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Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:37 pm
 

NBA lockout threatens 2012 USA Olympics team?

Posted by Ben Golliver

team-usa-2008

A dozen of America's top athletes leaping for joy after securing an Olympics gold medal while the foreign opponent huddles together with heasd bowed consoling themselves. You don't have to sport a tattoo of the American flag on your bicep to get a rise out of that scene.

Unfortunately, the NBA lockout hangs over all of basketball these days. And Yahoo! Sports reports that if the league cancels the entire 2011-2012 season it could jeopardize NBA player participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics. In other words, the scene pictured above from Beijing in 2008 might not be repeated in London.
In the doomsday scenario, where labor strife causes the cancellation of the 2011-12 NBA season, and the work stoppage drags into June and then July, there’s little, if no chance, the great American players could play in the Olympics. Team USA is too tied to the NBA – too much of a David Stern production – for the players to break ranks and play. In the post 9-11 world, that’s a tricky subject PR-wise for the players, but several union, USA Basketball and agent sources believe this worst-case labor scenario would cost Team USA its NBA stars.

As the managing director of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo answers to Stern, and the league – along with its ATM machine, Nike – has immense impact on the coaching staff and roster. How could the NBA allow its coaches – Team USA assistants Nate McMillan and Mike D’Antoni – to coach NBA players during a lockout? Still, that’s the worst-case scenario, but it’s one that USA Basketball will have to consider should the labor dispute push deep into the NBA season. In this instance, Team USA would have to field a team of American players who’ve built careers overseas, as well as D-League players, and perhaps a superior college superstar or two.

That would obviously put the USA at a serious disadvantage, especially because foreign-born NBA players would almost certainly compete in the Olympics, lockout or not. Teams like Spain, France and Argentina, to name three, could put more raw talent on the court than a mish-mashed USA roster. For perhaps the first time ever, USA would be an unquestioned underdog entering the tournament. That would be a terrible nightmare.

Let's just not think about it. Assuming the lockout is resolved and NBA players are willing and able to compete for their country, here are the 12 names and seven potential alternates for the the roster.
The USA has tended to play versatile, small ball line-ups in recent international competitions. It's unlikely they would add multiple new big men unless one of the 2008 team members decided not to come back. When in doubt, the mantra seems to be, add shooting, which could favor younger guards like Curry and Gordon, who both played on the 2010 World Championships team.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 9:43 am
 

Why CAA is missing a giant opportunity in China



By Matt Moore


In the last year,  CAA flexed its muscles as the most powerful sports representation entity in professional basketball. LeBron James staged "The Decision," which was a PR disaster and a global branding success. Chris Bosh, James, and Dwyane Wade got what they wanted, to team up where they wanted for basically as much as they wanted. Carmelo Anthony staged a year-long siege on Denver's future, eventually working his way not just out of the team he wanted out of, but to the team he wanted to play for. Chris Paul flexed enough muscle to get help in getting the Hornets back to the playoffs. Tony Parker signed a hefty new extension.

The lockout is here, now, and everyone's evaluating their options. Yet for some reason, CAA hasn't taken the active step in pushing things to the next level in a crucial opportunity to expand their brand in Europe or China. We're starting to see signs that some of their clientele may head over, though. From the AP:
Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony say they will consider offers to play professional basketball in China if there is no resolution to the NBA lockout.

Both players are on a promotional tour of China while monitoring news from home about the NBA's labor impasse.

With Kobe Bryant reportedly negotiating a deal to play in Turkey, New Orleans Hornets' Paul and New York Knicks forward Anthony said they were also considering overseas moves.

Asked by SNTV where they would go, Anthony replied "China." Paul said "Same, no question."
via Paul, Anthony say they will consider playing in China - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

Now, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says that the players should cool it with their globetrotting and go beat down the league's door to get the lockout resolved, which is a nice pipe dream. But considering that A. there's a concern in the union, expressed by Paul, that the talks should represent the whole of the union and not just the superstars and B. let's face it, this is professional sports, it's every man for himself except where launching lawsuits like the NFL did helps your cause, it's not just unlikely, but likely untenable. 

