Tag:Kobe Bryant
Posted on: December 16, 2011 8:15 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 9:25 pm
 

Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, files for divorce

Posted by Ben Golliver

Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant is facing some trouble on the homefront.

The Associated Press reports that Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, has filed for divorce. 
Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, has filed for divorce from the Los Angeles Lakers star.

Vanessa Bryant filed papers Friday in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split.

A representative for the couple released a statement saying, "The Bryants have resolved all issues incident to their divorce privately with the assistance of counsel and a Judgment dissolving their marital status will be entered in 2012."

The couple have been married for 10½ years and have two daughters, ages 8 and 5.

In the statement, the Bryants "ask that in the interest of our young children and in light of the upcoming holiday season the public respect our privacy during this difficult time."
The marriage has had its share of problems.

Back in 2003, after a Colorado woman alleged that Bryant sexually assaulted her, Bryant presented his wife with a $4 million diamond ring after she stood by him publicly.

Bryant, 33, is entering his 16th season with the Lakers.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, Bryant has earned more than $196 million in salary during his NBA career. Bryant is on the books for $25 million for the 2011-2012 season, tops in the NBA according to Forbes.com, and has an additional $57 million owed to him in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 combined. SI.com reports that Bryant makes at least $10 million per year in off-court endorsements.

TMZ.com reports that the Bryants did not have a prenuptial agreement.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 11:09 am
 

Kobe on the Clips: 'About damn time'

Posted by Royce Young



On our podcast, Matt Moore and I started wondering about a playoff series between the Clippers and Lakers and just how amazing that would be. Because think about this: We're sitting here talking about the Clippers potentially taking on the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals or something. It's possible.

Just insane.

The Staples Center, and before that The Forum, has belonged to the Lakers for forever, with the Clippers having extremely mild success. We've never seen this type of competition between the two teams. No one has ever considered it anything close to a rivalry because in order for it to be that, it has to be competitive. Which it is not. Sixteen championships to zero, a rivalry does not make.

It's been Laker domination but things could change. The city is buzzing not about Kobe and the Lakers for once, but about the guys owned by Donald Sterling. And so when Kobe was asked about what he thinks about the rise of the Clips and if there will finally be a rivalry, he gave a simple answer.

"It's about damn time," he said.

About damn time, indeed.

Via TBJ
Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:05 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 8:11 am
 

Kobe Bryant: NBA owners killed Chris Paul trade

Posted by Ben Golliverkobe-bryant-chris-paul

In a rare role reversal, the Lakers are playing bridesmaid to the Clippers this week in Los Angeles.

After decades of dominating in the headlines and the standings, the Lakers lost out on coveted All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who was finally traded by the New Orleans Hornets to the Clippers after multiple proposed deals with the Lakers were blocked by NBA commissioner David Stern.

Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, who is used to being the center of the Southern California sports universe, isn't happy about it.

ESPNLA.com reports that Bryant blames other owners from around the NBA for keeping Paul out of his clutches.
"I think other owners did not want the Lakers to make significant improvements again," Bryant said after practice Thursday, hours before Paul's introductory news conference with the Los Angeles Clippers, less than five miles across town.

"We always contended as players that the lockout was really more so about the owners fighting amongst themselves, which is what you just saw [with the vetoed trade]," Bryant said. "You got Chris Paul coming here and the other owners weren't with that, because you don't want another great player coming to L.A., and all of the sudden Los Angeles has another player that can carry them on well after I retire. So, it's more about the owners bickering amongst themselves."
Bryant's bitterness is totally understandable. The entire Paul trade process went down under the sketchiest of circumstances. Stern winds up being a major loser because of the means and Bryant's Lakers lose because of the ends. 
 
Life will move on, though, especially with the 2011-2012 season set to begin in just 10 days. The talk will quickly turn to which team is better: Lakers or Clippers? Assuming full health, the Lakers are still deeper and more talented but the Clippers are quickly going to be quick risers. Los Angeles is the Lakers' throne to lose, for now, but this role reversal could unfold even more dramatically over the next 6-9 months.

Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:54 am
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview



By Matt Moore


We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Pacific Division.

