The roots of the 'We Believe' Warriors (Look at how young Gil
looks, and how J-Rich hasn't aged a millisecond).
looks, and how J-Rich hasn't aged a millisecond).
It's been over a month since I've written. Oops.
First the trade. Obviously I'm a huge Arenas fan and will take that fanhood to the grave. And, obviously, he was not happy in the shithole that is the present-moment Washington Wizards organization. He was as good as gone the instant he fired off his finger gunz (really, sooner, but you get the point) so this was essentially a formality, especially considering Otis Smith was the only GM in the league willing to take him on.
So now we have Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark in Orlando, Rashard Lewis in DC, and Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus in Phoenix. First, Steve Nash might've got the worst of this deal. He re-ups with the Suns in the hopes that they'll make one last legitimate push for a title before his career is done - laughable as that might be. Instead, they trade their next-best player for "the best backup center in the NBA" and a Vince Carter who makes you think Drake's debut album was titled for his career. Considering I was holding out hope that Dirk would join Nash in Phoenix this past offseason, this is awful. At least Pietrus might have a career year...
I'm excited to see how the Magic come away from all of this. Losing Gortat will hurt a little, but they still have the best center in the NBA and finding bodies to fill Gortat's 15 minutes won't be all that difficult. And what they got in return? First, they upgrade from the eggshell of Vince Carter to a Jason Richardson who's not only playing some of the best basketball of his career, but his shooting makes him a much better fit for their offense. And speaking of upgrades, going from Rashard Lewis to Hedo Turkoglu certainly qualifies. Turkoglu gives them another playmaker, a guy who can create his own shot, and still someone who can knock down the three. It also opens up more minutes for Brandon Bass, a guy with real Paul Millsap potential (better shooting touch, not quite the rebounder). Hell, this could even be a nice landing spot for Earl Clark, who actually has a similar skill-set to Turkoglu and could wind up blossoming - though don't hold your breath.
And of course, there's Gilbert. I'm gonna hold off on predictions, instead offering up a bit of a hypothetical scenario. He was miserable in DC, we all know this. I even noted on several occasions that he passed on those long buzzer-beating threes that he was known (and loved) for taking, when he'd instead do the "right thing" and draw the defense, kick to the open man blah blah blah. This whole season he's made a point to do the "right thing." And he played pretty well. The explosiveness wasn't there (can't expect it to be) but there were times where he really looked like Agent Zero again, except this time with quite a bit more maturity. But he was a truly great player when he was in his zone, comfortable. And he was not comfortable in DC. Now, he's essentially wearing his favorite player's jersey in Orlando (#1, for Penny) and he's joining forces with fellow jokester-turned-"down to business" guy, Dwight Howard. In sports - in life - it's impossible to deny the importance of (mind)set and setting. Now all he needs to do is "find out where to put [his] dominance." (Yes, that's a real quote. Agent One has arrived.)
As for the WIZARDS... kill me now. Beginning of the season, when the Arenas-to-Orlando rumors began, the question was "should we buy out Vince's last year of his deal, or just let him walk after the season." Now we're dealing with, "we traded the second worst contract in the NBA (Arenas) for the absolute worst (Lewis)." Of course our fearless GM Ernie Grunfeld (the same one who opted to pass on an Al Jefferson-for-Etan Thomas trade - I'm never, ever, letting that go) can't even contain his jubilation at booting Gil out the door. But not for VC and his expiring deal, noooo, we get Rashard Lewis and the rest of his guaranteed SIXTY-SIX MILLION DOLLARS over the next three seasons. It's cool though, 'cause he's a former all-star. It's not like he's already 31 years old (three years older than Arenas), or has numbers that are steadily declining since he signed one of the worst contracts in NBA history. It's not like he's a 6'10" power forward averaging 12 points and 4 rebounds per game. It's not like he's shooting a paltry 36% from beyond the arc, perimeter shooting being is one redeeming attribute.
Wait, it is?
Hey, at least he fits right in with Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee to make up the softest frontcourt in the history of organized basketball. Nice to see where the team's - not even the franchize's, the team's - priorities lie. Like I said, kill me now.
And speaking of good news, I had the pleasure of attending last nights Bulls-Wizards game. NOT FOUR MINUTES IN and we are treated to this:
SWEET FUCKING JESUS. But hey, it provided a nice laugh. We actually jumped out to an early lead and took it in to half time as Kirk Hinrich did his best John Wall impression. (Obscure reference, I know; he's this former first-round pick that used to play basketball....) This team is an abomination. Nick Young is so good that even though he's been our best scorer in the last three games (...), he gets substituted out on defensive possessions in lieu of LESTER HUDSON. Hinrich is just good enough to warrant playing time and never good enough to run an offense. I like McGee, I think maybe he could one day grow a pair and become a really good center, though I realize how much of a homer that makes me. Blatche... I could fight speechlessness and go on for days, but I'll save everyone the headache. And big Rashard Lewis... missing all five of his threes, BADLY... maybe Wall can make something of this mess if he ever gets healthy (something I'm seriously doubting at this moment) but if we win another 20 games all year it'll be a miracle.
A Christmas miracle? Anyway, happy holidays.