I wanted to do a podcast discussing the topic of today’s post but I’m a bit under the weather so my voice would have been even more unpleasant to the ear than it usually is. With the current state of things, and Yao likely done (or probable to never again be the same), the same question continually arises in my mind: what do we do right now? It’s interesting because I think there are two distinct camps with basic agreements but a sharp divide in overall philosophy. Which route do you take?
Looking at the standings, almost everyone agrees that this team will likely make the playoffs this season. Almost everyone agrees that this team is just now hitting its stride – the Yao cloud of uncertainty no longer looms overhead, new players (ie: Lee) are finding their groove, and later tweaks and chemistry progression will only make this team better as we enter May. Having said that, almost every realistic observer agrees that this team cannot win a title and would likely bow out by the second round at the latest.
At this point, we see the divide. For some, hope and the mere chance of a surprise suffice; for others, anything less than true title contention is futile. I’m not really sure where I stand.
We watch sports for entertainment, and this team is certainly entertaining. There also is really nothing like playoff basketball. Why not stay the course and continue making shrewd pickups like Terrence Williams (Anthony Randolph anyone?), hoping the team grows over the years or a star presents himself through trade. If you keep playing well, all your players have higher value and your city is a more attractive destination.
Having said that, you run the risk of perpetual mediocrity. Always too good for that slim shot at greatness (via the draft) but never good enough in a league of stars. Can you risk becoming the Astros?
On the other hand, there’s strong arguments for the other route. Stars today want co-stars, so that first star itself seems unattainable with this roster of role players. It seems the only route is the draft, the venue where most great players were found by their current teams. KG and Allen went because the Celtics already had PP; how do we even get our Pierce? You can tear the team down and go young, trading Scola and Martin for youth, and hoping for luck in June. It’s often said that you must reach rock bottom to climb to the top.
This route presents its own problems, primarily that the draft is a crapshoot. What if you end up with Ron Mercer or Tonie Battie instead of Tim Duncan? And is trading off vets ever a good idea except on paper? Almost all super-kids teams have imploded.
It’s such a difficult question. One other thing we all agree upon is that a star is needed. Right now, whoever he is, he seems more elusive than ever.
I don’t see Morey tanking just because he probably does not like the odds in the draft. (There’s also the issue that a few playoff home games bring substantial revenue for his bosses.) Is this the right choice? What would you do?