Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:48 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 2:50 pm

The lockout could really sting the Heat

Posted by Royce Young

Some owners are reportedly just fine with losing an entire season of basketball to get a favorable deal. That's not a good thing for players because not only do they miss out on their paychecks, but it also hurts players who had to postpone their free agency and are now a year older.

And think about teams that have superstars players in the final year of their contracts: Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard could all potentially walk from their current teams without ever playing another game for them. And not only that, but because the lockout halts all business, the Hornets, Nets and Magic wouldn't even have an opportunity to pull a Carmelo-ish trade and try and get something in return.

Definitely a little something for those owners to think about, especially when time starts to run out.

But think about how a lockout could affect the league's most visible team. Via the Miami Herald:
"If next season goes by the wayside, that means (Heat owner) Micky Arison has only two more seasons guaranteed with the Big 3 under contract. What could happen after that is too scary to even consider right now. Put yourself in Arison's shoes, and you would be walking to the negotiating table right now to make sure a deal gets done in time."
James, Wade and Bosh all gave themselves early termination options after the 2013-14 season. A lost season would definitely make winning not one, not two, not three, et cetera, et cetera, much more difficult.

So that's four teams that have a little different perspective as negotiations continue on. Of course the Hornets are owned by the NBA so that's awkward, but for the Magic, Nets and Heat for sure, there's some incentive in making sure 2011-12 happens. Making money is always the top goal for the owners, but having a winner and/or star players typically helps that.

And watching Howard, Williams or Paul walk without anything in return could damage some bank accounts. Same with Arison and the Heat. That team, while the most polarizing in the league, is also a lightning rod of popularity. Everyone watches the Heat. Arison would be missing not just one extra shot at a title, but another season of consistent sellouts and crazy merchandise sales.

Something to think about, at least.
Posted on: June 4, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2011 3:48 pm

Demps denies Westbrook for Paul rumor

Posted by Royce Young

The way the world turned on Russell Westbrook in the postseason was almost shocking. Actually, not "almost." It was completely, entirely stunning.

A player that during the regular season almost everyone agreed was maybe the real MVP of a 55-win division champion went from a blossoming superstar into a target that mediatypes zeroed in on. After the Thunder's exit in the Western Conference Finals to the Mavericks, there were actually debates and discussion that -- and I still can't believe this -- asked, "Should the Thunder trade Russell Westbrook?"

Yeah, trade a 22-year-old point guard that made the All-Star team and was named second-team All-NBA in his third season and is maybe just now starting to realize his potential. Yeah, trade the point guard that finished the season averaging 21.9 points and 8.2 assists per game with a PER of 23.6, which was eighth in the league and better than the MVP Derrick Rose. Yeah, trade the point guard that's part of Sam Presti's overall long-term plan that helped push one of the league's youngest rosters to the Western Finals, averaging 24 points, six assists and five rebounds a game.

Yeah, trade that guy.

Regardless, somehow a manufactured trade rumor surfaced that Westbrook for Chris Paul had potential. In reality, this deal was never anything more than pure speculation on the part of overreactive media members and emotional fans having a party with the Trade Machine, but it gained enough traction for Hornets general manager Dell Demps to address. Via the Times-Picayune:

“Sam Presti and I, our offices used to be right next to each other, so we still text each other all the time, and I can assure you that has not been a conversation we’ve had,” Demps said, reportedly while smiling as he talked.

And if you asked Sam Presti, he probably wouldn't even answer you about this fabricated rumor. (Actually knowing Sam Presti he'd be incredibly vague and say something like, "We always looking at options to improve and enhance our roster, but I'm not going to comment publicly about any discussions we've had with other teams. But Russell is definitely part of our long-term plans." Which is Presti saying, "No, you idiot.)

The fact this is even a story to the point Demps was asked about it is incredible. You can't slow down the monster that was created by people bashing Westbrook during the playoffs and it's gotten to the point where actual GMs are being quizzed. Oklahoma City isn't trading Russell Westbrook. He's almost assuredly getting an extension with the Thunder July -- likely for near the league maximum -- and is a key part of the Thunder's blueprint to build a winner.

