Posted on: December 27, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 12:06 am
Posted by Royce Young
Meet your new star, New Orleans.
With the Hornets down a point with 14.7 seconds left in their opener against the Suns, the ball was in Eric Gordon's hands. It used to be in Chris Paul's at this moment, with a good chance it was going to go to David West at the top of the key.
Instead, it was a new look for New Orleans with Gordon left to make it happen on his own. Isolated at the top of the key and boom, he drilled a 20-footer to win one for his new team. Now you can see why the Clippers were so reluctant to give him up. And why David Stern and the league wanted him so badly.
Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 11:39 am
Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:30 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 9:31 pm
Posted by Royce Young
After the Lakers three-way trade fell apart last week, Chris Paul had a simple and sweet tweet: "WoW," is all he had to say. Because it said it all.
And Wednesday night, after Eric Gordon was the prize in the package that finally convinced the league to push a big red button the CP3 deal, Gordon had pretty much the same reaction.
Here's the best part about it though: Three hours prior to that, here's what Gordon tweeted:
Funny story: Gordon actually found out about the deal while on a bus with Clipper season-ticket holders for some kind of fan tour thing. That's the "Clipper event" he tweeted about. And just a few hours later, he found out that he was in enemy territory.
The way players find out about trades has always been a bit fascinating, especially the how quickly news and information moves across Twitter and everything else. For Eric Gordon, his next stop on that bus was actually New Orleans.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:40 pm
By Matt Moore
There was no winning for New Orleans. No matter what, the Hornets are looking at losing the best player in franchise history. You don't replace Chris Paul. The Hornets were going to come away from trading him a worse team, facing a few years of terrible seasons. It's not what you want.
But if we take the conditions, a small market team with no leverage facing an uphill battle to even get some sort of value from the trade, with the league's overbearing hands all over it, and the roster as currently constructed, this is a great trade. The best trade you can make with CP3 is to not trade CP3. But if you're going to have to trade Chris Paul, you don't want a 30-year-old no-lift power forward, a 30-year-old combo forward who struggles with focus outside of L.A. and had no interest in playing in New Orleans, and a lesser version of Eric Gordon, along with the Knicks' 20-ish pick.
No, you want a star young player, like Eric Gordon, who has a great shot of making the All-Star game once the Hornets build anything around him. He's the franchise now, which he was not going to be in Los Angeles. You want a talented wing. Lost in this is the fact that Al Farouq-Aminu has everything you look for in a young wing. Great length, good defensive ability, decent hands. There's a lot of growth needed, but he's got the capacity to be a capable small forward in a few years. And you want to clear salary, which Chris Kaman's contract allows.
Beyond, that, consider this. The Hornets were going to be terrible with Paul. They will be more terrible without Chris Paul. But, if you're going to be terrible, you want to be terrible this season with the 2012 draft class in play. This class is as good as any since 2003, and with the Minnesota pick they acquired from Los Angeles, the Hornets are in position to have two picks potentialy in the top five, likely in the top ten, and definitely in the lottery.
That means some combination, if they were to tank out, of Anthony Davis - Harrison Barnes - Jared Sullinger - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist along with some combination of Bradley Beal - Marquis Teague - Perry Jones - Quincy Miller - Patric Young. That's how you rebuild a franchise quickly. Young star (Gordon) plus talented athlete (Aminu) plus two top ten draft picks in a quality draft. Clear the cap, add young players, maintain flexibility, build in the Thunder model.
One veteran who expires next year. One star with high upside. One athlete with growth potential and a small contract. A pick with high value. It's a sad day for New Orleans, who loses its franchise player, and has to go through the pains of rebuilding. But after all the hand-wringing, all the consternation about the league's involvement, it got what was best for the franchise. The Hornets have to make the right decisions for it to pay off. But they have what they need to move on.
The circus is over. Time to build a new carnival.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:22 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:40 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Let's break down the winners and losers of this blockbuster, which comes after nearly a week of rumors and failed deals between the Hornets, Lakers and Rockets and the Hornets and Clippers in which NBA commissioner David Stern stepped into veto multiple frameworks in his role as decision-maker for the league-owned Hornets.
