Tag:Mavericks
Posted on: January 22, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 11:06 pm
 

Cuban expects Ajinca trade to go through Monday

NEWARK, N.J. – The Mavericks had a verbal commitment from Peja Stojakovic three weeks ago and expect the scrutinized Alexis Ajinca trade to be approved by the league office Monday. 

This according to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who gave reporters a blow-by-blow of the Stojakovic buyout and Ajinca trade after Dallas beat New Jersey 87-86 Saturday night on a rim-rattling, game-winning shot by Dirk Nowitzki

Cuban said when Caron Butler went down with a season-ending knee injury in early January, he called Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo and asked if Toronto would be interested in buying out Stojakovic, who has barely played for this season. Colangelo replied, “’We’d like to try to trade him first, but yeah,’” said Cuban, who asked for and received permission from Colangelo to speak with Stojakovic’s agent, David Bauman. 

Mavs GM Donnie Nelson expressed his interest in Stojakovic to Bauman and said, “‘If you can work out a buyout with the Raptors, would you come to the Mavs?’” Cuban said. “He goes, ‘Yeah.’ So he basically had committed to us weeks ago.” 

After the buyout was completed and Stojakovic was waived, Cuban said Colangelo inquired about Ajinca. 

“He says, ‘What about Ajinca?’’ Cuban said. “Are you guys still interested in trading him and paying his salary?’ OK, well yes. Same amount of money, not playing a lot, so we did the trade. They were completely separate independent deals. One had nothing to do with the other. But obviously I think a lot of teams were upset because we got the jump on them. And that’s legit. 

“You’re allowed to call teams,” Cuban said. “Teams are calling the Nets and saying, ‘Are you going to buy out Troy Murphy?’ … That’s just the way it works. That’s how you get what they call divorce contracts, because if he doesn’t know where he’s going to go, he doesn’t know how to do the buyout.” 

After receiving complaints from rival teams that the trade was an illegal side deal aimed at circumventing the salary cap, the league office refused to rubber-stamp the Ajinca trade. Cuban said he was at the NBA office in New York when all of this was going down, and that he showed league officials his text-message trail substantiating his chronology. 

“The trade goes through and (Stojakovic) signs the contract Monday,” Cuban said. “… I expect it. I mean, it’s the NBA, but you know, that’s what I expect.”

UPDATE: Cuban also said he met with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov Saturday night and put on his best Russian accent to relay what Prokhorov allegedly said to him: "I must break you." Cuban was joking, but he wasn't joking when he said he told Prokhorov he's "great for the NBA."

"He's ballsy, he's smart, he does it this way and doesn't give a ___ what other people think," Cuban said.

Apparently unable to stop himself from making news as he stood in the doorway to the visiting locker room at the Prudential Center, Cuban then took aim at the officiating -- mentioning a series of questionable calls, the most egregious of which no one in his audience noticed.

"There were some bizarro calls out there," Cuban said. "That was a bizarro game. Are you kidding me?"

Cuban said in the second half, Nets forward Kris Humphries used the support structure on the back of the backboard to pull himself up to elevate for a tip-in.

"You guys didn't see that?" Cuban said. "There was tip, and the support behind the backboard, he pulls himself up and tips the ball in. That was crazy."

Cuban also marveled at another instance when the Mavs' DeShawn Stevenson didn't hear the whistle for a timeout and was knocked to the floor. No foul was called because it was a dead ball.

"If you hit a guy and knock him on the ground, just because the one guy didn't hear the whistle doesn't mean you have carte blanche to put him on the ground," Cuban said. "I mean, that's craziness. Another time, a guy does a jump-stop and then takes a step. ... We'll see. If it wasn't so sad, it'd be funny."   
It's neither, really. Just another night in the NBA.

Posted on: January 22, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 9:34 pm
 

Kidd: Melo had reason to doubt Brooklyn

NEWARK, N.J. – Few players in the NBA have a better perspective on Carmelo Anthony’s erstwhile flirtation with becoming a New Jersey Net than Jason Kidd

Kidd, the player who revived the Nets franchise with back-to-back Finals appearances, was making his first appearance as an opposing player in his former team’s temporary home at the Prudential Center Saturday night. Kidd, who was traded to Dallas at the February 2008 trade deadline under somewhat similar circumstances facing Anthony, said he hasn’t spoken with Melo about the situation. But Kidd didn’t have to; he painted a pretty thorough picture to reporters of the dilemma that Anthony was wrestling with before the proposed trade to New Jersey blew up this past week. 

