posted: Aug. 4, 2005  |  Feedback

Seven quick thoughts on yesterday's NBA megadeal ...

1. Imagine being Larry Bird or Joe Dumars right now -- your biggest rival in the East just traded Eddie Jones and, um, nothing else ... and somehow ended up with James Posey (who's better than Eddie Jones by himself), Antoine Walker AND Jason Williams. How is that possible? As my buddy House joked, "They got three potential starters for the Eddie Jones pu pu platter!"

2. White Chocolate is one of those guys who couldn't be redeemed in any other situation but Miami -- he's a head case, doesn't respect his coaches, takes terrible shots and butts heads with the media ... but the old Jordan/Rodman Corollary applies here. In other words, if you have the right alpha dog in place, even the biggest head case falls into line. Shaq is probably the smartest superstar in the league -- he knows what Williams could give this team (a fast break, some dribble-and-dishes, high assist/turnover ratio, some excitement) and will probably be legally adopting him by January. I also think Posey will have a bigger impact than people realize -- he's one of the best defenders in the league, he's a gamer and he doesn't need the ball to thrive. If they re-sign Damon Jones, they're ... actually, I still like Indiana more. But Miami definitely improved.

3. Ironically, Antoine is the guy who worries me here. Do you really want him playing over Udonis Haslem (someone who crashes the boards and knows his role)? Can Antoine accept playing a complimentary role on a great team? He certainly wasn't able to do it in Dallas -- they pretty much benched him by the end of the 2003 playoffs -- and in Boston last spring, after saying and doing all the right things for two months, he ended up launching 104 shots in six games during the Indiana series and carrying himself like the best guy on the court. Which he wasn't. So how will he accept being the third option behind two superstars? What will happen in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals against the Pistons or Pacers, when they're down by two with a minute and 30 seconds remaining and he's wide-open from 26 feet? Does he take the shot, even when he's playing with two much better scoring options? I think he does. You can't change who you are.

Here's the thing about 'Toine: After watching him for two months last season, I was surprised to see how much his game has slipped around the basket -- nobody in the league misses more layups and four-footers, partly because he doesn't have the hops anymore (remember, he has some miles on him -- nearly 700 regular-season games, plus another 37 playoff games in just eight seasons), partly because his free-throw shooting has slipped so much that he rushes his shots before he gets fouled. He also makes some of the worst decisions on fast breaks of anyone I've ever seen -- for instance, he botched two four-on-ones in the same half during one of those Indiana games. But if Antoine just concentrates on the things he does well -- interior defense, defensive rebounding, wide-open 3s, entry passes to big men, pick-and-rolls where he's rolling -- he could be a major asset to Miami. I guess we'll see.

4. From my friend Sean Grande, who does radio play-by-play for the Celtics and owns nearly every "Piper's Pit" on tape: "Let me continue my two-plus year run of NBA heresy by being the only one to say out loud that Jerry West has lost his mind." Agreed. Has he made one good move since the Shaq-Kobe combo in 1996? I always thought that Lakers Dynasty could have been set up for a 10-year run if he made the right moves.

5. Why did the Celtics get involved? Because owner Wyc Grousbeck wanted to reward Antoine for being a great Celtic over the years, that's why. The team didn't want to re-sign him for multiple years because they're convinced Big Al Jefferson is a future All-Star -- why lock up a veteran who plays the same position? So they offered Walker around in a sign-and-trade all summer, and nobody was really interested, and by the time August rolled around, only two teams were interested in him -- Miami and Denver -- and neither team had anything to offer the Celtics. So they ended up doing this convoluted deal that netted them two second-round picks, the rights to some foreign center, two fringe players (Curtis Borchardt and Qyntel Woods) who aren't in their plans, the rights to 45 pit-bull jokes, and only one real caveat: A $5.5 million trade exception that can be used up until Aug. 1, 2006.

Here's why that exception is valuable: Not only can they use it during the season, if they hold onto it until next summer, they can offer someone a little more than the mid-level exception. For instance, remember what happened with the Nets and Shareef Abdur-Rahim? They cut a deal with the Blazers in which Portland used New Jersey's exception, then he ended up making more money than the mid-level exception and and received an extra year on the deal? That's what that exception can do for you. You can't package it with another salary for a bigger salary, but you can sign-and-trade it or use it for any player that makes $5.5 million or less. My guess is they will keep the exception until next summer.

6. With that said, not only do the Celtics look like a 25-win team right now, I have a feeling that Paul Pierce will be going into Full Sabotage Mode by Thanksgiving to force a trade to a winning team. Let's hope we don't have Vince Carter, The Sequel on our hands. 7. Most importantly, Curtis Borchardt doesn't just give Brian Scalabrine someone to hang out with, but seeing the happy look in my father's eyes when they're playing together ... you can't put a price on this stuff. Is there any way we could give Borchardt "32" and Scalabrine "33" to complete the effect?

August 2005