My team, the Golden State Warriors, isn’t involved in any trade talks right now, so I thought I could breathe easy this year, but I was sadly mistaken. The Phoenix Suns are discussing trading Amare Stoudemire, and the Raptors already got rid of Jermaine O’Neal, who didn’t even make it a whole season in Toronto (I could have predicted that one). And before he failed his physical last night, Tyson Chandler, the center for the New Orleans Hornets, was to be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Exhausting to think about.
I understand that Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash, among others, are free agents in 2010, and everyone is preparing for the opportunity to snag one of them, but there is no way King James will go to the Raptors, the Suns or the Hornets. What are they trying to accomplish?
The Raptors have completely demolished their team in the past year, and now they are considering trading their franchise player, Chris Bosh. What is Shawn Marion, who was recently traded to the Raptors by the Miami Heat, going to do in Toronto by himself? Absolutely nothing. Marion is a second-tier performer in general, maybe even a third-tier player. Sure, his numbers are consistently good, but he isn’t the kind of guy you want to have the ball in his hands with only five seconds left in a game. Also, why are the Raptors trying to cut their payroll? It’s not like players in the NBA want to play in Canada, no matter how much money they get (well, maybe Nash — a Canadian himself — but no one else). I say the Raptors should just move to Las Vegas and let the NBA move the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Eastern Conference, but that’s for a different column.
As for the Suns and their general manager, Steve Kerr, what in the world is he doing down there? Amare leaves Phoenix, Shaq retires, Grant Hill retires and Nash retires — all in the span of two years. The Suns will be toast (and then they’ll leave room for my Warriors to creep into second behind the Lakers. Awesome. But that’s beside the point). I think Steve Kerr is obsessed with keeping players he played against when he was in the NBA. I don’t know how else to explain the insanity behind what he’s doing. Star power forwards and centers are hot commodities in this league, and the Suns possess probably the second-best young big man in the game in Stoudamire (the best young big man being Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.) Steve, I suggest you keep Stoudamire. Also, you were clearly a better shooter than you are a front-office executive, and you are proving it to all of us every day.
The Hornets, on the other hand, are one of the most talented younger teams in the NBA. Still, with a roster that includes Chris Paul, David West and Peja Stojakovic, the Hornets are struggling to perform at the same level that they did last year: The Hornets were the sixth-place team in the Western Conference at the All-Star break. So why try to trade Chandler? Despite Chandler’s lack of consistent offensive productivity, he is a defensive force, which is a crucial asset for a team that will play the likes of Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol and Yao Ming come playoff time. The Hornets are only a mere 4.5 games out of second place in the conference, and the front office appears to be giving up. Luckily for New Orleans, a turf toe injury to Chandler has voided the deal, keeping the 7-foot, one-inch center in New Orleans for the rest of the season.
The last couple of years, the Raptors, the Suns and the Hornets have been quite successful during the regular season, but they have failed to go deep in the playoffs for different reasons. My explanation is that these teams are pressured by the talent and productivity of the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. In trying to deal Chandler, the Hornets were simply dropping talent and salary, despite their second-place regular-season finish in the Western Conference last year. Hopefully the gift-wrapped turf toe will show the team how misguided the trade was in the first place.
The Raptors are doing God-knows-what, and the Suns are trying to see how many past-their-prime players they can get on their team, all because they are giving up on winning an NBA Championship this year or next. Teams are looking to the future right now, and this will make the first-round playoff matchups disgustingly lopsided. I’ve never been a gambler, and I never will be, but I’m curious to see what the Vegas odds are for a team outside the group of Boston, Los Angeles, Cleveland and San Antonio winning this year’s NBA Championship. I would imagine they are pretty slim. I am very confident one of those teams will win the NBA Championship.
You are probably saying, “Well, that’s an easy prediction to make.” That’s my point: The other teams think they don’t have a chance this season, and they are giving up on spending money so they can compete next year. So Toronto, New York, New Jersey and all the other teams dropping salary, keep it up. You will not win a NBA Championship in the next two years. Here’s to you all having better luck past 2010.
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