Setting aside the morality questions regarding these players' behavior in a lockout, let's examine the business side of it. CAA is in a unique situation, with its ties to Nike through various sources including but not limited to William Wesley, along with other sponsors, to put together a traveling exhibition tour through China that would fit perfectly with their roster. It would expand their brand in that market, both as a sports entity and the players individually, generate a metric ton of revenue, and would be able to be done according to the wishes of the players. Don't want a coach? Don't need one! Want to be able to cancel a tour date within three hours of the event? Done! They would be able to set all parameters and as a result, have the control they want, using CAA's leveraging power to act as a shield for the players. 

LeBron James is already said to have decided to pass on playing overseas. This decision is pretty baffling, given James is the one star with the biggest goals for global domination. China is part of the gateway to obtaining the brand power of Kobe Bryant, yet James hasn't fully invested himself there, like, say, Carmelo Anthony has. Anthony filmed a movie last year in China and has followed Bryant's suit in establishing himself there, along with Dwight Howard. James would do well not to think himself having already conquered the market with his Beijing stint in 2008. But collectively, CAA could simply overwhelm with the amount of revenue they would generate from spearheading such an effort. In addition, that would leave more opportunities for other players overseas, which strengthens the union's position. 

So why isn't this happening?

Because apparently getting NBA players to commit to anything on that kind of level is like herding cats. CAA can get three superstars to commit the next five years of their careers (at least) to each other in the same city, but can't get this kind of thing organized. Such are the complexities of global domination. Hannibal never had this problem. Maybe they need more elephants.  
Posted on: July 23, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Legend vs. Star: Isiah Thomas vs. Chris Paul



By Matt Moore

We live in an immediate society. The internet, social media, the ever-accelerating news cycle, everything means that the next 30 seconds is 10 times more important than the last 30 seconds regardless of what actually happened in the past 30 seconds. As a result, we lose perspective on what stands truly relevant from the past. The NBA is no exception. So in an attempt to merge the two worlds (since, as a blog, we love/hate/want to be BFFs within the next 30 seconds), we'll be bringing you a look at players past and present, in relation to one another. 

We begin with Isiah Thomas and Chris Paul

Before Isiah Thomas' name was synonymous with the failure of the CBA (that's the Continental Basketball Association in this case, though you could argue that some of Thomas' later contracts offered might suggest he had something to do with this lockout), sexual harassment and the utter ruin of the New York Knicks as a professional basketball franchise, he was an incredible basketball player. He was an elite point guard from the moment he stepped on the floor at St. Joseph High School. He won a NCAA Championship at Indiana under Bob Knight (take a second and think about those two personalities sharing a floor). In his sophomore year, Thomas averaged 16 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 55 percent from the field.

So that's a pretty good start. 

You know how Blake Griffin made the All-Star team as a rookie, and it was a really big deal this year. Thomas made it in '82 when it wasn't quite so surprising, but Thomas also started, scoring 12 points with 4 assist and 3 steals. From there on, Thomas was an All-Star each year until his retirement in '93. He won the title in 1990 and 1991 with the "Bad Boys," even downing Michael Jordan's Bulls in the Conference Finals.  But those are just figures. To weigh Thomas' impact, much like to weigh Chris Paul's, you have to actually go back and watch. 










But even the highlight clips don't really show the kind of control Thomas had on the game. At only 6-foot-1 (that's right, the same size I have mocked Kemba Walker for being continually ... every time I read that height I get queasy to a ridiculous degree), Thomas was in such firm athletic control of his opponents, he was always one step in front of them, always in charge. Players had a remarkably difficult time forcing Thomas into doing anything he didn't want to do. His control and precision were offset by his scoring range, which was pretty much omnipresent. It was this control that allowed him to make defenders seem as if they were just trying to keep up with big brother. 

