Saturday, July 1, 2017

Go West, young men

Well, at least that's over.

And kudos to the Indiana Pacers, because none of the NBA yapping poodles saw this coming. I mean, Paul George was going to the Cavs, he was going to the Celtics, he was going to Washington. But Oklahoma City?

Sure, that'll make Russell Westbrook happy. And, sure, the Thunder got him for a song. OK, so two songs: Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oladipo you've heard of, mainly because he played at Indiana. Sabonis' dad you've heard of, because his dad is Arvydas Sabonis, the 7-foot-2 aircraft carrier who starred for the old Soviet national team before playing seven years in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers.

That's not very much to get for a guy so many teams were lusting after, but the Pacers didn't have a whole lot of leverage here. No one was going to give up what a player like George is actually worth, because the suitors all understood they were essentially renting him for a year. He's already said where he wants to wind up once he becomes a free agent next summer, and it isn't Cleveland or Boston or Washington or, heaven forbid, Oklahoma City.

For George, Oklahoma City is a layover on the flight to L.A. Nothing more.

So no real surprise OKC got PG for a couple of boxtops. What's illuminating here is the way the Western Conference continues to widen its dominance over the East

George is the second marquee player this offseason to go West(ern Conference), young man, joining Jimmy Butler, whom the Bulls traded to Minnesota. And it's probably going to continue, because, let's face it, the Eastern Conference is the crummy apartment you lived in right out of college. The Western Conference is the nice house in the 'burbs you live in now, 30 or 40 years later.

And it's not like it's going to get any better. What do you think happens next year, when LeBron's deal is up in Cleveland? No one's talking any Eastern destinations for him right now. And if LeBron goes west, the NBA becomes even more the Western Conference And Them Others.

Momentarily, anyway. Because, to be clear-eyed about it, this is just the pendulum swinging back and forth the way it always does.

The fretters and garment-renders will fret and rend their garments the way they are about the Warriors and the dominance of superteams, but, as the Blob has pointed out before, thus has it ever been. There always have been and always will be superteams occasionally, just as one conference will lord it over another occasionally.

After which the pendulum, being a pendulum, will swing back the other way. At least enough.

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