Chris handled the Western Conference Preview earlier here on RTS, today we take a look at the Eastern Conference.
"Whatever the mess you are, you're mine, ok"
-"Challengers" by The New Pornographers"
What must Larry Brown think when he looks at this mess of a roster? Raymond Felton...barely competent point guard. Jason Richardson...gunner with no regard for teammates. Gerald Wallace...does lots of things ok, but isn't proficient in any areas. Emeka Okafor...decent player, just as long as you keep the ball away from him. Adam Morrison...bwah ha ha ha ha!
Seriously, what a mess this team is. And the last time Larry Brown had a roster that made no sense was his one year with the Knicks. In that case, if nothing else there was a terrific comedy factor when he and Marbury publicly ripped each other. It won't be the same when it's he and Matt Carroll this time around.
14: New York
"In New York I lost it all to you and your vices/Still I'm staying on to figure out my mid-life crisis/I hit an iceberg in my life/But you know I'm still afloat"
-"New York", by U2
This fits Mike D'Antoni and his mid-life crisis move to new York perfectly. This season's a wash. Next season's a wash. They could win a combined 4 games over the next two years, but he'll still be afloat. He wasn't hired to coach this year. He was hired to coach in 2010, when they get to use their cap room. Until then he's just biding his time. It must be freeing as a coach to know nothing this season matters. In that respect, I look forward to him playing Jerome James at the point just because he can.
Ugh. I can't be bothered.
12: New Jersey
"Down here there's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line...Well I guess everything dies baby that's a fact/But maybe everything that dies someday comes back"
-"Atlantic City" by Bruce Springsteen
Of course I'm picking a Springsteen song for New Jersey...
So Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson are gone, leaving Vince Carter behind. And since Vince will look around and decide it's hopeless, expect him to suffer a groin pull that'll keep him out for three months or so.
But like Bruce says...maybe everything that dies someday comes back. With or without Vince, they have some nice young talent: Devin Harris, Sean Williams, Yi Jianlian (who I'm not ready to give up on), and a solid 2008 draft with Brook Lopez and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
So yeah, this year's going to suck, but maybe someday it all comes back. Too bad it'll be in Brooklyn.
"I never really gave up on/Breaking out of this two-star town/I got the green light/I got a little fight/I'm gonna turn this thing around"
-"Read My Mind" by The Killers
Ah, the Michael Redd era. Nothing like giving a max deal to a swingman who stays on the perimeter and has never won anything. He's like the East's Corey Maggette.
But hey on the bright side, at least they're surrounding him with lots of white guys- Andrew Bogut, Luke Ridnour, Joe Alexander. Hey, Golden State waived Dan Dickau, why not add him too? Anyone got Travis Knight's number?
"You heard that we were great/But now you think we're lame/Since you saw the show last night/You hoped that we would rock/Knock it up a notch/Rockin was nowhere in sight"
-"All the Kids are Right" by Local H
A conversation I'd like to imagine that will take place in Chicago's locker room sooner than later:
Vinny Del Negro: "OK guys, we're off to a slow start, so I'm making Derrick Rose the full-time starter at the point. If anyone has something to say, now's the time."
Ben Gordon: "Can I still take 20 shots a game?"
VDN: "Well, I'd rather you didn't because you're part of the reason the offense stalls-"
BG: "Fine. 25 shots it is. I'll see you guys later."
Luol Deng: "Coach, what's my role in the offense?"
VDN: "No clue. Next?"
Kirk Hinrich: "Coach, what are your plans for me?"
VDN: "Oh, uh, hi Kirk. You're still here? Uh, listen, you know, just work hard in practice, be a leader, and uh, yeah. Stuff like that."
KH: "I hate my life."
Andres Nocioni: "Coach, why exactly did I get a $40 million extension when I don't do anything particularly well?"
VDN: "Beats me. Hell, why am I a white guy with the word Negro in his name? Anyway guys, we can continue this later. We have a flight to Toronto to catch. And don't forget your passports."
Drew Gooden: "I didn't know Toronto was in another country. I thought it was in Canada."
Joakim Noah: -sobs uncontrollably-
"Before we started to fade/You gave me something to believe in/And that's the best thing anyone can give"
-"Wrapped in my Memory" by Shawn Smith
I hope Atlanta fans enjoyed their run last year, because I don't see them making the playoffs again. They squeaked in last year, but lost the criminally underrated Josh Childress without adding anything. So that means their starting five has to carry them, and maybe Al Horford becomes an elite power forward, and maybe Marvin Williams improves again, and maybe Joe Johnson and Josh Smith don't go out and just try to get their numbers.
But I don't think so.
"Come back home for another year/And find yourself in the thick of it/Come back home for another year/I always thought that you could handle this"
-"Come Back Home" by Pete Yorn
You know what? I like Miami this year. I like Dwyane Wade looking to regain his place among the NBA's elite. I like Michael Beasley tormenting teams inside and out. I like Udonis Haslem holding down the middle. I like that Shaq is gone. I like that Pat Riley decided that his Dubya-esque mid-season vacations hurt the team and handed the coaching gig over to Erik Spoelstra. So I like Miami to sneak into the eighth spot.
