Posted on: July 26, 2010 12:58 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2010 9:34 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
The words are not weak. Chris Paul, a young man that has brought himself to be not only arguably the best point guard in the National Basketball Association, but an important member of both the social and business communities in New Orleans and his home of North Carolina, is being regarded as weak. This behavior as of late, the trade demands , the partying, the sulking, it's not like Chris. This isn't who he is. At least, that's how it's being regarded in the media. In reality, nothing about his behavior seems out of order for a young point guard on a struggling team. So naturally, the wheels of blame have begun to turn. We like Chris Paul too much to make him into an egotist. There must be something else at play. Let's see... charitable, no... hyper-competitive... no, can't blame that, that makes too much sense... ah! I got it!
LeBron James DID IT!
But even as the idea sounds ridiculous and fabricated, there are good reasons to head in that general direction. Nowhere has that been as explicitly outlined as in Adrian Wojnarowski's article that all but drew scepters and pentagrams around James and his marketing firm, LRMR. That was then followed up by James tweeting :
"Best of luck to my brother @oneandonlycp3 . Do what's best for You and your family"
Which is a nice sentiment, but still seems like James intruding into matters which are not his business. And if that's a wee bit of tampering, we can only imagine what went on this weekend when the two were partying it up in Vegas . In the midst of all this is a report that Paul himself has not signed on with James' marketing firm , LRMR. This contradicts a July 8th report saying just that, along with the indication that Paul has joined CAA, which also represents LeBron James and the other two super-friends.
It's been confirmed that Paul has left Octagon, but not that he has joined LRMR. He's hanging out with LeBron, but we don't know if they talked about business at all.
The question we need to be asking ourselves is if Chris Paul is really that easily "corrupted" or "influenced" or whatever term you'd like. Is this player who has shown a tremendous amount of maturity in his short time in the NBA really being "turned to the dark side," or whatever overblown phrase you'd like to use, by a marketing firm that has yet to land a marquee client or business deal and a player that has yet to win a championship? There's no doubt LeBron is powerful, arguably the most powerful player in the NBA. And there's no doubt the two are friends. But in all of his dealings, CP3 has never come across as the type to be railroaded or to do as he's told. He seems much more like a motivated individual that keeps track of his dealings and has a clear set plan for establishing his legacy.
Turning his back on New Orleans doesn't seem like it's in his character, that's true. But for a guy who's known as one of the most competitive players in a hyper-competitive environment (ask Julius Hodge about that), a trade request from a team that's been spinning its wheels doesn't seem out of line. The most logical conclusion is that LeBron James definitely did have an impact on this, but not in pressuring Paul, but by leading by example, even if that example is currently being spit on by most of the free world.
James' decisions in the last two months have been driven by an athlete-centric decision tree. He's not putting the fans first. Not putting the teams (and thereby their owners) first. He's putting himself and his brand first. And in doing so, he's helped increase the arms race that started three years ago with the Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen trades that made Boston a champion and pushed the Lakers towards the Gasol acquisition. This is how you win championships, by playing on loaded teams, not by shouldering the burden. Paul has watched three of his best friends become a superpower, while he is playing for an 8th seed in the West with an aging core and two young Bucks, one of whom plays his position.
Paul can't stand to be left behind. That's what James has shown him. That if he wants to keep up with the tone of progress, he's going to have to take matters into his own hands. The question is if the Hornets are going to blink first.
Posted on: July 21, 2010 6:37 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 7:25 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
With Ken Berger's report that Chris Paul is adamantly requesting a trade , we need to start exploring the possibilities. The odds are substantially low that Paul gets moved despite his feelings, simply based on the extreme difficulty in packaging the necessary assets to convince Hornets management to pull the trigger. But with a player of Paul's stature on the market (whether his team likes it or not), we need to examine the possibilities. So who's a realistic candidate to make a move for CP3?
