How bad have things gotten? On the heels of a 31-point loss to the Cavs, the Knicks came out and destroyed the Pistons 124-103. After the game, Mike D'Antoni, who's been at the helm the last two years as the Knicks have shamelessly tossed aside the present for a mere chance that a superstar or two might be enticed into moving to New York this summer, turned his nose at Detroit's self-inflicted predicament:
The Pistons are the example the Knicks can't afford to follow. Detroit used the money it freed up in last season's franchise-altering, Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson deal to sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, good players who aren't even starters.
``I don't want to point them out, but we don't want to get stuck in mediocrity and we could have done that,'' D'Antoni said before the game. ``We could've put a Band-Aid on some holes and be more competitive and right now that seems like a good idea, even to me, because we have to go through this. But this summer would not have been a good idea.''
The true irony, of course, is that making moves last summer hasn't made the Pistons more competitive! After losing on Wednesday, the Pistons (21-40) are officially worse than the Knicks (21-39), who at least have a silver lining to their wretched season in the form of salary cap space.
Can New York entice LeBron James into leaving Cleveland? I personally doubt it, but it doesn't matter: even if LBJ stays in the rust belt, the Knicks will have more than enough dough to invest in true franchise building blocks.
The Pistons? I think DBB reader Bill Higgins summed it up best:
Do you guys realize we have FOUR MORE YEARS of Gordon/Villa to look forward to?
By the time those twin albatrosses are off the books, Sarah Palin could be president! Many single people on this board could be married with kids!
It’s bad, guys. I try and try to imagine how we might trade those guys, but I just can’t picture ANYONE absorbing them. Both players are so bad! And their contracts are even worse!
At this point I feel convinced that Arron Afflalo is a superior player to Gordon. It’s amazing but true: Afflalo is much bigger; he can defend; he can play within a system better; he controls the ball better and looks more mature and composed on the court. His shooting percentages are far superior too. I’m leaving out the fact that he is worlds, worlds less expensive. We gave him away for nothing!
It’s almost like Dumars did this on purpose, like when I used to play Sim City and everything was going so well that I got bored and set it so that Godzilla would show up and wreck my city. Except for Jerebko, every single decision Joe has made since the cataclysmic Chauncey trade has actively destroyed some valuable part of the team. (I don’t count re-signing Ben as a Dumars achievement because that was a 100% luck thing predicated solely on Ben’s deciding of his own accord that he wanted to return to the city and the fans that loved him.)
I'm not so jaded to think that
Palin will actually be president Gordon and Villanueva won't play better over the life of their contract than they have in this injury-ravaged, dog-crap-flavored Popsicle season -- but even at their best before arriving to Detroit they've been merely complementary pieces.
Of course, a lottery pick can change
everything a lot, and despite Dumars' deservedly maligned rep as an evaluator of amateur talent, there's enough depth at the top of this year's draft to think (hope?) he won't try to outsmart himself. And, to be fair, I'd be remiss not to point out that Jerebko, the lone feather in Dumars' cap over the last couple of seasons, seems to be picking up steam rather than hitting a rookie wall. In nearly 34 minutes against the Knicks, he scored 15 points with 13 boards, his second straight double-double in March after earning Rookie of the Month honors in February. But even as moral victories go, everybody's favorite Swede is but a minor salve for the raging disappointment that surrounds this season of suck.
I don't admire what the Knicks have done the last couple of years, especially when you also take into account that sheer geography has allowed the franchise to remain among the league's most profitable while (recently) competitive franchises like Detroit are in the hands of a reluctant owner hoarding cash who may or may not render all of our fandom irrelevant by selling the team to an owner who moves it out of state. (Sad to say, but if Bill Davidson were still around, there's a very good chance Avery Johnson, Amir Johnson, Arron Afflalo, the entire Detroit Shock, Tom Wilson and numerous other behind-the-scenes employees who have either been pushed out or jumped ship over the several months would all be employed by Palace Sports & Entertainment. But I digress ...)
As painful as New York's on-court situation has been to watch, at least the Knicks' faithful have always had a future to remain fixated on, a clear-cut timetable for improvement, not to mention the knowledge that the team's ownership will spare no expense to seize the opportunity when it finally presents itself.
Pistons fans? We could only be so lucky.
There is no bright and shiny future; only blinding hindsight.
There is no plan; only ping-pong balls and teenagers.
(There is no Knicks recap; only self-indulgent rants.)