Restricted or unrestricted? That is our next obsession. What was arguably one of the busiest and craziest NBA trade deadlines in recent history, has now passed. Now, we shift our focus toward the playoffs and further, to another season of free agency, provided we are not dealing with a lockout - we will cross THAT bridge when we come to it. Fodder for debate quickly changes in the NBA. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were once on the tips of our tongues, however; before they even played their first game, discussions turned to Carmelo Anthony. Now with that "will he stay or will he go" debate laid to rest, new ones are emerging. The first one which comes to mind is Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard a close second. Their time to fuel the fire won't really come until 2012 when they actually become free agents but don't kid your self. These players and their potential General Managers are already looking into their crystal ball. According to player's from last year's free agency, 'don't keep talking about it' would be their advice. Dwayne Wade even said if he were to do it all over again, he would have taken a page from LeBron James' approach to pending free agency: answer 'no' to questions during the season. We all know questions will be unavoidable. For now, we'll put this debate on simmer and turn our attention to three things making my radar screen: Baron Davis, Kendrick Perkins and the unravelling in Detroit.
Just Smile and Nod
If you had a choice to work near the sandy beaches and warmer climate of Los Angeles or for the worst team in the NBA and all the snow you could handle, which would you choose? If it weren't for the Cavs being a part of the deal, it would be a toss up for me (I am one of those crazy people who like the snow). This is the position Baron Davis was in last week and the only difference is, he didn't have a choice. Mind you, the Clippers aren't exactly a powerhouse but they have become very entertaining as of late and Davis did get a chance to help former teammate Blake Griffin with his high-flying final dunk over NBA All-Star weekend. Being traded from the L.A. Clippers to the Cleveland Cavaliers isn't the biggest challenge for him to get over, either. It's the reunion with Cavs' Coach Byron Scott which raises some flags for me. Think back to their time in Charlotte. When Byron Scott was coaching Davis then, they weren't exactly best friends. Don't forget it was Byron Scott who was the driving force behind Davis being traded from the Hornets to Golden State. But apparently they made up two years ago as a result of Davis' apology to Scott for the way he behaved under Scott's leadership. Still, I am not jumping on the Scott-Davis BFF bandwagon just yet. According to Coach Scott, Baron Davis is questionable for Wednesday night's game against San Antonio due to a sore left knee. He will be wearing the number 85 as a tribute to his grandparents who got him into basketball and who lived on 85th Street in Los Angeles. Ironically enough, he is using LeBron James' old locker which was occupied by Jamario Moon before the trade. Let's hope the 'owner heckling player' stigma doesn't follow him to Cleveland.
Lowest of the Low
What do a Canadian alternative rock band and the Celtics have in common? Both are talented and both relate to the moniker "Lowest of the Low". I watched last year's NBA final very closely and when the Boston Celtics had to soldier on without Kendrick Perkins, I thought this is has to be a major blow to their momentum and overall team morale. This feeling has to be comparable to the mood in the Celtics' locker room presently. Neither Kendrick Perkins nor his now ex-teammates were happy with the deal seeing Perkins go to Oklahoma. Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers put on a good face but he also showed signs of "we'll just have to wait and see" mode - not exactly a ringing endorsement of the trade. This much we do know. But this is where it goes downhill for me and raises some major questions. Why would Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge trade their starting center for a backup forward in Jeff Green? Does this really make the Celtics a better team? If the Celtics really thought Kendrick Perkins was a tradeable commodity, why not wait and issue a sign-and-trade and get his replacement later. This really seems like a panic trade to me since Perkins wouldn't sign a contract extension before the trade deadline. This is hard because you would think most agree Perkins was worth keeping in a Celtics' uniform for another run at the playoffs regardless of whether or not he signed a piece of paper. But on the bright side, at least the Celtics didn't do to Perkins what they did to Baron Davis. Perkins is going to a strong team and will be called on to defend and rebound - two of his strongest attributes. Let's hope both sides are able to take a deep breath and move on.
Falling apart at the seams in Detroit
By now we have read and heard every angle there is to consider about the alleged Pistons boycott. Here's what supposedly happened in a nutshell. Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox missed the Piston's shoot around on Friday morning. That night the Pistons were scheduled to play the Sixers in Philadelphia and team sources were alleging the players were staging a protest. According to the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, the supposed shoot around boycott was directed at Detroit Pistons' Coach John Kuester who has been clashing with certain members of the Pistons' roster. Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Jason Maxiell, Greg Monroe, DaJuan Summers and Charlie Villaneuva were the only ones to show up to the full shoot around, so this is why rest were allegedley benched. If you look at the box scores from Friday's game, you will notice each starter played close to or over 40 minutes each with Ben Gordon and Will Bynum playing 45 and 48 minutes, respectively. The rest were rostered but with no points or minutes played. The only one happy with the situation seemed to be Will Bynum who was happy for the extended playing time after not seeing consistent play for a month and a half. The decision to go with a 6-man rotation was the deal breaker in this game since it was clear by the end, the Pistons got tired and the Sixers never once gave up the lead. To further fuel the fire that night, coach Kuester was ejected with a pair of technical fouls with three minutes remaining in the first half. The worst part? Several Pistons players were seen laughing as Kuester was ejected.
This is a very sad situation. There were many excuses given as to why only six Pistons players saw playing time Friday. Coach Kuester even went on record saying this before the game: "We got a number of guys that have a bug, but these guys went through the shoot around the way it was supposed to. We have some things, some excuses, not excuses, but absences because of headache and stuff like that". First he indicates the group at shoot around was to play and then he retracts saying he expected "everybody to be available". This is a coach who knows his days are numbered. If the allegations are proven to be true, that this was a boycott, this could definitely hurt NBA players during Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. The pieces don't all fit together for me. Detroit's decision to go with a 6-man rotation Friday night versus the Sixers seems like an emotional reaction to what may or may not have been a boycott. No matter how much Pistons President Joe Dumars publicly supports Coach Kuester, that may not be enough to get over the mess this event has caused. When any team is met with a clear rift, what usually happens? Do you replace an entire team or just the coach? You do the math.
Thank-you once again for joining me this week. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please keep them coming by following me on Twitter (@ddegraauw) or on Facebook (Danielle de Graauw). Be sure to join me on Thursday for another dose of "NBAz in 7 Dayz" as we further discuss NBA news makers and look forward to the playoffs. See you then.