2011 Standings:

Los Angeles Lakers, 57-25, lost 4-0 to Dallas Mavericks in 2nd round of Western Conference Playoffs
Phoenix Suns, 42-42, NBA Draft lottery
Golden State Warriors,36-46, NBA Draft lottery
Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50, NBA Draft lottery
Sacramento Kings, 24-58, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Well, see, the thing is... Chris Paul (UPDATE: TIE- LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)

Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. Even with the Lakers unable to obtain Paul, the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is probably enough to take the honors here. But with Paul joining Blake Griffin, even without Eric Gordon, the additions of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups and re-signing DeAndre Jordan make as tough of a team to face as any. Griffin's impact next to Chris Paul is nearly incalculable.

The Lakers may still have the edge, but after the loss of Odom, everything is up in the air as far as who runs Staples now. The reality is that Paul landing in the city of L.A. will shift the division in one direction or another for the next half-decade at least.

Worst team: Sacramento Kings

The Kings are tricky. They have a convoluted backcourt. Tyreke Evans took a step back last season and it remains to be seen if it was all injury-related or not. There's no telling how Jimmer Fredette will adjust to the pro level. Marcus Thornton will struggle for minutes despite his all-around ability. John Salmons is floating around. There were huge chemistry questions last season and the players struggled against coach Paul Westphal at times.

If things don't improve, if DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mature, if Chuck Hayes can't protect the rim enough with his diminutive stature, things could get bad. And yet...

Biggest surprise: Sacramento Kings

There's so much firepower in that backcourt. Untangling it is complicated but they have everything. Shooting, athleticism, size, range, explosiveness, savvy, handle, everything. They have too much ability to not be effective in some ways. Cousins was a beast last season and even a small amount of maturity and development means he could be a near-All-Star (in the East, the West is too stacked). They have young talented bigs and Hayes who provides savvy and veteran knowledge.

The pieces are there. They're going to be exciting, even if they're struggling with an identity.

Three Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul

Update: With Paul joining the division, he instantly becomes one of the three best players. The best pure point guard in the league, with excellent shooting touch, terrific defense, and a supreme will to win? He leap-frogs both Pau and Nash. 

Kobe Bryant needs no explanation, even at his age. The end.

Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league and the first player in a few years for people to say he could legitimately be the best player in the league at one point. His explosiveness and rebounding is unmatched, his mid-range jumper isn't lightyears away and his defense will get there. Already, Griffin is a force to be reckoned with. What happens when he gets better?

Gasol vs. Nash? Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.

Nash? Ho-hum, another 50-40-90 season (got to round up for once, but still). His weighted assists, factoring three-pointers assisted on, left him at 13, which means combined with his 15 points per game, he contributed 41 points per game to the Suns. That's absurd. It's also not the highest in the league for a point guard, but it's still an example of how good Nash is. He's flat-out old in relative terms of the league, and yet is in the best shape he possibly could be thanks to conditioning. Nash is still elite, an therefore neither he nor Gasol can be exempted.

Biggest Question: Can Golden State change its stripes?

Mark Jackson has to completely turn what the Warriors know as their identity inside out. They have to commit to defensive principles. David Lee, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, these players are not known for this, at all. It's going to take a miracle. If Jackson can get them to buy in and if his system is good enough, the Warriors could make a jump. Kwame Brown helps down low (don't laugh, he's become a quality defender). But there's so much to be done in terms of changing this team's indentity, the Warriors could be in for rocky seas.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
Posted on: December 14, 2011 2:18 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 2:29 am
 

Bridges between Odom, Lakers are burned

By Matt Moore

"This is a business." 

That phrase is used more in professional sports each year than "I just want to thank God," "take it one game at a time," and "both teams played hard" all combined. It's like professional athletes, coaches, and management can never get tired of informing the world that they get paid to do this. And amazingly, that's supposed to explain away any and all decisions. 

And for Lamar Odom, it's just not us.

Odom was so hurt when it leaked that he had been traded to the New Orleans Hornets from the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal for Chris Paul that was blocked by the league, he met with general manager Mitch Kupchak last weekend and requested a trade. Kupchak obliged by trading him to the world champion Dallas Mavericks for a traded player exception in what is being described as a "cash dump." Few believe that's the end to the Lakers' angle considering their remarkable ability to make moves to reload at a moment's notice. But the result is the same. Odom is no longer a Laker after six years, and he's not feeling good about it. On Tuesday he revealed exactly how he feels about it.  
"This is the place I wanted to be,'' he said. "After I realized that I most likely wasn't going to be there, dallas was the one place where I thought I would be a great fit.''

