Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:25 am
 

Chris Paul wants it all



By Matt Moore 

Chris Paul seems like a genuinely good human being. 

I don't know this for a fact. I'm going off of conversations I've had with others, off of interviews, and efforts, off of quiet things like charitable elements he's contributed to without fanfare or flashbulbs. So many athletes would have bailed on New Orleans after Katrina, and instead Paul embraced her, took on the role of being an icon for a city in need of heroes, took on the weight of being a savior. He's known as a quality person and locker room leader, and is a professional in every sense. You need look no further than the fact he's shown up to Hornets practice every day during this debacle as proof of that.

It's easy to take the route of saying Paul is selfish. That he's only looking out for himself and doesn't care about the city or the team or its fans. But that's a myopic view of a complex situation. Unfortunately, just as bad is the overly simplistic view that Chris Paul is a victim, that he has been unfairly put in a terrible situation by the evil league of evil that is the NBA, or the incompetent collection of malcontent owners, depending on your interpretation. There's this concept that Paul's role in this is completely natural, normal, that he cannot be blamed for the situation he's enduring. After all, he didn't want the NBA to own the league.

From SBNation.com: 
NBA owners have varying goals. Winning is typically high on the list. There's no question that Demps and Weber want the Hornets to win, now and later. Sperling could very well feel empathetic with the franchise, as well. But the men who Stern answers to could care less if the Hornets win now or later: it's all about setting the franchise for a sale in excess of $300 million (which sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud, given the prices tagged to the Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers and nearly the Atlanta Hawks).

Given the purpose of the Hornets right now according to its owners, can you blame Chris Paul for wanting to be elsewhere?
via Chris Paul And The Morality Of Choosing Your Team - SBNation.com by Tom Ziller.

Stop. Right there. Just stop.

This started last year. Well before the sale. There were rumblings for a few years, but it kicked into high gear in July. Of 2010
When Paul was quoted a few weeks ago as saying he'd be open to a trade if the Hornets aren't committed to building a championship team, it was only a small hint as to the size of the chasm that exists between the franchise and its cornerstone player. Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com Wednesday.

"He wants out," said the person, who has been briefed on Paul's strategy but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly. "He wants to play with another superstar. He wants to follow LeBron's model of teaming up with other great players."
via With Paul wanting out, new Hornets brass facing crisis - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball News, Scores, Stats, Schedule and Standings.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the ownership situation, beyond creating a greater roadblock to the team's ability to snag a superstar to play next to Paul. The problem with that thinking, however, is that the Hornets never were going to land a star. You're not seeing superstar team-ups in Milwaukee or Charlotte or Indiana. Paul's desire for the bright lights can be traced back to last summer, to starting trade demands and toasting to joining Melo and Amar'e in New York. This is what he and his representation has wanted, so let's not go acting like this is some sort of brand new development. 

Now, from there, Ziller argues that the max salary structure is what creates this, essentially, that the NBA's own system is what provides this situation. The extra year being provided teams in order to keep players isn't enough to keep them home. And he's absolutely right.

My problem comes in with this idea that Paul has a "right" to demand a trade. That he shouldn't be criticized for wanting out. Using the current context ignores that he lit this fire nearly 18 months ago. And it ignores one subtle problem. This is all on him.

Paul can have free agency. There's nothing to stop him, nor should there be. Trying to hog-tie players to franchises is nonsense. They have a right to work wherever they want, same as you or I, provided they can garner the necessary offer. If someone's willing to pay me to write in Seattle, there's no law or leverage restricting me from doing so... unless I have a contract that says I write in Houston, or Kansas City, or Denver. That contract exists as a legal bond between me and my employer in a given city, just like Paul's is a bond between he and the Hornets.  But when that contract expires, Paul has every right to pursue his options. That's not what he's doing. He wants his cake and to eat it, too. 