Winners: New Orleans Hornets
What a difference a few days makes. The NBA’s trade negotiations mirrored its labor negotiations, as the league toed a seemingly impossibly hard line before emerging with pretty much everything it had been asking for. Losing a franchise player has become an unavoidable reality for small-market teams in recent years, and the only way to win the scenario is to recognize and process that fact early, hone in a desired wish list of assets and pursue those assets aggressively.
Failed trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers got very ugly last weekend, and there’s no question some relationships have been ruined for the foreseeable future because of the NBA’s vetoing role. The end doesn’t justify the means here but it certainly makes for a less bitter pill to swallow for the Hornets’ management, coaching staff and future owners.
The Paul haul is excellent. It includes all the requisite ingredients: a budding star (guard Eric Gordon), an absolutely incredible draft pick that is sure to result in a top-flight player (Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first rounder), a talent with some upside (forward Al-Farouq Aminu) and a more than serviceable player on a massive expiring contract (center Chris Kaman). The biggest risk here: getting Gordon to commit long-term to being the franchise guy on what is sure to be a long rebuilding process. Other than that, this was a textbook result even if the game plan was as unorthodox as it gets in the NBA.
Winners: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers acquire the rights to arguably the best all-around point guard in the game, at least for the next two years. Paul gives them a delightful All-Star backcourt/frontcourt combination with Paul and forward Blake Griffin. If you thought Blake manufactured highlights easily last year, just wait until he gets things clicking with Paul. With center DeAndre Jordan in place, the Clippers have a core that’s more than ready to make a run to the playoffs for just the second time in the last 14 years.
Their roster work is far from done. With four point guards now on the roster -- Paul, Mo Williams, Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe – and major holes at the two and three, something will have to give. Ideally, further trades will be coming down the pipeline and role guys will need to step up in a big way.
The Clippers, on balance, win here because of the instant legitimacy and credibility landing a star like Paul connotes, plus the extra bonus points for beating out the crosstown Lakers. They will likely be the most exciting show in town and have reasonable flexibility to be players on the free agent market next summer, too. This team just got way, way more interesting.
Losers: Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets
This week will go down in NBA history no matter how the teams involved proceed over the next few years. The stalled 3-team deals involving the Rockets, Lakers and Hornets led to Houston missing out on Pau Gasol and striking out on their free agency targets (Nene Hilario, Marc Gasol, etc.) and caused the Lakers to make a panic trade of talented forward Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks, one that angered multiple Lakers players and is surely already being regretted in private. There’s a bright side for the Lakers: they can always compete for Dwight Howard and other big-name free agents. As for Houston? Who knows? This could have been the best shot and the next few years could easily wind up being time-buying and wheel-spinning.
Winner: Blake Griffin
If you can’t get enough of Blake Griffin, good news: you’re about to get 10 times more of him. If you’re sick of Blake Griffin, bad news: he will be inescapable. Griffin is funny, personable and endlessly talented. Adding Paul at this stage of his career could vault him into the stratosphere.
Loser: Chris Paul
Paul is a pro’s pro and will say all the right things, but playing in Staples Center while donning that Clippers jersey won’t be the same as it would have been running point alongside Kobe Bryant. He now gets the burden of undoing decades of poor management rather than the burden of carrying a major torch that’s been passed from superstar to superstar since George Mikan. At least he’s out of New Orleans, which is no small feat, but this clearly could have played out better for him in so many ways. He wants to "win now" and the Clippers are more "win soon" than "win now." A 2-year commitment provides some certainty, but not that much. Another rumor zoo could await in the not-too-distant future.
Winner: Hornets Coach Monty Williams
One of the league’s youngest head coaches and a man who built his reputation on player development gets two talented youngsters in Gordon and Aminu plus a third top talent with the draft pick. Perhaps more importantly, he gets a fresh start and a slate wiped clean. As straight of a shooter as you’ll find in the NBA, Williams deserved better than an ownership mess and meddling from the NBA. He wants to coach and that’s what he’ll get to do for at least the next few years.