Paul, on the other hand, never won a championship at Wake Forest, though he was just as highly lauded for his intensity and performance. In Paul's first six seasons, he's established himself as the best point guard in the league (Derrick Rose fans, this is qualifying point guards under the traditional role; Derrick Rose isn't a point guard, he's Derrick Rose, which is more than a point guard). Paul's  ability to make his teammates better is arguably higher than that of Thomas. The comparisons between the two relative to Paul's stage of his career are eerily similar. 

From Basketball-Reference.com (click to enlarge):




 


 








Thomas scored more, but needed more shots. He had more assists, but had a higher usage. Essentially, were Paul to be as assertive with the ball as Thomas was at this point, his numbers would be even or better than Thomas, more than likely. But of course, injuries play a part. Paul has not only missed significant time with injuries since the infamous 2008 series with the Spurs that very nearly landed Paul in his first Western Conference Finals, but has admitted that he's holding back.  

In terms of style, Paul is much more beatific with his approach. His passes are delicate floaters, while Thomas' were primarily either lasers or high arcing bombs. Paul's 3-pointer is a dagger, while Thomas was more of a hoist. Thomas preferred the mid-range jumper while Paul's short-elbow floater is stunning in its lethality, when he turns to it. But there are vital comparisons. Both Paul and Thomas possess the intense desire to win at all costs that helped Thomas win the title. Of all the new breed of superstars, particularly those in the clique of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, etc., Paul's drive to win is perhaps fiercest. It was Thomas' intensity, or arrogance, depending on which side of the aisle you're on, that led to his feuds with various stars of his era. He and Paul share that, a willingness to tussle with nearly anyone. It is a relentless gear that never allows them to back down from anyone, while always then turning a smile to the camera. But Thomas' battles were almost personal, more vicious. While Thomas has, despite his numerous, nearly incalculable public relations disasters, been well-spirited toward his former rivals in retirement, at the time, it was Thomas against the world. 

Paul's approach has been different. He's much more calculating in his approach. He's willing to befriend anyone that will help him, and makes nearly no enemies. Paul is beloved by everyone. He's a darling of the league. A brilliant player who serves as a tremendous member of his community, an All-Star who pals around with the two-time MVP. He's everything to everyone, where Thomas was popular but also controversial.

In the end, Thomas gets the edge on Paul thanks to, you know, the championships. But Thomas won those when he was 28-29, two to three years older than Paul. CP3 has time. He has the mindset, the skills, and the leadership. He just needs the opportunity. As he showed us in the playoffs this year, Paul just needs a team good enough to support him and allow him to unleash that wolf in sheep's clothing he's often portrayed as (HT: Free Darko). 





Posted on: July 21, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:29 pm
 

2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings

Posted by Ben Golliver.

wade-durant-bryant

It's one thing to be great on the court. It's one thing to be famous. It's one thing to be marketable. It's one thing to be respected. 

But how do we throw all those attributes together? How do we determine which of the NBA's brightest stars are the most well-rounded? How do we put our finger on which stars capture the imagination, drop jaws and tug on the heart strings? 

It's an impossible task, but that didn't stop the Eye On Basketball staff from trying. Over the last week, we pinpointed five characteristics that combine to make NBA players likeable: "Ballin' Ability" (how good a guy is as a player), "Winning Attitude" (how dedicated he is to the game), "Talking Softly" (how he comes across in public comments), "Commerical Appeal" (how visible he is in advertisements) and "Public Works" (charitable contributions and other character-defining achievements).

Our panel of four experts ranked every member of the 2011 All-Star teams on a 1-5 scale in each of these five categories. We then added up all the scores to get a ranking on a 1 to 100 scale. The higher the number, the more likeable the player. Pretty simple stuff. 

Without further ado, here are the CBSSports.com 2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings, from worst (least likeable) to first (most likeable). 

24. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks: Johnson’s unassuming personality and solid perimeter game don’t stand much of a chance here due to his relatively invisible national profile and his team’s lack of playoff success. Score: 44

23. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: Horford suffers from the same low-profile problem as Johnson but is perceived as more of a winner because he took home NCAA hardware at the University of Florida, and his game is predicated on doing whatever it takes to get the job done rather than jacking jumpers. Score: 48

22. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: Bosh is intelligent, articulate and gentle off the court and a versatile talent on the court, so he should be prettychris-bosh-tears likeable, at least in theory. His goofiness -- the photo shoots, the secret wedding, the screaming at the preseason parade -- has become off-putting now that he’s teamed up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. His status as the league’s most obvious punch line hurts him here. A lot. Score: 54

T-20. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Still just a half-touch too far up the “might be crazy” scale to be totally likeable at this point in his career. Westbrook is still stuck in Kevin Durant’s shadow, although he showed with his fearless play in the 2011 postseason that he might one day eclipse KD in terms of sheer star power. Could be a fast riser in future renditions of these rankings, especially if he can cut down his turnovers and shake a developing reputation as a bit of a late-game ball hog. Saying something interesting after a game once in a while wouldn't hurt either. Score: 55

T-20. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Much like the Lakers, Gasol took a step back in prominence this season when he didn’t show up as expected -- and as needed -- in the postseason. His gangly frame isn’t particularly marketable, at least not here in the United States, and while he is a true professional when it comes to the media, he’s known first and foremost as Kobe Bryant’s on-again, off-again punching bag. Score: 55

19. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: More than anyone else on this list, Rondo genuinely doesn’t care what you think about him. He can come across as curt and moody, and doesn’t expend much energy playing the media game. His authenticity can’t be questioned, but it does keep casual fans at arm’s length. Score: 58

18. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: An egoless star on an egoless team in an egoless organization in a relatively small market, Ginobili has never sought the bright lights. Even after all these years, the average fan doesn’t have much of a connection with him. There’s nothing not to like, but nothing that reaches out and grabs you either. Score: 59

17. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams gets bonus points for his amazing annual dodgeball tournament and rose to a new level of renown this year thanks to a blockbuster trade and a trailblazing deal with Besiktas in Turkey. The rumored spats with Jerry Sloan that surfaced when the legendary Utah Jazz coach abruptly retired briefly painted a very unlikable picture, although that didn’t seem to bother him too much. Score: 61

16. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: Beloved in Boston, Pierce’s personal likeability suffers a bit nationally because he’s almost always talked about as one of Boston’s Big Three, with Kevin Garnett usually getting top billing. He's a bit past his prime, which surely costs him some spots on this list. Score: 62

15. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: Allen is pretty much in the same boat as Pierce, although he’s got an energetic mother (the ever-present Flo), a picture-perfect jump shot and an unforgettable silver screen performance (Jesus Shuttlesworth) to give him a bit of a boost. Score: 64

14. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love is the anti-Rondo, fully embracing the media attention, putting his self-kevin-love-smiledeprecating humor to full display whenever possible. He’s blogged, starred in viral videos and, let’s not forget, put up mammoth statistics through sheer hard work amidst a dysfunctional mess of a team. All while remaining sane. No easy task. Score: 65

T-12. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics: Thanks to his on-court bullying antics and incessant trash talk, Garnett is as polarizing as anyone in the league, save LeBron James. But his reputation as a winner was sealed by Boston’s title, he’s been a fixture on the national endorsement circuit for years and his overwhelming competitive desire helps cover up some of the ugliness. Score: 66

 T-12. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: Near the top of his game and playing in a major media market, Stoudemire keeps the dunks and quotes coming, so everyone stays happy. The fact that he abandoned Steve Nash immediately following a Western Conference Finals playoff run to take more money without catching any flak for it is a testament to how he’s carved out a major place in the nation’s heart in his own, quirky way. Score: 66

11. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: Anthony’s steady focus during a half-season-long free agency and trade whirlwind last year won him a lot of goodwill, as does the fact that he’s put millions of dollars into both Syracuse University and Baltimore. Based on talent alone, Anthony should probably be higher on this list, but wife LaLa and his lack of playoff success hold him back. Score: 68

10. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin is still enjoying the “new-car smell” phase of his NBA fame. His audacious take-offs, explosive leaping and vicious finishing are so unique for a player his size that nobody much cares that he didn’t make the playoffs and still has a ways to go to fill out an all-around game. The centerpiece of All-Star Weekend in his very first visit, he’s got endorsements by the boatload and is arguably on the verge of over-exposure. He’s still a little stiff, but that seems to be fading. Once he gets a few playoff series wins under his belt, look for Griffin to be a perennial top-5 member on this list. Score: 71

9. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Duncan has been so good for so long -- and won so much -- that the respect factor afforded him is significant enough to make up for a bland, sometimes robotic, personality. Duncan can be subtly hilarious and occasionally sharp-tongued with the media. He is also unfailingly classy. Score: 72

8. LeBron James, Miami Heat: He should be No. 1 on every NBA list ever made given his otherworldly talent and global-marketinglebron-james-face-machine status, but James drops hard in terms of likeability due to his late-game failures in the 2011 NBA Finals, his out-of-touch comments towards fans following the Heat's eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the self-unaware “Decision” and his overall child-star cockiness/obliviousness. Even given all of that, no one would be surprised if winning a title vaulted him to the top of this list next year. His talent is that absurd. Score: 74

7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: You might have heard: Rose is humble. The 2011 MVP has so much going for him: He’s won at an early age, he’s winning for his hometown team, he’s lived up to expectations, he’s taken responsibility for losses and shared credit for victories, he’s managed to be a scoring point guard without getting written off as “selfish,” and he kept a safe distance from all the free agency politicking that soured a lot of fans on many top-name players last summer. He continues to battle his “shy” public nature, which is the only thing holding him back from much, much greater fame. Score: 79

6. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: Paul checks off virtually every box on the likeability list. He’s cutthroat on the court and cuddly off of it. He’s raised loads of money for Hurricane Katrina relief. He’s a devout man without being preachy. He comes across as a caring father and thoughtful citizen. He’s -- so far -- steered clear of hijacking his franchise by demanding a trade or threatening to walk in free agency. The touching story of his love for his deceased grandfather has become an indelible part of his identity. And he is team-first, always. There’s so much to like that you actually hope he finds a better situation, where he will be able to fill out his playoff reputation. Score: 81

5. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: This is the top of the mountain for Nowitzki, both on and off the court. It simply doesn’t get any better than captaining a balanced team through a marathon playoff run that ended with the demolition of the league’s most hated team. The cherry on top is the fact that Nowitzki came through in the clutch time and again. He’s put an ugly past relationship totally behind him, moving forward with a new fiancé. His personality with the media is easy-going and honest. He plays with a childish love of the game and hits shots that make you marvel. It’s hard to imagine another seven-foot German man gaining this level of acceptance and respect in the United States. Ever. Also, he’s squashed the “soft” label that haunted him for years. Score: 84

4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Howard has deftly positioned himself as the heir apparent to Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most likeable NBA stars in recent memory. His dominant two-way play serves as the basis for a superhero persona, and his active online presence and numerous endorsement deals make his zany personality inescapable. The fact that he hasn’t committed to the Magic and could be headed for a free agency bonanza could cost him points down the road, but right now he’s still the giant, lovable teddy bear who can swat shots back to half court. Score: 85