Paul can make the max money allowed under the system. He can not exercise his opt-in for the 2012-2013 season, re-sign with the Hornets, and make the extra money allowed by signing a five-year deal vs. a four-year deal. There is nothing standing in his way from pursuing either option. Play where you want, or play for more money. He's not being restricted by tyranny. This is not tyranny. It's a collectively bargained professional sports structure. If Paul wants to bail on New Orleans after his contract is up, no one should criticize him. He gave that city all he could through a very difficult situation, with not great support on the floor, has bled for that team. He's paid his dues. And if he wants to return for the extra money, he's more than entitled to it. Say he'll sign the contract this summer right now, and all this, the distractions, the circus, the stress, it all goes away.

And, to be clear, it's within his power to request a trade. If a player is unhappy with a situation, he should be able to voice that. He's got the right to express himself, at least through his representation. (Side note: NBA, can we please get away with the fines for players voicing trade demands in public? Because at this point, it's just insulting to everyone. The fans, the teams, the players, the media.) No one should argue players should abdicate their own interests, even if that includes requesting a trade and blowing up a team's season.  Teams will look to dump a player once he's past his prime, the fans will boo him if his performance suffers. It's a two-way street and loyalty is patently fickle, even if some young fans will always cheer the guy whose name is on the back of their jersey. 

However, what should not be tolerated, is the idea that Paul should be pitied for this. That the league is punishing Chris Paul unfairly. Had Paul's representatives kept quiet, had Paul himself not instructed them to demand a trade, again, 18 months ago, we wouldn't be here today. Paul has every right to put himself in this position. But that decision comes with the media circus. It comes with the risk that ownership will mishandle the process, especially when it's the NBA running that process. And it comes with the criticism. 

Paul can be the hero, lifted up by all and admired for his stances. Or he can be the star, chasing the shine of a ring under the brightest lights. He can't have both.

If this current economic model has created this situation, if this is "just the way it is," then there's a flip side to it. The current fan environment has created the consequence that Paul will have to deal with the stress his decision puts on himself and his teammates, on the city and its fans.

Paul actually can have his cake and eat it, too. But you have to deal with the stomach ache that comes along with it.  
Posted on: December 13, 2011 9:51 am
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Posted on: December 12, 2011 10:59 pm
 

Steve Kerr: Dan Gilbert needs to 'get over it'

Posted by Royce Young

After the NBA's ridiculous handling of the Chris Paul situation in New Orleans, a lot of people have felt the need to vent. I know I have. I caught myself yelling at my dog yesterday saying things like, "How dare the NBA intervene and manipulate the league!"

Steve Kerr though, has a much bigger voice and when he talks, a lot more people than a dog listen up. Kerr is a TNT analyst now, but was the Phoenix Suns general manager for a number of years and a prominant player on a couple of Michael Jordan's championship Bulls. He knows the inside of the business. He knows how it all works. And he is fired up about the way the NBA blocked CP3's trade to the Lakers, most notably about Dan Gilbert who sent an email to David Stern the day it happened complaining about it. Via Sports Radio Interviews:
"It's such a crock that he would even mention that. That guy is a billionaire, they have been way over the cap while they had LeBron, way over the tax. He's still upset that he lost LeBron and he needs to get over it. LeBron gave that franchise the best seven years they have ever had. He was a free agent and he decided to leave. Nobody likes the way LeBron left, even he apologized for it the other night on TV but the fact is there is a thing called free agency and if a superstar player wants to leave when they are agents, they can leave."
Tell us how you really feel, Steve.

But he couldn't be more right. Gilbert was complaining about things like the luxury tax and how the Lakers were going to save money, therefore cutting into the revenue shared with small market teams like his Cavs. Gilbert said that 25 teams were the Washington Generals. He's basically been playing quite the woe-is-me thing ever since LeBron left the Cavs.

Kerr on the trade itself:
"Every one of them is wrong and I don't know how many there are either but I've been angry all day long about this whole thing because I think it was a great basketball trade. There are so many trades made these days that are lousy trades that are made for financial purposes ... The problem I have is that this was a great trade for the Hornets.