Was he surprised the Lakers accommodated him?

"I think when you think about it, that kind of says it all,'' he said. "I guess it was just time from their standpoint I guess they just felt like to hell with it.''

"I told (Lakers management) that I'd be thankful if he could work with my agent, my representation so I could play for a team like the Mavs.

"It was just like overnight he told me they wanted to move me to New Orleans and we didn't feel like that was in our best interest.

"And how they did it. It wasn't about going to New Orleans, it was just about how they did it. I felt a little disrespected after being (in LA) for so long and going through so many things I felt like they could have just told me and I probably would have accepted it. If someone is telling you that you can't be here or there's no more room for you, you got to understand that. I think because it's just how they did it is the reason why I took it so personal.''
via Lamar Odom: Hard part just starting for Mavericks | Dallas Mavericks Blog | Sports News | News for Dallas, Texas | The Dallas Morning
News
.

So yeah, pretty sure Jim Buss won't be getting a Christmas card from the Kardashians this year. Odom is not, did not, will not take this well. He was comfortable in L.A., it fit with his lifestyle, with his wife's lifestyle, with his general celebrity pursuits. He's in Dallas, playing for a contender, but beating L.A. may be just as high on his list of priorities. 

Kobe Bryant and other Lakers responded to the trade and Odom's feelings on it later Tuesday:  
“Yeah. I know about that whole process. Not knowing about coach Brown and so forth and so on. But the Lakers do things a certain way. This is the way that they do it, and you can’t take it personally. This is how they do business."

On whether he gets Odom feeling “disrespected"

“Yeah. You want to be told things before they obviously come out in public. Somebody that wins a couple championships with you, you’d think that’s what would happen. But it’s nothing personal. This is the way they go about doing it.”

"Lamar is a sensitive guy, though. Takes a lot of things personally. He won’t see it that way... You take it how you take it. But they’ve done it to him, they’ve done it to me, they’ve done it to Brian Shaw. It’s nothing personal, it’s just how they handle it… You can’t take it personally.”
via Lakers react to Lamar Odom feeling disrespected - Los Angeles Lakers Blog - ESPN Los Angeles.

A nice parting gift from Kobe, a crack about Odom's sensitivity. It remains to be seen whether Odom can fit into the Mavericks' locker room, a tight knit group that had beef with Odom and the Lakers last year during and after its sweep of the L.A. in the second round.

But one thing is for certain. Lamar Odom knows just how much of a business it is, and got a taste of why so many former players aren't close with the Lakers' organization. No one is bigger than the logo in L.A.. You can count your rings, but when the time comes, you'll have to count them somewhere else.

Now it's Odom's turn to see if he can exact a little revenge.
Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:44 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 12:21 pm
 

NBA Free Agency: Opening weekend winners & losers

Posted by Ben Golliver

nba-winners-losers

Deals, non-deals, endless rumors and more. It was a wild opening weekend for the abbreviated 2011 NBA free agency period. Here's an extended look at who won and lost over the first 72 hours. Let's break it down: from the biggest moves to the smallest signings, from the trades that weren't to the guys who remain unsigned.

The Biggest Deal

The NBA came to a standstill when a proposed 3-team trade between the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would have sent Chris Paul to L.A. fell apart twice thanks to vetoes from NBA commissioner David Stern.

Winners: Orlando Magic

This fiasco was even uglier than the lockout, which is saying something. All the key parties wound up losing one way or another – see below -- but the Magic slide in as winners because the Lakers emerged from the weekend without acquiring a second superstar to pair with Kobe Bryant, and with both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, two excellent potential trade chips for Dwight Howard, still on the roster. The Magic win whether L.A. ends up pairing those two in a deal for Howard or if the idea of such a deal simply sits out there as a potential offer against which Howard’s other suitors must match up. Orlando needs a bidding war in the worst way and the Paul failure ensures that L.A. still has plenty of motivation, and attractive pieces, to actively bid.

Losers: Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets

Paul was seemingly inches from an NBA second life and a brand new level of fame. Instead, he returns to a camp with a roster in tatters and the news that longtime running mate David West is Indiana-bound. His future couldn’t be more uncertain amid the confusion and he’s now forced to deal with questions day after day with no short-term end in sight. Sounds awesome! Thanks, boss.

