Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Against the Dying of the Light

Devin Harris is now allowed to become a man.

I was not a fan of this trade, on Dallas' part. I just didn't think two years of Jason Kidd was worth ten years of Devin Harris. Now, I'm not that good at analyzing basketball - I leave that to those that actually know what they're talking about - but I was pretty sure about this one.

Nothing wrong with Jason Kidd. He is, as has been proven year in and year out for more than fifteen years, composed purely of amazing. But Devin Harris is, in his own quiet way, pretty damned good - and ten years younger. All this has been gone over. You know this already. But why, I wonder, did nobody ever talk about Devin Harris? Or the Nets, for that matter?

I don't pretend to be unbiased, or objective. Therefore I will not pretend that I watched much of the Nets, lately. They sucked; they were ugly; Jason Kidd and Vince and RJ were allegedly good, but ultimately weren't really; that's all I needed to know. But now I think I'm going to have to, because a free Devin Harris is one I want to see. Avery Johnson is slightly fascistic, as far as I can tell, but Devin Harris always showed flashes - of brilliance, of potential, whatever - that were squashed a bit by Avery's Napoleon complex. That is, of course, blatant unfounded conjecture. Just because he's short and squeaky doesn't mean he's Napoleonic. He may just be a cartoon character. But I digress.

The one constant in the trades this year was that those going West were old and proven, and those sent back East in their place were young and full of potential. It seems the trend now is to mortgage a team's future for the sake of the present - I suppose because it's much easier than actually building a good team. All it's doing, though, is making the West super-competitive now, while making the East young, sucky, and secretly exciting. The exceptions are the Lakers, who manage to be both young/exciting and competitive, and the Celtics.

But in five years, who will be good? Think of how much of the old guard will be gone. The Suns of 2013 will be the Heat of 2007. The Spurs will be in the regenerative phase of the championship machine. Melo may be smiling a little less. Yao will look like Shaq does now, unless he goes the Mutombo route. Dirk will be half-heartedly chucking it from outside...oh, wait. But the other teams, the young and sucky ones? The East, in other words? Think about it.

The Atlanta Hawks have Acie Law IV and Al Horford. They have Josh Smith and Other Josh and Marvin; they have Joe Johnson. Could they draft another guard? Could they ever get a decent coach? Would they get to be great? If they did, would anyone care?

The Chicago Bulls have the Big Three of the future in Noah, Thomas, and Sefolosha - assuming one doesn't get traded, which is probable. In the "Crappy lately, but still somewhat good" column they have Luol Deeeeeeng, Ben Gordon, and Kirk Heinrich, not to mention Nocioni. Noche does something I used to see Taurean do - "Aren't you guys going to play? Fuck it, do I have to win this game all by myself?" Scrappy, is the word, for the lot of them. We'll have to see if scrappy=good.

The Heat can not keep going in the way that they're going. Not that they must not, or they should not - it is, I'm fairly sure, impossible for a team this talented to suck this badly for very much longer. They're not young. But give them a few years of lottery picks, and they will be. And any team with D-Wade and Shawn Marion on it is okay with me.

And the Nets. The Nets have Devin Harris. Maybe RJ and Vince could get their acts together. Who knows what'll happen after that? They'll go to Brooklyn, maybe get LeBron. It's impossible to tell. But I know I'll actually be watching them play, this time around.

It's a cycle, I suppose - this shift in power, the old and the new, the wise trades and the bad ones. The young eventually outstrip the old, and every generation is better (maybe). But, eh. It's impossible to tell - all one can do is pray.

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