For those of us not wintering along the west coast, the current National Basketball Association season hasn’t been all that great. While the New York Knicks have played above expectations, teams like Cleveland, Washington and New Jersey are just painful to watch, turning Florida from the land of expansion teams to the hotbed of the eastern seaboard.
The Pistons haven’t done anything to warm my heart on these cold winter nights, either. Joe D tries, we all know Joe D tries, but he’s drawing blanks so far for 2010-11. While I understand owning this team was her husband’s dream, Karen Davidson has pulled the purse strings too tight while trying to finalize its sale. Now Dumars is scrambling to find a deal that allows the Pistons to spend less money while improving their oncourt product before the trading deadline hits.
Rip Hamilton is done in Detroit. Just ask him. He’s been deactivated and doesn’t intend on donning the red, white and blue ever again. Because of that, other general managers start out with the advantage of knowing Joe D only has so long until the milk goes bad, and from the outward appearance of it all, Hamilton spoiled on the Pistons long ago.
Just like Gilbert Arenas, Rip no longer holds the value he did just months before because of off-court issues. In National Football League terms those very same circumstances turned Pittsburgh Steelers Superbowl MVP Santonio Holmes into a fifth-round draft pick, just as it did in Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch’s departure to Seattle.
The three-way deal with the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets going awry for the Pistons also proves Dumars need to steer clear of Carmello Anthony at all costs. The two are like oil and water or cooking bacon with no shirt on, so while drafting 6-foot-10 Swedish forward Jonas Jerebko with the ninth pick of the second round last year broke Joe D’s run of bad luck scouting international talent, let’s not forget how players like Ben Wallace, Hamilton (for Jerry Stackhouse to the Washington Wizards when Michael Jordan was still running the show) and Rasheed Wallace became Detroit property. Dumars is a smooth operator, even dealing for smaller pieces of the championship puzzle like Mike James, John Barry and Chucky Atkins. He just needs to stay away from Melo like a fat kid does with cake.
Also, just for the record, Tayshaun Prince and the veteran core of the Pistons are not to blame for this year’s crash and burn. Ben Gordon is as much a void at shooting guard as Will Bynum is at point guard. These are complimentary players, not starters, and when working in association with fellow one-dimension performers like power forward
Charlie Villanueva and guard Rodney Stuckey its no surprise the final product is anything but well-rounded. And driving this Volkswagon bus full of talent off the deep end nightly is the silky stylings of head coach John Keuster, whose iron fist has been damaging Detroit basketball with more voracity and determination than former top-man Larry Brown could ever dream of.
Elsewhere around the league, the NBA is also currently trying to avoid a labor dispute of its own, something that could hinge heavily on the talks scheduled with the players association during All-Star weekend. Complicating the matter is the fact that the two sides have made little if any progress on this front during the past year, causing some to wonder if executive director Billy Hunter isn’t becoming the subversive force Gene Upshaw was for the National Football League Players Association.
Either way, now that Lebron James has joined the list of players who will join the bargaining committee, it reminds me of that old saying about he who represents himself in a court of law has a fool for a client. After all, Lebron’s mom has been telling the world how her baby wanted to turn pro after his junior year of high school, meaning his decision-making skills are flawed and his education lacking compared to the rest of the room.