Persona Non Grata
I seen him!
Join Date: Jan 2003
Weisbrod: Lemme chime in here … you can always disguise a terrible trade by blaming either the luxury tax or a lack of cap space as your reason, like when the Celtics ended up getting stuck with Vin Baker a few years ago, even though he was practically bringing a flask onto the court with him for the layup lines. But if you have an unhappy superstar, you're better off trying to mend fences with him over dealing him, that's the one thing fans won't forgive.
Simmons: You learned that the hard way with the Tracy McGrady trade, right?
Weisbrod: I sure did. That ended up being your classic three quarters for a dollar trade -- we got Francis, Mobley and Cato for him, or as I liked to call it, "the pu pu platter." For the purposes of destroying a team, it worked fine. But I underestimated how much Orlando fans liked Tracy -- they were just furious with me, I ended up getting death threats and everything.
Weisbrod: Yeah, apparently that was a first for the league.
Weisbrod: But I went too far -- you don't want to end up losing your job because of one trade, and that's what happened to me. I have a lot of regrets about the whole thing. I had six or seven more horrible moves in me.
Simmons: What about acquiring guys with personal problems who could potentially screw up your team chemistry? How important is that?
McHale: Oh, it's huge, there's no question. Look at my team right now -- it's like a crazier, more dysfunctional version of the team from "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh." Crazy is good. Crazy players can throw off the fans because they can say, "Wow, on paper, we look fantastic, the only question is chemistry." But that's the thing -- a good NBA team is 50 percent talent and 50 percent chemistry: Look at Phoenix right now, they're getting it done with two All-Stars and parts that nobody else wanted. How? Chemistry, that's how. On the flip side, if you don't have good chemistry, you're going to lose. Look at my Ricky Davis trade -- we're 4-9 with him, and in 12 of those 13 games, he took more shots than KG. Eventually, they're going to fight to the death. You think I didn't know this when I traded for him?
Thomas: I'm with Kevin -- you can never have enough problem guys. When Vin Baker was bought out by Boston because of his drinking problems, we jumped on him. When Qyntel Woods bounced around because he used to fight pit bulls, we jumped on him. I'm even thinking about having Chris Andersen move in with me -- I want to make sure I'm the first one there when his suspension ends.
Simmons: Scott Layden, you were really a pioneer of sorts in terms of screwing up cap space and taking on terrible contracts.
Layden: Why thank you.
Simmons: You traded for cap-killers like Glen Rice, Luc Longley, Travis Knight, Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley. You gave Allan Houston $100 million when he couldn't have gotten more than $71 million anywhere else. You gave Charlie Ward $28 million. You traded Marcus Camby and a lottery pick that could have been Amare Stoudamire for Antonio McDyess and his bum knee. By the time you got canned, they were a lottery team. Looking back, did you go overboard? Were you too incompetent?
Layden: Oh, absolutely. There's an art to being an atrocious GM -- you can't just destroy a team without leaving any semblance of hope. By the time I got fired, we had one of the highest payrolls in the league and no real assets other than Houston and Sprewell, who weren't even All-Stars. So Knicks fans were depressed, but even worse, they couldn't look at the team and say, "Well, this guy's a name, and we have this guy, and maybe we can trade this guy … " All the hope had been beaten out of them.
To me, that's the beauty of what Isiah has been able to pull off. Casual hoops fans can look at the Knicks' roster and say, "Wow, we have Marbury, Eddy Curry and Jalen Rose?!" Diehard fans can look at the roster and say, "This is just crazy enough that it might work," or "Maybe we can package some of these guys for a superstar." So there's a little bit of hope there, even if it's misguided, ridiculous and inane. When I was there? No hope whatsoever. And that was my biggest mistake.
Simmons: So you like what Isiah has done?
Layden: Hell, yeah. Take the Francis trade, if it happens: Logically, it makes no sense because Francis and Marbury are the same player -- expensive, shoot-first point guards with huge entourages and attitude problems who have never won anything. Even if you're getting Francis for nothing, it still makes no sense on paper.
For example, let's say you spent $3,000 on a living room sofa two years ago that you didn't really like. To make the sofa stand out a little less, you bought a leather chair for $2,200 that doesn't match --.
Simmons: Marbury is the sofa and Jamal Crawford is the chair in this case?
Layden: Precisely. And the room still looks bad. So now, you're on Craigslist and you see that someone is selling another $3,000 sofa for $900 that's almost exactly like the sofa you have. And there's no way you would ever want two big, ugly sofas in the same room. It would just look ridiculous. But your mind-set is, "Hey, how can I turn down a $3,000 sofa for $900?" So you buy the sofa and stick it in the room, which is now cluttered with stuff since you also spent another $10,000 on some crummy art, a coffee table with support problems, two giant bookcases that have to be turned sideways, some wobbly end tables and a smashed sculpture that was patched back together with duct tape. But since it's too late to go back, you spend another $5,000 on an interior decorator to make the room work. Well, you know what would happen? He wouldn't be able to make it work. You bought too much crap.
See, this is why Isiah is a genius: He's assembling the basketball version of that nightmare living room, and he has the fans convinced that either the expensive interior decorator -- in this case, Larry Brown -- will be able to make everything work, or he can somehow swap some of that furniture to one of his neighbors for a first-class piece of art. And he's spending an ungodly amount of money! And you never hear rumors that he might get fired! I think it's a tribute to him and his staff. He's the best-ever at being an atrocious GM. He really is.
Thomas: Thank you, Scott, that means a lot.
Simmons: Lemme ask you, Isiah -- the one red flag seems to be that you're spending an alarming amount of money. Just this year alone, you have a $123 million payroll for 15 wins. When the luxury tax kicks in, you will have shelled out nearly $200 million for a 25-win team. Doesn't fiscal responsibility matter here?
(There's a beat, and then everyone laughs.)
Simmons: I guess not! Mitch Kupchak, Rob Babcork, Scott Layden, Kevin McHale, Billy King, John Weisbrod, Jim Paxson and Isiah Thomas … thanks for your time! Ladies and gentlemen, the most atrocious GMs of the decade!
(The crowd applauds wildly.)
Simmons: Guys, what do you say we cap this off with a high-stakes poker game back in my hotel room, just the nine of us? Seriously, what do you say?