Let this be a lesson to superstars who supposedly want to win a championship so bad, that they somehow find their way to New York, or the Clippers, or to Miami, as if any of those destinations were ever known for their roundball superiority. The verdict is in: chasing a championship is without substance. The idea that you can manually move yourself into contention is still just a figment of a superstar’s imagination. And to top it all off, the major markets have now reached a saturation point. The musical chairs is all but done with, and Deron Williams has been left with only one seat to bolt for.
Consider Dallas the “last frontier” of this Manifest Destinty-type shift of stars to major markets. There’ve been rumors of Williams to the Lakers, but the notion that LA would trade Andrew Bynum for anyone but Dwight Howard is sheer lunacy. The Lakers are old, and Bynum is their golden playoff ticket for the next decade, well into the retirements of Bryant and Gasol. And just for kicks, say they do make that trade. Indeed, a Williams/Bryant/Gasol combo may be championship caliber, but it would function along the same lines as the Garnett/Allen/Pierce hookup: a one year banger, maybe two, and if the Celtics hadn’t lucked out by landing Rondo they’d be staring futility in the face right now, and likely would have never won the thing in the first place. Long story short, any owner or GM with half a brain would take 10 years of sustained contention over a one year championship push that jeopardizes the long term health of the franchise. It’s Dwight to LA. Deron Williams will not be a Laker.
So where else is there to go, with the migration of all the major stars coming to completion? LA is taken. New York is taken. Miami is taken. Chicago is taken. It leaves Dallas. By default—unless he chooses to hang around with the dreadful Nets—Deron Williams will be a Maverick next year. And while that may be the case, don’t expect to see him hoisting the trophy any time soon. Unification has proven absolute fools gold.
Who would have believed that two years after The Decision, the Miami Heat would widely be considered only the third best team in the league; that two small market squads would be thought of as far and away better? That the Western Conference finals is the actual NBA Finals of these playoffs? It’s certainly a win for the integrity of the game, but it’s a major loss for those who followed in the footsteps of the Heat. Look at Chris Paul with the Clippers. Outside of Memphis laying an egg in Round 1, Paul essentially finds himself in the same spot he was last year in New Orleans. And can it possibly get any easier over the next few years? Do we see the Clippers suddenly being better than Oklahoma City? Better than the Heat? With the Draft Lottery now done, it’s not far fetched to suggest that New Orleans has a greater shot at winning a title in the next 5-10 years than the Clippers do, because a dude who doesn’t care if he has a unibrow isn’t a dude who will bail on his team for the bright lights of a major market. New Orleans might be in good shape for a while, and in retrospect—assuming the Spurs or OKC win it all this year—Lebron James, Chris Paul and Deron Williams all might be better off going back to their original teams. And we won’t even bring up the catastrophe that is the New York Knicks. Outside of an undrafted Harvard grad showing up off his brother’s couch and saving their season, the Knicks were a sub-.500 team.
Deron Williams will be in Dallas next year. You can take that to the bank. But as this game of Superstar Musical Chairs comes to an end, it’s the small markets that are getting the last laugh.