Fact: Unsatisfied superstars to push teams to the next level.
Fact: “The next level” is euphemism for “beating the Spurs.”
Fact: Both the Lakers and the Suns (pending) have taken this themselves to the next level.
Am I jumping the gun a bit by discussing the Suns/Heat trade as if it already happened? Sure, but since the entire NBA blogosphere won’t shut up about it, I think I’m entitled. And assuming Shaq passes his physical (and assuming they find a scale big enough to weigh him), all signs point to The Big Cinderblock moving from the Heat to the Suns (talk about a themed trade!).
Of course, like your sister, your shrink, and your drug dealer, I also have opinions about the two massive blockbuster players moving to the West, adding 14 feet and 585 lbs. (I was also surprised to learn Gasol’s a suprisngly skinny 150lbs) to the already physically dominant conference. With the exception of Orlando, no Eastern Conference team can contend with the top 5 Western frontcourts (assuming Shaq is shipped). You could make a case for Rasheed in Detroit or KG/Kendrick in Boston, but all I see for those guys are bruises and foul trouble.
This has all gotten me thinking*: Where’s our Pau? Where’s our Shaq? Do we need a disgruntled All-Star to contend? I mean, REALLY contend, not in the Chuck Swirsky magical-land of Make Believe.
*and that’s never a good thing.
There aren’t that many unhappy millionaires left in the NBA, but I’ve hunted them down. The following is a list of soured superstars, pissed at either their coach, playing time, or management, and are dying for a new home to make them relevant again. Do they fit with the Raps?
Jermaine O’Neal: He’s a very talented player who’s totally checked out on his team. Of course, this happened about two years ago, yet why they can’t seem to shop him is beyond me. Maybe it’s his $60 million-plus that he’s still owed over the next three years. Maybe it’s his “out indefinately” knee issues. Maybe he’s just a total prick that no one wants to deal with. Or maybe, like is the case with Toronto, it just doesn’t make sense – he’s redundant, unless Sam can figure out how to create three elbows on the court for Bosh, Bargs, and JO to operate from. It’s a good thought, but no.
Corey Maggette: Doesn’t really count as a superstar, but he’s a damn good player that can contribute to our rebounding woes. This guy gets to the line like few other NBA players, creates his own offense, and demands constant attention on the offensive end. “He takes a lot of shots”, you say? Yeah, well he shoots 47% – that’s a lot of points. We need another SF like we need more fucking snow (really, its enough), but Maggette’s going to go somewhere, and entering his contract year next year at only $8 million, it’s somebody‘s last chance to get this guy before he signs a ridiculous contract and slips into Bobby Simmons territory. Plus, dude is Xzibit‘s long-lost twin, meaning free spinny-rims for all his teammates. But as phat/dope/fresh/raw as that sounds, I’m gonna have to say no.
Luol Deng: Deng’s another great young All-Star SF who’s got to be sickened by his team’s fall from grace. He’s only earning a meager $4 million next season, making him cheaper than a night with Lindsay Lohan. Maybe between him and Maggette, they can teach all of our forwards how to rebound the ball. Unfortunately, he’s British. And if you didn’t know, the British and the Spaniards don’t exactly send Christmas cards to each other. So being a team that values chemistry and cohesion, this just won’t work until Obama is President and the world’s singing koombaya.
Jerry Stackhouse: Stack has been involved in trade talks for the better part of two seasons. In the latest round of Kidd-to-Dallas rumors, NJ was expected to waive the former All-Star. That type of thing doesn’t make Jerry happy. And if you didn’t already know it, Jerry’s not a guy you want to piss off. In Jack McCallum’s “:07 Seconds Or Less” (a must read), Alvin Gentry tells this Stack story:
[after a game against Utah] Stackhouse tells [Kirk Snyder], “I’m going to kick your ass,” but the kid doesn’t think anything about it. Game’s over, Stackhouse, who dresses all GQ, goes to the equipment manager and asks for a warm-up suit, puts that on, goes out into the tunnel, sees Snyder, kicks his ass with a couple of punches, goes back into the locker room, returns the warm-up and puts on a nice blue suit. All in a day’s work.
Stack eventually got suspended for the incident but he, like, totally didn’t care and stuff, ’cause he’s tough like that. I’m of the opinion that he’s got a lot of game left in him, prolonging his career by coming off the bench for the Mavs. Not a good fit for the Raptors because he’s a SF who doesn’t rebound…have I mentioned that we are all stocked up on those?
Ben Wallace: Is that not the most terrifying photo you’ve ever seen? Unfortunately, Big Ben no longer strikes fear in the hearts of opposing players. He doesn’t deter penetration any more than sending your daughter to an all-girls school. He’s pissed at Noah, Thomas, and any other young big that will listen. And while he might be a locker room detriment, at least he’s a bargain at only $15.5 million per…what? Is that right? It can’t be! My lord, no. No. NO. Big money, big hair, big waste of time.
Andrei Kirilenko: Andrei’s a unique physical specimen – He’s got the arms of a guy two inches taller and the quickness of a guy two inches shorter. And the hops – oh, the hops! But it’s funny: when you start typing in “andrei kirilen…” into Google, the first thing the predictive text brings up is “andrei kirilenko injury”. Not a good sign.
AK publicly demanded a trade at the beginning of the season, then suddenly cooled off after his team started winning. Now with Kyle Korver adding another body to the roster, our guess is that AK is going to be looking for a new home sooner than later. I love his blocking ability and eye for the passing lane, but we already have a poor-shooting athletic defensive specialist, and he’s $15 million dollars cheaper.
Randy Moss: When it comes to disgruntled superstars, Randy Moss is in a league of his own. It doesn’t take much to get him steaming: locker room temperature, bus cushion padding, ripeness of cantaloupe. He’s had QB’s fired, coaches fired, even the guy at the juice store. After his team screwed him out of a Super Bowl ring, he can’t be pleased. So why the transition to basketball?
He was a high school hoops star, even playing pro ball in something called the USBL. We’ve all seen seen dude jump – if he doesn’t grab 8-10 boards per game, I’d be shocked. It’s really not so crazy – he’s basically Jamario without the Globetrotter experience. Plus, adding Moss to the roster would bring unprecedented American attention to the Raptors. He could smoke all the weed he wants, have his own Carribana float, and go onesies against J-Will when whatever team’s overpaying him at the time comes to town.
I think we’ve found our disgruntled superstar, the player that will lift us from middle-of-the-pack to top dog.
Welcome to Toronto, Randy Moss!(DiNote: I’m not REALLY suggesting we go after Randy Moss. In case it wasn’t clear enough. You can stop drafting that angry comment and go back to loving life again.)
P.S. The “Best Sports Blog” award was announced yesterday and we were not the winner – that went to this guy, a previous winner. But that’s okay, becuase my parents still love me, I’ve got a good job, and all of you guys, right? Right? Hello?
Plus, as they say, at least I’ve got my health. Truth be told, it was a kick just to be nominated, in my first year of figuring out how to make $15 million dollars so I can hire Ben Wallace to piggyback me to work. We’re still up for “Best New Blog”, which is announced Thursday. Not holding out a lot of hope though. Why?
1) We’re writing about a team in a city that still ranks basketball under curling and CFL (whatever that is).
2) We regularly write posts like these.
If I haven’t already said so, thanks for wasting a bit of time with us every day.