Nets and Pacers, going nowhere, talking to each other
By Kelly Dwyer
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 1:16 pm EST
This is what happens when people don't listen, and decide that sustaining a run of mediocrity is the best possible way to keep their jobs.
boss Larry Bird, after watching his Pacers fall apart in 2004-05 and flame out in 2005-06, should have rebuilt the team in the summer of 2006.
He had Peja Stojakovic
's hefty contract coming off his books, he had some assets (Jamaal Tinsley
, pre-shootouts, Jermaine O'Neal
, then-overrated) that could fetch expiring contracts and young talent, and he had the goodwill of the Pacer fandom, who wouldn't possibly blame him for the melee in Auburn Hills back in 2004, or the string of injuries that resulted.
This time last season, New Jersey Nets
Rod Thorn should have looked at his aging Nets, stuck at .500 with little room to grow, and blown the thing up.
Should have dumped Jason Kidd
on a desperate team looking to make one last push. Should have sent Vince Carter
for a team looking for perimeter scoring and/or an expiring contract. Should have, if no suitors emerged for VC, passed on signing Carter last summer, or explored sign-and-trade options.
Now look at where the Nets are: 18-22, in the midst of a tough Western Conference road swing, and out of the playoffs today in spite of a 67 million dollar payroll. Vince is about to turn 31, Kidd's about to turn 35, and nobody expects much of them.
Now look at where the Pacers are: 19-23 with a 66 million dollar payroll that grows even larger next season, with little room to improve short of blowing everything up
, which won't be easy to do now that the bloom is off the Jamaal.
So what do the Nets and Pacers decide to do? Talk about sustaining that near-.500 turn for even longer, making it look like they're working on improving, and potentially sending
Jermaine O'Neal to the Nets for Carter, Jamaal Magliore, and Marcus Williams
I don't know who leaked the deal, or which team (or agent, even) would stand to gain from this move hitting the press
, because it confirms our worst fears about both teams: they really don't get it.
The Pacers would add Carter, who plays the same (wing) position as their only trio of talented youngsters (Danny Granger
, Shawne Williams
, Mike Dunleavy
The Nets still think Jermaine O'Neal, career 46 percent shooter, is the team's low-post scoring option of the future? The guy has averaged 55 games a season over the last three, he's played 33 games this year
(15 points, seven rebounds, 2.5 blocks) while talking about sitting the rest of the season out
... and he's the answer?
I know it's hard to sell dwindling crowds on the idea of a rebuilding process, but these GMs need to give their fans a little credit.
There's a reason nobody is coming out to see the Pacers, or Nets. And it has little to do with Jamaal Tinsley's glock or Jason Kidd's happy hands: these fans know mediocrity. They know these have little chance of making a championship run, and have no easy chance at rebuilding with youngsters. And they don't want to witness the unraveling of two teams winning 45 percent of their games.
But Bird and Thorn don't want to hear it. Not when there's a Jamaal Magliore to sign. Mags in '08, straight to the top!