There's no way they can duplicate that. I thought Dell Demps did an incredible job. You end up with three legitimate good players in (Luis) Scola, Kevin Martin, and (Lamar) Odom. You get a first round pick, you get Goran Dragic who I like and a guy I drafted in Phoenix. He's a good player. You're telling me you're going to deny that for basketball reasons when every single other analyst out there and every GM thinks they hit a home run with that trade. And by the way in seven months if they play it out they are getting nothing."

[...]

I made one of the worst trades in NBA history. I traded Kurt Thomas and two first round picks to Seattle for nothing, to save 16 million dollars for our organization. Where was the NBA then to veto that trade for basketball reasons?"
First, I love that Kerr acknowledges how bad the Thomas trade was. He made it to save Robert Sarver some money, but that deal ended up giving then Seattle and now the Thunder, two first round picks, one of which turned into Serge Ibaka. Like he said, why didn't the league intervene with that?

The point with this whole thing is, is that the league shouldn't have such a heavy hand here. Yes, the NBA owns the Hornets. But it's also supposed to oversee the league and make sure things stay fair. It's supposed to stay out of the way. For as much as the NBA preached competitive balance, they sure have stuck their thumb out and intentionally hurt the Rockets and Lakers. It's not fair and it's got people like Steve Kerr angry.

I would say that it's going to be awkward when TNT does a Cavs game, but we all know that nobody is wasting a national television game on the Cavs. Unless LeBron's coming to town. The truth hurts, huh Dan?

Via Deadspin
Posted on: December 12, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 9:28 pm
 

NBA, Hornets resurrect Paul talks with Clippers

Posted by Ben Golliver

chris-paul-hornets-clippers

The ceaseless on-again, off-again trade talks involving New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul are reportedly back on. Monday night, round two with the Los Angeles Clippers commenced.

ESPN.com reported that talks between the league-owned Hornets and Clippers have officially resurrected after being declared dead earlier on Monday.
After a seemingly imminent trade routing Paul to the Clippers collapsed earlier Monday, sources told ESPN.com that the league officials negotiating on the Hornets' behalf had aggressively re-engaged the Clippers in talks in hopes of completing a deal as soon as Tuesday.

The talks hit an impasse earlier Monday when the Clippers decided that the league's asking price for the All-Star guard was too high. But Clippers general manager Neil Olshey said Monday that the trade could be revived if some of the parameters change. And a source close to the process told ESPN that league officials also do not see talks with the Clippers as "over."

The league-owned Hornets and the Clippers could not complete their proposed Chris Paul trade because the Clippers decided the asking price was too high. The NBA remains "hopeful," according to the source, that Paul's fate can resolved "soon."
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that a source said: "The league has no choice. They have nowhere else to go."

Earlier trade talks had the Clippers sending center Chris Kaman, point guard Eric Bledsoe, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2012 first round pick pick to the Hornets for Paul. Other reported versions of the trade talks also included guard Eric Gordon. The talks reportedly fell apart when the Clippers felt NBA commissioner David Stern, who possesses final authority on personnel moves for the Hornets, was asking too high a price for Paul.

Some variation of the reported package would give the paper-thin Hornets multiple players to plug in as starters plus an excellent building block chip in the 2012 pick. The Clippers are looking to find a premier perimeter player to pair with forward sensation Blake Griffin, recently re-signed center DeAndre Jordan and, ideally, retain Gordon, who is a potential future All-Star at shooting guard. 

The Clippers also claimed veteran point guard Chauncey Billups in an amnesty bidding pool on Monday.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Chris Paul Trade Update: Demps a 'spectator' now?

Posted by Royce Young

It's not good to be Dell Demps right now. He's officially the general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, the guy in charge of all transactions and roster decisions of the franchise.

But he might as well be a ballboy. Maybe a ballboy with every NBA GM on speed dial, but that's about the only edge he has at this point.