Orlando Magic: This one's been out there for a while. The Magic have the right combination of talent, contracts, and assets to maneuver into position for Paul. They can send back a versatile shooting point guard to help with the transition of Darren Collison. They can send Vince Carter and his expiring contract, along with a significant player at shooting guard to pair with Marcus Thornton. They still have draft picks in the can, have expendable players with talent like Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass. It puts an elite player next to Dwight Howard and matches the upgrade the Heat have made, and potentially gives them an advantage over the Celtics in terms of talent. The question would be if Paul could function inside the unique spacing the Magic employ, which primarily functions on a series of swing passes. There's no question he'd be dominant in the pick and roll with Howard.
New York Knicks: I know. I'm nuts. Hear me out. The deal could in no-way be cemented until December 15th, but the Knicks have Raymond Felton, Kelenna Azubuike, and a handful of prospects. They lack the ability to send draft picks thanks to the desperate firesale move they pulled with the Rockets, but the right combination of players might work. Wilson Chandler next to Marcus Thornton would give the Hornets flexibility on the wing, especially if the Knicks are willing to take on Peja Stojakovic's poison pill. That may be the Knicks' biggest asset: financial flexibility to take on the rest of the Hornets' ill-advised veteran figures. The pull for Paul? If the New York toast rumors were true, this would get him with the best player he's ever played alongside in Amar'e Stoudemire (with apologies to David West), in a major market, and would likely convince Carmelo Anthony to hold off on that contract extension. It's a pretty perfect scenario, which of course means it won't happen.
Portland Trail Blazers: If the Blazers want to get back into talk of being a title contender immediately, this could be their path to salvation. They have picks to move, a ton of flexible players at multiple positions, and Paul in Portland would be ridiculous. Paul, Brandon Roy, and LaMarcus Aldridge, with those centers down low? All of a sudden the Blazers would be within range of the title. The numbers, however, might be too much, especially with the massive amount of money they just tossed at Wesley Matthews. The Blazers would have to surrender most of the depth they've worked to acquire, along with at least one of their two top centers in order to facilitate a deal. But it would also mean a tremendous coup for the new regime.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Here's a stretch. Trying to convince Paul to go to the Ruins of NBA Pompei would be a tricky feat. But if you look at the roster, it might not be impossible. The Cavs do feature a team with depth, with Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson still on roster. They have some flexibility in the coming years. They need a hero, and they've shown they're willing to commit to spending. With Byron Scott on roster, who Paul has gone on record in support of multiple times, the Cavs could conceivably replace LeBron James with a new savior. They'd have to give up most of their most attractive assets and nearly everything they got from Miami. But somehow, if New Orleans was at all interested, I don't think they'd mind.
Los Angeles Lakers: Tremble, and be afraid, ye mortals of Earth. This is plausible, possible, and according to KB, one of the teams on Paul's list. The Lakers can send Andrew Bynum, a young stud center, and a handful of short-term contracts for Paul. Paul gets to play alongside the best team in the NBA in the most attractive market in the NBA. He takes the reins from Kobe and helps lead that team into what, three more titles? More? It's a terrifying possibility that would give the Lakers the one-up over the Miami-three. He and Gasol could work the two-man game, and in the triangle, well, okay, that's a downside. Chris Paul in the triangle is like binding a horse's legs. They're not meant to be constrained that way. Shooting corner threes is a waste of Paul's potential, and most of the ball handling isn't done by a point in the triangle. But somehow, playing next to Kobe and Gasol, Paul may not mind.
New Orleans Hornets: No, they won't be trading Paul to themselves. But you have to think this is still the most likely scenario (yes, we said that about LeBron James, too). Paul has been a major force in the community. That's going to tug at him. The Hornets just hired two representatives from the Spurs organization, who clearly have been part of winning environments. He can make the most money there, and has teammates he's gone to battle with. Mostly, though, it's hard to see new GM Dell Demps or head coach Monty Williams being willing to put themselves in a deep dark hole to start their run with the franchise. And trading Paul means a complete rebuild. Not the situation you want to embark on before you've even put your pictures up in your office.
But with the way Paul sounds according to KB, we may see the unlikely become reality once again this year.
So what is it that the Hronets need to get back? Royce Young tells us more on that one .
