Ten decisions that have shaped the course of the 2008-09 NBA playoffs
Decisions, decisions. Can't live with 'em, can't thrive without 'em.
Some are easy:
The lords of the NBA are no different from you and me, except maybe for the six-car garages, and they run a gauntlet of rigorous decisions each and every season. Oh, sure, they flip coins to break certain ties and they let a hopper of Ping-Pong balls determine job security and the balance of power in their league for generations at a time. But before and after that, the bosses of the 30 teams (in no particular order) sweat out, agonize over, impulsively leap to and beat themselves up for an unending string of decisions. There's really no pattern to it -- some made in July only pay off in June, others bring regret within 24 hours -- which is why we're here.
This is a look back at the decisions in or immediately before the 2008-09 season that got us to the point we're at, in terms of the current NBA playoffs snapshot:
In November, the Nuggets unloaded highly paid sticky-wicket
After taking over for
Nah, Odom didn't like his projected role last fall as sixth man, and deep down, he probably isn't thrilled about it now, either. But having Odom around when
It wasn't just adding Williams to the Cavs' roster as one more potential scorer to pull defenders away from
Agreeing only to a one-year tender offer for $6.4 million with Gordon ranks as a swell decision by Chicago, which lately has been getting the fifth-year guard as the big-time and big-game scorer most folks thought he could be. It ranks as an even better decision by pending unrestricted free agent Gordon, who left himself at risk when he turned down the Bulls' earlier offers but now is creating a market for his services -- ideally, right there in Chicago -- in these tough entrepreneurial times. Having forward
Woodson's job has hung by a thread at several points in the past, requiring Jack Bauer-like resiliency more than once. Still, he nudged the Hawks' victory total from 13 (in '04-05) to 26 to 30 to 37, with the bonus last season of that seven-game clash with the eventual champion Celtics. This season, Woodson steered Atlanta to a 10-game improvement, not easy once you hit that middle ground: At 47-35, the Hawks snared the No. 4 seed in the East and home-court advantage in the first round. Yet he continues to serve at the pleasure of a general manager,
Let's just put it this way: Would you have? Seriously? An undrafted guard from Northeastern University? Barea, counted on now by Mavs coach
You can credit the Celtics for being fiscally responsible and not giving that fourth guaranteed year to Posey, who will be 35 by the end of the deal he signed with New Orleans last summer. But letting Posey go at that price wasn't the same thing as finding a suitable replacement at a more affordable rate. Ditto for veteran big man
There sure was a lot of high-priced and high-profile beef on the hoof in that and the preceding deal (
C'mon guys, one or neither, OK? Porter didn't change what he was selling when he took the job -- he came in with an understood mandate to push a defensive agenda and to hold Suns players accountable in ways they hadn't been in recent times. The roster already was something of a muddle, though, and the withdrawal pains from abandoning
Gentry went down more smoothly with the players and the Suns finished 18-13 on his watch, but their defense was as porous as ever, which is where this all got started. And the really unfortunate thing is, while Phoenix was focused on Dallas as the team to chase for the final West playoff spot, Utah was backpedaling its way within range, an opportunity lost.