Having solved the conundrum that is the CBA loophole the NHL is trying to close after-the-fact because of the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk by the New Jersey Devils, I turn now to the rapidly deteriorating situation in the NBA.
Chris Paul, a heretofore well-thought of player (Remember, I pointed out his serious character flaw as his collegiate career came to an end), is showing every bit of no class that others have shown before in demanding a trade. Well, not publicly. There would be penalties for that. But in private, and through his flunky representation, Paul has let it be known he wants out of New Orleans. And of course, that doesn't mean he'd be willing to escape New Orleans only to land in the hinterlands of Detroit or some such place. No, he wants to go to Orlando to play with Dwight or LA to be Kobe's compadre or maybe New York, providing the Knicks didn't have to give up much to get him. He's tired of playing with the po' boys and wants to play for a contender.
Shame on him. And every other well-paid player who put his name to paper and then started cashing (HUGE) checks. EVERYBODY wants to play for the title and win at least once. Paul's job, the one he's taking the money for, is to do EVERYTHING in his power to make that happen. FOR THE TEAM paying him NOW, not his future employers when he takes his talent elsewhere for the talent equivalent of 2o cents on the dollar.
This petulant self-aggrandizing approach to the game happens in every sport. But, because basketball is played with five men on the court and a rotation of three or four more, one player can make a HUGE impact with his performance. Or the withdrawal of same. Now, there are reports that Paul is the kind of guy who will play hard DESPITE wanting out of town. If he does, he'll be the first. Think he's going to smack Bryant upside the head on a lay-up attempt when he's been pining semi-publicly to be his teammate ASAP? There's an edge to the best in basketball. And players headed out of town don't have it. So, executives give in and trade them for the 20 cents, rather than the 10 cents when the man-children REALLY shut things down (Yes, Vince Carter, I'm pointing the finger at you).
I've detailed my plans for these 'trade' requests in the past. I think it should get REAL expensive to pull the dagger out of your team's back and stick it in, just a little lower. And I guarantee you, Paul will have to stay out of New Orleans for the rest of his life, if he pulls the ripcord on the Hornets.
But, you know, it takes two to tango. The TEAMS have hardly been innocent by-standers in all of this. We've watched as the Knicks, Wizards, Nets and, to a certain extent, the Heat all threw away parts of at least two seasons, two COMPLETE seasons if you are talking the Knicks, in the vain hope of winning the recruitment lottery that was early July this year. Other than winning the Wall lottery, Washington ended up the worst. And the Knicks aren't much better either. But they're willing to let this season (and next) go to seed, all in the hopefully vain hope of forming their own power trio.
Time to put a rest to making fans sit through season(s) of throwing in the towel when the opening shot goes up in October. I mean, watch Indiana this year. They aren't going to do anything but suffer through this season, because of the lottery-like cap space they will have next July. It's untenable.
Soooo, when the contract negotiations go on between now and then for a new contract between the NBA and the players, there HAS to be a some protection for fans of teams who's management is about to adopt Knick Self-Immolation Plan v2.5. That and protection against idiot players feeding their own egos by imagining a league with only LA, Miami, maybe Boston and Orlando and a Knick team void of knuckleheads. The rest of the league can head for the CBA.
Adopt my 'trade demand protection plan' from last winter and get some relief there. As for spoiling Larry Bird's plan? Use a ranking system. I'd recommend Chris Reina's at RealGM as a starting point. Whatever you do, end up with a ranking. Rank the players in four tiers. Tier A has the top 30 players. Tier B has the next 45 players. Tier C has the next 60 players. Tier D has everybody else AND rookies. Teams can't sign more than one player from tier A or B in any given off-season, not on their own roster. They can go after two tier C guys. And there are no limits to Tier D acquisitions. I'd also limit combined A and B signees to three over any two-year period. Pull off all exceptions to the Bird rule, including annual mid-level exemptions and bi-annual veteran exemptions. Plus, no three-year minimum to get Bird rights. Contracts limited to five years and NO voiding options. (And no trade kickers and ABSOLUTELY NO NO-TRADE CLAUSES).
Of course, I'd give up hardening the cap to get these things. But ANY letup means I'd harden that cap but good. QUADRUPLE dollar for dollar for each million to Ten Million dollars over the luxury tax limit. Then I'd DOUBLE it again after that. Let's REALLY see whether Dolan can stomach Paul at that price.
As a fan of a have-not (although they sure seem to like Toronto's strip clubs when in town), I want a chance at a title, just like San Antonio has had, vack in the day when superstars didn't make promises to "See you on South Beach." If the NBA does NOT do it, then the little clique that is the American Olympic team can decide where each of the titles for the next few years will go to. And it ain't coming to Canada if they have the only say in it.