OK, back to the NBA. Two major moves so far.
First, Detroit signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, signing each to a multi-year deal. I can't help but think that this is going to end badly. They still have about 4 mil in cap room, but do they really think these are the two players to get them to the top? If not, why bother? Gordon, at his best, is a streaky shooter capable of putting up 40 point games here and there. But he also disappears for long stretches. And while Charlie Villanueva is sort of like a very poor man's Rasheed Wallace, he also is inconsistent and is not much of a defender. To top it off, both have had motivation problems.
The real problem is by trading Billups, the Pistons do not have a floor leader to put it all together. Rip needs someone to get him the ball. Villanueva and Gordon need a strong floor presence or a strong coach to keep them in line. And as there is currently no coach in Pistons land . . . Don't get me started on how Dumars is ridiculously overrated. Yes, a good player and made some smart moves, but this is the latest in a series of bloopers.
Now, Artest to the Lakers. Hmmm. I'm not wild about this move either, but I don't hate it. It seems like a knee jerk reaction to the Spurs getting Richard Jefferson. The Lakers, of all teams, should know that you can't have too many people who need the ball. It was a lack of touches that led to Artest's split with the Pacers. Yes, he'll play great D, but he's a little older and he won't play the D they want without getting his shots. I'd rather see Odom getting those touches, assuming he's coming back, which I think he will be. And they signed him to a 3 year deal. Its going to be hard to keep him motivated. While everyone in LA still pretends to like Kobe, I can't see Artest falling in line. First time Kobe tries to do something, well, Kobe-like, Artest is going to punch Kobe in the face. But with so much talent, its hard to say no.
The other intriguing thing is what does this do with Phil coming back? Does he see this as another Rodman and pique his interest? Or is he, in the words of Lethal Weapon, too old for this shit?
And where does that leave the Rockets? Screwed. Yao's injury looks bad, bad, bad. Like not playing ever again bad. And now they got spurned by Martin Gortat. Gortat? Rockets GM Morley shows up at his door at 12:01 to woo him (with the idea of a T-Mac-Gortat-Ariza triumvrate?) and Gortat still goes to the Mavs, who just found the big man who can clean up around the basket that Eric Dampier was always supposed to be. A nice fit. Sorry Rockets fans. It looked so good just a month ago, but that was the apex of this team for quite some time.
And the Lakers did the right thing to not sign Ariza for what he was looking for. Ariza was unbelievably hot during the playoffs, but that is like signing the Super Bowl MVP from his one game performance. Ariza is a nice player, a good defender, but he has offensive lapses and is another up and down player. You knew he would command more than he was worth after his playoff run, and good for him, but Lakers did right by letting him walk. Now, whether replacing him with Ron Artest is a good idea? Hmmm.