Have you ever been out shopping, saw something, bought it and then wondered what to do with it or who to give it to? This is the state the league is in right now. The National Basketball Association has completed its purchase of the New Orleans Hornets and doesn't have a clue who to give it to or what to do with it. All they are saying is they want to re-sell it to a buyer who will keep the team in New Orleans. Technically, the board of governors has given its anticipated approval of the purchase. Translation: 'We are OK with this but not liking the situation'. As you may know, the Hornets were founded in Charlotte by George Shinn (soon-to-be former majority owner) in 1988 and moved to New Orleans in 2002. A move would not be good at this point considering the travelling this team has done (no pun intended). However, don't kid yourself. The NBA says it wants the team to stay in New Orleans but if no appropriate buyer comes along and someone with deep pockets is interested and wants to move it, what do you think the outcome will be? Hmmm. I need to get a gift for my Dad's birthday at the end of the month...(checking wallet)...shoot. No $300 million. But if NBA Commissioner David Stern is telling the truth he wouldn't sell it to me anyway. I would move the team to Canada - Vancouver, Montreal, Alberta maybe. Call me crazy but a girl can dream. Let's move on to a dream that will likely end for Yao Ming and three-way between Phoenix, Washington and Orlando.
This could be the end of Yao Ming
I don't want to say it out loud but this is the worst case scenario. The Chinese Media were already reeling earlier this year about the NBA schedule and how tough it is on their star export, Yao Ming. I will give credence to some of their worry that in all likelihood, Yao Ming has potentially played his last game. It hasn't happened yet but if and likely when it does, it would be a crushing blow to his career, to the Houston Rockets and to the national basketball program in China. I was having a debate with my friend Jae the other day on why he'd rather watch NCAA ball over the NBA. One argument was for the rules and the other was for playing for the love of basketball. If Yao Ming leaves professional basketball, we will be loosing this type of player - one who plays for the love of the game. I give him respect for carrying the hopes and dreams of his country and for being one of the truly good guys in the NBA.
Shaking things up before the New Year
I think the most excited guy in the three-way trade between Phoenix, Washington and Orlando was Gilbert Arenas. He wanted to leave Washington so bad he probably had his bags packed already anticipating a trade. For both sides, it is a new start. Gilbert Arenas is now in an Orlando Magic uniform playing for a team that is a playoff contender. For the Washington Wizards, they are unloading the $60 million Arenas is still due over four years and the nagging knee injury that limited Arenas to less than 50 games in the previous three seasons. This is likely the reason the Wizards weren't able to make the trade until now and why other teams wouldn't want to take on Arenas. Remember though, Otis Smith was with Gilbert Arenas at Golden State and has a close, personal connection to him. Now Smith is the President of Basketball Operations for Orlando and welcomes Arenas into the fold. This is where Arenas needs to be. He needs to be working under the direction of a team who still believes in his former All-Star abilities and willing to take a chance on him.
As for Rashard Lewis? Not so happy. This will be a real test of character for Lewis since he has been traded from a finals contender to a lottery team. "I'm a basketball player. The trade happened, and so be it. I am just going to go out there and be professional". Does this sound like a guy who is happy in his new surroundings? No. He is acting more like being in a room full of people you don't like on New Year's Eve waiting for the ball to drop. Smile and nod. He sees it as a challenge but he also joins Kirk Hinrich and Josh Howard two veterans on the team. A team built around number one overall draft pick and rookie John Wall. Good yet not so good for a guy like Rashard Lewis. I think Lewis' saving grace will be Wizards' coach Flip Saunders, who coached Rashard during the 2001 Goodwill Games. He believes in Lewis' flexibility in playing different positions and contributing to a team that needs a common thread holding it together. Rahard Lewis may be that thread.
Speaking of hanging on by a thread, let's talk about Vince Carter in Phoenix. I am really starting to think of Vince Carter as a cat with nine lives. He is little by little using up his chances to reinvent himself. Now he gets to play with Steve Nash, the Suns' conductor and consummate set-up man. He also gets to play under a new system which centers around running and 3 point plays. Will he fit in? Time will only tell. I would love to be a fly on the wall in that locker room, though. They have to be whispering about getting Raptors' rejects in the line-up. Now Hedo Turkoglu is out of Phoenix and back in Orlando. This is the craziest part of the deal in my opinion. Why would Orlando trade Hedo and accept him back again? This is like sending your kid off to boarding school because you don't know what to do with them and taking them back because you have to. At the end of the day, it is a business and then a game in times like this. Let's just hope they remember the playing for the "love of it" part.
This week the DNB will be running a holiday piece in place of "Behind Enemy Lines" - be sure to look for it. I will see you as usual next Tuesday for more "NBAz in 7 Dayz". I hope you get to enjoy some time off with family and friends. Cheers.