As to Issue No. 1, the Nets’ future home in Brooklyn, Kidd provided the grim perspective that only a player could have. 

“Unless it’s built, you can’t believe it,” Kidd said. “That’s the nature of the beast. You look at (Madison Square) Garden, they’re redoing the Garden. So until it’s built, guys can’t believe it. The weather and they’re saying it takes two years … well, I heard the same thing when I was here. So I don’t know how long I’ve been gone, but you can see how long it takes things to get built. If it’s not built, they’re gonna be playing here.” 

Kidd’s point is well taken, and it was a perspective that no doubt bothered Anthony as he dealt with four months of attempts by the Nuggets, the Nets and his representatives at Creative Artists Agency to steer him to New Jersey on the hopes of a future in his native Brooklyn. The announcement that the Nets were moving to a new arena in Brooklyn was first made in 2006, yet ground wasn’t broken on the Barclays Center until last spring. Concrete was poured in June, and the steel started going up in November. As of Jan. 10, construction had reached the suite/concourse level (see photo). It is scheduled to open in time for the 2012-13 season.





But players are realists, and believe in things they can see (like an arena) or touch (like a giant stack of money or All-Star teammates.) 

“I was very fortunate,” Kidd said. “When I was here, I had great teammates and a president (Rod Thorn) who knew what he was doing. So that makes your job a whole lot easier.” 

Kidd was asked if there’s a New Jersey stigma among potential trade targets and free agents around the league. If the question were a basketball, Kidd would have dribbled it out of bounds. 

“Um, I, you know, it’s a, it’s a great state,” Kidd said. “One, Jersey’s great. It’s close to the city, great restaurants, great people, great fans. Unfortunately, you have the Turnpike from the airport and that’s pretty much all people get to see. Well, if you’re a golfer, you’ve got great golf courses here.” 

Kidd, whose Mavs are expected to at least inquire about what it would take to get Anthony on a rental deal now that the Nets are out of the picture, offered an interesting piece of advice he’d give Anthony if he were advising him. With so much talent concentrated in the Eastern Conference, why wouldn’t Anthony want to stay in the West? 

“If I was his advisor, I wouldn’t want him to go East,” Kidd said. “But if he wants to go back home to New York or if as close as he can get is Jersey, then you wish him the best. But you look at the Eastern Conference, there’s some talent over on this side. Then you look at Jersey, New York or whoever gets him, because somebody’s going to get him in the summer time.” 

That’s where Kidd wound up going back to the original point, which is how similar his situation was when he got traded by the Nets three years ago. For Kidd, the resolution went all the way down to the trade deadline, and he believes Anthony’s will, too. 

“Whenever the trade deadline comes about and goes, that’s the only way it can be solved,” Kidd said. “At the end of the day, he’s going to be there or he’s not.”
Posted on: January 20, 2011 5:34 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2011 8:10 pm
 

Peja to Mavs close (UPDATE)

The Mavs are close to a verbal agreement to sign Peja Stojakovic once he clears waivers Monday, two league sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Only hours after his buyout with Toronto was finalized, the Mavs expressed "strong interest," said the source, who added that Dallas fits Stojakovic's desire to hook up with a Western Conference contender.

Stojakovic is expected to sign a one-year deal at the prorated veteran's minimum of $1.4 million on Monday after the 48-hour waiver period expires. 

The 33-year-old only appeared in two games for Toronto this season as he battled knee trouble and got shuffled out of the rotation by the Raptors' youth movement. It's a low-risk and potentially high-reward move for Dallas, which needs a floor-spacer to fill the void left by Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury.

Stojakovic is expected to commit to the Mavs at some point Thursday night. He was also interested in the Lakers and Hornets and received interest from some Eastern Conference contenders.

UPDATE: To clear a roster spot for Stojakovic, the Mavs will trade Alexis Ajinca to Toronto along with the second-round pick previously dealt to Dallas for Solomon Alabi and cash for the rights to Greek forward Giorgos Printezis, sources said. 
Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 12:36 am
 

Much-needed Dirk could be back Saturday

SAN ANTONIO – Coach Rick Carlisle admitted that Saturday’s game in Memphis could mark the return of Dirk Nowitzki to the Team Formerly Known as the Mavericks

If it is, it’s not a minute too soon. 

