It started last week when the Celtics continued their plan to dominate NBA Live 2001. They called Reggie Miller to see if he wanted to run with K.G., Jesus Shuttlesworth and Paul Pierce next season in a lineup that would threaten to run roughshod over the Eastern Conference as well as force the cast of Wild Hogs out of a potential sequel.
Then the Heat signed Penny Hardaway, who spent last season defending his herb garden from aphids as opposed to defending the hoop from penetrating 2-guards. Pat Riley has never shied away from veteran players but Hardaway hasn't been an effective player at any point in this century. Maybe Riley's goal is to make a bid for the Nobel Peace Prize by reuniting Penny and Shaq more than a decade after their break-up decimated the Orlando Magic.
With those two Eastern contenders making vintage moves the defending champs didn't want to get caught flat-footed. They will be caught weak-kneed if they follow through on their interest in former Knick Allan Houston though. The sweet-shooter was forced from the game by those balky joints two years ago but has said that he's feeling better and wants to give it another go in the Association. Watching Houston's career wind down was painful. The silky moves were gone, replaced by a stiff player who couldn't get open to bury the threes that made him a rich man. I don't doubt his knees are feeling better, with rest they'd have to be, but can he really be a difference-maker on a Cavs team that has greater needs than a backup shooting guard?
While the East plays old guard roulette, all the Western teams has been content to replenish their rosters with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant or holding steady by not trading away Amare Stoudemire and Kobe Bryant. All of them but the Mavericks, that is. They just signed Eddie Jones, apparently not old enough to satisfy Riles anymore, which means that it is unlikely that they will sign Miller, even if Tim Cowlishaw thinks they should. His colleague Tim McMahon does him one better and says that they should add Karl Malone instead and even uses the plethora of Hispanic woman in the Metroplex as part of the package. It's not a bad idea for a team short on toughness, nor is yet another graying comeback aspirant Charles Oakley.
If you are going to sign a player on the wrong side of the hill it should be one who would bring you intangible qualities as opposed to ones that would push them beyond their current athletic abilities. Miller and Houston could each offer a lot of advice and know-how to teams but I'm not sure how much Ray Allen or LeBron James need that. Their shooting ability is undeniable, I have my doubts about their ability to get said shots off though. The Hardaway move is a total mindbender. Any clod off the street could have given the Knicks what Penny did in his last two years, injured or not, and the Heat have deep needs that he simply won't come close to filling. At least Oakley and Malone would do a ton of dirty work and keep other teams honest in their attempt to win the ring that's eluded them.