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 11, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 6:08 pm
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 9, 2011 12:49 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 10:21 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
You knew he wouldn't be cool with this. You knew he wouldn't be cool with this at all.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has solidified himself as a staunch hard-line owner since All-Star forward LeBron James bailed on his team and "take his talents" to the Miami Heat. Following James' decision, Gilbert penned a letter trashing his former star for his disloyalty, garnering national headlines.
The NBA's latest superstar-driven controversy erupted on Thursday, and Gilbert managed to carve out a starring role for himself in the theatre of the absurd. The New Orleans Hornets attempted to trade All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-team deal, only to have NBA commissioner David Stern veto the move according to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger. Stern was able to veto the move because the NBA bought the Hornets and Stern serves as the de facto owner and NBA spokesman Tim Frank said that the "league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons."
Yahoo Sports obtained a letter written by Gilbert to Stern on Thursday, decrying the potential trade as a "travesty" and requesting that the NBA's owners be allowed to vote on it. Gilbert criticized the deal because he believed it would provide the Lakers with the "best player" and significant financial relief.
Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.The Washington Generals, of course, are the always-beaten exhibition opponents of the Harlem Globetrotters. Essentially, Gilbert is saying, the NBA just spend the last five months in a lockout in an effort to improve competitive-balance. Watching the face of a small-market franchise bolt to one of the nation's largest cities and richest teams would undercut those efforts and the league shouldn't go along with it. He's entitled to his opinion, and certainly he's correct in stating that a vast majority of the league's owners would be unhappy watching Paul join Kobe Bryant in a ridiculously talented backcourt.
But NBA trades aren't made in the best interests of all. They should be made in the best interests of the individual owners involved, and Stern personally opened up this can of worms when he pushed for the NBA to buy back the Hornets. He's undercutting New Orleans' basketball decision-makers, he's throwing the futures of multiple players up into the air and he's handcuffing at least three teams -- and potentially more -- on the eve of the free agency period. It's total chaos and he owes the NBA, its teams and its players a full explanation of his decision-making process and what the plan is moving forward.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 5:02 pm
By Matt Moore
Update Friday 4:30 p.m. EST
Paul arrived at practice Friday in a black jersey. So for now, he's playing the part of a professional. Lamar Odom arrived at Lakers camp 40 minutes late, spoke with GM Mitch Kupchak, then left. He did not practice with the team. Pau Gasol is not in attendance. We're sure that wasn't awkward at all.
Hours after a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-way trade with the Houston Rockets was blocked by the league, ESPN reports that Paul will not attend Hornets training camp Friday in New Orleans. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports a Hornets offical said it would be "very surprising" if Paul was in attendance.
Paul is said to be "fuming" over the blocked trade and considering legal action. Failure to show up for camp will of course result in a fine, levied by both the team and the NBA. Which is convenient, since the NBA owns the team and that's the entire problem. Any fines levied would likely also be included in damages Paul would seek if he were to pursue legal action.
Similarly, Lakers forward Lamar Odom spoke with reporters and said he might skip the first day because "you don't want to be somewhere you're not wanted." The Lakers are obviously facing a serious situation with chemistry, with Pau Gasol described as "devastated" by the initial trade. The Lakers had a championship core and it now has to try and function despite the fact its management had deliberately opted to blow it up. And if you don't think Kobe Bryant was consulted before these moves, well, you're probably right since they didn't consult him on the coaching hire. But still. Going to be an awkward locker room for a while.
This situation threatens to undermind and detonate the fragile peace that had just been signed into form hours before as the league and owners ratified the new CBA. The players surrendered significant financial gains to protect their flexibility of movement. Now the league has simply circumvented that as well using its powers.
We thought the ugliness was over. It was looking like a season, how u. But now we're back to the same questions of fairness, morality, and individual player influence that dominated the discussion for five, locked-out months.
NBA training camp opens Friday.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 8:52 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 8:55 pm
Posted by EOB Staff.
On Thursday, reports surfaced that the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets agreed to a 3-team trade that sent Chris Paul to L.A., Pau Gasol to Houston, and Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic to New Orleans. Assuming the trade is completed as reported once free agency opens on Friday, here's who won and lost.