The Mavs are lost without Nowitzki, who went through his first contact drills Friday in the strongest sign yet that he is ready to return after a nine-game absence with a sprained right knee. Dallas has lost seven of nine without Dirk, including a pointless 101-89 blowout at the hands of the Spurs

“Our whole team is out of whack,” Shawn Marion said. Nowitzki has been out since Dec. 28 as the day-to-day status of the injury became week-to-week, prompting rival executives to wonder if Nowitzki’s injury was worse than the team has been letting on. 

Those doubts were put to rest Friday, when Nowitzki went through one-on-one contact drills for the first time. Later, on the court before the Spurs game, Nowitzki worked up a decent sweat with an array of half-speed offensive drills. He flexed his knee and winced a couple of times, but other than that, his jumper was still silky smooth. 

The same cannot be said for the Mavs without him. 

“We’re missing that little edge we had when things did happen, when things would go wrong, because we would find a way with that edge to fight over the hump and get these wins,” Marion said. “We’ve got to find a way to get that back right now. Who knows? Dirk could come back and it might come back as well. But it might not.” 

In the third game without Nowitzki, the Mavs lost Caron Butler to a season-ending knee injury, leaving them without two of their top three scorers. They can’t replace Butler without a trade between now and the deadline, but help could be on the way from Dirk. Nowitzki said during the ESPN broadcast Friday night that he was "actually really close." Owner Mark Cuban said after the game Nowitzki would be a game-time decision Saturday night in Memphis – which would seem to be a significant upgrade over day-to-day and week-to-week. 

“I don’t know when he’s going to play,” Carlisle said. “We’ve been very consistent in that. We don’t know. He worked out hard today and we’ve got to see how he feels tomorrow. Tomorrow could be a possibility, but then again maybe not. We can’t mess with that.” 

And quite clearly, the Mavs can’t mess around without Dirk too much longer. 

“It’s going to be good to get a healthy team out there,” Tyson Chandler said. “It’s tough with guys playing out of position and stepping into roles they’re not accustomed to. It’ll be good to get back our team.” And that was exactly the right way to put it, because Dirk is the team.
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:14 pm
 

Sources: Mavs poised to enter Melo chase

The Dallas Mavericks are plotting an aggressive push to acquire Carmelo Anthony, even if they don’t get assurances that the three-time All-Star would agree to a contract extension as part of the trade, league sources told CBSSports.com. 

Despite his team’s emergence as one of the powers of the Western Conference -- and, as Dallas proved Monday night in Miami, the whole league -- owner Mark Cuban is said to be not only willing to take a chance on Anthony, but eager to steal him from the Nets, who are owned by his billionaire rival, Mikhail Prokhorov. In a deal that would provide Denver with little more than future savings, the Mavs are planning what one rival executive described as a “hard” push. 

The Mavs’ interest has yet to take the form of a concrete offer, as one person connected to the Anthony drama told CBSSports.com Tuesday that Dallas had yet to present one. Any prospects the Mavs might have to pull off such a coup would be contingent on Anthony declining to sign an extension with New Jersey. With a signed extension as part of the deal, the Nets still possess by far the most attractive assets to Denver -- Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Troy Murphy, and multiple first-round picks. 

But that is the question that the Anthony saga has hinged on for months. Part of Dallas’ strategy, according to sources, is to shift the Anthony discussions to what Cuban recently called the “rent-a-player” phase, which would drive down the price and encourage other teams to present offers without assurances that Anthony would stay put for five years -- the two he has remaining (including the early-termination option for 2011-12) plus the extension. 

Such potential suitors, including the Mavs, do not have enough of what Denver is looking for to compete with New Jersey’s best offer. But if Dallas is successful in shifting Denver’s focus to “rental” deals, the Nets would then have to decide how much they are willing to give up to acquire a franchise cornerstone for their move to Brooklyn -- even if Anthony could leave them in the dust as a free agent before the team even got there. 

Meanwhile, the Nuggets remain in a patient posture and are not in any apparent rush to push a New Jersey trade to fruition. And after acquiring two more first-round picks in a three-team trade with the Lakers and Rockets last week, Nets executives are continuing their ongoing efforts to sweeten the deal for Anthony by acquiring a veteran he’d want to play with in Newark, N.J., for a year-and-a-half. Such inducements could come in the form of Al Harrington and/or Chauncey Billups, whom Anthony might be comfortable having on board. The other scenarios, according to one executive familiar with them, are numerous and “beyond challenging” because multiple teams would be needed. 

Among the contending teams with the deep pockets and championship core to take a risk like trading for Anthony without a signed extension as part of the deal, Dallas has the most expiring money to make it worth the Nuggets’ while. Any Dallas proposal would have to include the expiring contracts of Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson. More money would need to be added -- Tyson Chandler? -- or a third team would need to be recruited in order to take Harrington and/or Billups off Denver’s hands. 