T-2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: It was a shocking scene when Wade joined James in mocking Nowitzki during the Finals for being sick: A very flat note for someone who has historically been pitch perfect. Throughout his career, Wade has been a Teflon Don, particularly charmed as a player and as an endorser. With a title under his belt and a megawatt smile, Wade has displayed a good sense of humor for years as a pitchman and also been a staple on NBA Cares commercials. Both James and Bosh lost points last summer for their decision to team up in Miami, but Wade came off as a big winner, the cool older-brother figure who pulled off the recruiting haul of a lifetime. Score: 87

kevin-durant-smile

T-2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Colorado sure feels like a long, long time ago, doesn’t it? Bryant has made the most of the second half of his NBA career, winning rings by the fistful and growing his international popularity immensely. He’s played through pain, done things his way, taken a direct, often profane, tone with the media and become the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan. Age is slowly advancing, which has a way of humanizing people, and yet his ego and force of will push back equally hard, making it seem, at least for now, that his reign on top will last as long as he chooses. Right now, he’s the NBA’s most mythical figure. Score: 87

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s virtually impossible to find fault with the NBA’s scoring champ. Durant combines Rose’s humble nature, Nowitzki’s impossible scoring touch, Griffin’s “new-car smell,” Howard’s technological accessibility and a Bryant-esque work ethic. He’s polite, he’s shown he has what it takes to win in the playoffs at a young age, he’s popular on an international stage already and the best is yet to come. He’s confident, but not cocky. He’s a gunner, but he comes off as unselfish. He’s team-first and loyal, much like Paul, and he’s locked in long-term so there’s no doubt or question about his future motives (at least not yet). Put it all together, and Durant is enjoying the ultimate honeymoon period with the NBA fans. We love potential, and Durant still has plenty of that. Also, he wears a backpack. Score: 88







Posted on: July 19, 2011 12:08 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 12:18 am
 

Chris Paul shoots at a gun range video

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul shoots at a gun range during his Las Vegas bachelor party. Posted by Ben Golliverchris-paul-gun-range

They shootin'! Aw, made you look. 

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul has been through a lot this season. His team was sold to the NBA and there were rumors it would be contracted, his teammate David West endured a season-ending knee injury, and he was bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers after putting on a heck of a one-man show.

Now that it's the offseason and there's no free agency period to trouble him with rumors about his future, Paul is free to unwind. And he's reportedly doing so in style, heading to Las Vegas to celebrate his bachelor party.

TheBigLead.com reported on Monday that Paul was joined by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony in Vegas and, later Monday, Paul tweeted that he was having lunch with the All-Star threesome. 

To work up that appetite, Paul, his brother C.J. and others went to a gun range to shoot some high-powered weaponry. Indeed, Paul uploaded this video to Twitvid, which shows him lying down on his chest on a padded mat and unloading dozens of shells at a target. He then sent out the video, tweeting, "Check out my skills. Good times."

After he finished shooting, Paul turns to the camera with a big smile on his face and declares, "You don't want to mess with me. You don't want to mess with me."

Note: Once the video loads, be sure to hit the "rotate" button. Or, just turn you head 90 degrees to the left.



For the record, Paul shot 46.3% from the field last season.

TheYBF.com reported in September that Paul was engaged to Jada Crawley.

Top picture via JayTrice on MobyPicture.com.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: July 18, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Chris Paul says the lockout is not about stars

Posted by Matt Moore

Chris Paul is not like a lot of the other NBA stars. Most of them only became interested in the lockout within the last year and a half (really All-Star 2010). Paul's been active for years in the executive side of the NBPA. And unlike a lot of stars, who are simply looking to protect the deals they've already signed, Paul's a free agent in 2012. He has the most to lose personally from this lockout and a potential restructuring of salaries. But in an interview with Business Week, Paul made it clear that he believes this lockout is about the good of the many, not the good of the few. From Business Week:
There’s a cross section of players on the executive committee, which has to represent everyone. I felt there should be a guy with a maximum contract to give perspective. [Paul will be paid $16.3 million by the New Orleans Hornets next season.] Whatever sacrifices have to be made are worth it to make sure we get a fair deal, a deal that represents the whole. Some kids go to college knowing they’re only playing one year before turning pro, and it was fitting that the last meeting we had with the owners came the day after the draft. We’re standing up for those players because they don’t have a say-so. We’re their voice: It’s a big brother mentality.
via Chris Paul on Risking a Lost NBA Season - BusinessWeek

Paul also talks about how the players have a responsibility to future generations of players, making the lockout seem like more of a moralist argument than a business deal. And Paul's right that players that aren't in the NBPA have no way of protecting their future. At the same time, the players need to make sure they don't overdramaticize the conflict any more than they have. This is a business deal and should be treated as such. 

