No man's land

What I think my last post was about, besides forcing our readership to join hands and birth a new school of Talmudic interpretation, was the schizoid nature of the NBA season. You pick one to stake your fondness on, and then grin and bear the rest, catching a glimpse of your true love whenever possible.

That may be oversimplifying things, but I do know that November/December and the Draft are when I do my dirt. I realize that this places me in a weird minority--having it all that figured out, and liking the stretches of basketball that I do. With today's trade deadline madness still raking its hands through my brains, though, I am left to wonder who among us really feels at home during this brief, tumultuous patch of counter-reason. Walker back to Boston should at least be funny; Webber/Iverson is a meeting of the minds that could make a male Lifetime movie (Stephen A. Smith: "When Iverson goes out in Sacramento, he's with Chris Webber. And when C-Webb is in Philly, you better believe he's looking for Allen Iverson"). Still, I feel nothing. Where did these trades come from? What will they mean? What makes the Hornets brass decide, after several week of wisely declining to deal Baron until the off-season, that shipping him off for Dale Davis's contract is a sound deal?

(Dale Davis has now been traded for Jermaine O'Neal and Baron Davis. That has to be some kind of record of inequivalency.)

The trade deadline springs out of no past, and drops into no future. You throw a pancake against a moving train and ruin both. That's what it's like trying to imagine a big trade like this in mid-season, when each squad is working its way through the screwy mess that is an NBA team's season--a process with a momentum all its own. The best trades are the Jiri Welsch variety, or the way the Sheed-swap turned out: supplementary master strokes that fit into a work-in-progress. Its especially the wacky, .500- variety teams (all of which seem to be in the Atlantic Division) whose seasons take on a life of their own, quite apart from the smart-guy planning that thinks through team chemistry in the abstract. Davis to Golden State? The Warriors are suddenly going to work him into the interpersonal roil of a mediocre, team-in-transition waddle. You can't introduce a new character in the middle of a reality show, without assuming they'll always be an outsider. So it is with the trade deadline.

That said, if O'Brien is smart he'll ditch everything that's come before, including his own time-bound evolution as the coach of your Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers, and turn things over to Iverson and Webber. Put them on the floor with Korver hitting three's, Dalembert cleaning up and swatting shots, and Iggy (I am not at all in favor of that nickname, but can't figure out how it's really spelled) the lock-down defender. . . that's a team that could work its way well into the playoffs without a coach saying a thing, or ever having to practice except to get timing down. Greatest pick-up team ever.

I fully expect Walker and Pierce, once reunited, to promptly take it right back to 2002. I'd like to think that Doc will enjoy it as much as they will.