Even if Kevin Durant is unhappy with his relationship with Westbrook, Presti isn't the type to overreact. These guys are young. They're growing together, experiencing things for the first time as a group. There were some tough moments in the playoffs. And if it came to Durant being ruffled about Westbrook, Presti isn't going to just give up right there. First, Westbrook's way, way too good and secondly, Presti understands these guys are young and still in a lot of ways, immature. There's a lot of time to move past any kind of chemistry hiccup.

Again, 22 years old. Twenty-two. Westbrook wants to be in OKC. The team wants him in OKC and its about to prove it by ponying up the dollars. Everyone loves a good swap and trade rumors are fun. But if the Hornets are looking to deal Paul for someone before he becomes a free agent in 2012, Demps need not call Presti. Because there's nothing to talk about.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 2:37 pm

NBA All-Defense teams announced

Posted by Royce Young

The NBA announced its All-Defense teams with Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard leading the way. The first team consisted of Howard, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant.

The second team is Joakim Noah, Tony Allen, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala and Tyson Chandler.

Now two things right off the bat: Kobe is on the first team? Just another example of the odd affinity some media voters have for No. 24. He picked up an odd number of MVP votes (included a first-place vote) and was voted to the NBA's All-Defense first team. Kobe is a good defender, but this isn't 2006. He isn't near the stopper he once was.

The second is that Dwyane Wade wasn't even on the second team. Wade is known as maybe the best on-ball defender in the entire league and not only did Kobe get his first team spot, but Wade was relegated to honorable mention. That's just... messed up.

If you're curious, NBA coaches vote on the All-NBA teams. Which makes you wonder if they didn't pay attention, voted on hype/reputation or were just lazy. Probably a little of all the above.

One thing I'll ask: Is the second team actually better than the first? Allen and Iguodala are two unbelievable wing defenders. Chandler had an amazingly underrated defensive year. Chris Paul is one of the craftiest, most pesky defenders in the league and well, I guess you could say the same of Noah. The first team has Howard who is the league's best defensive presence, but I'd say Paul is better than Rondo, Noah comparable to Garnett, Allen better than Bryant and Iguodala on the same level as LeBron. Interesting thought.

Some other notes:
  • Derrick Rose picked up four first team votes and had the most votes of all the honorable mention guys. That means he had more votes than Wade, Luol Deng and Gerald Wallace. That is just, well, stupid.
  • Despite only playing 23 games, Kendrick Perkins somehow picked up a few votes.
  • Grant Hill received four first-team votes and while I wouldn't necessarily argue he should replace someone on the first or second team, Hill had a tremendous defensive season at 38 years old. Kevin Durant said that Hill guarded him as well as anyone else this year.
  • One of the league's most reknowned defenders, Ron Artest picked up only one first-team vote.
  • The league's leading total shot blocker, Serge Ibaka, received one first-team vote.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 11:28 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:26 am

Series in Review: Lakers-Hornets

Posted by Royce Young

Series MVP: Andrew Bynum

Yep, not Kobe. Bynum, often a critical figure in the Laker starting five, was big -- literally and figuratively -- for Los Angeles these six games. He averaged a double-double, capping it with an 18-point, 12-rebound, two-block performance in the deciding game. There was a big opportunity for Bynum because of the Hornets' lack of quality size inside, and Bynum exploited it all six games. Bynum has become the cornerstone to Laker success in the postseason and he's off to a pretty good start, I'd say.

Best Play: Kobe crams over Okafor

Just the statement this made was almost jarring. Kobe, coming into the game on a sprained ankle that had everyone talking about his availability and effectiveness, rose above one of the league's top shot blockers and stuffed it. The message was sent early in Game 5 -- this series was not coming back to Staples.

Best Play Runner-Up: Chris Paul twists Bynum up

CP3 is just a wizard with the ball in his hands. Like, seriously, I think he has powers in those hands that aren't natural to this world. The way he subtlety brought his off-hand up to mimic a shot was brilliant. Only CP3. 

Biggest Disappointment: Pau Gasol

Matched against an inferior front line, Gasol was entirely absent in Games 1 and 2. Really, there was no excuse. In Game 1, it actually looked as if Gasol didn't realize he was playing. He was going through motions, just timidly jogging up and down the floor. He fumbled a big pass from Kobe in crunch time out of bounds and actually had people comparing him to Kwame Brown for a minute. He straightened himself out with three solid games to close, but he can do better. And he'll have to if the Lakers want a third straight title.