Loser: Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro
Forgotten man, say hello to great expectations! No longer will mediocrity be accepted. Winning now is the expectation and Paul has the clout to make Del Negro disappear if the chemistry fit isn’t quite right.
Winner: Clippers owner Donald Sterling and GM Neil Olshey
You made it this far and you’re asking yourself, “Holy ****, the Clippers really just got Chris freaking Paul?” Yes. Yes, they did.
Loser: Hornets GM Dell Demps
Initial reports indicate that the NBA stepped in to directly broker this trade, potentially usurping Demps’ authority and doing certain damage to his reputation, which was spotless up until the past week. It’s unclear how or if that damage will ever be undone. Top basketball executives spend years – decades, often – getting to a pinnacle job and to watch that work go out the window because of Stern is not fun at all. Hopefully Stern doesn’t phone in the Hornets’ 2012 NBA Draft picks to himself. The first step in making things right for Demps is to find a new owner, one that is independent of the NBA, immediately.
Winner: DeAndre Jordan
One of the league's most prolific dunkers and most efficient shooters could subsist entirely on lobs and putbacks next season and still not be declared overpaid after signing a 4-year, $43 million contract extension this week.
No one can replace Paul in New Orleans, not after four All-Star games in six amazing seasons. Gordon becomes the man unlucky enough to have to try, though, and the potential for a protracted dispute over his future with the Hornets looms in the distance. If he indicates, directly or indirectly, that his heart is elsewhere he will be in for a bumpy ride in his new hometown. Ultimately, playing in Los Angeles is one of the most desirable things a basketball star can ask for, doubly coveted because of Griffin. Now, Gordon must embrace chaos.
Stern’s NBA career is winding down and this will wind up being far more than a footnote on his legacy, given the many, many implications of his handling of the trade as overseer of the league-owned Hornets. The conflict of interest is too great and the harm done to the losers, as laid above, is irreversible. Everyone’s glad this sage is over but the ill effects will be felt for years.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:53 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:41 pm
By Matt Moore
You only get a shot at Chris Paul once. That's it. This opportunity will not come again, and honestly, a chance at a player of his caliber only comes along once every generation. But the trade -- as reported by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com -- that the Clippers pulled sending Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and a first-round pick to New Orleans for the best pure point guard in the league isn't about that. It's about what fits best with the future of the franchise. And the future of the franchise is Blake Griffin.
Sure, you want shooters for the kickout, someone to take the pressure off Griffin. But you can get those. Shooters abound. What don't abound are top level point guards who understand the pick-and-roll as well as any guard in the league. That's CP3. That's Chris Paul. Griffin will benefit more from Paul than he will from Gordon, and that was the kicker in this deal. While the haul for the Hornets is not only acceptable, but worlds better than the platter proposed in the original rejected trade, the gain for the Clippers is too great. They're in a position to win now, win in the future, win for the next decade.
You have to keep Blake Griffin at all costs. The risk is too great that the team won't develop with Griffin, will stall out, and then watch as he departs, potentially to their neighbor at Staples. But this? This is a realignment. The Clippers have a shot, albeit a slim one, at changing the status quo that the Clippers are losers and the Lakers are winners. The Lakers didn't get Chris Paul. The Clippers did.
There's talk that Chris Paul may leave in two years (it's widely expected that part of the agreement involves Paul opting in for the 2012-2013 season and becoming a free agent in the summer of 2013 vs. next summer). That the Clippers could be left with nothing.
But you take that risk. You gamble that CP3-Billups (that move looks a lot better)-Caron Butler-Griffin-DeAndre Jordan is enough to compete, with an extra year to build around them, now as a top free agent position. You risk all of that because if you can't win enough with that group to convince Paul and Griffin to stay together, nothing will. No more aiming for the playoffs, for aiming for respectability, for trying to just be decent.
The Clippers have shot for the moon. The worst case scenario is the most exciting two years in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers. Greatness isn't made by being conservative; fortune favors the bold.