After Demps has watched three of his trades for Chris Paul fall apart because the NBA wouldn't approve (two Lakers, one Clippers), Demps has to be frustrated. And as Yahoo! Sports reports, he's merely just along for the ride now.

“He’s basically a spectator now,” one official said.

Stern has two of his top league office executives – Joel Litvin and Stu Jackson – making calls and conducting negotiations with teams interested in Paul. Demps is still making calls, but rival front offices and agents involved in possible deals with New Orleans say that he’s no longer authorized to decide on any transaction.

Teams interested in Paul have to send formal “bids” to the league office, sources said.

A lot of people have described this thing as a mess, circus or complete cluster. Choose your word and it probably fits. It's ridiculous, frustrating, maddening and downright stupid. The league has a serious conflict of interest here and two NBA executives are the ones running the show. Does that not completely blow your mind?

It might be one thing if this was all over Jarrett Jack or Quincy Pondexter. But this is about Chris Paul. This is about a deal that will completely alter the landscape of the NBA. And it's a deal that should have been done almost a week ago.

Instead, Big Brother is watching over the Hornets and completely cutting off Demps' manhood. The league said a deal in which Demps put together receiving Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and some picks wasn't enough. The league wanted Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and the very valuable Minnesota 2012 pick, but the Clippers said it was too much.

Basically we're getting the NBA labor negotiations all over again but instead of BRI and mid-level exceptions, we've got Chris Paul and some draft picks.

It might not all be completely over though. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports the league and Clippers are trying to revive a deal. However, as Berger tweeted around 5:30 p.m. ET, "it's over." ESPN.com reports though the league is hopeful the deal will be resolved soon.

So do we. So does Chris Paul. And most especially, so does Dell Demps.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 4:00 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Clippers-Hornets Chris Paul deal is 'dead'



By Matt Moore
 

2:25 p.m.: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the deal has "died" according to a source. The consensus among reports is that the league demanded too much. At this point it's unclear what exactly they're looking for since any combination on the table was good enough to justify the trade. The nonsense continues. 

1:52 p.m.:
Now, just like that, according to multiple outlets, the deal is pretty much off. Apparently the NBA's asking price is just far too steep for the Clippers.

10:10 a.m.:
And the confusion continues. Yahoo now reports Gordon is not included in the deal, as the L.A. Times reported last night. No word on Bledsoe. 

Update 9:00 a.m.
: ESPN is reporting that A.  Eric Gordon is included in the package and B. Eric Bledsoe is not, which may cause the league to reject. Neither of these statements make sense, so something must get clarified in the next few hours. We'll keep you updated. 

The Los Angeles Times reports that the L.A. Clippers are "close" to a deal for Chris Paul, just days after talks with the Lakers fell apart and less than a week after the league rejected an offer from the Lakers agreed to in a three-way with New Orleans and Houston. 
The Clippers and the New Orleans Hornets were working vigorously Sunday night to consummate a blockbuster deal that would send All-Star point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers' cross-town rivals, said two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak on the matter.

The deal hasn't been completed, but both sides were in the closing stages of the negotiations.

The Clippers would send the Hornets center Chris Kaman, backup second-year guard Eric Bledsoe, second-year forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the No. 1 draft pick they got from the Minnesota Timberwolves that is unprotected in the 2012 draft, considered to be one of the best in recent years.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the NBA have to sign off on the deal.
via Clippers are close to deal for Chris Paul with Hornets - latimes.com.

SI.com notes that Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe told associates that he was headed to New Orleans

A huge element here is that Eric Gordon is not included in the deal as constructed, which leads to two questions: 

A. Is that enough for the league not to block the trade?

B. How good would that team be?

In reverse, you'd be looking at the best pure point guard in the league teamed with the most devastating pick and roll power forward in the conference and a near-All-Star perimeter scorer. In, short, it's terrifying how instantly good that team gets, with DeAndre Jordan (should the Clippers match the $44 million offer sheet from Golden State) and Caron Butler (even criminally overpaid). The Clippers would shake off their reputation for once.