Winners: Los Angeles Lakers
Just when you thought the championship window was closing, Chris Paul, the perfect backcourt partner for Kobe Bryant, enters to re-install Los Angeles as clear Western Conference favorites and eventually receive the face of the franchise baton from Bryant, ushering in the next era of Lakers basketball. Talk about reloading rather than rebuilding, the Lakers now have two multi-talented threats on the perimeter, two guards committed to two-way play and two of the most competitive players in the NBA. On top of that outside firepower, the Lakers retain promising center Andrew Bynum in the middle and could possibly look to flip him for Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard, as has been rumored recently. Even if step two of the plan falls through, the Lakers have the best top-3 players of any team in the league this season, Miami Heat included.
Losers: Houston Rockets
The Rockets get the second best player in this trade but it ultimately amounts to a solid but not spectacular upgrade, as Pau Gasol plugs in for Luis Scola. The Rockets also improve their cap position by attaining some extra flexibility but it comes at the cost of their major perimeter scoring three, a proven backup point guard and at least one draft pick. The cupboards around Gasol are fairly bare. While he’s an All-Star and a potential franchise guy, Houston is asking too much unless major additional moves are in the works. When push comes to shove, it’s better to have perennial All-Star than a host of minor trade assets but this won’t be a transformational move for Houston unless something major is coming in free agency.
Winners/Losers: New Orleans Hornets
It’s difficult to be declared a “winner” when you lose the popular face of your small-market franchise to a major-market monolith because he had all the leverage. But the Hornets did alright here. They won’t be contending for anything any time soon but they got a number of efficient, proven pieces, flexibility in Lamar Odom, and some draft pick building blocks. Considering how quickly the trade came together, it could have been a lot worse. Potential buyers of the Hornets, who are currently owned by the NBA, will have to swallow the fact that they no longer have a marquee star but, at the same time, they won’t need to deal with six months of trade rumors and free agency plans. The franchise is on steadier ground, even if it’s a step down from where it has been for the last few years.
Losers: Boston Celtics
The Celtics thought they had a legit chance at upgrading from Rajon Rondo to Paul and instead came home with Keyon Dooling as a party favor. Thanks for playing. The always-aggressive Danny Ainge will surely live to fight another day.
Losers: New York Knicks
Landing Tyson Chandler, even if they have to over-pay, would help soften the blow of watching Los Angeles pilfer Paul. Still, CP3 was the true apple of the Big Apple’s eye and the Knicks must now head back to the drawing board.Winner: Devan Ebanks
Someone is about to get seriously paid for his No. 3 jersey. CP7 just doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Loser: Derek Fisher
Time was running out for Fisher as the head man of the Lakers to start with, but now it's officially over. He instantly becomes a backup and someone that's looking at 15 minutes a game. Actually, he might say that he's a winner...
Winner: Mike Brown
He gets to start basically fresh with the Lakers. No leftovers of the triangle, no inherited drama between Gasol and Kobe. He can install whatever kind of system he wants and now has Chris Freaking Paul to run it. There might be a bit more pressure on him now with this studly looking team, but he's the head coach of the Lakers. That's to be expected.
Loser: Kevin Martin
Sometime, someone will have to explain to us why exactly it is that Kevin Martin can never be traded to a contender. He's hyper-efficient, he's capable, he plays hard, he's an offensive juggernaut when he gets rolling, and yet, he winds up on the New Orleans Island of Misfit Toys.
Winner: Chris Paul
He gets to go somewhere he wants, play with Kobe Bryant and instantly be on a team that can win a championship. He's never had that before. He doesn't have to spend a lame duck season in New Orleans, doesn't have to answer constant questions about where he might be traded and moves right into forum blue and gold right in time for training camp.
Loser: Pau Gasol
Do you realize a year ago, Pau Gasol was discussed as potentially the best big man in the NBA? That he was a near-MVP candidate for the first two months of last season? And today he's the Rockets desperation project, a biscuit thrown in by the Lakers to entice the Rockets into giving two B+ players to New Orleans. Houston has a new coach, an incomplete roster, and a desperate front office. But we do hear the symphony, which Gasol loves, is nice there. So he's got that going for him.
