The Detroit Pistons stink this year and they weren’t planning to stink. (Expectations were moderately cheerful for Detroit basketball this year.) So the Pistons did something that never gets done–they just out and out cut one of their top players, Josh Smith. Smith signed a four-year deal worth $54 million just last year. Smith can now play for another team–and will–and the Pistons get nothing. Wow. They even have to keep paying him. The team just desperately wanted a fresh start–because the Pistons are 5-23. The Pistons wanted a fresh start bad enough to eat the money. That just never happens.
Could it catch on? There’s another team in the Eastern Conference with a similar outlook. The New York Knicks stink worse than the Pistons. Also winners of just five games, the Knicks have lost 25. They too have a very highly paid player with a huge new contract that hasn’t had any positive impact at all. Could the Knicks just cut Carmelo Anthony–and really begin the Phil Jackson era fresh? The move would fit Jackson’s reputation as an iconoclast: This isn’t working, let’s break it up and start again. Besides, the Knicks are the best team in the league at eating big salaries and getting little basketball in return. Why not?