And if the Heat finish with 18 wins because Wade blows out both ACLs on another reckless drive to the hoop, Beasley decides to move to Jamaica, Spoelstra's in over his head, the team doesn't resolve its point guard mess and the bench blows even worse than expected, then this pick never happened. Got it?
"Well the shot it hit hard/And your frame went limp in my arms/And an oath of love was your dying cry"
-"O Valencia" by The Decemberists
Remember a few years ago when everyone thought the Wizards were building a perennial contender? Well Gilbert Arenas can't stay healthy and Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler have pretty much maxed out as players. And speaking of maxed out, so is the Wizards' salary cap for the next half decade or so thanks to those three.
So the Wizards will spend the next few years the same way they spent the last few: enduring Arenas injuries, getting 42-45 wins or so, and losing in the first round. Have fun with that.
On the bright side, at least Arenas has an entertaining blog, so he's one up on us.
"You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey/And I never saw someone say that before"
-"Fireworks" by the Tragically Hip
One of the best songs by one of Canada's best bands illustrates the uphill climb basketball faces in Canada...blah blah...
Anyway, much as I hate the city of Toronto, I actually want to like this team. But I'm not there yet. I love Calderon and Bosh, but I hate Jermaine O'Neal. Let's see...big man with chronic knee problems...bloated contract...limited offensive game...doesn't make teammates better...never really won anything...oh, and how about that 43.3% shooting in the preseason? If a seven-footer is shooting 43.3%, it means one of two things: either his name is Jim McIlvaine, or he's washed up.
But hey, Andrea Bargnani should be panning out any day now.
"You will be the death of me"
-"Time is Running Out" by Muse
When the Sixers signed Elton Brand, I'll admit I was fooled for a minute. Combined with their terrific finish last year, I thought this was a team primed for a deep playoff run.
Then I remembered Elton Brand is coming off a serious injury. And he's never really won anything. And he doesn't really make his teammates better. And he has a max contract. And he shot 39.3% (!) in the preseason.
Wait- sound familiar? Yeah, well, it's basically exactly what I wrote a second ago about Jermaine O'Neal. Then consider that as good as Iguodala is, he turns the ball over 4 times a game. And they can't shoot threes. And they're counting on guys like Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Willie Green to make huge leaps.
Yeah, I'm not quite ready to buy in yet.
"I got my hands on a miracle/Believe it or not hands on a miracle/And there ain't no way/I'll let you take it away"
-"Miracle" by the Foo Fighters
Sung by Cavs fans to the Knicks in reference to LeBron James. And what about Danny Ferry? What if LeBron leaves because he knows Ferry can't surround himself with anyone good? Obviously he'll get fired, but what will the fans do to him? Will they throw poop at his house? Tie him up and force him to watch According to Jim episodes over and over? Whatever they do, it'll be warranted.
"Settle for a world, neither up or down/Sell it to the crowd that has gathered round"
-"Steady as She Goes" by The Raconteurs
Look, we already know how this will go. Dwight Howard will again be dominant inside. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu will again do their thing out on the perimeter. Jameer Nelson will again do his best impersonation of a competent point guard. JJ Redick will still suck. Stan Van Gundy will again look more like Mario than an NBA coach. They'll win the division again. And that's about it.
Whatever, they're not interesting.
But you know what kills me? Dwight Howard's ad campaign with McDonald's for their Monopoly game. I've seen two different ads, and in each one he's wearing the same sweats, and doesn't have any lines. None.
Given it's a national campaign for the biggest fast food chain on the planet, he probably got paid well into seven figures for his "performance", which only required him to show up for an hour or two, say nothing, and just wear whatever he already had on that day. He didn't even have to give an "I'm Lovin' It" or anything.
Not since James Van Der Beek spent 5 years looking bewildered on Dawson's Creek has an actor had it so easy.
"We're half-awake in a fake empire"
-"Fake Empire" by The National
So the Pistons lose in the Eastern Finals (again) and Joe Dumars promises big changes. And he does nothing, even though teams would line up for Rasheed Wallace's expiring contract. Oh, but he did can Flip Saunders. And sign Kwame Brown. So my bad.
Kidding aside, he could easily flip Wallace for a few decent players, add them to the Billups-Hamilton-Prince trio while working in promising youngsters like Rodney Stuckey, Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell. The Pistons would still have a competitive team, while managing to build for the future at the same time. Instead, he's sticking with the same lineup, one that won't beat Boston, and may not beat Cleveland.
As a Pistons fan, it must be so frustrating. Yeah, you got the one title, but you were a few smart moves away from being a dynasty. Now the team is treading water with the status quo while other teams in the conference catch up fast. It's all going to fall apart soon there.
"So many people have come and gone/Their faces fade as the years go by/Yet I still recall as I wander on/As clear as the sun in the summer day"
-"More Than a Feeling" by Boston
Yep, Boston wins the East again.