Winner: Kobe Bryant
Uh... winnner. The guy who has pouted his way through even championship seasons over frustrations with Pau Gasol's ice cream interior gets the best point guard in the NBA and one of the truly most brutally win-obsessed players in the NBA. Paul is the only player who can match Bryant's intensity... and his brilliance. He will never be left scowling from being open again. Kobe rides into the sunset in glory.
Winner: Andrew Bynum
For now: Bynum gets the best pick-and-roll point guard in the league (with apologies to Steve Nash) to throw him alley-oops. He gets a larger share of the offense and now is a member of the "Big 3" in L.A.. He's in a great position... and he might get traded to Orlando for Dwight Howard. So this could be the best thing that ever happened to his career, or the worst thing possible.
Winner: Luis Scola
The food is GREAT in New Orleans. The end.
Loser: Lamar Odom
The reality television opportunities aren't so great in New Orleans. He seemed to genuinely love the Hollywood stage. Welcome to a different life.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 7:28 pm
By Matt Moore
It's good to be on top.
The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a deal to acquire Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in a three-way deal with the Houston Rockets. Los Angeles trades Lamar Odom to New Orleans and Pau Gasol to Houston, while the Rockets send Luis Scola and Kevin Martin to New Orleans.
The Lakers missed the NBA Finals by two rounds last year, getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks. They watched Chris Paul destroy them in the first round, showing some of their weakness. So they went out and got him. They have acquired the best point guard in the NBA, their best point guard since Magic Johnson, and gotten a premier All-Star in his prime to pair with Kobe Bryant on his way towards the sunset.
The Lakers are clearly not done, and will continue to pursue a deal to trade Andrew Bynum to the Orlando Magic to bring Dwight Howard and create their own big three, arguably a better one than the one in Miami. It's an arms race in the NBA, and the Lakers have the biggest budget and most capital to use. And so they have responded to all this Knicks-Heat-Chicago nonsense with their own move, after helping kickstart the race three years ago by acquiring Pau Gasol from Memphis. They're one move away from checkmate.
In the interim, the team did lose a lot of talent. Pau Gasol has flirted with "best big man in the game" for the past three seasons prior to last spring's meltdown. Lamar Odom is a hyper-athletic, versatile veteran who has been a part of three Finals teams and two championships. Neither on the right side of 30, but both still have a lot of value left.
And yet, the takeback is staggering. CP3, in his prime, to provide Kobe Bryant with the clutch guard he's never had. Even in losing their frontcourt, leaving them with a gaping hole at power forward, and even without a trade for Howard, the Lakers now feature Chris Paul able to lob to Andrew Bynum and kick to Kobe Bryant. And for Paul, whose knees are a question mark, to have Bryant to handle the ball and take the load off, he may have extended his career by four seasons.
For Bryant, it may be a rough transition giving the ball up. But it also means no more wondering about his teammates. There will be no outraged glares at Paul. He won't blow defensive assignments. He won't miss Bryant when he's open. Instead, if Bryant is open for a half-second inside, on the wing, or at half-court, Paul will find him. Bynum also comes away big in this deal. He's never had a guard to work with his insane athleticism. Bynum on the pick and roll, rolling to the basket for an alley-oop? It's Paul, the master of the alley-oop, dishing it now.
Do the Lakers have holes now? Absolutely. Starting with power forward, the length they've enjoyed inside to disrupt passing lanes and tip-in misses is gone, even with Bynum still in place. They've lost a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and they're just as weak at backup center as ever. They've lost a lot of scoring, a lot of rebounds, a lot of defense. But they gained one of the top five players in the league and have positioned themselves expertly to add a second if they can lean on the Magic enough. With or without Howard, if you pull a deal to get the best player in the league at his position (Derrick Rose is not a point guard, he's a Derrick Rose), you get an A.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 7:35 pm
Posted by Royce Young
It was inevitable. Chris Paul wasn't going to start the 2012-13 season in New Orleans. The only question there was how much of the 2011-12 season he'd spend there.