Best Moment: "I'd hit my mama..."

Kobe and Chris Paul are widely known as good friends off the court. But CP3 sent a little message in Game 4 with a hard foul on Kobe. The two bumped a bit after the play and had words. After the game, Cheryl Miller asked Paul about it and he delivered an excellent line. "I'd hit my mama too if she was out on the court."

Worst Moment: The absence of David West

Hard not to think about what this series might've looked like with David West on the floor for these six games. Not just having a better body inside to take on the Lakers' frontline, but giving Paul his scoring buddy to rely on in the pick-and-roll would've been huge. I'm not going to say this series would've been different in terms of the final result, but at least the Hornets would've had a better chance.

Best Performance: CP3's Game 4

Goodness. 27-15-13. Or 23-7-6 in the second half. Paul was on another planet that night. He was fantastic in Game 1, good in Game 2, great in Games 3, 5 and 6. But that Game 4 was one for the ages. A tremendous, terrific, wonderful effort that illustrated just how amazing Chris Paul is.

Best Game: Game 1

There wasn't exactly a classic in this series, meaning any game that came down to a final possession or a big shot. But Game 1 in Los Angeles definitely had the biggest moments and swings. CP3 was great, Kobe was drilling big shots, and the Hornets were stunning everyone. It was one of the most enjoyable games of what was one of the most amazing opening weekends of the playoffs we've seen in a while.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:07 am

Grading the series: Lakers finish Hornets in 6

Posted by Royce Young

The Lakers put away the Hornets in six games with a 98-80 win in New Orleans. Time to pull out the red pen and mark up this test.


Kobe Bryant: A bit up and down for Kobe. He averaged better than 22 points per game and had good percentages, but in the Lakers' losses, he was a bit erratic. He was bad in Game 2, but the Lakers handled the Hornets easily that night. In Game 5, he wasn't, and L.A. lost by five. But a commendable effort battling through an ankle sprain to not only score the ball, but defend Chris Paul. Kobe wasn't great, but even in his mediocrity, he was pretty darn good.

Grade: B

Pau Gasol: He woke up in the final three games, but for Games 1 and 2, he was so average that people were actually wondering if Marc was the better of the two. Pau was just so disengaged. He wasn't into it. He floated. It was frustrating to watch, mainly because of the Hornets depleted front line. I mean, look at who Gasol was going against. Aaron Gray, Jason Smith, Carl Landry and D.J. Mbenga. Not exactly players that should be stopping him. He responded well the last three, but still, those weren't the dominant games you'd expect from a player as gifted as Gasol. He needs to be better.

Grade: C

Andrew Bynum: I said it in this other piece, but Bynum was the MVP of this series. He played six very good games, was involved, aggressive and locked in on both ends. He took advantage of the Hornets inside group and scored in double-figures every game. He was the dominant big man he's supposed to be.

Grade: A

Overall grade: Should this series have taken six games? Absolutely not. Did the Lakers reveal a good number of holes and make a lot of people rightfully question their ability to win a third straight title? Without a doubt. But they also won the series, and don't forget that the Hornets had one of the very few players in basketball that has the ability to win games against anyone all on his own. The Lakers weren't great, but they were good enough.

Grade: B


Chris Paul: Like a cold-handed slap in the face, CP3 reminded everyone that he is, indeed, still the best point guard in basketball. He was downright terrifying. His Game 6 was a complete disappointment, but the weight of carrying a depleted roster against one of the premier teams in the league gets heavy. I mean the Hornets won two games against the defending champs with Chris Paul and four ball boys on the floor at one time. That's impressive. I give him a pass for the Game 6 clunker.

Grade: A

NOLA front line: For a second there, we were all shocked at the words coming out of our mouths. Aaron Gray... important? But things came back down to reality. This was obviously the biggest mismatch on the floor, and while Emeka Okafor battled valiantly along with Gray, Carl Landry, Mbenga and Jason Smith, they just weren't hanging inside. The Lakers dominated the paint, owned the glass and overwhelmed the Hornets.

