Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yeah. We Get It. You Don't Like The Pistons.

Bill Simmons was killing me today. In more ways than one.

He wrote a column about the sorry state of the NBA's Eastern Conference--calling it the worst conference in sports history (and with the 5-11 Knicks one game out of a playoff spot, he's probably right).

Now, let me be clear about this. I love Bill Simmons. Yes, I think his act has gotten a little bit tired over the years. I don't laugh nearly as often as I did back about 4 years ago, since a fair portion of it is the same material rehashed over again. But when the guy is on, there's still no one better. And I check every day to see if he's written something new. The Mailbags, chat transcripts and the NFL Picks alone are worth it.

There's also not a lot of things that I like more than when he cracks on how dumb NBA teams can be. I'm not blown away by his general sports knowledge, but he definitely knows his stuff when it comes to the NBA. So I love columns like this.

There were some great lines in there, and I had a great 15 minutes reading it. Until I got toward the end and he started cracking on Joe Dumars again.

Worst-case scenario: They lose in the second round, Billups leaves after the season, Melo wins the MVP and Pistons fans still refuse to admit that Joe Dumars screwed this entire decade up for them.

Earlier in the column, he recapped some of the things that Dumars has done "wrong": "Now here's the team that should be kicking itself, between passing on Melo and Bosh, giving away Arroyo and Darko, screwing up the Wallace situation and everything else."

First let's address the Darko pick. He's harped on it for years. Yes, Anthony, Bosh, and Wade are better players than Darko. Yes, we passed on 3 of the top 15 players in the NBA for Darko. That being said: It's unfair to kill Dumars for that move. The fact of the matter is that no GM in the entire league would have taken Bosh or Wade over Darko, and pretty much everything I read indicated that there were only a few that preferred Anthony. In addition, I'm positive I heard reports leading up to the draft that some GMs liked Milicic more than LeBron. Dumars didn't screw up more than any other GM in that situation would have. Also, we needed another big man at the time because, remember, we didn't have Rasheed Wallace at that point. And Tayshaun Prince just had his breakout playoff, so we really didn't need a small forward.

Not to mention the possibility (which is a fairly likely one, in my opinion) that Anthony wouldn't have gotten along with Larry Brown, since he didn't play defense and all. Which was kind of important on that team.

So was Darko a great pick? No. Does it look awful in hindsight? Absolutely. Would 80% (at least) of the GM's in the league have made the same mistake? Yup.

As for Darko and Arroyo: It's very questionable if this team a whole lot better with them here. And we got a first round pick in one of the deepest drafts ever (and some cap space) for them.

Onto the Ben Wallace situation. It seems awful funny to me to kill Dumars for "screwing up the Wallace situation" when earlier in the exact same column, Simmons wrote that: "It might have been a mistake to hand out $60 million to a past-his-prime, mercurial, 34-year-old rebounder/defender who can't score, hadn't been an impact player since the defensive rules changed and had just about no chance of getting along with a control freak like Scott Skiles".

It's one or the other. Either the Bulls are stupid for signing him or Dumars is stupid for letting him go. Because it seems to me, that if he's past his prime, he can't score, and he's not an impact player defensively, that maybe Dumars didn't screw us by letting Wallace go. He just refused to overpay and get locked into one of those bad contracts. Keep in mind that Wallace didn't like Flip Saunders at all.

Short-term, it absolutely hurts to have lost Ben Wallace. This team would be better with him (provided that the Wallace/Saunders feud didn't turn into a major distraction--which it VERY well could have). Long-term, we're going to be really happy that that contract isn't on our books. Signing him long-term would've done as much to "screw up this decade" as anything.

It's just another case of Simmons throwing jabs at a team that he has never liked (probably due to the feud with the Celtics back in the day). It's too bad, because otherwise that was a pretty darn entertaining column.


Anonymous said...

This is minor, but how about the fact that he "aged" Ben a couple of years -- last I checked he just turned 32.

Packer487 said...

Heh, also true. I didn't catch that.

It amuses me how he always cracks on bloggers because they don't have to fact-check, they don't have to confirm stories before posting them, and they like to take shots at people in the real media.

But he's as guilty as anyone at screwing up stuff. How often does he post "I made a mistake in my last column....."

And he takes more shots at media members than anyone (e.g. Joe Buck and Chris Berman).

Honestly, Simmons is as close to being a blogger as you can be in the MSM.

I think he's a great writer and I love reading his stuff, but there are some things about him that are just annoying as hell.

Natalie Sitto said...

Well said, I was just as upset when I read it. Why doesn't he talk about his pathetic Celtics, last I checked they havent won a championship since the 80's.

Tom said...

Earlier in that column he praised the Bobcats for building from within and not screwing up the cap needlessly. I don't see how this is any different from what Dumars did.

When Wade came out, he was an undersized swingman. There was no way to predict that he would successfully make the move like he has. How many of those guys have flamed out, just in the last five years?

Finally, as I understand it, part of the reason the Pistons moved Darko was to free up room to re-sign Wallace. Therefore I think its unfair to count this as two bad moves against Dumars. I don't see how he could've predicted Chicago being willing to torpedo their own franchise to pay double-market-value for Big Ben. If he had any inclination that Chicago would outbid them, I don't think he does the Orlando deal.

If Detroit goes to the finals this season and is able to pull off another shocker like the '04 series over LA, Dumars ought to be hailed as a genius for recognizing the weakness of the East and knowing that he wouldn't need to put the team in salary cap purgatory to stay competitive.

Packer487 said...

Completely agree. It's hindsight in the worst way to bring Wade into the conversation (or Bosh for that matter). Anthony was the only other option and we had a small forward. Plus Carmelo would've been a terrible fit for that team since LB would've hated him.

Not to mention that we got a pick in the deepest draft in years in return for Darko (and it ain't like he's tearing it up in Orlando).

I'm not all that familiar with the NBA salary cap, but I have to believe that the money we didn't use on Ben will protect us from the same thing happening when Billups because a FA, no?

He also said last week that Saunders is "Running the Pistons into the ground". Laughable.

The guy is still an entertaining read, but I'm getting more and more convinced that he really doesn't know all that much about sports.