But with Paul taking this kind of stance, publicly, it speaks to the resolve of the players. If it's just individual players looking out for their individual interests, there's a lot that can go wrong to fracture the union. But with the players looking to not only protect past work and present prosperity, but also the future, that becomes an ideological approach, which is much more difficult to crack. But in the end, this comes down to money, which is what always talks. The owners know all they have to do is survive and stretch out the lockout as far as the player's resolve will take them. It's a war of attrition, even if the players are rallying around their flag to stay the course. 

Posted on: July 10, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 5:38 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

Posted by Royce Young



Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier, we took a look at the Southeast, Atlantic and Central Divisions. Let's continue on with the rough and tumble, yet aging, Southwest Division.

New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets easily present the most interesting lockout case of any team in my mind. First off, the league owns them. Secondly, and related to that, Chris Paul is a free agent in 2012. The league took on the responsibility of the Hornets because David Stern wasn't about to see a franchise lost on his watch and wants to do everything he can to keep the team there.

But a prolonged lockout resulting in a lost season really might end professional basketball in New Orleans. Chris Paul would have the ability to walk with the Hornets never having an chance to get anything in return, meaning the one draw the team has could be gone and the already struggling franchise might not have anything to show for his exit. On top of that, David West opted out and is an unrestricted free agent currently. So not only could the roster be entirely turned over, the already suspect fanbase might take another blow.

Now of course if Stern and the owners can negotiate a deal that makes a franchise like the Hornets profitable no matter what, then the league can sell the team and potentially pocket a bit. That's obviously something in the back of Stern's mind. The Hornets really make this lockout all the more intriguing because now Stern has a stake in things directly. He's not just the mediator trying to produce a good system for his league, but he's an owner too now.

Dallas Mavericks

Here's one benefit of a prolonged lockout: The Mavs get to be champs for two years instead of one. Bonus? I don't think they'd think so. Especially because the window the Mavs have to remain serious contenders isn't going to stay open much longer. Dirk is aging, Jason Kidd is like 78 and there are a bunch of questions surrounding players like Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea.

Mark Cuban is a big market owner, but I can see him as someone leaning toward making sure there is basketball over the owners guaranteeing profits. He's a fan first and foremost and he's tasted the top of the mountain. Granted, he gets the chance to soak it up a little longer, but if he wants his roster to keep going, losing a year might be the beginning of the end for the current Mavs.

San Antonio Spurs

There's no hiding that the Spurs are getting older. A year lost means another year tacked on to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. A year lost means Gregg Popovich gets a little older and as the longest tenured coach in the league, he might not have many left. The Spurs have a fanbase that will absolutely return in force and Peter Holt is maybe the finest owner in the league, especially in terms of managing a small market franchise, but I'm sure a year of lost basketball isn't something that sits well.

Holt obviously would love a system that levels the playing field a bit and helps smaller markets on the road to basking in the same light the Lakers, Bulls and Knicks get, but basketball is a priority in San Antonio. The window won't be open much longer. Even Tony Parker acknowledged that. And that roster still wants to try and make one more run at it all.

Memphis Grizzlies
Really, Michael Heisley probably isn't all that terrified from losing a season. He's a small market owner who has spent big as of late and saving money on Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley isn't all bad for him. The core of the team, sans Marc Gasol, is all locked up long-term so while a lost season would mean missing out on all the positive movement and momentum from last season, there's still a lot of opportunity ahead for Memphis.

Still, it's a risk to mess with a potentially fragile fanbase like the Grizzlies'. The FedEx Forum has never been known to be full, but during the postseason run, the Grizzlies emerged with one of the most passionate, loyal crowds in the league. There's clearly something working right now and Heisley and the Grizzlies don't want to jade and sour those fans that have come around by damaging all that goodwill they worked so hard to build.