Grade: C+

Monty Williams: This was Williams' first trip into the postseason as a head man and I'd say he got his group as well prepared as it could be to take on a team that is head and shoulders above. He used the Lakers' strength against them, exploiting mismatches on switches. With Paul and Jarrett Jack together in the backcourt, the Lakers had a hard time matching up. It was a solid gameplan, but it was only destined to work for so long.

Another plus for Williams though was his willingness to go deep into his bench for help. Too few coaches do this in big games. Williams wasn't afraid to trust players that didn't have a ton of playing time to their name this season. This was partly because his options were limited, but he didn't hang on to his rotations, which I thought was good.

Grade: B+

Overall grade: Stealing Game 1 was shocking. Taking another was even more jarring, and it actually had us wondering if the Hornets had a chance. Think about that. Before this series, no one -- not even Hornets' fans -- saw this matchup as anything more than opening round fodder for the Lakers. The Hornets were just breakfast, as LeBron would say.

Instead of that happening, the Hornets found themselves in a VERY important Game 5 in Los Angeles, a place they had already won. Pull off that game and there's a real chance at an upset. Regardless, winning two games -- one in Staples -- was an impressive feat for this underdog.

Overall grade: A-

Posted on: April 28, 2011 9:40 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 9:45 am

Playoff Fix: Hornets-Lakers Game 6

The Los Angeles Lakers can advance to the second round with a Game 6 win over the New Orleans Hornets. Posted by Ben Golliver.

One Big Thing: After a lackadaisical and lost Game 1 effort that allowed 109 New Orleans points, the Los Angeles Lakers have locked in on defense, holding the Hornets to an average of 85.5 points in Games 2 through 5. Playoff basketball always starts on the defensive end, and the Lakers have proven that in this series, doing their best to win the battle on the glass and contain a plucky, overachieving and fearless Hornets team to take a 3-2 series lead. In Game 5, the Lakers were able to force 19 Hornets turnovers, a number that isn't sustainable for New Orleans if it hopes to stave off elimination at home in Thursday night's Game 6. 

The X-Factor: In a series with such a disparity in talent, length and bulk in the frontcourt, it's been a bit surprising to see how closely tied L.A.'s success has been to Kobe Bryant's performance. In Game 5, Bryant changed the complexion of the game with two monstrous dunks. His teammates obviously fed off of the spark, playing more loosely and with that Laker swag/confidence that has been absent for much of this series. All five Lakers starters scored in double figures and shot 50% or better, reaching a level of balance that is simply overwhelming for New Orleans, who can match Bryant with Chis Paul but have no answer for the Lakers 2-8. The overlooked aspect of Game 5? Bryant scored just 19 points and played only 29 minutes. He's got plenty left in the tank for Game 6, despite the tweaked ankle.

The Adjustment: It's been an ongoing process, but the Lakers have begun to lean more heavily on their interior tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum offensively. Their combined point totals in Games 1 through 5: 21, 23, 31, 27, 34. Game 5 was really the model they'll look to reproduce in Game 6, as the 34 combined points came on just 23 attempts and included 12 combined trips to the foul line. Getting to the stripe on the road is generally a difficult proposition, but the Lakers were able to bully their way to 24 free throw attempts in Game 3 and 30 in Game 4. They shot 30 free throws again in Game 5 and will look to continue the parade in Game 6. New Orleans has three possible hopes here: L.A. reverts to ignoring its bigs in the halfcourt offense, Gasol shrinks back to his Invisible Man form from game 1, or Bynum gets in early foul trouble himself.

The Sticking Point: The Lakers' intensity level has been up and down this series, and they'll be walking into a cauldron in Game 6. Hornets fans, uncertain of their team's future, have been out in full force throughout the series, and Paul has ranged from amazing to spectacular through the first five games. One of the league's great competitors, Paul has already delivered the "this is all or nothing" quote in advance of Thursday night's game and has made his appeal to the home fans. The Hornets haven't looked afraid of the defending champions once during this series and Paul and company won't go down without a fight. 
Posted on: April 26, 2011 5:05 pm

Kobe refuses MRI and X-ray, likely to play

Posted by Royce Young

Kobe Bryant doesn't want to hear any bad news. So he's putting his fingers in his ears and saying "la la la la la."

After spraining his ankle in Game 4 against the Hornets, Bryant was expected to receive and X-ray and MRI to make sure there was no structural damage on it. Instead, Kobe said thanks but no thanks.