The answer came late on Thursday, just a few hours before training camp and free agency officially opens: Chris Paul, pending a deal going through, will be a Los Angeles Laker.
Whoa. I mean, whoa.
The Hornets had to act quickly and swiftly in order to maximize the return on their franchise guy. The longer Dell Demps waited, the lower the asking price he'd have to slap on CP3.
So, what do they get in exchange for the guy that been been their face for the past six seasons? Is it anything close to equaling Paul's value?
Here's the breakdown: Chris Paul goes to L.A. with Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola going to New Orleans. With a pick getting tossed in on the back-end of it (Knicks 2012 first-rounder).
So really, the Hornets did pretty well. Not just well, actually. As good as they probably could possibly do. Chris Paul is a more valuable player than Carmelo Anthony, but in comparing this trade to that trade, the Hornets did far better than the Nuggets did. The Hornets get Odom, a player with a ton of trade value that they can flip for a young talent and a draft pick from Houston to help rebuild with. Or deal Martin and Scola as well to blow it all up and get a heap of talent and picks. Scola's not young at 31 and Martin is 28.
But here's the thing: If the Hornets wanted, they could just stick with this group for this season and probably make a postseason run. Dragic isn't the best point guard in the world, but he's certainly serviceable. And besides, Odom might be playing that more than anyone else in the end, if they so choose. Scola is a talented 4 and Martin is the posterboy for efficient scoring.
Dragic, Martin, Trevor Ariza (or Odom), Scola and Emeka Okafor. With Odom (or Ariza) off the bench. That's a pretty good group of six, no? This team could conceivably be a playoff contender for the next two seasons and then figure out where to go from there after that when they presumably have new ownership.
Considering the circumstances, it's hard to imagine how the Hornets could've done better outside of baiting the Clippers into giving them Eric Gordon and that unprotected pick from Minnesota. And even still, New Orleans has options right now. Lots of them. They can stick with the current roster, maintain a level of flexibility (Martin expires in 2013, Scola in 2014 and Odom after this season), and look to rebuild in the coming years.
Replacing a player like Chris Paul is pretty much impossible. He's meant everything to your franchise and taken you to unseen levels of success. But he wasn't staying. And the team wasn't going anywhere this year with him anyway. Demps did the wise thing and cut his losses. It's just a matter of how well he did and in this case, I'd say his return is just about as good as it could be.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:44 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:13 pm
By EOB staff
So there's kind of a lot going on right now in terms of Chris Paul. It's extremely likely that he'll still be a Hornet when camp starts Friday, and very likely that he'll still be one when the season starts on December 25th. But there has been such a deafening cacophony of intelligence (or absence thereof, depending on your view of the media) regarding who is in the Hunt for Paul, that we need to keep an eye on things.
Yahoo Sports reports Chris Paul to the Lakers
Ken Berger confirms a Yahoo Sports report that the Hornets have begun informing teams they are sending Chris Paul to the Lakers for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a straight-up deal.
More on this as it develops.
Hornets still exploring Celtics offer, might go without third team
Yahoo Sports reports that the Hornets are starting to get past the idea of needing to bring in Indiana for a three-way deal with Boston and are instead exploring the idea of going straight up and taking the Celtics' offer of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green via sign-and-trade, and the Clippers first-rounder. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that a possible hang-up would be Jeff Green having to agree to the deal, which he may not if he's going to what would certainly seem to be a lottery team. It would be a great deal for the Celtics. For the Hornets, everything would come down to how that Clippers pick worked out, but at least they get two young above-average players and a quality pick, which is more than they would pull from the Lakers or in the three-way with Houston.
Speaking of, David Aldridge of TNT/NBA.com reports more details. The Rockets would send Martin and Scola (as outlined below), along with Goran Dragic and multiple first and second round picks. That's quite a haul. But considering the age of the two bigger names in the deal (31 and 28 for Scola and Martin respectively), the question is if the Hornets want to stay in the playoff race right now to ensure ticket sales and to stay competitive, or go young. The Hornets are still looking for the perfect deal, or at least the best one, and as of yet, that deal has not come available.