The notion of Anthony going to a contender -- or to the Nets, for that matter -- without signing his three-year, $65 million extension is exactly what New York Knicks officials are hoping for. Sources say the Knicks continue to believe that the longer the Anthony situation plays out, the better their chances of landing him through a trade, or more likely, as a free agent after the season and anticipated lockout. New York has been Anthony’s preferred destination since his operatives began pushing for a trade in September, and a person directly involved in Anthony’s decision-making process told CBSSports.com earlier this month that he’d become more entrenched in his desire to agree to an extend-and-trade only if he would up with the Knicks. CBSSports.com also reported that Anthony has not shared his position with Nuggets officials, and that Nets officials have been told differently by Anthony’s camp. 

Another team that various team executives believe is very much in the mix -- either to make a push to land Melo as a rental or become involved as a third-team facilitator -- is the Rockets. Houston fully expects to receive a disabled-player exception for Yao Ming totaling $5.8 million and already has a $6.3 million exception from the Trevor Ariza trade. Such exceptions can’t be combined, but individually they could be used to absorb a contract -- such as, for example, the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith’s or Harrington’s -- without sending equal money back. In return, the Rockets would either have to get a player they want or be compensated accordingly with draft picks or other assets. The Rockets also are flush with the expiring contracts of Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries, and even Yao, whose contract is insured due to his season-ending foot injury. 

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has a history of bold moves, and has placed few restrictions on his front office, led by GM Daryl Morey, to spend money in order to win. The Rockets, for example, are currently a tax-paying team and are under no mandate from ownership to shed salary even though they are off to a slow start and have lost Yao for the season -- and maybe for good. 

A dark horse in all of this? The Mavs’ opponent Tuesday night, Orlando. The Magic have a little more than two months before the Feb. 24 trade deadline to see if their revamped roster will be good enough to contend for a title after this week’s blockbuster trades with Phoenix and Washington. But the only piece that is likely to be available and enticing to Denver is Jason Richardson, whose $14.4 million contract expires after the season. Richardson cannot be combined with other players in a trade for 60 days, which would leave just enough time before the trade deadline to involve him in the Anthony discussions. 

If -- and this is a big if -- Anthony is still a Nugget by then.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 5:27 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers


With one of the NBA's biggest stars, Carmelo Anthony, possibly on the verge of being traded, the offseason still hasn't ended. But it ended three months ago for the Lakers, who celebrated their second straight championship, made a couple of mundane moves, and got ready to do it all over again. The defending champs didn't make a Miami-like splash this summer, but they didn't need to. And the moves they did make clearly made them better. Word is that Kobe Bryant, entering his 15th season, can't wait to go to work. Miami won it all in July, but the Lakers are the undisputed Kings of June until proved otherwise.

Training camp site: El Segundo, Calif.

Training camp starts: Sept. 25

Key additions: Steve Blake (free agent), Matt Barnes (free agent), Theo Ratliff (free agent)

Key subtractions: Josh Powell (free agent), Jordan Farmar (free agent).

Likely starting lineup: Derek Fisher, PG; Kobe Bryant, SG; Ron Artest, SF; Pau Gasol, PF; Ratliff, C.

Player to watch: Andrew Bynum. As you can tell from his name being omitted from the training camp starting lineup (which matters only for scrimmaging purposes), Bynum is hurt again. Well, not so much hurt again, but rather still hurt – or better yet, not recovered. After the praise Bynum received for playing through a significant knee injury during the Finals, he’s receiving equal parts scorn for delaying surgery until after he completed a planned trip to the World Cup. Both were deserved. Coach Phil Jackson said Friday that he can’t see how Bynum will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Chemistry check: All the tension over Jackson’s future was relieved when the Zen Master decided to return for one more season. His unique ability to handle strange personalities (he has a few on this team) and his knack for getting under the opponent’s skin will be needed in a big way. If the Lakers started the NBA arms race by acquiring Gasol a couple of years ago, the Heat went nuclear by teaming Dwyane Wade with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Suffice it to say, a certain Laker who wears No. 24 took note. Sources say Bryant’s competitive fire – always an inferno – has burning even hotter with the prospect of this challenge.

Injury watch: Besides Bynum, Bryant will be limited as he continues to recover from a laundry list of ailments that hindered him throughout last postseason. Lamar Odom is coming off a busy summer with Team USA, and Jackson plans to take it easy on him in camp. Luke Walton (back) will miss significant time, perhaps the entire season.

