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Expand Your Vocabulary: ABC Players

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Everyone's encountered the trick before. You're 10 years old and minding your own business in the schoolyard (or in my case, jailyard) and some grinning fool approaches you with a proposition:

"Want some ABC gum?"

You work this idea around your head and quickly decide that yes, you would like to try this new, intriguing brand of gum. You present an outstreched hand for the payoff. In a flash, the fool's mouth springs open to reveal a fat, slimy wad of gum which is promptly squished into your palm.

"Enjoy your Already Been Chewed gum!"

8 years and hundreds of sessions of counseling later, the experience still haunts you.

Believe it or not, this same thing happens to NBA general managers. How often does a team acquire a new player simply because he sounds so good, only to find that his previous teams have already drained him of his flavor? They expect a new stick of gum to chew themselves, but instead get a gnarled, ugly mess without much usefulness left and with the dangerous potential to stick to shoes if mishandled. Sometimes fresh gumsticks are even given up in return.

Isiah Thomas and the Knicks have had their shoes plastered with ABC players over the past few years. Jalen Rose, Steve Francis, and Jerome James, for example, all looked good in the mouths of others, but came to New York pre-chewed and bland and ended up being difficult to unstick. The Knicks have already wheeled and dealt (that doesn't really work) some ABC players this summer, sending Channing Frye and another person to Portland for Zach Randolph. Z-Bo has promise, but also has the potential to be a Bubblicious-sized problem sticking to our shoe.

Now consider the matters at hand. Ron Artest is undoubtedly a big-time ABC player, while Knicks like David Lee and Renaldo Balkman are bonafide gum sticks for the time being. Why trade them away? I say we let other teams keep their ABC products and chew some gum of our own for the time being. Click "Read More" for a graphic display of what I'm getting at.


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(Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

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