7.02.2008

What If Dazzler Had Become the Herald of Galactus?



The Warriors are dead as we knew them. Baron is gone to LA to play godfather to Jessica Alba’s offspring. Gilbert Arenas, whose pairing with Don Nelson would have set the comments ablaze with new algorithms to calculate FD quotients, looks like he’s going to re-up with the Wizards. Yet, for a few glorious hours this morning, we had to entertain the possibility. Moments of this magnitude cannot be cast aside as soon as they become impossibilities. We must imagine what might have been.

For all his bravado, Baron is, in simple terms, one of the most complete point guards in the game, the kind of guy who finishes with a near-triple-double on an off-night. Guys like that are obviously rare, but they still conform to accepted notions of what constitutes a franchise cornerstone. On the other hand, building a team around dual 6’3’’ combo guards is basically unheard of, the sort of mad scientist decision that we associate with a team that relies on transition threes and refusing to guard at least one player on the floor at all times.

Then again, from a standard basketball view, this would have been Mullin’s worst move since he decided to pay a bunch of role players like they were lynchpins. There were certainly some stupidity afoot in the decision to lowball Baron; after all, Gilbert always said he was probably going to return to DC if Grunfeld brought back Jamison. Even if Arenas had surprised everyone and moved, regular basketball analysis would paint this move as a major miscalculation: Arenas is being paid max money after two major knee injuries, Arenas and Monta are both scoring guards without top-shelf PG skills, and this deal would tie up the organization’s finances in the long term without doing anything to shore up the team’s massive rebounding problems or compensate for the loss of Baron.



But the Warriors of these last few years have never been the kind of team to pay much attention to conventional wisdom. If Mullin had pulled this off, he would have succeeded in marrying the front office’s philosophy to that of the team on the court, even if he’d have done so without intention. Arenas would replace Baron quite cleanly in a philosophical sense, but not in terms of on-court abilities, bringing a change in the specifics of Nellieball while not denying its fundamental principles. Mullin would therefore bring about an entirely new method replacing players within a system: one that conceives of on-court changes as secondary to philosophical continuity.

Organizational unity can mirror what we want to see in the on-court product. Philosophical through-lines do not have to lead to orthodoxy, just as a team’s system doesn’t have to keep each athlete from playing a constrained role without room for individuality. The franchise’s worldview must still be interesting on its own and allow for a certain degree of personal freedom -- the Spurs come closest to this unity in the current NBA, and that doesn’t automatically make them electric eels -- but, with the Arenas offer, the Warriors were on their way to becoming a team that demands something without precedent at every level of the organization.



Unfortunately, this antiestablishment philosophy does not easily translate to the suits. For one thing, NBA salary negotiations exist in a near-utopia in which employers compensate their workers with some attention to the revenue that they produce. When everyday people complain about a lack of respect at work, they’re talking about the difference between comfortable living and getting by; when basketball players complain about the same thing, it actually is about the lack of respect relative to the marketplace, because there’s no necessary reason to complain about a difference of a few million dollars when it’s just a small fraction of the total contract. When a general manager offends his franchise player with a low offer, he changes the conversation between management and player from one of respect and shared involvement to a salary cap issue. Basketball becomes a business.

An MBA doesn’t need to be a prerequisite for enjoying basketball, but what if ideology defined the business end of things, too. Our dearly departed Suns could have used some daring in their recent financial dealings. To take another view of it, does anyone think that the Blazers would be as promising as they appear if Paul Allen didn’t give Kevin Pritchard license to deal second round picks just for the hell of it?

But possibility can’t sustain itself without a basis for hope. Arenas would have replaced Baron as the Warriors’ building block, allowing fans to look to the future while not fretting too much over the lost past. Looking at the current roster and cap situation, I defy anyone to predict what this team will look like next year. Will they just be a more frenetic, less effective version of the present-day Kings? Can Monta Ellis really carry a team at 23? Can Stephen Jackson possibly play the same way without Baron by his side? Will CJ Watson get legitimate minutes at the point? Is Mullin secretly a liberated fan who wants to put Monta and J-Smoove on the same team? Will they score more than ten baskets in the halfcourt offense per game? Am I going to have to shave my beard?

