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Tag:Lamar Odom
Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 9:59 am
 

Kobe Bryant denies interest in trade

By Matt Moore

Since the Lakers' season has started about as disastrously as you can without a major injury, there had started to be rumors. That's what happens with a high-profile team full of high-profile players in a dramatic environment. There were actually suggestions last week that Kobe Bryant could potentially pursue a trade with the lack of significant roster upgrades. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Bryant made quick work of that nonsense. 
Q: Do you see yourself retiring with the Lakers? There’s been speculation you might want a change.

Bryant: “I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t have any feeling about [leaving] whatsoever.”

Q: So you definitely want to stay a Laker?

Bryant: “Of course. No question. Why not? I’ve been here for 16 years. I’m going to up and leave now?”

Q: Do you want to be one of those rare stars that played in only one place during a long NBA career?

Bryant: “Oh yeah. That would be special. It’s rare to see that nowadays. It’s almost nearly impossible.”
via Kobe Bryant Q&A: Laker for life? - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Bryant won't be going anywhere anytime soon. He's not going to be the star he is anywhere else, and his legacy is best reflected by retiring a Laker. What is possible? The Lakers eventually moving or ditching him. 

Sounds insane, doesn't it? But the Lakers have never put sentimentality ahead of what's best for the team. Their relationship with former players is a minefield of tense situations. Jerry West has a troubled relationship with the organization, for crying out loud, and he's the NBA logo. Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,  the list of players whose tenure has ended badly or gone on to sour is long and Lamar Odom recently joined the list. The franchise puts itself before the players, which has its advantages given some of the poor decisions made by franchises out of loyalty at times, but it also has impacts on things like legacy. 

The Lakers have already made it clear where Bryant stands in the organization. In the interview, Bryant mentions how the franchise simply doesn't consult with its players when making personnel decisions, be they hiring Mike Brown as head coach or trading Lamar Odom. Players play, coaches coach, management manages. But at least Lakers fans can rest assured that as long as Bryant is able to hit a jump shot, he'll have a home and isn't looking to upgrade any time soon.  

With Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, along with Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes, the Lakers are still a formidable team in the West. They failed to upgrade at point guard and lost their sixth man in Lamar Odom. But there's more than enough talent on this team to make a run at the title. And it's hard to believer Lakers management doesn't have one more trick stored in its bag to upgrade. The Lakers' run is far from over.
Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 11:27 am
 

Report: Rockets dispute Stern over dead CP3 deal

Posted by Royce Young

It's been more than a week since David Stern's office vetoed a trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers for "basketball reasons." In that time, a deal got done sending Paul to the Clippers, Stern denied all the allegations and criticisms blaming source-mongering journalists and the expectation was everything would go away. We'd all move on.

For the most part, people have. We're all excited to see CP3 lobbing to Blake Griffin, all excited to see how or if the Clippers can challenge the Lakers in Los Angeles and excited to see if the balance of power just shifted in the Western Conference.

But there are people that haven't moved on. Most notably the Houston Rockets.

Lost in the original CP3 mess was that the Rockets came up as major losers. The Lakers didn't get their man, Stern's reputation took a hit and the Dell Demps and the Hornets had to restructure a deal to get more youth. But no big deal, all that stuff can be fixed. The Rockets though, were left empty-handed after thinking they were about to land one of the elite power forwards in all of basketball.

And they haven't forgotten. Not just because the trade didn't work out for them, but because they feel that Stern has sort of spit in their face with his damage control of the situation. Via the Houston Chronicle:

Stern said in a media conference call last week that he was only "generally informed about the discussions with teams."

He emphasized that Demps never thought the deal to be complete and that his decision as final say on the move was not unlike the customary role of owners during trade negotiations.

But according to two individuals with knowledge of the talks, Demps had assured Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak throughout the day that Stern and other NBA officials had been given all the details of the deal and had signed off on it.

"He said that David was briefed and that it was a done deal," one of the individuals with knowledge of the talks said. "He (Demps) said multiple times that he briefed both of his local officials, (Hornets president) Hugh Webber and (Hornets chairman) Jac Sperling, and they and Dell at regular intervals were updating (NBA vice presidents) Stu Jackson and Joel Litvin and that they told David himself throughout the day. Also, Hugh and Jac, who were updating the league office, understood it to be a deal."

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was asked about the situation Saturday and declined comment based on the advice of legal counsel. So that's not a good thing. The whole organization is ticked, especially owner Leslie Alexander.

But Morey and Alexander were livid about Stern's action, according to the person with knowledge of the discussions that day and since. Alexander had tried to speak directly with Stern after the deal was originally nixed and again as Morey, Demps and Kupchak tried to rebuild the deal, but did not get a returned call until after the Lakers had pulled out of the discussions.

By then, the person said, Alexander had no interest in speaking with Stern and has declined to speak with him since.

[...]

"You (Alexander) can say he was very angry," the person, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. "He was on the phone with Daryl too many times that day to count. When the deal finally got done, he got a call from Daryl saying the deal was done. Afterwards, the commissioner said he didn't think the deal was done. It was amazing. Daryl is extremely efficient and does things the proper way. (Lakers owner) Jerry Buss has been in the league 30 years and has made countless deals and thought the deal was done. Mitch Kupchak thought the deal was done. There was no question in his (Alexander's) and Daryl's minds the deal was done."
Stern maintained on a conference call after the Clipper trade went through that the deal was never done, but was just something in the talking phase. Which obviously someone in the Rockets' organization sees as a complete lie.