Hornets GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams, meanwhile, are left with a frustrated Paul who obviously still wants out, a barren roster and serious questions about their autonomy as a basketball operations group, not to mention the fact that the league-owned situation could result in another franchise sale at some point in the near future. All this for a team that -- less than a year ago -- was a dynamic playoff force that gave the Lakers a run for their money. The ground fell out from under them.

Monumental Loser: David Stern

It wasn’t just the tremendously questionable decision to veto the trades that makes Stern a loser. It was the way the process unfolded. On what should have been the most exciting time on the NBA calendar following months of petty bickering during the lockout, the spotlight wound up back on Stern. Vetoing the trade directly alienated his league’s most important team, completely undermined the team he operates, and handcuffed the poor Houston Rockets, who were in the middle of a critical strategic time in their franchise’s post-Yao history. The delayed explanation for the veto led to a virtual standstill in other moves, as everyone around the league waited for the largest domino to fall. The eventual attempts at explanation were vague and way too late, leading to an open season of criticism of Stern and talk of walkouts from training camp. One player, Lamar Odom, was so upset by the trade talk limbo that he followed through on that threat, finding himself dumped to the Dallas Mavericks for virtually nothing. Now that it’s all said and done, the Hornets can look forward to worse offers for Paul and/or the prospect that he walks from the team as soon as free agency allows. Nice.

Other Big Deals

Winners: New York Knicks and Tyson Chandler

It’s great when solid matches come together fairly cleanly. New York made no secret of its desire for Chris Paul but was smart enough not to waste precious time on what ended up being a sinkhole. Targeting Chandler and making the necessary moves to acquire him – amnestying Chauncey Billups and trading Ronny Turiaf – took creativity and guts, and the eventual payoff is the best 3-4-5 combination in the NBA. Chandler fills New York’s biggest need and comes in at a reasonable $58 million over four years, a deal that will carry him through the rest of his prime years.

Chandler manages to cash in his new-found respect from the 2011 title team with an excellent pay day from a marquee franchise that is clearly on the upswing. Knicks fans will love his game (as long as he stays healthy, of course).

Losers: Golden State Warriors and DeAndre Jordan

Kudos to the Warriors for doing the right thing with Charlie Bell by telling him to stay away from training camp after he showed up drunk to a court hearing following his second DUI arrest in under a year. It was time to take a stand and they took it. That stand didn’t need to include burning the team’s amnesty clause to release Bell’s paltry $4.1 million salary. With David Lee, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins all on the books for big-time money, the amnesty is a critical protection against injury for the Warriors. With a bunch of promising youngsters in place, it will be a shame if an unforeseen, devastating injury slows the organization’s ability to wheel and deal because they burned the amnesty toon soon and wind up crippled when it comes to cap flexibility.

Why did the Clippers bother to amnesty Bell? For the right to make a substantial offer to Los Angeles Clippers restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan, a player that team consultant Jerry West appeared to question in an interview this weekend. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is impossible to pin down but his management team is highly motivated to retain Jordan, and will almost certainly match the offer given, leaving Golden State with nothing except $4 million of cap room to show for their misguided efforts.  

Winners: Memphis Grizzlies and Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol, like Chandler, was one of the premier names in this weak free agent class. He will reportedly cash in to a similar degree: receiving a 4 year, $55 million offer sheet from the Rockets that the Grizzlies are expected to match. Retaining Gasol was a critical momentum move in Memphis, as the miracle playoff run to defeat the San Antonio Spurs would have been a distant memory if Gasol was allowed to walk and leave a major hole in the middle. Instead, it’s back for more fun for one of the grittiest, most underappreciated groups in the game. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley answered the questions about whether he would step up and pay to play, inking Gasol, forwards Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay and guard Michael Conley to big-time extensions. Good times in Tennessee.

Losers: Los Angeles Lakers and Lamar Odom

Surely seller’s remorse is sinking in after an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend in L.A., which saw the Lakers immediately grant Odom’s trade request, shipping him out of town for nothing more than cap relief and a heavily protected first round pick. The fact that he lands on a major conference rival makes this a very meaningful talent swing and the Lakers are capped out to the point where replacing his many contributions will be exceedingly difficult in the short-term. It’s no surprise that Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher weren’t all that psyched about this move. The Lakers couldn’t have gotten less for Odom and he couldn’t have gone to a worse destination, other than maybe the Oklahoma City Thunder.

