Playoff exits almost always come with some backstory, only rarely at this rate, the way the Bulls left to hymns of tribute in defeat, the strangeness of the Spurs and Pistons starting summer vacations so early, the Jazz walking into such uncertainty, and the Hornets not even waiting until the end of their series to call it a season. Somebody get
Only the 76ers, Trail Blazers and Heat uneventfully faded away, so even blowouts were happenings. If Cleveland 4, Detroit 0 and Denver 4, New Orleans 1 can be events, the way the Pistons went out after six consecutive trips to the East finals and the way the Nuggets flashed on to the scene by kicking the door in, right on top of the losers as the Hornets sounded retreat, it was unusually good early theater.
And to think the real plot twists come now, with eight teams reaching the offseason to heal and regroup and move toward a 2009-10 that will prove for good whether quick elimination was a fluke or setting a course. Only then will the NBA world know the real impact of the first round. For now, the knee-jerk reads will have to do.
In alphabetical order:
This team is nowhere close to being a known, with as many chances to turn south as to build on the spring of '09 with a lot of people watching.
Dumars is smart, aggressive and will have approximately $20 million in spending power, depending where the salary cap is set. You have to like his chances to land at least one major free agent or make a major trade, or both. If there's no free agent worth the investment this summer, he holds the money for the monster class of '10. Either way, the Pistons have more than a past. They have a future.
These playoffs were an especially bad landing that could be followed by the further dismantling of a once-promising roster. The Hornets tried to shed salary during the season, only to have the
The grand optimism at the start of the season is gone, replaced by a disappointing '08-09 and a coaching change. And now more uncertainty.
Most encouraging of all, the roster is still very young, will only get better and will have maneuverability and money to make additional moves this summer. Fifty-four wins was just a warning to the rest of the league.
The likely outcome would be to keep Millsap, at much less money than Boozer would require, and Okur. But if Boozer does not opt out, it will force Utah to make a decision on Millsap while still on the hook for $12.66 million to Boozer. The Jazz could re-sign Millsap and field offers for Boozer, a talented player with an expiring contract. It also could go all in with Boozer and let Millsap walk. Decisions, decisions.