The NBA’s been more of a dysfunctional high school than a business in recent times. The Chris Paul non-trade (again!), Dwight looking for greener pastures despite having “love” for Orlando and Brandon Roy’s untimely retirement are just a few of the many bombs and sh*tstorms tied to the league. This past weekend, however, saw Chauncey Billups and Lamar Odom waived and traded respectively to make way for new talent all while keeping the bottom lines right.
Each player has been around the town, albeit Chauncey more so than Lamar, and played key roles in winning championships and gold medals in international play. Yet their frames have racked up some serious miles and are now seen as expendables. They can still start or otherwise contribute on almost any team. Conversely, they’re either at or extremely close to being in twilight phase. Y’know, the time in a pro athlete’s career where they go from locked in to “I’ll play if you have me” as they decline. The process is never pretty and usually involves an ungraceful exit from the Association.
You might as well keep it 100 though. Getting dropped for Mike Bibby, especially as a player of Billups’s ability and character, is a slap in the face no matter how much money Chauncey intended to make. His case would still stand on shaky legs if Paul or Deron came into the equation instead. But Bibby’s in his “happy to be here” mode too and he’s half the player Chauncey is. The disparity between both players at their age speaks volumes on how much Mike can provide which isn’t much on paper.
Kardashian Odom has been heralded as a long standing underachiever. Somehow the boy who couldn’t be from Queens finally found his groove last year while Bynum got hurt. You could even say he earned an All Star selection for the first half of the season. So it’s kind of funny to see his reward end up as a temporary one way trip to Nawlins. The NO actually wouldn’t be a bad squad with Odom, Luis Scola and Kevin Martin coming in while Goran Dragic could finally get a starting job. They still wouldn’t be contenders any way you slice it and, even though CP3 would have been a relative come-up for LA, that’s a huge downgrade for a player like Lamar who’s used to playing deep into the post season.
Honestly I can only feel so sorry since these dudes are multimillionaires. Moving unexpectedly is a drag but, when you’re as financially secure as they are, it ain’t exactly a mountain to climb. Plus they knew what they were getting into when they decided to join the circus that is the National Basketball Association. Despite all this one can at least understand the disappointment that sets in when, after putting solid work, such roster moves involve your name. Odom will go on to play for the Mavs who are still a center away from defending their title. He’s at least made the best out of situation by leaving at his request even though his pal Kobe isn’t crazy on the move. Billups mentioned the dreaded R word after being tired of getting shopped around. I can’t blame him even if he had a knee jerk reaction.
For every “Decision” and star athlete “holding teams hostage” there’s always far more players on the fringe getting cast off like chess pieces: often times unjustly. It just goes to show pro sports at a managerial level aren’t the least about loyalty or whatever BS writers from Boston to San Diego romanticize them as. It’s ultimately focused on making ends meet or putting your team in contention if your front office “knows what it’s doing.” And if you don’t fit the picture you’re memory before you know it.