June 19, 2009
Who's trying to fool whom, 'ere?
Whom is trying to fool who, even?
I'd like to think we're on to the whoms and whos in this situation, but as it's been for the third summer in a row, discussing rumors about Ben Gordon(notes) in a forum like this leaves open the possibility that you're completely re-telling someone's fabricated talking points, while ignoring the truth on the other side of the fence. Or vice versa, with the fence still in the picture.
The other day, Sam Smith of Bulls.com reported a supposed "$11 million promise from the Pistons," sent Ben Gordon's way. The idea itself, without even trying to consider the sources of the bluster or bollock, is enough to make your head spin.
Starting with the fact that Ben Gordon is not worth $11 million a year, not in the first year of a new contract (he's an unrestricted free agent, starting July 1st), not in the final year, and not as an average. He scores, he works his tail off during the offseason, and he scores. But he does absolutely nothing else. And I like Ben Gordon. A lot.
Beyond that, the "promise" idea gets even more confusing.
The Pistons, with Rodney Stuckey(notes) and Rip Hamilton already in place, would seem to be set in the backcourt. Even if Stuckey is a bit overrated and Hamilton declining to the point of being about average (with a ridiculous contract), you wouldn't seem to want to add Gordon to that mix, and set up yet another rotation soap opera with Gordon in the middle.
Trading Hamilton and his onerous contract would seem to be one way out of that conundrum, but with Rip working as a significant part of Worldwide Wes' stable, Joe Dumars wouldn't really want to make Rip unhappy, would he? Sure, he'd still get paid no matter what team he'd play for, but after reading about the emotional state that Chauncey Billups'(notes) Detroit departure left CB and his former team in, wouldn't Hamilton react the same way?
Then there's the idea that the Pistons, flush with cap space that could possibly be parlayed into 2010 room, would take themselves out of the running for a franchise talent by handing an eight-figure deal to Gordon. Makes no sense.
And why would the Pistons toss something out there so quickly? It's a long offseason, and the team will have plenty of cap space. And cap space doesn't have to mean signing the best free agent available (or, apparently, one of the worst; as Chicago did back in the summer of 2006). It means you can swing trades for players making huge gobs of money that teams don't want to pay, while absorbing any salary difference into your flexible payroll, legally.
Then there's the whole tampering issue. If there has been any sort of communication between the Pistons, their reps, and Gordon's agent, then we have a team in direct violation of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement.
So, if we can safely assume that there isn't much fire behind this little late-June plume, who passes this info on to Smith? Who stands to benefit the most?
Gordon's agent? Something to ease his client into thinking that there is significant interest in his services? Something to help him get over the fact that he continually turned down contract extension after contract extension last year? And a desperate move to get the Bulls or even the Pistons to come to the table with bigger checks in hand?
The Pistons? Letting their fan base know that they plan on doing big business this summer, a year removed from an offseason that started with Joe Dumars essentially threatening to completely revamp his roster through trades, only to wait until the season started before submarining his team (which may not have been a bad thing; as he grabbed cap space and revealed Rasheed Wallace(notes) to be the un-re-signable prat that he is) by trading for Allen Iverson(notes).
The Bulls? Quick to throw out a number that a good chunk of the team's fan base (and certainly the majority of the fair-weather folk) will see as outrageous for a player of Gordon's abilities? Steeling the fan base (and, possibly, their roster holdovers) for Gordon's likely leaving?
If the luxury tax does indeed drop a few million, Chicago is right at the luxury tax level with the current roster, sans Gordon, plus their two first-round draft picks. So even the cheapest re-signing efforts would put Chicago (long one of the NBA's most profitable franchise, if not the most profitable franchise) into the luxury tax strata, an area owner Jerry Reinsdorf (despite his profits) has shown no interest in spending any amount of time in, no matter the on-court payoff. Or off-court, apparently.
And it's sickening how much of this post is coming true.
So what's your take on the spin? Where did Sam get his spin, and why was it spun his way? Let us know below.
Sure beats talking about the Timberwolves.