There are few players in the NBA that I hate more than Devean George.
The thing about Devean is that he fell ass backwards into a situation where he was drafted by the Lakers in 1999 (one spot ahead of Russian superstar Andrei "AK-47" Kirilenko, by the way) and immediately got a chance to win three championships as part of Phil Jackson-led reboot of the Lakers franchise. What irks me about Devean is that somewhere along the road to the Finals, he seemed to believe that he was a part of the reason for the Lakers' success and not just the warm body on the bench that he was. Sure, Devean started for a season but hey, Slava Medvedenko was a starter once too, you know.
Using logic that defies explanation, the Lakers resigned him in 2002 but eventually let him walk away in 2006 for nothing. And let me tell you something, in the NBA, teams have a salary cap so players with expiring contracts have value regardless of their basketball skillz. An expiring contract wipes away a part of a team's cap for the next season which means they can now spend that money on another, possibly more desirable player. Dig the Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol trade. Kwame sucks, but his $9 million dollar expiring contract is a huge deal. Obviously, it has value, the Lakers got an All-Star in return for it. Next season, the Grizzlies can now use that $9 million that formerly paid Kwame's salary for another player that, unlike Kwame, might actually be worth a $9 million a year salary.
So if you're an NBA player with an expiring contract, one of two things usually happens: you're either resigned or your contract is traded. With those options in mind, the Lakers did neither with Devean George. Which means that he was so terrible, not even his expiring contract could entice a team to take him on.
I'll admit, when the Dallas Mavericks signed him as a free agent in 2006, I was a little baffled. By this time, Devean's once promising game had deteriorated to practically nothing but I figured that the only reason Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban offered him a contract was probably because of Devean's playoff experience. I mean, with the Mavericks choking in the playoffs two years in a row, a little veteran leadership might be what Dallas needed. That had to be the reason but honestly, there's nothing else that Devean George could possibly offer the Mavs.
Fast forward to today. In 2008, Devean George is once again a player with an expiring contract. Word broke yesterday that the New Jersey Nets have agreed to trade 9-time All-Star and the 1995 co-Rookie of the year Jason Kidd and forward Malik "How Am I Still in the NBA?" Allen to the Mavericks in return for the human foul machine DeSagana Diop (expiring contract), the shockingly useless Devean George (expiring contract), 75-year-old shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse, bench warmer extraordinare Maurice Ager (averaging 1.3 points and 0.3 rebounds per game), point guard Devin "Where Da White Women At?" Harris, two future first round picks and $3 million in cash. A trade, by the way, that Mark Cuban himself denied earlier this week. As a Laker fan, I love this trade. I mean, Jason Kidd is Jason Kidd, future NBA Hall of Famer no question, but I don't think he's enough to get Dallas over the hump. And call me crazy but I believe that losing a big body in DeSagana Diop is going to hurt the Mavs come playoff time. With Shaq and Gasol now in the West, Western Conference front courts are getting bigger. You're going to need that size down the line. Still, it's a very nice haul for the Nets. They'll be able to clear some cap space plus Devin Harris is a nice catch. And first round picks are always useful. Unless, of course, your name is Billy Knight. The package for Jason Kidd is much better than the pu-pu platters that the Grizzlies got for Pau Gasol or the Minnesota Timberwolves got for Kevin Garnett. If I'm Rod Thorn, I'd take that deal in a heartbeat too.
But not so fast.
Apparently, the deal has hit a snag. Devean George is refusing to waive his Bird rights which means that he's effectively vetoed the trade to New Jersey. Long story short about Bird rights, they allow teams to exceed the salary cap to resign their own veteran players. To complete this trade, Devean would have to waive the Bird rights provision of his contract and is refusing to do so. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense because there's no way that a journeyman player is going to endear himself to a team to the point where they'd consider resigning him if all he is doing is preventing a 9-time All-Star from joining said team. So why is he even bothering? Probably to leverage a new contract extension from the Nets. He's been bitching all year long about not getting playing time for the Mavericks and most likely wants some sort of multi-year commitment from the Nets. But here's the deal jackass, unless your name is Yi Jianlian, you've got to earn your minutes in the NBA. Devean wasn't playing for the Mavs because he sucks. Last night against the Portland Trailblazers, after word of his trade veto became public knowledge, Devean went 0 for 11 in 33 minutes. 0 for 11! At some point, you'd think he'd have stopped shooting, right? There's no doubt in my mind that this trade will go down, but only after Devean has angled a new deal for himself. So right now, Devean holds two NBA franchises in limbo just so he can finagle a new contract that he obviously doesn't deserve.
So like I said, Devean George... still a dick.
Real quick, about the Kidd to Mavericks trade, and the Pau Gasol to the Lakers trade, and the Shaq to the Suns trade... what the fuck Eastern Conference? Are you planning on keeping any All-Stars at all or are you going to ship them all to the West? How long until LeBron James or Chris Bosh get shipped west? It's bad enough that there's a massive quality gap between the Eastern and Western Conferences as it is, there's no need to make it worse by trading away what few legitimate stars you have left. If the NBA playoffs started today, three teams in the West (Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors) are tied for the eighth (and last) place seed with a record of 32-20. In the East, a team with a record of 32-20 would be in THIRD PLACE.
Eastern Conference... more like Leastern Conference, am I rite?!