This story isn't over. It's not going to go away quite yet. It would, except the Rockets feel like they got screwed, which they did. And they're going to try and make sure everyone hears about it.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 11:55 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 6:59 pm
 

Lakers sign Murphy, Kings claim Outlaw

By Matt Moore

The Los Angeles Laker s signed forward Troy Murphy Saturday to bolster their frontcourt bench left weakened by the trade of Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks. Murphy, 31, was bought out by the Nets last spring and signed with the Boston Celtics in what was thought at the time to be a shrewd move to potentially put the Celtics over the championship hump. Instead, Murphy underperformed and played limited minutes due to injury, and played just one game for three minutes in the postseason. 

If healthy, Murphy could help the Lakers as a do-it-all veteran with savvy. If out of his depth and still hampered by injuries, he is unlikely to make much of an impact even on a team facing significant problems past its starting front line.

****************

The Sacramento Kings claimed forward Travis Outlaw off the amnesty wire Saturday. Outlaw had a massively disapponting first year in New Jersey after signing a five-year, $35 million contract in 2010. The Kings have faced a serious absence at the small forward position since trading Omri Casspi last spring. John Salmons can spend time there but is under-sized.

Under amnesty rules, the Kings were allowed to claim Outlaw because of their cap space (only teams with cap space can bid), and their bid will count against their cap while the remainder will be paid by New Jersey and will not count against their cap. Outlaw played significantly better in Portland and maybe a return to the west coast will improve his play. Outlaw had wrist surgery this summer but has been cleared for contact according to SI.com. 
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 13, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Report: Lakers sign Josh McRoberts to 2-year deal

Posted by Ben Golliverjosh-mcroberts

The NBA's game of "power forward musical chairs" continued on Tuesday.

Yahoo Sports reports that Indiana Pacers power forward Josh McRoberts has signed a 2-year deal for $3 million per year with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers, who are in the luxury tax, used their mini-Mid-Level Exception to complete the signing.

McRoberts helps fill the hole created when Lamar Odom requested a trade from the Lakers this past weekend and was promptly dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. Indiana, meanwhile, also agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent forward David West, rendering McRoberts extraneous.

Over the past few days, rumors circulated that Indiana would trade McRoberts to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard O.J. Mayo, but clearly the Duke University product found a better option.

Given Odom's departure, much will be asked of McRoberts, who brings with him a good motor and fairly solid skills. Aside from top-flight starters Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers' frontcourt is pretty barren, and McRoberts should serve as a cost-effective, reliable hole-plugger in that regard. Still, he's a massive downgrade from Odom, one of the league's most versatile and talented stretch fours.

McRoberts, 24, was a second round pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 NBA Draft but was traded to the Pacers on the night of the 2008 NBA Draft along with forward Brandon Rush in a deal that sent guard Jerryd Bayless to Portland. McRoberts averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Pacers in 2010-2011, both career-highs. He started 51 games for Indiana last season.
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 11, 2011 5:00 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 6:31 pm
 

Lamar Odom and the Mavs: How's it look?

Posted by Royce Young



More people might be wondering how Khloe Kardashian feels about Dallas than what Lamar Odom means for the defending champs. But that's just the way it is when it comes to Odom.

So let's ask the question: How does Khloe feel about this?

Just kidding. I meant the other question.

The Mavericks needed to replace the size they lost with Tyson Chandler signing with the Knicks and while Brendan Haywood is a serviceable replacement -- especially in terms of what he's already being paid -- Odom gives the Mavs a jolt of size, which is something they definitely needed.

I mean, just imagine the options Rick Carlisle has now. Odom and Dirk together in the frontcourt, Odom at small forward, Odom running point forward with Jason Kidd off the ball and two other guards or just Odom at the 5 and Dirk at the 4.

It was a bit curious to me that the Lakers would be so willing to unload Odom to the team that swept them out of the playoffs last season, especially when the deal helps their foe in a lot of ways. Because look at what Odom gives Dallas: A big body to rebound and defend the size in the West -- i.e., the Lakers with Gasol and Bynum (or Dwight Howard) -- but also another offensive weapon that can play inside and out.

How do you defend the Mavs with both Odom and Dirk together? That's got to be one of the more unique pairings that anyone in the league could deploy. Dirk's off-balance jumpers, Odom's passing and ball-handling -- two unconventional players playing in a very dynamic offensive system with a point guard like Jason Kidd passing them the ball. That could be some poetic offense.

A big question is, is this enough to make the Mavs contenders to repeat? Chandler meant so very much to them in terms of protecting the paint and Odom isn't replacing that. He's more giving them a little more offensive versatility while also a little bump in size. If we were just comparing Odom to losing Chandler, there's no comparison. The Mavs lost more than they gained.

But Odom isn't there to replace Chandler. He's there to give the Mavs a new look. It's more about Haywood and what he brings. Because if he's capable of turning in a season like he had in Washginton before signing a big deal with Dallas, you're looking at a Mavs team that's similar to last season except they've just added Lamar Odom. Sounds like an upgrade to me.

And what did they have to give up? Just a trade exception that they got a few hours earlier from the Chandler deal. Dan Gilbert has had the trade exception the Cavs got in their sign-and-trade with Miami for LeBron. Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson turned theirs into Lamar Odom and it only took about 12 hours.

Maybe it was part of a master plan, or maybe it's just coincidence, but partly because of Mark Cuban's noise-making, the Mavericks just landed themselves a pretty nice piece for very little. Are they still championship material? It's a different look now because Odom is going to change them a lot. Without him, they'd be more of the same with Haywood trying to do his best Tyson Chandler impersonation. Now, they've got a fresh, versatile face that might make them as dangerous as they've ever been offensively.
 
 
 
 
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