Camp battles: The Lakers really only face their usual battles with drama, with Kobe’s moods, and with Artest’s Twitter ramblings. Once Bynum is healthy, the rotation is pretty much set.

Biggest improvement: Mitch Kupchak watched LeBron’s decision only out of curiosity; the Lakers weren’t landing any marquee free agents this summer. But they did improve in a key area that will prove to be of utmost importance the deeper they get into the postseason. Their bench got a lot better. Blake is the best backup Fisher has had in a while, and his presence will allow re-signed Shannon Brown to be used more in a scoring role. Barnes brings Artest-like toughness to a second unit that also includes Odom, Ratliff, Blake and either Brown or Sasha Vujacic (until he’s traded.)

Biggest concern: They’re the two-time defending champs, so there are no glaring weaknesses. The biggest concern, as always, is Bynum. He is forever the wild-card for the Lakers. When it’s time to play the Spurs, Mavs, Celtics or Heat in May and June, the Lakers will go as far as Bynum can take them.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 5:56 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Mavericks


It wouldn't be time for another NBA season without the Mavericks feeling like championship contenders. But this time, the feeling is different. This time, there's a palpable belief that the Mavs had better get it done this year or their window will be closed -- for a long time, if not for good.

That's a little drastic. They're still not better than the Lakers, and still might not be able to get past the Spurs in a best-of-7 playoff series. But the Mavs enter training camp as a much better team than the one that lost to San Antonio in the first round a few months ago. With no cap space -- cap space can't score or defend, after all -- Mark Cuban struck out on the major free-agent targets. But the addition of Tyson Chandler certainly will help. Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki know the window is closing, but maybe this is a good spot for them to be in. With all eyes on the Lakers, Celtics, Heat and Magic, maybe the Mavs can quietly be in the mix. If it's possible for Cuban's team to do anything quietly.

Training camp site: Southern Methodist University 

Training camp starts: Sept. 28 

Key additions: Tyson Chandler (trade), Alexis Ajinca (trade), Ian Mahinmi (free agent), Dominique Jones (draft). 

Key subtractions: Erick Dampier (trade), Eduardo Najera (trade), Matt Carroll (trade). 

Likely starting lineup: Jason Kidd, PG; Caron Butler, SG; Shawn Marion, SF; Dirk Nowitzki, PF; Tyson Chandler, C 

Player to watch: Butler. When he’s good, he’s very, very good. And when he’s bad, he’s divisive. 

Chemistry quiz: There shouldn’t be any chemistry issues on a team with so many veterans getting their last realistic shot at a championship. There shouldn’t be. But there could be, especially given that not everyone (Mark Cuban included) was on board with the rotations and substitution patterns Carlisle utilized during another underwhelming (and brief) playoff run. Teams like these, with established players vying for their spot in the pecking order, can come unglued if things don’t go well. (Did we mention Cuban’s recent comments that the Mavs have enough size and depth to beat the Lakers?) 

Injury check: Speedster Rodrigue Beaubois is likely out until November following surgery on his broken left foot. 

Camp battles: Ultimately, Carlisle faces only two starting lineup decisions. But they’re important ones: Whether to start Chandler or Brendan Haywood at center, and whether Butler starts at shooting guard with Marion at the three, or Butler at the three with Beaubois (once he’s healthy) starting in the backcourt with Kidd. Neither one of those decisions will be made in October. But all eyes will be on first-round pick (acquired from Memphis) Dominique Jones, a slasher who has a chance to crack Carlisle’s rotation and give the Mavs the dribble-penetration element they sorely lacked last season. 

Biggest strength: Size and depth. If 6-11 Frenchman Ian Mahinmi stands on a croissant, the Mavs have five legitimate 7-footers: Mahinmi, Nowitzki, Chandler, Haywood and Alexis Ajinca. It can be argued – as Cuban did recently – that Dallas is the team best equipped to combat the Lakers’ twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. First, the Mavs should worry about getting past the Spurs. 

Glaring weakness: Age and miles. The window is closing fast on Kidd, Dirk and Marion, and Jason Terry, all of a sudden, is 33.
Posted on: July 23, 2010 1:10 pm
 

Monty wants to hear directly from Paul

The next step in the drama surrounding All-Star point guard Chris Paul will happen Monday, when he will meet with New Orleans officials and decide whether to push his angst to the next level by formally -- and in person -- requesting to be traded.

