With this season a bust, a lot us here have been expressing impatience with the slow pace of rebuilding and are wondering whether or not the current regime has what it takes to turn things around. For perspectives sake, here is a top ten list of franchises that may be in worse shape, maybe not right now, but later on down the line. All of them are tied down with longer, larger contracts, fewer players in development, and GMs with sketchier track records. They are hovering on the knife edge of blowing up or are stuck in the dread middle ground of being a bubble playoff team. The Câ€™s are down now, but they may not be down as long.
For instance, would you rather be in Philadelphia? Capped out and going nowhere, Philly pulled the pin In December, departing from AI and Chris Webber. They are lotto bound but who will they rebuild with? Andre Igoudala is a player, but they have long contracts tied up in marginal players (Dalembert, Korver). And Billy King is still the GM.
Are you in a New York state of mind? Zeke has some promising youth on board (Lee, Fyre) and they are not finished in the Atlantic. Yet. They are, however, over the cap just in contract buyouts, the pieces that remain donâ€™t fit and no one is knocking down the door for trades, so it will be hard them to improve.
Want to be with my cousin Vinnie? NJ went into the season one major injury away from disaster. They've had two (Jefferson, Krstic). Rent-a-star Vince Carter may be on his way out of town and management appears to be tired of paying/ placating the Kidds. With few tradable options and the same ramshackle frontcourt theyâ€™ve had since Kmartâ€™s departure, a blow up is not out of the question. If Kidd or Carter leave, they will be in full-blown rebuild mode.
Back home in Indiana, the Pacers cleaned house, at a cost. Troy Murphy can take some of the heat off Jermaine Oâ€™Neal and maybe Mike Dunleavy can find his scoring touch, but most likely the move does not lift them into contention while tying their hands with long contracts.
They've got the Memphis blues again down in Bluff City. Pau Gasol's injury (like Pierceâ€™s) spelled an end to the club's playoff aspirations. In moving Shane battier to draft Rudy Gay, they gave up glue for glitz. They have a mix of young guys that havenâ€™t come along (Dahntay Jones, Stro Swift) and merely serviceable vets (Chucky Atkins, Damon Stoudamare). No wonder Gasol is getting testy.
Hereâ€™s another club that may be on the verge of blowing up.
Does Kevin McHale finally have them singing "we're gonna make it after all" in Minny? They are on the bubble for the playoffs, barely (dropping 2 in a row under new coach Randy Whitman is not a good sign). The club has had the same problems--frontcourt help for Garnett, a point guard, scoring-- for years. Itâ€™s hard to see what kind of help they can bring in for a playoff run. Too many long contracts for dubious assets (Troy Hudson, Mark Blunt, Marko Jaric etc). If they fall short again, they may yet be forced into a bad trade to keep KG from walking for nothing.
Golden Stateâ€™s GM Chris Mullin made an ill choice in coach Mike Montgomery and broke open the bank to sign Adonal Foye, Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy to long deals. Oops. Give Mullen credit for ditching two out of three in one fell swoop. But he sacrificed youth (Ike Diagu) to get it done and settled for the overrated Al Harrington and Steph "give me back my bullets" Jackson. Good luck, Nellie.
Going up the country, Sacramento has been trying to rebuild on the fly but keeps slipping back in the pack. They unloaded Chris Webber's contract but only got Billy King's leftovers. Brad Miller and Shareef Abdur-Rahim have not shored up the post as hoped. They gave up Peja Stoakovic, their best scorer, for the combustible Ron Artest. Chemistry may be overrated but the concoction of Mike Bibby and Artest is fizzlinâ€™.
Finally, the combo of Allen Iverson and â€˜Melo Anthony in Denver looks good on paper, but beware a Rocky Mountain (contact) High. Improving the current roster further may be a problem. Marucs Camby is getting on and they have big money tied up in Nene Hilaro (bust) and Kenyon Martin (busted). Nor do they have anything to show for the last two drafts. While they are better off than some of the clubs here, this looks like another team thatâ€™s built to win now, but lacks the horses to go the distance.