Bonjour, fantasy hoop fans! It may be long time before we actually see people playing basketball again, what with the owners and the players about to unleash hell on each other in a dispute that will no doubt cost millions and millions of dollars, damage the PR's of everyone involved and generally be looked back on as an enormous waste of time. But that's what happens when you have a labor union desperately clinging to the status quo and a group of owners who understand that the players have absolutely no leverage and are liable to do something cripplingly stupid anyway -- like staging charity basketball games where the proceeds went to themselves. (Which sadly happened during the 1998-99 lockout.)
By the way, whenever the question is asked who people side with more, the players or the owners, it's rhetorical. Whichever side is doing the most arguing and is most responsible for holding up the season is the one people turn on.
Anyway, the NBA Draft is tonight, and that of course has major implications on the upcoming season. Besides the dozens of new players who could potentially become a factor, the draft is usually good for a few interesting trades and a lot of uninteresting trades (my salary dump for your salary dump). But what exactly will come from the draft is a mystery. Will the Cavaliers trade up to get the first two picks in the draft? Will the 76ers trade for Monta Ellis? Will ESPN be able to go thirty minutes without mentioning LeBron James?
Here's a preview of what you can expect all 30 teams to do in this year's draft:
- Atlanta Hawks: Will continue to be a basketball paradox by making good picks and failing miserably in the postseason.
Boston Celtics: Will draft a point guard, citing their ongoing search for a young backup to Rajon Rondo. But because he's a young guard, he'll never be allowed on the court.
- Charlotte Bobcats: Will draft a mediocre talent with an excellent college resume, one that probably originated near North Carolina.
- Chicago Bulls: Will trade their second round pick for someone else's second round pick and cash considerations plus a future second round pick, and do the same thing all over again in 2012.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Will tell reporters how important Baron Davis will be as a mentor to Kylie Irving, and then, when the interview's over, resume furiously trying to trade him.
- Dallas Mavericks: Will completely ignore Jason Kidd's age and settle for a weird-sounding big man instead.
- Denver Nuggets: Will continue to insist they're better without Carmelo Anthony, because it's not like you need a 25.6 PPG All-Star to compete or anything.
Detroit Pistons: Will decline a trade offer that could've saved the franchise because it involved Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace.
- Golden State Warriors: Will draft a lanky big man you've never heard of to build around, and then curiously decide to never actually play.
- Houston Rockets: Will officially commence the post-Yao/McGrady era by drafting a white flag and a pack of cigarettes.
- Indiana Pacers: Will draft yet another white guy, causing your eyebrows to rise in suspicion, although you'll never actually say it out loud.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Will mysteriously continue to improve even though they're still run by Donald Sterling.
- Los Angeles Lakers: Will do absolutely nothing. But hey, they're gonna wind up with Dwight Howard, so what do they care?
- Memphis Grizzlies: Will reward O.J. Mayo for his playoff heroics by dealing him to one of the worst teams in the league.
- Miami Heat: LeBron!!!!! Draft pick? What does LeBron think of the draft pick? What does the draft pick think of LeBron? What does Shaq think of LeBron? LeBron, LeBron, LeBron!!!!!
- Milwaukee Bucks: Will find a way to replace Michael Redd's black hole of a contract by taking on someone else's overpaid retread.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Will do something incomprehensibly stupid and somehow tie it to Ricky Rubio, while increasing their payroll without improving in the slightest.
- New Jersey Nets: Will draft another talented forward to be benched behind Kris Humphries.
- New Orleans Hornets: Will draft an absolute bust in the making, furthering George Shinn's secret plot to move them God knows where.
- New York Knicks: LeBron!!! Oops.... sorry, impulse....Chris Paul, Chris Paul, Chris Paul!!!... there we go.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Will draft someone of no real importance, but be praised incessantly for it by analysts.
- Orlando Magic: The way things are shaking out, you may actually spot the Grim Reaper lounging inside the Magic's war room.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Will trade Andre Iguodala to Los Angeles for Chris Kaman, because modeling your roster after an old Clippers team couldn't possibly go wrong.
- Phoenix Suns: Will draft a hulking, gigantic stiff who'll be utterly useless once Steve Nash leaves town.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Will make a thousand minor well-intentioned moves, but still wind up with someone in a body cast.
- Sacramento Kings: Will throw caution to the wind and select yet another temperamental egomaniac who'll later have coaches writing books about how uncoachable he was.
- San Antonio Spurs: Will continue to be antiestablishment by drafting an unknown outcast who's 26 years old, from Europe no less.
- Toronto Raptors: Honestly, does anyone even care what Toronto does? They're Toronto.
- Utah Jazz: Will draft Jimmer Fredette to play alongside Gordon Hayward, and thus creating the least intimidating backcourt in history.
- Washington Wizards: Will continue to build around the flawless, fundamentally sound core of Andray Blatche, Nick Young and Rashard Lewis' $22.15 million salary... and not get the joke.
By the way, am I the only one who finds the sheer number of people in these war rooms laughable? When they cut to the Cleveland Cavaliers' war room tonight, you'll see like 15 to 20 people sitting around a conference table, frantically working telephones and typing away at laptops. Just what the hell are they all doing? Maybe I'm naive, but it seems like deciding to draft Kylie Irving is the sort of thing that one guy could do with a cell phone. It doesn't seem to require 20 other people with laptops.