Labels: , , ,

25 Comments:

At 7/02/2008 7:46 AM, Blogger avery said...

As Artest lead S. Jackson down the path of anger, Baron down the path of indie filmmaking--which Jackson will emerge? Look for Jackson down in Berkeley and over on Haight if he isn't there already, seeking the path of enlightenment on how to deal with the inefficiencies of life in general and Ellis' ballhandling skills. (S. Livingston anyone, in a weird version of the sign and trade?)

 
At 7/02/2008 9:05 AM, Blogger Ziller said...

I actually saw Jack at the Ferry Building last night, throwing rocks at the Oakland landscape across the Bay.

Vs. LAC will be the first game Nellie actually coaches next year.

 
At 7/02/2008 9:33 AM, OpenID gpietras said...

Instead of being bummed about the death of the dream, I'm actually kind of excited for both teams next year.

Monta gets more play, while Baron Davis gets to continue his act as the Johnny Appleseed of FreeDarko, spreading swag through the league. (Boom Dizzle + Fatty + Thornton + Brand + Kaman = League Pass)

 
At 7/02/2008 9:48 AM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

The Clippers might be the only team without a normal-sized swingman that can still guard every swingman this year. Dizzle and Fatty Gordon cannot be posted up against, and Cat Mobley is no slouch either.

 
At 7/02/2008 12:37 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

The only remaining question: Do Sterling & Elgin offer Herzog the mid-level exception?

 
At 7/02/2008 12:58 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Galactus gets a conscience, and stops eating inhabited planets. Props on one of the best FD post title ever, Ty.

 
At 7/02/2008 2:02 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

As a Dubs fan, it's hard to think about this without feeling the loss of swag for next year, even if this means the ball is going to be in Monta's hands more. The sick assists and bops will be missed.

The big-money offers to Arenas and Brand smack of desperation. The best thing for this team is to re-sign Monta and Biedrins, see how our stable of young deer-like lefty PFs work out and see where the draft takes us. Nelson is probably gone after this year, it's time to pupate.

 
At 7/02/2008 2:03 PM, Blogger dickey simpkins said...

Will be interesting to see how Baron exists with slow as molasses Brand and Kaman, the athleticism of Thorton, and the scoring potential of chubby Gordon. If anything, this gives Clippers fans a complete 180 from saying goodbye to Livingston a few weeks ago. Clips now have the most Hollywood team in the league.

 
At 7/02/2008 5:19 PM, Blogger Caleb Tyler Adam said...

Can I NegativeNancy threadjack for just a second to say I really dislike the FreeDarko fan page on Facebook? If you've read my posts in the past, you know I hate the idea that "selling out" is a bad thing, at least in most contexts. However, for me, FD inhabits a washed little corner of the internet. It represents the height of the internet, if you will. Its pairing with McSweeneys a couple years ago was exquisite, like good pasta and good wine or shitty pizza and High Life. While the Facebook thing isn't a partnership, it makes FD more "internet," and I don't think we need more internet.

wv: sorlics - you don't want to know, but it has to do with Shawn Kemp

 
At 7/02/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger Caleb Tyler Adam said...

Also, this:

"Baron Davis gets to continue his act as the Johnny Appleseed of FreeDarko, spreading swag through the league. (Boom Dizzle + Fatty + Thornton + Brand + Kaman = League Pass)"

is brilliant.

 
At 7/02/2008 5:25 PM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

As down on the Mavericks (or Jason Kidd) as many of you may be, you must admit that when they/he are paired with Gerald Green, something special will happen. I just need one last thing to remember him by...

 
At 7/02/2008 5:45 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

I will forever rock my no. 5 warriors jersey-Tshirt. This is bittersweet, for the last two years this team has given us so much and for that I am thankful. I hope the betrayal of BDiddy doesn't kill Monta. It'll be interesting to try and determine which team will be more swaggerific next season, is Baron really the source? who simply helped Monta and Jax see the light? Or was it sum > parts kinda thing? I'm really praying against a severe Monta regression once teams start to lock in on him. Does anyone think the flare up with nellie at the end of last year fed into the lowball and baron leaving? Or was it simply a harbinger of what was to come?

