Click here for the first dispatch.
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of all hell breaking loose, the sound of grasping at straws, or for that matter, Tracy McGradys – which are just as sturdy and have won as many second round playoff series.
That is the sound of mass hysteria – 30 front offices losing their collective heads faster than Danica loses her integrity in a GoDaddy spot.
I have witnessed three things on this otherwise ho-hum Tuesday that have convinced me that the bedlam surrounding the free agent class of 2010 is spilling into every nook and cranny of our sports culture:
1) The Washington Nationals signed former Yankee great Chien-Ming Wang, Wang’s magically exploding right foot and Wang’s Paper Mache right shoulder for the low, low price of $2 million. General manager Mike Rizzo flirted with investing in BlockBuster stock. He pulled the trigger on Wang instead. The Nats gave the soon-to-be 30-year-old the number 9.64, which will look funny on his jersey, but at least it matches last year’s ERA. This is the definition of “taking a flier.” Moving on…
2) The Oakland Raiders locked up their best offensive player for 4 years, $16 million. Too bad for Al Davis that his best offensive player is place kicker Sebastian “The Polish Hammer” Janikowski. You know what? I take that back. Davis will be glad he spent the money come crunch time of all those close games the Raiders play next year. Now if he could only sign complete bust Richard Seymour and his 4 sacks to a long-term deal to justify spending a first round pick on him…
3) Kenny Mayne kept his job at ESPN, which leaves two and only two scenarios: 1) Mayne has pictures on Michael Eisner 2) The LeBron/D-Wade Sweepstakes has reached the level on the Def Con scale in which decision makers begin to lose their bearings on reality and awareness of the physical world surrounding them.
Fact: I just mooned you 30 seconds ago… I think I’ve made my point.
So let me make a prediction. The next 48 or so hours of balls-to-the-wall chaos known as the 2010 NBA trade deadline will unfold much like the buildup to Y2K, except if we were to switch the expiring clocks for expiring contracts.
Cleveland, which is in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, has the best record in basketball, and has the chemistry of a young Dmitri Mendeleev, is seriously considering taking on the 30-year-old Corey Maggette should their also-bad-idea deal for Amare Stoudemire fall through. Four things you should know about Maggette: 1) He’s a truly gifted scorer who’s shooting 51 percent from the field in Coach Nellie’s Do Whatever the Hell You Feel Like offense 2)He’s played more than 69 games four times in his 10 ½ year career 3) I think I mentioned this – he’s 30, been in the league for 10 ½ years and injury prone 4) *Spoiler Alert for Cavs Fans Who Think They Have A Trio of Max Contracts to Offer this Summer* Your boy Corey has 3 years and a cool $31 million left on his deal. Again Mr. Ferry, stand pat.
The Miami Heat, hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to sign D-Wade before the offseason feeding frenzy, have taken the lead in the tug-of-war for consolation prize Amare “21-8” Stoudemire.
If you’re Pat Riley, and you’ve built your legacy and your teams with lockdown defense, gritty bangers, excellence in the half-court offense AND you want to take on Stoudemire – I say do it. Maybe the exact opposite works for you. Seriously, though, Charles Oakley and Alonzo Mourning are turning over in their graves.
A couple of other notes about a potential Amare’s Ego to Miami trade. He’s got a $17 million option for 2010-2011, which means the Heat would have to convince him to restructure his deal (read: take less) in order to sign D-Wade and another max guy. Also, should the NBA cancel it’s 2011-2012 season (more on this in a second), the Heat all of a sudden return from the lockout with a 1-2 combo both looking down the barrel of a 31st birthday. So Riles, when the 25-year-old Chris Bosh is looking for a home come June, you’re going to wish you hadn’t made a panic trade and mortgaged your future in the process. Speaking of…
Why the hell is Phoenix GM Steve Kerr not lunging at the chance to snatch Michael Beasley from Miami? Eighteen months from now, a host of rash front office pad-pushers are going to realize they whiffed on a 6’10’’ 22-year-old who can stroke it from distance and has all the tools to be an elite offensive forward. Beasley, who would be included in a Heat-Suns deal should Kerr just think to ask, IS Amare Stoudemire – except younger, less polished and with both a higher ceiling and an inexplicable Sponge Bob fetish.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Hilson must be smoking the weed Beasley gave him.” Fine. But I think we both agree that the other offer on the table – J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ expiring contract, and a first round pick via Cleveland – is a lesser offer. Worse case scenario, the Suns fold, try to resign Amare in the offseason and get exactly what they bargained for – namely, an aging core of Nash/Stoudemire and another first round exit. Don’t put this past Steve Kerr. His font office success rate is eerily similar to his career 3-point percentage…
Celtics GM Danny Ainge looks like he’ll do anything to rid himself of Ray Allen’s $19.7 million expiring contract even though, of The Big 3, Allen is the guy in the best shape to contribute in the long run. Think of him as a rich man’s Late Career Reggie Miller or a billionaire’s Steve Kerr. He’s an impeccably well conditioned sharpshooter who’s big in the clutch, ices games at the line, and can get open on the perimeter even when his mobility starts to go (which has yet to happen). I understand wanting to get younger, but Ray Ray is a guy that helped you raise your storied franchise from the grave. You owe him something. And, if you’re Danny Ainge, you don’t want to dish him to Philly just for Andre Iguodala.
Actually, if you’re Danny Ainge, you do… and I don’t get it. The C’s future is already anchored down by the $40 million they still owe Heather Mills – I mean “Kevin Garnett” – and now they want to take on 4 years/$56 million worth of Andre “Above Average” Iguodala? Hell, that’s like $12 mill a leg for next year alone.
I won’t even discuss the Bulls flirtation with dumping Tyrus Thomas for the remains of Antonio McDyess (does it dawn, I wonder, on John Paxson that maybe Tyrus’s inconsistency is related to the fact that he ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOATHES the hack of a “coach” that Paxson continues to force on him and the rest of his impressionable team?).
I’ll just say that some of these teams remind me of the little kids at Chucky Cheese who horde their bundles of red tickets for visits and visits only to splurge them all on three SuperBalls and Chinese finger cuffs.
And then there’s Toronto, who by all accounts, seems content to admit its wasted a pocketful of quarters and simply give away its tickets. The winner in this metaphor: Chris Bosh.
You know what? I’m pretty confident that I’ve made some impulsive judgments in the course of the last 1,000 or so words, which means I, too, am vulnerable to Def Con James. But before I go, let’s return to the Y2K parallel. Remember when the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000? Remember when all the computers simultaneously rebooted, thrusting us into the anarchic third world of cyber hell?
Here’s what’s going to happen. LeBron and D-Wade are going to stay right where they are – LeBron because he’ll realize that he’s the Chosen Son playing for the best team in the league; Wade because it’s South Beach, damnit, and because New York doesn’t have the talent infrastructure to win anytime soon. Bosh is free to go where he chooses, and the team he chooses will be one that didn’t stupidly blow its load on Stoudemire or Boozer or (insert overpaid big name).
In lieu of the League’s $400 million losses, the 2010-2011 salary cap is going to get cut like a 5’9” walk-on and the resulting climate of total and utter panic will arm NBA owners with even more leverage in negotiating the new collective bargaining agreement. In the end, everybody will stay by and large in the same place and they’ll be making less money to boot. And the L.A. Lakers will be laughing at all the apocalyptic suckers who fought each other to the top of the mountain only to be the first in line to drink the Kool-Aid.
It’s been real. It’s been rational.