On the other hand, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban emerges as a major winner, having flipped a simple trade exception acquired from New York in the Chandler signing for a top-flight, versatile player still in his prime years who happens to be on an affordable, flexible contract. All in less than 24 hours. Meanwhile, a similarly massive trade exception created by LeBron James’ departure still sits unused by the Cleveland Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert. Please advise.

Dwight Howard Saga

Winner: Dwight Howard

It might come with a public relations price, but it probably feels like a huge relief for Howard knowing that the world now gets where he stands: he’s formally requested a trade and has been in contact with teams on his wish list. No more goofy games or beating around the bush. He’s a major step closer to a certain future. The scrutiny will surely increase but at least people, especially Magic fans, have a better idea of where he’s coming from and how they should manage their expectations.

Loser: Otis Smith

It doesn’t get any worse than watching your CEO drunk dial Howard and then promptly resign. Oh, wait, yes it does. Your franchise announces major layoffs and Howard tells the world that he hasn’t had any contact with you since requesting a trade and that you never listened to him when he made personnel suggestions. Oh, yeah, you can also make an illogical 4-year, $25 million commitment to Jason Richardson, a veteran wing on the precipice of decline, when everyone knows you should be looking for any possible way to reduce payroll. Brutal. On the bright side, as mentioned above, at least the Lakers are still in play to help the Magic save some face.

Medium Deals

Winners: Indiana Pacers and David West

The Pacers land West, one of the biggest and most proven names on the free agent market who fits in nicely to a well-balanced, fairly deep roster that has talent at all five positions. A nice mix of veterans, youngsters and some solid bigs make this a group that might just compete for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs next season. The price for West – 2 years and $20 million – is totally reasonable and hedged nicely against possible deterioration from his recent knee injury and aging. West scores a ticket out of a totally shipwreck in New Orleans, a solid pay day and the chance to hit free agency one more time in two years before his value starts to really diminish.

Losers: Sacramento Kings and Marcus Thornton

You can be as high on Thornton’s upside as you like: it’s very, very difficult to justify spending $31 million over four seasons on a guy who has the same skillset as the two players that you’re most heavily invested in, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league and a need to up that number in a hurry, it’s not like Sacramento spent its way into a corner here, but there’s simply no way to maximize the effectiveness of Evans, Fredette and Thornton at the same time. Evans and Fredette are 22 and Thornton is 24. Thornton doesn’t meaningfully help you win now and he necessitates a stunted or unorthodox development pattern for Fredette and will almost certainly wind up in staring contests over shot selection with Evans. The money had to be spent and at least it wasn’t spread over five years, but $31 million should solve problems, not create new ones.

Having A Plan

Winners: Miami Heat

Getting Mario Chalmers, a quality point guard who was headed for free agency, for 3-years and $12 million, with a team option on the last year to boot, is an excellent value. Getting Shane Battier for the mini Mid-Level Exception is downright ridiculous. By the way, the Heat brought back James Jones, brought in Eddy Curry and managed to retain Mike Miller. Simply amazing. Miami emerged from the weekend as the overwhelming title favorites.

Losers: Portland Trail Blazers

During a Monday press conference, Portland announced its intentions of starting Brandon Roy and spoke excitedly about the prospect of Greg Oden’s return. By Friday, Roy had decided to pursue a medical retirement, apparently without giving the team any notice, and Oden had suffered yet another medical “setback” that puts his 2011-2012 into jeopardy. Then, with executives scrambling to pursue contingency plans, franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge was forced to undergo a heart procedure that is expected to keep him out up to two weeks. The Blazers salvaged the weekend by signing veteran Kurt Thomas to fill a much-needed hole, but wound up giving a 2-year deal to a 39-year-old. After all of that, the team is still weighing whether or not to amnesty Roy. That’s a tough stretch.

Minor Deals

Winners: Washington Wizards

The Wizards scored a draft pick and Ronny Turiaf for virtually nothing thanks to the cash considerations included by the Knicks for their work in facilitating the Chandler trade. Filling a roster hole for free and grabbing a future asset is always a win.