This is so perfect
WV: "wwgsgco"
"Where Warriors Go Sign Giga Contracts"

 
At 7/02/2008 5:45 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

The Mavs are no longer an elite team. For the vet minimum, though, Gerald Green is a great signing by Dallas. If he could ever get it together, that's a steal...

I wonder if Shoals still holds to his opinion that Josh Howard is better than Dirk. Now that Diop has returned for the full MLE, the Mavs will have to use Smokey as trade bait to address the gaping hole at the 2.

 
At 7/02/2008 5:47 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Davis to the Clippers and a healthy Elton Brand means that either the Mavs or the Suns ain't making the playoffs this year. I just can't figure out who is lottery bound.

 
At 7/02/2008 5:49 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Mea culpa on that one. With one qualifier: A lot of what I wrote for AOL was written because I needed to write SOMETHING to get paid. You heard it here first.

So while I did believe then that they'd become 1 and 1A, the whole "take the team, Josh" was a ploy to sell records.

That said, if you look at Howard's 2007-08, you've got a brilliant first half, followed by a total nose dive (in part due to injuries and personal problems). He's probably somewhere between the two.

 
At 7/02/2008 6:22 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

I figure the Lakers, Spurs, Jazz and Hornets are in, barring injuries. I feel reasonably confident that the Rockets will get in if they're healthy too. That leaves the Suns, Mavs, Blazers, a Brand-fortified Clip Show and Nuggets to duke it out for the last 3 spots. My guess is the Nuggets are out, so that leaves four teams to duke it out for two spots.

 
At 7/02/2008 6:48 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Great.

 
At 7/02/2008 7:26 PM, OpenID tredecimal said...

It seems like a simple question, but fuck it, I'll ask: why would the Warriors offer Gil the max, but not Baron? (i refuse to use B**m Di**le)
I figure they're equally brittle/questionable at this point, and you've gotta assume BD has more value as an established quantity (with the Warriors, that is) than Arenas (not talking about his first stint, I'm saying we all know what BD+ current state of Warriordom can achieve, we don't know how Gil would fit in). So what gives?

 
At 7/02/2008 7:26 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

I sense a theme: Baron goes to LA for the $, Shoals confesses to have semi-pulled stuff out of his ass for a paycheck (my God!) and now porn spam at FD . . . tut tut tut . . .

 
At 7/02/2008 7:51 PM, OpenID tredecimal said...

"Beware of whores who say they don't want money. The hell they don't. What they mean is they want more money."- Old Bull Lee

fuck this city.

 
At 7/02/2008 10:56 PM, Blogger John said...

(i refuse to use B**m Di**le)

Word to your mother, indeed. Props for bringing light to that horribly contrived nickname.

 
At 7/03/2008 12:35 AM, OpenID gpietras said...

@ tredecimal: Being three years younger probably has something to do with it.

I'm more inclined to say it's a political move, though: Why the hell wouldn't the Warriors offer him the max money? If he turns down the money (the most likely scenario), you can still claim you made a substantial run at a top-flight free agent. If he for whatever reason takes the money, you've got ... a top-flight free agent. Win-Win.

Also, as the progenitor of Boom Dizzle in this thread, I'd like to say that I prefer Baron as well (it's classy), but context counts for something. Baron and Fatty isn't as potent as Boom Dizzle and Fatty.

Boom Dizzle and Fatty sound like they'd face off with Galactus and Ultra-Dazzler. Baron and Fatty sound like a couple at a Renaissance Faire.

 
At 7/03/2008 9:53 AM, Blogger Sparkles*_* said...

"...the whole "take the team, Josh" was a ploy to sell records."

Just like the site's now a ploy to sell books?

 
At 7/03/2008 9:59 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/03/2008 10:02 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

No, that would be "the Facebook page is a ploy to sell books." Certainly you're not criticizing the Return of Billups for the draft. . .

People, I'm sorry: sometimes you stretch a point to get an editor off your back. This site doesn't have an editor, so when I change my mind on here, it's because I'm fickle.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home