Thursday, July 9, 2009
There they are all staring at each other across the Lone Star state. Three NBA teams, all vying for control of the Midwestern division next year.
This is a good off-season to be a fervid basketball in Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio.
Before anyone gets delusions of grandeur, I'm not saying any of these teams can take out the Lakers in the west. Nah, you have to practically steal players from other teams (like say, trading away a box of Fruit Loops and receiving an All-Star forward named Pau Gasol or having a young Shaq simply abandon Orlando and sign a free-agent contract with your team) to be able to compete with the kind of transactions the Lakers make.
But for the wayward fans of the mortal NBA teams that have to work for a title, you'll like the high stakes games being played in Texas.
The fun started in San Antonio when the Spurs made a push for another title in the Tim Duncan era by trading away the aging Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and big white stiff Fabricio Oberto to Milwaukee in exchange for Richard Jefferson. Jefferson will had some offensive oomph to a team that had trouble scoring at times last year. If Manu Ginobili returns to form (much to my girlfriend's chagrin), the Spurs could be pretty salty next year.
Houston didn't start off too happy during this NBA off-season when the team found out that moo goo gai pan center Yao Ming may not return from his foot injury for a long time. Couple him with constantly injured guard Tracy McGrady and you have a disaster of a team in Houston.
Yet, the Rockets always seem to hang around and they even took the Lakers to the brink in the second round of the playoffs. The team got a bit more exciting when the traded for second round draft pick Chase Budinger out of Arizona. Budinger went on a draft night free fall, but he can run and jump with any incoming rookie. Now the team has traded away defensive forward and noted idiot, Ron Artest in exchange for Trevor Ariza. The move isn't an obvious upgrade in talent, but you won't find Trevor Ariza making the Rockets P.R. department squirm because of this unstable tribute to Michael Jackson (warning- cussing and stuff):
That brings us to the Dallas Mavericks. Mark Cuban is always looking to a make an off-season splash, but he's been relatively quiet since he traded away the team's future for Jason Kidd.
Never one to sit on his mistakes (that trade was an unfortunate trigger happy attempt to keep up with the Laker's theft of Gasol), Cuban found away to keep the Mavs in the thick of the Western conference race. First he made sure the New York Knicks didn't steal Kidd by signing the veteran guard to a three year extension. Then today, Cuban managed to finalize a brain wrenching four team deal that brings Shawn Marion to town. Marion instantly adds athleticism to a team that sorely misses it. Plus, the Mavs didn't have to give up any major players to get him.
So that's where we stand today. Three teams in Texas all trying along with the Denver Nuggets to catch the Lakers. If it doesn't work, you can't blame the teams for not trying. And that's the way it should be.