has no business being considered an all-around starting shooting guard.
Gordon does have a plus side of course. When hot, he is unstoppable on the offensive end. However, as enticing as that seems, his production on offense during those streaks are muted by his lack of defense.
To add to this debacle, it appears to be the exit for Richard Hamilton. Hamilton constantly schooled Gordon every year proving to be a more consistent shooter, a better defender, and all in all a better athlete.
As confusing as it seems, Dumars has deflated a team that actually gave Detroit residents a reason to wake up in the grueling winter time. Rasheed Wallace also left Motown for Bean-town to pursue another Championship. While this may seem like another bad move for Dumars, this move's value will only prove its worth in the NBA playoffs next year.
Danny Ainge, who used his all-stars to court Wallace, may have re-assured Boston fans that his best interest is in fact in the success of the Celtics. I will admit, I scratched my head a couple of times when I heard the rumor of Rondo and Ray Allen to Detroit for Rodney Stuckey, Amir Johnson, and some other guy.
Back to Wallace, I am not sure that this was a good trade. Sure it is insurance for KG, but can 'Sheed still perform like he did five years ago? His defense is on a downfall as is his effectiveness offensively. Also, with Rondo emerging as a scorer, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, KG and Kendrick Perkins is 'Sheed a 6th man? Will he get enough touches?
The only consistency you can expect from Wallace is his 20+ technicals and a bad attitude.
Speaking of bad attitude, a far to common trait in the NBA these days, Ron Artest was basically traded for Trevor Ariza. Why? This deal makes no sense for both teams. Artest promises to "hoodalize" the Lakers. Is that good? What exactly does that mean? Frankly, Artest can be an asset, but when he does effectively "hoodalize" his team, it usually means he gives players something else to focus on besides the ultimate goal.
For the Lakers, why? Trevor Ariza was a great fit for this team. He worked well with Kobe, and constantly defended the best player on the opposition, and did it well. The one problem with Ariza, which was overshadowed in L.A., was his lack of ability to produce offense on his own.
Now, Houston who may be without Yao for the whole year, seems to be strapped for offense. Sure McGrady may be back, but we can all expect his season to be cut short at some point.
Now for the rumors.
Since no one is allowed to sign a free agent contract until Wednesday, Hedo Turkoglu will seemingly agree to a five year, $53 million dollar deal to play in Toronto—but who really knows? I would say that the Raptors are getting ripped off, but Ben Gordon is actually getting paid more! At least Hedo took his team to the NBA Finals.
Turkoglu is overrated, and was not the go-to guy he needed to be when Orlando's offense went stagnant. For Toronto however, this may give Chris Bosh a reason to stick around and could prove to be successful since Bosh actually has effective low post moves, something Dwight Howard lacks.
If you haven't heard yet, you may be deaf, Shaq is now protecting the King in Cleveland. This move will effective for the first two weeks of the NBA season. Shaq will clog up the lane for LeBron and force James to either finish over two defenders or settle for more jumper. Sure, LeBron is amazing, but eventually this will wear or James, and you will not see Cleveland in the Finals again this year.
On a side note, the fountain of youth-type medicine Shaq found in Phoenix (heat) is much different than the freezing winters of Cleveland. Suddenly those joints will be aching a lot more. Lastly, is anyone else sick of the circus that Shaq brings everywhere?
Also, I know he is gigantic, but will someone tell Shaq that he is a hypocrite? He has made a nuisance of himself citing Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy for being "front-runners" by only coaching teams with All-Stars, but Shaq has been with Penny, Kobe, Wade, Nash, and now LeBron? Hmmm...
Finally, my last two fee agent moves, actually leave me tipping my cap to the respective teams.
Orlando, who saw a blaring need for a go-to player in the playoffs, acquired Vince Carter who loves taking the big shot. Normally, I would criticize anyone who acquires Carter, because much like his cousin Tracy McGrady, Vince has injury issues and has been dubbed a one-sided player.
That being true, Dwight Howard usually makes up for most defensive short comings and this move will propel this team to a Championship.
Their opponent very well may be the San Antonio Spurs, when acquiring one of the most underrated players in the NBA, Richard Jefferson. With Manu Ginobili injured throughout the playoffs, the Spurs could not make a run due to their lack of depth. Now, Jefferson will fit in with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and the Spurs will probably add either Antonio McDyess or Drew Gooden, who will add scoring to a depleted bench.
Who knows what moves will ensue during the following months that lead up to the new season, but frankly the moves have been unimpressive thus far.