Hornets coach Monty Williams, for one, wants to hear those words straight from his point guard's mouth before drawing any conclusions about their future together.

"We'll sit down with Chris on Monday and see what happens," Williams told CBSSports.com by phone Friday. "I'm as eager as anybody to see where this goes."

It is a critical time for Williams, who is only in his second month on the job yet already is facing a crisis that could affect the franchise for years. His key ally in Monday's sitdown with Paul, new GM Dell Demps, has only been on the job for 48 hours. Their goal will be to talk Paul out of his desire to be traded, which was first reported Wednesday by CBSSports.com .

"This has become a national story, and it's not a story," Williams said. "Nothing has happened yet."

On Monday, it will -- one way or another. As CBSSports.com reported Wednesday, Paul has decided he wants to be traded and has asked his new agent, Leon Rose, to inform New Orleans management that he prefers to be dealt to the Knicks, Magic or Lakers. Other teams have joined the mix since then, with sources saying that the Mavericks and Trail Blazers have been the most aggressive in their pursuit.

"Other teams are jockeying to get in the mix," said one person familiar with the league-wide pursuit of one of the most gifted point guards in the league.

Paul's desire, according to a person familiar with his strategy, is to follow in LeBron James' footsteps by joining forces with one or more elite players. While the Lakers are viewed as a long-shot scenario, the Magic and Knicks both present tantalizing possibilities. In Orlando, Paul would team with Dwight Howard, who already has informed Magic management that he wants to play with Paul. In New York, Paul would play the role of a younger, higher-octane Steve Nash by pairing with Amar'e Stoudemire in Mike D'Antoni's offense, which was invented for a point guard of Paul's exquisite gifts.

For starters, any team hoping to land Paul would have to take Emeka Okafor and his onerous contract, which pays him $53.2 million over the next four years. If New Orleans decided to entertain offers for Paul, the team also likely would insist on including James Posey, owed $13.4 million over the next two years. The Magic could offer Vince Carter, who has only $4 million of his $18.3 million guaranteed for the 2011-12 season, as well as draft picks. The Knicks don't have draft picks to offer, but since they're approximately $3 million under the cap, they could take back $3 million more salary than they send out in the deal -- a significant cost savings for the Hornets in addition to the $3 million cash the Knicks wouldn't think twice about adding to the deal. By acquiring Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike from Golden State in a sign-and-trade for David Lee, the Knicks also have young assets to pair with Danilo Gallinari and/or Wilson Chandler in a credible proposal for Paul.

Of course, if Paul escalates the trade request that has been made through intermediaries into a formal request Monday, the Hornets would be under no obligation to oblige him -- much less trade him to the team of his choice. Williams said the team's strategy for dealing with such a situation wouldn't be devised until after Monday's meeting.

Williams is putting up a brave front, and is genuinely looking forward to the chance to sell Paul on his vision for the team. But he and Demps, having stepped into a situation that was not their doing, also face the responsibility of reconciling the past year of turmoil in a way that makes Paul reconsider.

Those attending Monday's meeting for the Hornets will be Demps, Williams and team president Hugh Weber. It is not clear whether Paul will be joined by his new agent, Rose, who has not responded to calls from CBSSports.com to determine whether he is officially representing Paul after a 15-day waiting period following the end of his relationship with Octagon.

But one thing is clear: The job of selling Paul on the basketball reasons to stay will fall on the shoulders of Demps and Williams, who are dealing with a situation of this magnitude for the first time -- at least as the top decision-makers on an NBA team. The firing last week of experienced GM Jeff Bower -- and further, subsequent housecleaning in the front office -- have only made the organization more vulnerable at a time when Paul's impatience with the team's direction is at an all-time high.

After Bower was let go, the Hornets fired director of basketball administration Andy Loomis. Director of scouting Brian Hagen has survived the purge, but doesn't have a contract for next season, sources say.

As for Paul, Williams said he's texted back and forth with his point guard in advance of Monday's meeting. The Hornets' new coach sees the writing on the wall, but doesn't want to read what Paul or his representatives have to say -- he wants to hear it from him.

"All of this stuff has come out with no quotes from Chris and no quotes from us," Williams said. "... I just wish all this had been handled behind closed doors. This is not the way I like to operate, and I know this isn't the way that Chris likes to operate. We've communicated by text just to try to figure out where this stuff is coming from."

If by "stuff" he means smoke, then it's coming from the fire smoldering within Paul. On Monday, Williams will get a chance to put it out.



 




 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com