Houston Rockets
Hard for me to guess how the Rockets see this thing. They are an in-between franchise, not necessarily small market but not big either. Their roster is set up to withstand a lockout and return with good pieces intact. They don't have any major lingering free agents of concern.

What I think would scare them a bit though is missing out on the opportunity to compete in the trade market for players like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams all season long though. The Rockets have quality trade pieces and good assets to dangle in front of teams and I'm sure Daryl Morey would have some interesting proposals to make. Sure there's always 2012's free agency but opening it up to that puts the Rockets a bit behind the other, more intriguing, brighter markets. A sign-and-trade might be their best chance to land that superstar player Morey so desperately wants.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 6:15 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Looking back at "The Decision"

Posted by Matt Moore 



In this week's return edition of the Friday 5 with KB, we look back on "The Decision," the future of Chris Paul, how a hard cap affects trades, and who among the owners could end this insanity.

1. Well, it's been a year since "The Decision." Beyond the context of the lockout, how does the Decision look to you now?

KB: It still looks as self-serving, tone-deaf, and poorly orchestrated as it did then. But I think everyone's sensitivities have been muted -- even residents of the great state of Ohio. You can't be mad forever, right? Plus, LeBron managed to carry himself even worse during the Finals than he did during the Decision, so there's that. As far as your caveat, it's impossible to look at anything in the NBA through a prism other than the lockout. The way free agents flexed their muscle last summer, I think, was at least part of the motivation for owners to put the hammer down with this lockout. They want cost cutting, but they also want control back from the stars who owned them last July. One important point that bolsters the players' argument for a flexible system with maximum player movement: Look at how much revenue and interest were generated by last summer's player movement. If the NBA wants to maximize both, wouldn't it want a fever-pitched free agency period every year?

2. Compared to the relative calm of the lockout, how do you look back on the insanity of last summer's 2010 free agency period?

KB: With horror. I mean, from a coverage standpoint, it was one of the most challenging things I've ever had to deal with as a sports writer. I'm not whining or complaining, but we're talking about three hours of sleep a night, days without shaving or seeing family members, just a flat-out bunker mentality in a small bedroom in our apartment, talking, texting, and emailing until well past 3 a.m. every night for weeks. There are a lot of incomparably good things about the job, but the first two weeks of July last summer were pure hell.


3. You unloaded The Berger Plan Part II late this week. One question for the hard cap. How's that going to impact trade movement? In the NFL we hardly see trades at all, and in basketball, that flexibility is crucial as you said. How does a hard cap influence that kind of player and contract movement?

KB: Trade restrictions are one area I didn't get into too much, but I agree, it's an important topic. I favor doing away with base compensation and other impediments to trades. I think the Sept. 1 cap-casualty deadline will add to the player movement as sort of a second wave of free agency. But I also believe for competitive balance to be maximized, teams need to have as much flexibility to trade players as possible.

4. Lot of talk about the fact that if David West leaves, CP3 will be right behind him. What's the temperature of the water in New Orleans right now?

KB: Hard to say, because everyone is in lockdown mode for the lockout. Personally, I've always believed that CP3 was going to leave New Orleans anyway -- provided the new CBA allows it -- so I don't think having David West or not having David West was going to make a whole lot of difference.

5. If there was one owner we could put in charge to get a deal done to end the lockout, who do you think it should be?

KB: I think Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, is reasonable and has enough clout to bridge the gap between high- and low-revenue owners. Mark Cuban is the smartest, the most creative, and the best businessman, but he's too much of a radical hard-liner to get any sort of consensus or compromise with the players. Clay Bennett is indebted to David Stern for helping him move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, and his clout is on the rise. I'd probably say Holt, who gives you the best and worst of both worlds -- a small-market owner for a team that carries a high payroll and, at least in terms of gate receipts, brings in big-market revenues.
 
 
 
 
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