Lakers looking at a three-way deal with Houston to bring CP3 to L.A.?2:19 p.m. -- Could the Lakers and Celtics be going head-to-head for Chris Paul now? Accoding to SI.com, the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets are engaged in a three-way deal that would send Paul to Los Angeles.
We've heard this story before, but getting a third team involved is interesting. And what do the Rockets have to gain by jumping in? The Lakers have the pieces needed, I'd think, to pull off a trade with New Orleans. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom -- those are serious pieces. But Houston could ramp it up with extra picks and assets which could make this a very real scenario.
According to Yahoo! Sports and confirmed by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, some of the names being floated in this deal are Paul to L.A., Pau Gasol to Houston and Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and picks to New Orleans. That right there, is a blockbuster deal.
And if the Lakers were to manage this, they could conceivably put together a deal using Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom to acquire Dwight Howard. It really is possible. Scary thoughts right there. -- Royce Young
Celtics back in the mix for CP3?11:33 a.m. -- The Celtics are back in the action. Yahoo! Sports reports that with the Clippers and Warriors both unwilling to give up players who are not as good as Chris Paul (Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon) to get Chris Paul due to fear he will depart in free agency, the Celtics have re-emerged as a viable candidate despite Paul's reluctance to be traded there or sign long-term. It should be noted that the current reticence by both Golden State and Los Angeles completely overlooks the fact that under the new CBA, there is literally no financial incentive for Paul to sign an extension versus entering free agency and re-signing with their team once they prove they can win. And if they don't win, then the experiment is a failure and it's time to start over anyway. Considering both franchises won a combined 68 games last year, it's a bit odd. But the fear of a true rebuild is too devastating for them. Now on to the Celtics.
The Celtics situation goes something like this. Being Boston, they don't have the same fears as most franchises do in regards to players abandoning them. If they can win the title, then have the cap space in 2012 to make a run at Dwight Howard, that might be what it takes to sway Paul's mind and convince him to stay, so the risk would be worth the reward in trading for him without an extension or assurances he'll re-sign. Yahoo! reports a deal being offered involves a three-way-swap with Indiana, in which the Pacers get Rajon Rondo who the Hornets aren't gaga over, and the Hornets get Darren Collison, who they traded in 2010 to Indiana, back, along with Tyler Hansbrough, Brandon Rush, and draft picks. The Hornets want Danny Granger, but there's no indication if Indiana is open to that deal, despite Granger having been on the block for years. That's an awful lot for the Pacers to give up just to get Rajon Rondo, despite Rondo being one of the best point guards in the league. In short, he's not Chris Paul.
Meanwhile, a small note in the Yahoo! report says Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul have spoken by phone this week as the Lakers continue to try and land the ultimate coup of both Paul and Dwight Howard as well. So the heavy hitters are very much in the room on this.
The Boston Herald reports that a source close to Paul says the Celtics' window is too short, having only one year of contention. But if the Celtics were to immediately land Dwight Howard in free agency, that might convince Paul to re-sign, especially with the lure of the extra year available to the Celtics under the new CBA. Other teams would only be able to offer a four-year deal, vs. Boston's five. That might add even more incentive for the Lakers to pull of a trade for Howard, since it would block Boston from being able to put the two together, as well as, you know, giving the Lakers the best center in the league.
ESPN.com reports that the Lakers are offering Pau Gasol as the centerpiece of any deal, while wanting to keep their best asset, Andrew Bynum, as a trade chip to attempt to acquire Howard. Gasol is 31 with three years and $57 million left on his deal, so it's hard to see the Hornets opting to take in Gasol, which would leave the Lakers trying to pull in a third team to make a deal with.
Finally, the Knicks are reportedly seeking a third and/or fourth team to try and trade for Paul but aren't having much luck. Isiah Thomas' involvement in the Melo saga last year is the gift that keeps on giving.
We've joked about it before, we'll joke about it again. Like the owers said, this new CBA that cost the league 16 games will help improve competitive balance... for the top five teams in the league on both coasts. -- Matt Moore