Donnie Walsh/D'Antoni = Evil Obama/Biden ??
Ok, I finally get what basketball players mean when they use the cliche "It's a business" to respond to questions about trade rumors, contract extensions, and free agency. The recent overhaul of the New York Knicks by Donnie Walsh has been praised by those such as Stephen A. Smith as a spectacular deal for the Knicks, giving them cap relief and prime positioning for the LeBron-centered free agent market in 2010.
I understand that. For all intents and purposes, this was the right move. Clear out Isiah's trash and start fresh. Plus, give your franchise hope for landing an established young player instead of some crapshoot like Galinari that you can only acquire through draft picks. Textbook rebuilding.
But as a fan of basketball, this concerns me. The Z-Bo-Crawford-D'Antoni mashup was something extremely strange and a spectacle to watch. They were putting together solid games. Randolph was finding some redemption, and Crawford seemed like he would have the best year of his life. Plus, D'Antoni was really having to prove his worth. Make 7-seconds-or-less-ball work with Isiah's castaways, all the while keeping Marbury on the bench and keeping the NY media in check. For the first time in years, the Knicks fans I knew tasted the audacity of hope.
Now, the plan I guess is "wait a couple more years." If I were a six-year-old Knicks fan I would be confused as hell. "Dad? Why did the team get rid of its two best players for a couple of has-beens and Al Harrington's withering soul? It's just like little Minnesota kids having to wonder why Randy Moss, Kevin Garnett, and Johan Santana disappeared from my great home state in the blink of an eye. And the dreaded answer, of course, is that "[sports is] a business."
This whole way of doing things leaves a bad taste in my mouth--not just for "think about the children" reasons.
1) It makes the Knicks less fun to watch. I pretty much covered this above. Also, peep the world's ugliest boxscore:
2) It allows Mike D'Antoni to be completely free of accountability. Screw up this year, and it's , "What did you expect? We're rebuilding." That type of Charlie Weis good-ole-boy-ing will lead to nothing but complacency and lowered expectations.
3) It allows gets Donnie Walsh off the hook. Say the Knicks suck this year AND don't get some dream free agent in 2008 -- Oh well, he tried! And Shoals wisely brought up some quote from an ESPN article that I don't have time to search for where one team exec said a lot of teams are pulling the "we're going after LeBron" trick when it's really just an excuse to cut cap--this very well might be what's going on.
This whole situation recalls this Onion article , with Isiah of course playing the W. role. The Knicks hitting rock bottom means that anything that Walsh does is automatically an improvement.
4) It again puts the lunging for Lebron back into the spotlight. This sucks for Cavs fans who have suffered enough during LBJ's short time in the league. It also comes at a time where FINALLY Danny Ferry has made a serious positive addition to the team: Mo Williams on the Cavs is an infinitely better move than any of that Larry Hughes/Damon Jones/Donyell Marshall/Wally Szczerbiak garbage in the past.
This is just another chance for a smaller-market team to get screwed out of a prized possession, with the help of media-maggots who love to see good players in big markets.
I feel for Toronto fans (Bosh), Phoenix fans (Amare), and to a small degree Miami fans (Wade) as well.
Look, I understand how this goes. I suppose the way the salary cap/free agency system is set up is helpful in that it rewards teams that are smart (Pistons, Spurs) and has done a pretty good job of preventing dynasties from forming over the past few years. At the same time, I hate how it has made teams so future-oriented. Like, every year you can mentally eliminate the 10 or so teams that are building toward a future that may never come, and the Knicks added themselves to this group far too early in the game this year. The East is wide open. Marbury could have provided a valuable chip at mid-season. But no, let's all pat Donnie Walsh on the back and praise him for positioning the Knicks for 2010. Also, Knicks fans don't get too excited by the possibility of LeBron. I have a feeling Bron's going wherever he thinks he can get that ring. Even Phil Knight money isn't worth that much.