Via ESPN LA, Kobe refused both. He's likely to play according to Phil Jackson, but nobody knows what kind of damage there is to Kobe's ankle. Obviously the reason for it is, Kobe plans on playing no matter what his status is and he doesn't want some team doctor telling the front office he's risking further injury. So to avoid any chance of being held out, Kobe passed on both tests.

It's probably pretty stupid, but it's also very Kobe. Not only does it make him sound like a tough, play-through-anything player which is great PR, but it also speaks to what he really is -- a tough, play-through-anything player.

Kobe did not speak with reporters Monday or Tuesday, but Jackson acted like it was no doubt Bryant would play. "He's very hopeful," he said. As far as how healthy he is, Jackson said, "It will be a game-thing, who knows?"

With the Hornets evening the series at 2-2, Kobe doesn't feel like he can risk anything. Who knows how effective he'll be and if he'll guard Chris Paul again. I would think that would be difficult considering how quickly Paul can change directions.

But just having him on the floor is a boost to the team and everyone in the arena. He's making a statement to his guys right here. Doesn't matter what the MRI would've said. It could say I tore every ligament in my ankle. I'm playing. Whether or not that turns out to be a good decision is yet to be seen. But even a 60 percent Kobe is pretty much better than any replacement the Lakers would roll out there.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 2:08 pm

Is this panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers?

The New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers head into Game 5 tied at 2 games apiece. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Is it panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers? Not ... quite ... yet. But there are certainly reasons for it to feel that way, as their playoff series with the New Orleans Hornets is tied 2-2.

The biggest reason, of course, is Chris Paul's electric brilliance and will. Paul has engineered two wins so far this series, breaking down L.A.'s defense off the dribble and stubbornly carrying his team through Laker runs, imbuing a relatively weak supporting cast with confidence in the face of L.A.'s size and skill.

The second biggest reason is the status of Kobe Bryant's sprained ankle. As of Tuesday, Bryant was refusing tests on the ankle and saying that he would play in Game 5. Bryant has shown the ability to adjust his shot while playing on a bum ankle, but it's his lateral movement on defense that is of larger concern. The Lakers have used him to bump and bother Paul, sometimes in full-court manner, and a bad wheel makes that process infinitely more difficult and painful. Paul made it clear he was ready for war with Bryant in Game 4 and surely Bryant is up to the challenge. How will playing with pain affect his decision-making and shot selection? Will Lakers coach Phil Jackson adjust his minutes in any way, or use it as an excuse to pound the ball inside more often, particularly early?

Any time you're dealing with a superstar you struggle to stop, as well as an injury to your own superstar, it's enough to raise the blood pressure. But L.A. has won twice in this series already, still possesses home court advantage and can take solace in the fact that superhero efforts don't come along every night. 

Indeed, this series has been as much about players 4-10 as it has been about Paul vs. Bryant. During the Hornets wins, New Orleans' bench averaed 28.5 points per game (a figure propped up a bit by a monster Game 1). During Lakers wins, New Orleans' bench averaged 11 points per game. Hornets shooters -- Marco Belinelli, Willie Green and Jarrett Jack -- are the definition of "hot or not." They've proven to be inconsistent through four games. It's possible, if not probable, they could prove to be unreliable over the next three, despite Paul's best efforts to make their lives easy.

Similarly, L.A.'s bench has been up and down this series, although the peaks and valleys aren't as steep. In Hornets wins, the Lakers bench is averaging 19.5 points per game. In Lakers wins, L.A.'s bench is averaging 23.5 points per game. The headliner in those numbers is, of course, Lamar Odom, who presented New Orleans with a lot of problems in Games 2 and 3, but simply couldn't buy a basket in Game 4. Plus, he wasn't consistently assertive enough to make up for it at the free throw line, on defense, or on the glass. A return to form from Odom would go a long way to easing the burden on Bryant, and his ankle. It would also likely push New Orleans to the brink. 

And that's why it's not yet panic time. If the choice is between expecting Odom to bounce back at home and crossing your fingers that Belinelli, Green and/or Jack show up on the road, you'd pick "Option A" every time. So it's not yet panic time, but there's no longer any margin for error or room for excuses.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com