The Clippers made the bold move, and now they have Chris Paul.
Look up, there go the Clips.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:54 am
By Matt Moore
We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Pacific Division.
Los Angeles Lakers, 57-25, lost 4-0 to Dallas Mavericks in 2nd round of Western Conference Playoffs
Phoenix Suns, 42-42, NBA Draft lottery
Golden State Warriors,36-46, NBA Draft lottery
Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50, NBA Draft lottery
Sacramento Kings, 24-58, NBA Draft lottery
Best team: Well, see, the thing is... Chris Paul (UPDATE: TIE- LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)
Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. Even with the Lakers unable to obtain Paul, the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is probably enough to take the honors here. But with Paul joining Blake Griffin, even without Eric Gordon, the additions of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups and re-signing DeAndre Jordan make as tough of a team to face as any. Griffin's impact next to Chris Paul is nearly incalculable.
The Lakers may still have the edge, but after the loss of Odom, everything is up in the air as far as who runs Staples now. The reality is that Paul landing in the city of L.A. will shift the division in one direction or another for the next half-decade at least.
Worst team: Sacramento Kings
The Kings are tricky. They have a convoluted backcourt. Tyreke Evans took a step back last season and it remains to be seen if it was all injury-related or not. There's no telling how Jimmer Fredette will adjust to the pro level. Marcus Thornton will struggle for minutes despite his all-around ability. John Salmons is floating around. There were huge chemistry questions last season and the players struggled against coach Paul Westphal at times.
If things don't improve, if DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mature, if Chuck Hayes can't protect the rim enough with his diminutive stature, things could get bad. And yet...
Biggest surprise: Sacramento Kings
There's so much firepower in that backcourt. Untangling it is complicated but they have everything. Shooting, athleticism, size, range, explosiveness, savvy, handle, everything. They have too much ability to not be effective in some ways. Cousins was a beast last season and even a small amount of maturity and development means he could be a near-All-Star (in the East, the West is too stacked). They have young talented bigs and Hayes who provides savvy and veteran knowledge.
The pieces are there. They're going to be exciting, even if they're struggling with an identity.
Three Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul
Update: With Paul joining the division, he instantly becomes one of the three best players. The best pure point guard in the league, with excellent shooting touch, terrific defense, and a supreme will to win? He leap-frogs both Pau and Nash.
Kobe Bryant needs no explanation, even at his age. The end.
Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league and the first player in a few years for people to say he could legitimately be the best player in the league at one point. His explosiveness and rebounding is unmatched, his mid-range jumper isn't lightyears away and his defense will get there. Already, Griffin is a force to be reckoned with. What happens when he gets better?
Gasol vs. Nash? Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.
Nash? Ho-hum, another 50-40-90 season (got to round up for once, but still). His weighted assists, factoring three-pointers assisted on, left him at 13, which means combined with his 15 points per game, he contributed 41 points per game to the Suns. That's absurd. It's also not the highest in the league for a point guard, but it's still an example of how good Nash is. He's flat-out old in relative terms of the league, and yet is in the best shape he possibly could be thanks to conditioning. Nash is still elite, an therefore neither he nor Gasol can be exempted.
Biggest Question: Can Golden State change its stripes?
Mark Jackson has to completely turn what the Warriors know as their identity inside out. They have to commit to defensive principles. David Lee, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, these players are not known for this, at all. It's going to take a miracle. If Jackson can get them to buy in and if his system is good enough, the Warriors could make a jump. Kwame Brown helps down low (don't laugh, he's become a quality defender). But there's so much to be done in terms of changing this team's indentity, the Warriors could be in for rocky seas.
2012 Projected Standings:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
Tags: 2011-2012 Division Previews, Andrew Bynum, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, David Lee, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon, Golden State Warriors, Jimmer Fredette, John Salmons, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Marcus Thornton, Mark Jackson, Matt Moore, Monta Ellis, Pau Gasol, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Tyreke Evans
Posted on: December 13, 2011 9:51 am
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