Loser: Chauncey Billups

Billups compounded a tough situation – getting amnestied by the Knicks without much warning – by flipping out publicly in the hope that he would scare off potential bidders for his services. He could quickly change from loser to winner if his nuclear strategy works and he winds up getting to pick a contender to latch on to, but for now a guy who was always known as a class act sure looks like a jerk. How many times do you think Billups has said “the NBA is a business” during interviews? 10,000? How do you forget all of that so quickly and threaten to disrupt a team’s locker room? He crossed a line.

Winners: Phoenix Suns

They weren’t flashy moves, but re-signing veteran forward Grant Hill back for just $6.5 million and snatching up former Lakers guard Shannon Brown for $3.5 million were very nice value plays that addressed needs. Of course, the Suns have made their fair share of mistakes in recent years, so value plays were about the only moves at their disposal.

Loser: J.J. Barea

Who is going to pay this man? Have we figured that out yet? Had there not been a lockout and had the old Mid-Level Exception system been in place, he likely would have seen a monster financial bonanza off of his impressive NBA playoffs. Instead, he waits and wonders. He could very well still get paid, but something says this free agency process didn't play out quite like he expected. Update: On Monday morning comes word that Barea will get his money, $19 million over 4-years, but is signing with the 17-win Minnesota Timberwolves to do it. From first to worst. Ouch.

Posted on: December 11, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 6:08 pm
 

League's block of Paul trade damages Lakers



By Matt Moore
 

In life, you can often times connect every event as a consequence of a previous one. Whether by a confluence of factors or as direct result of a single act, one thing leads to another, put simply. But in the NBA it's even more so. There are only so many teams, only so many players, only so many ways to play basketball. The same coaches go through the cycles, the same front office officials, Kurt Thomas is on his ninth basketball team.

We're reminded of this when we start to examine the ramifications of what happened in the failed trade for Chris Paul by the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-way deal with the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Hornets. Attempts to revive the deal broke down Saturday night, and the fallout has been catastrophic for all three teams.

But perhaps most relevant is what happened has happened to the Los Angeles Lakers. It seems every year prior to the season there's talk of drama and this year is no exception. It was supposed to be quick and painless. Trade the star power forward that brought the Lakers two titles, Pau Gasol. Trade the enigmatic and complicated, but ultimately brilliant combo-forward Lamar Odom who has been the glue of the team for years to New Orleans. Done. But when the trade was denied by the league in what many describe as an outrage, it created a whole bucket of awkward.

Odom was happy in Los Angeles. It needs to be noted that he blossomed in LA under very specific circumstances. Phil Jackson was the calm, soothing voice he needed, Kobe Bryant the harsh glare to keep him in line. LA's Hollywood environment netted him a celebrity wife, complete with reality TV show, and commercial success. Warm weather, more money, the life of the party. And he got to compete for championships without having to be "the man." It was perfect. So to find out the team he'd help win two titles was ditching him, it upset him, and damaged his relationship with the team beyond repair.

ESPN reported Sunday night that Odom requested a trade Friday night when the deal was initially rejected, and then reiterated that desire Saturday after thinking it over for 24 hours. In short, the attempt to trade Odom to a lottery team hurt the Sixth Man of the Year beyond repair. The bridge was burned. Faced with that, the Lakers reacted in a most-unusual manner. They traded him to the team that eliminated them from the playoffs.

The deal to Dallas Nets them nearly nothing, a simple traded player exception which they'll try and switch in another deal, presumably. But reports out of L.A. describe the trade as a pure "salary dump" based on Odom's wishes. This was a championship team. They were two-time reigning champs, who ran into a red-hot Mavericks team, and hit a cold streak. They could have been as much a contender for the West as any team in the league, especially with Dallas absent Tyson Chandler.

Now, they're a chemistry-set gone wrong.

Odom was going to be a major trade asset. The TPE is good, but it's complicated to use in deals and has to fit certain requirements. So now the Lakers have Pau Gasol who's grateful to still be in Los Angeles but still hurt by the decision to move him. Furthermore, Kobe Bryant's involvement here is key. Bryant said he did not approve of the trade. So either the Lakers failed to discuss either decision with Bryant, which is blowing up the championship core, or they did, in which case Gasol now knows Bryant was willing to throw away his sidekick for CP3.