Posted on: July 21, 2010 1:23 am
Edited on: July 21, 2010 9:39 am
Posted by Matt Moore
After our own Ken Berger reported this afternoon , the Hornets have been dancing with San Antonio Spurs VP and Austin Toros GM Dell Demps for the majority of the weekend to fill their GM position. Marc Stein reports tonight that the dancing is done, and Dell will be hired for the Hornets' management position .
Demps brings a different perspective, combining pro experience with a development background, and having gotten his MBA to compete in the business aspects. He'll join Monty Williams in N'Awlins, a fellow Popovich-tree disciple. Demps is a strong believer in development, and has been part of a tremendous drafting and development program in Texas. The Spurs have consistently drafted well, regardless of position, and their D-Legue team has not only performed well record-wise, but has consistently produced call-up worthy talent, including Alonzo Gee, who was signed last season and lit up summer league.
Demps will have his hands full with a discontent Chris Paul, a roster that needs uprades at multiple positions, and young players that need to be kept on track. That's before we bring up the touchy subject of Julian Wright. The Hornets looked like a wreck two months ago, but with solid hires at the key positions in the front office, Hornets fans have a lot to be hopeful about.
Assuming Demps and company can convince Paul to stay, that is.
Posted on: July 19, 2010 9:57 am
Edited on: July 19, 2010 9:59 am
Posted by Royce Young
Former Hornets general manager Jeff Bower lost his job because his shopping of Chris Paul reportedly caused some strain with ownership. But as Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes , Paul is "open" to a trade and Bonnell sees Charlotte as a prime destination.
Besides citing the fact that Charlotte is near home for Paul who grew up in nearby Winston-Salem, Bonnell sees it as doable because of the Bobcats ability to offer both financial relief in Erick Dampier's unguaranteed $13 million salary, along with actual talent in Gerald Wallace, Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin.
If Paul sours on the Hornets and wants out, Charlotte definitely appears like it could be a prime destination. There's the Michael Jordan connection (CP3 is on the Jordan Brand and grew up in North Carolina), it's close to home and the Bobcats can reconcile the trade by giving the Hornets assets and cap relief.
New Orleans appears to be a mess right now with Bower recently being fired, team president Hugh Weber rescinding a contract to Luther Head for apparently no reason and oh yeah, the roster isn't very good either. So picturing CP3 demanding a way out isn't that hard to do. Owner George Shinn absolutely loves Paul and would probably fight to keep him, but with Shinn selling the team to Gary Chouest, things could change there. It's obviously all wild speculation at this point, but it certainly could become reality.
Hornets new head coach Monty Williams is planning to meet with Paul in the near future to discuss his status with the team. I'm thinking Williams will say something like, "Please don't ever leave me."
Posted on: July 13, 2010 6:55 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 7:08 pm
Posted by Royce Young
New Orleans GM Jeff Bower has been released by the Hornets, the team announced Tuesday afternoon . The team said Bower and the Hornets "mutually" parted ways.
Multiple others have put out more details with Adrian Wojnarowski mentioning that the team made the decision 7-10 days ago , but have waited on announcing it because the Hornets have used that time ot identify replacements. As far as early leading contenders, obviously Kevin Pritchard, Danny Ferry and Thunder assistant GMs Troy Weaver and Rich Cho will likely be in the discussion.
But Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman mentions one other candidate. George Shinn's son Chad.
"Chad Shinn, son of owner George, also has been grooming 4 a prominent pos. in the org," Mayberry tweeted . "Chad loves the basketball side & would love GM title. "
So what brought this on? Early indications are that Bower's willingness to shop franchise player Chris Paul caused tension between Bower and George Shinn.
The Hornets have been a franchise in an odd state of transition for the past few years. First, Katrina made them homeless until Oklahoma City temporarily housed them. Then they got really good and made a serious run in the postseason. Then Bower spent a lot of money on guys like James Posey and Peja Stojakovic and NOLA found themselves in some financial distress. Then they fired former Coach of the Year Byron Scott, Bower appointed himself coach and the team missed the playoffs. Which catches us up to today, where Bower is let go.
New Orleans is surely an intriguing place for a high-profile candidate like Pritchard, assuming the Hornets pay up. Any time Chris Paul is already in place as the cornerstone, the job of rebuilding gets a lot easier and more attractive. Just don't try and trade him I guess.