But is it enough? The absence of Gordon might be a deal breaker. He's a young star. Great. Excellent. Near All-Star. But not an All-Star, and not worth CP3. His absence isn't justified by his talent, but his talent might necessitate his involvement.

The deal would have huge ramifications across the league, particularly for teams like Boston and Los Angeles, both vying for the All-Star point guard. The Hornets would get the kind of package they actually need, versus the veteran platter of above-average-but-not-great, aging players they were picking up in the Lakers-Rockets tree-way. Al Farouq-Amnu is a hyper-athletic freak with polish, Bledsoe showed great flashes last year, and Kaman would serve as an excellent expiring contract at the deadline. The picks they would pick up would be in one of the best draft classes in the past decade, and they could very well end up with two top-five picks in a stellar class. A combination of Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal or Harrison Barnes, for example, could put New Orleans on the path to recovery very quickly. 

In short, both teams would win here, even if the package doesn't "seem" better.  

The only question now is if they can cross the finish line and shock the world. The Clippers are on the verge of changing the culture of the NBA with three little characters: CP3.
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 7:50 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 7:55 pm
 

Clippers on Chris Paul's list?

Posted by Royce Young

Chris Paul might be going to Los Angeles after all. Might even be playing in Staples Center.

No, not with the Lakers, but with their roommate, the Los Angeles Clippers. According to ESPN.com, the Clips are on a short list of teams Paul would approve of being traded to Los Angeles to team up with Blake Griffin. But that's only if the Lakers or Knicks can't swing a deal for him. Which at this point, appears unlikely.

The Lakers had a three-way deal worked out to bring Paul to Los Angeles before David Stern and the NBA vetoed it for so-called "basketball reasons." Talks re-engaged, but felt apart again Saturday night when the Hornets reportedly asked for too much. A piece in the trade, Lamar Odom, was then sent to Dallas for a trade exception, essentially busting any chance a deal would go through.

The Clippers understand though that it's a risk to trade for Paul as any team that acquires him runs the risk of him not signing an extension. He likely wouldn't sign one as under the new collective bargaining agreement rules, it's better for a player to wait until his deal runs out and sign a contract in free agency.

Interesting twist to that in this case though: The Clippers aren't asking for Paul to sign an extension yet. All they want is for him to pick up the player option on his contract for 2012-13. That would postpone his free agency one more year. And if CP3 is willing to do that, the Clippers would evidently be open to deal their top two most highly prized assets in Eric Gordon and Minnesota's unprotected 2012 No. 1 pick.

That's very important stuff.

The only way anyone can really see the Clippers landing Paul would be to part with Gordon and the Wolves unprotected pick. And if the Clips were willing to part with those, it's a very real possibility that CP3 could be headed to Clipperland sometime this week.

According to the report, the Hornets have already asked the Clippers for Gordon, Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and at least two future first-round picks for CP3. That's a whole lot of cheese right there. Probably a little too steep for the Clippers, in fact.

But that's more the deal the league evidently is interested in after vetoing the original deal. The original three-way trade with Houston that brought Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin to New Orleans allowed the Hornets to stay competitive. This new scenario allows them to get younger and rebuild, which apparently is the league's desire.

The Clippers deal is better in my mind, but it's a matter of if the Clips are willing to pay that kind of price just to get Paul for maybe two seasons. Teaming him with Blake Griffin is of course a very exciting prospect, but Gordon is a top 10 scorer with a ton of upside still, Minnesota's pick is maybe the most valuable asset in the league (it could very well turn into Anthony Davis), and Eric Bledsoe is a promising young point guard. That's a whole lot to pay, even for a player of CP3's caliber.

If the Hornets were able to swing this deal, I would give it up to Stern and the league, because it's undeniably better. But it's a big if at this point. Mainly because we're talking about the Clippers here and the fact that Chris Paul would have to buy into them long-term. Seems pretty iffy still to me.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com