Have we mentioned that the Lakers' employ a man named Metta World Peace?

The Lakers are obviously still gaming for Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, or both. But the impact of the league's intervention in a trade that was agreed to has levied a change in their makeup, one that could have devastating effects for the favorite son of the league. It's rare you find this, but the league may have dealt a severe blow to the Lakers, who are often considered sheltered by the league due to their popularity and profitability.

The Lakers went into the playoffs last season confident that their regular-season step-back was nothing more than the cost of the drag of the season, that they were more than ready to win the title for a third team, completing Phil Jackson's fourth three-peat and giving Kobe Bryant his sixth title to tie Michael Jordan. Eight months later, they're a fractured locker room with an uncertain future, simultaneously going two different directions, and trying to recover from the reality that their Sixth Man of the Year is now playing for their biggest conference rival.

The drama in L.A. is always high. But the league's decision to either exercise its right as an owner or overstep its boundaries as a caretaker role in overriding Dell Demps' deciison-making (depending on your opinion) means that they're facing the biggest challenge since they traded for Pau Gasol. Once again, it's lights, camera action at Staples, and the locker-room drama could bring an end to a dominant decade-plus from the league's most iconic franchise.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 7:28 pm
 

Lakers trade for Chris Paul: Grade the Trade



By Matt Moore  

It's good to be on top.

The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a deal to acquire Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in a three-way deal with the Houston Rockets. Los Angeles trades Lamar Odom to New Orleans and Pau Gasol to Houston, while the Rockets send Luis Scola and Kevin Martin to New Orleans.

Kaboom.

The Lakers missed the NBA Finals by two rounds last year, getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks. They watched Chris Paul destroy them in the first round, showing some of their weakness. So they went out and got him. They have acquired the best point guard in the NBA, their best point guard since Magic Johnson, and gotten a premier All-Star in his prime to pair with Kobe Bryant on his way towards the sunset.

The Lakers are clearly not done, and will continue to pursue a deal to trade Andrew Bynum to the Orlando Magic to bring Dwight Howard and create their own big three, arguably a better one than the one in Miami. It's an arms race in the NBA, and the Lakers have the biggest budget and most capital to use. And so they have responded to all this Knicks-Heat-Chicago nonsense with their own move, after helping kickstart the race three years ago by acquiring Pau Gasol from Memphis. They're one move away from checkmate.

In the interim, the team did lose a lot of talent. Pau Gasol has flirted with "best big man in the game" for the past three seasons prior to last spring's meltdown. Lamar Odom is a hyper-athletic, versatile veteran who has been a part of three Finals teams and two championships. Neither on the right side of 30, but both still have a lot of value left.

And yet, the takeback is staggering. CP3, in his prime, to provide Kobe Bryant with the clutch guard he's never had. Even in losing their frontcourt, leaving them with a gaping hole at power forward, and even without a trade for Howard, the Lakers now feature Chris Paul able to lob to Andrew Bynum and kick to Kobe Bryant. And for Paul, whose knees are a question mark, to have Bryant to handle the ball and take the load off, he may have extended his career by four seasons.

For Bryant, it may be a rough transition giving the ball up. But it also means no more wondering about his teammates. There will be no outraged glares at Paul. He won't blow defensive assignments. He won't miss Bryant when he's open. Instead, if Bryant is open for a half-second inside, on the wing, or at half-court, Paul will find him. Bynum also comes away big in this deal. He's never had a guard to work with his insane athleticism. Bynum on the pick and roll, rolling to the basket for an alley-oop? It's Paul, the master of the alley-oop, dishing it now.

Do the Lakers have holes now? Absolutely. Starting with power forward, the length they've enjoyed inside to disrupt passing lanes and tip-in misses is gone, even with Bynum still in place. They've lost a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and they're just as weak at backup center as ever. They've lost a lot of scoring, a lot of rebounds, a lot of defense. But they gained one of the top five players in the league and have positioned themselves expertly to add a second if they can lean on the Magic enough. With or without Howard, if you pull a deal to get the best player in the league at his position (Derrick Rose is not a point guard, he's a Derrick Rose), you get an A.

Grade: A
 
 
 
 
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