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Tag:New Orleans Hornets
Posted on: December 8, 2011 8:52 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Lakers trade for Chris Paul: Winners & Losers

chris-paul-lakers

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
Edited on: December 8, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Hornets trade Chris Paul: Grade the Trade

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.

Grade: A-
Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 9:04 pm
 

Lakers to deal Gasol, Odom for Chris Paul?

Posted by Ben Golliverbryant-paul

The New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets are reportedly closing in on a blockbuster trade that would send All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the City of Angels.

Yahoo Sports reports the details.
Hornets working to finalize details on 3-team deal to send Chris Paul to Lakers, Pau Gasol to Rockets and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola to New Orleans, sources say. It is likely that the Hornets will receive draft picks as part of a package for Paul, but source says: "Those are still being determined."

Besides Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom and Goran Dragic, Hornets will also receive a draft pick from Houston, source says. 
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that Paul-to-the-Lakers is "done" and that the three teams remain in "engaged in serious talks."

The Houston Chronicle reports that the 3-way deal is a "done deal all around" and will be brought to completion once free agency officially opens on Friday.

Later Thursday, Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com both reported that the trade may not be completed on Friday, with one report indicating that unnamed NBA owners are asking NBA commissioner David Stern not to approve the deal. The NBA took over ownership of the Hornets last year and the league has yet to sell the franchise, meaning it possesses veto authority on all personnel moves. 

Various versions of this deal have floated out the for roughly a week now. Let's take a look at this proposed deal based on what we know.

As noted on Monday, going big-for-small for Los Angeles would allow the Lakers to drastically upgrade their biggest position of need. The Derek Fisher and Steve Blake combination simply wasn't going to deliver a title. Paul, arguably the league's best all-around point guard, would step into the void immediately making Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant's life easier and seamlessly fitting into an inside-out game with Bynum. The biggest concern is trotting out an ultra-expensive backcourt that features two players with recent knee issues, but those concerns are alleviated to a degree by the fact that Paul and Bryant missed a combined two games last season.

This would be a dream scenario for Paul. He would get a major market, an elite teammate in Kobe Bryant, a psuedo-elite teammate in Andrew Bynum and a bunch of other tested pieces that are ready to compete for a title immediately. He now has a stable, loaded ownership group that will do everything in its power to ensure he competes for a title every season for the balance of his career. The Lakers, of course, could try to cash in Bynum in a separate deal, and Los Angeles has been linked to Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard in rumors recently.

Bryant, like Paul, is a major winner if this deal goes down as reported. Paul will help extend his career, facilitate his climb up the all-time scoring charts and help take on some of the on-court leadership that Bryant has mostly shouldered by himself. Paul also takes him a major step closer to a sixth title, a ring that would match Michael Jordan's career total.

The Hornets come out of this in pretty solid shape. Compared to the packages that Denver and Utah received for Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams, respectively, the Hornets did well. They clear three proven players that complement each other fairly well in Scola, Martin and Odom and a serviceable fourth piece in Dragic. Odom is entering the final fully guaranteed year of his contract and therefore brings with him a nice of degree of flexibility. He can be re-signed or flipped in a trade, depending on what happens with free agents David West and Carl Landry.

The Rockets have been hoarding minor trade assets virtually forever and finally cash them in to land Gasol. He's a legit All-Star with multiple productive years left. But is he that significant of an upgrade over Scola that he's worth parting with three or more additional assets, especially at this stage of his career? Gasol is 31-years-old and can be a franchise centerpiece but he's not going to be the No. 1 option on a legit title contender. Neither is Scola, though, so perhaps moving out of Martin's 8-figure salary to build around Gasol is the new gameplan for the rebuilding Rockets.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:44 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Chris Paul Rumor Tracker 12.8.11: Paul to Lakers?



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
Posted on: December 7, 2011 9:32 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 4:04 pm
 

Chris Paul trade rumor round-up



By Matt Moore

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.

Update 4 p.m. EST
Ken Berger confirms an ESPN report that the Warriors talk has cooled Wednesday afternoon because the Warriors will not include Stephen Curry in the deal. Which is odd since Curry is a point guard in this league and why would you need CP3 and Curry? Curry can play the 2, he's got the range to be sure, but it would be such an odd fit to have two primary ball-handlers. Meanwhile, the Contra Costa Times/Inside Bay Area.com reports that the Warriors are willing to take on Paul without an extension (or assurances thereof, if the Hornets will take Monta Ellis instead of Curry. Ellis is a fine player but he has $22 million left over the next two seasons and another $11 million in an Early Termination Option year for 2013-2014. Kind of a trick for the Hornets to take on that salary. 

9:00 a.m.:

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported Tuesday night that the Clippers had made a substantial offer, including a sign-and-trade for restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan, but that Eric Gordon was not included. 

Since then, the Warriors have gotten into the act. Here's the latest on the CP3 Chase.

Sports Illustrated reports:
But while Yahoo! Sports reported that Paul indicated the Clippers and Warriors could increase their odds of landing him long-term if they signed free-agent center Tyson Chandler, a source with knowledge of the situation said Golden State had not received that message. The Clippers, meanwhile, have no interest in signing Chandler, Pauls former teammate in New Orleans, because of their plan to re-sign restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan.
via Warriors, Clippers, Celtics lead race for point guard Chris Paul - Sam Amick - SI.com.

So if the Clippers aren't giving Gordon, and they aren't giving DeAndre Jordan... what exactly are they giving? Because Al Farouq-Aminu is one of my personal favorite young forwards, but he and Eric Bledsoe along with the Minnesota pick aren't going to get it done. The whole reason the Clippers are in conversations is because they have more to offer New Orleans, not because they're some power franchise, even with Blake Griffin. There's simply no way the Hornets sacrifice Paul for that kind of package, no matter how good the 2012 draft class is. At that point, taking the Knicks' offer might be better for the cap savings. The Clippers are going to have to step up if they want to get the best pure point guard in the NBA. 

Next up is the Warriors, and there's confusion about whether one of their guards is included as well. 

SI.com in the same link as above says that the Warriors' offer for Paul include point guard Stephen Curry, young big man Ekpe Udoh, and rookie Klay Thompson. But, much like a high-school drama, ESPN says... 
Sources said that the Hornets have actually been trying to convince the Warriors to part with Curry since before last season's trade deadline in February. But the Warriors could only stomach the inclusion of Curry if they knew Paul would extend his contract as part of the trade or at least commit to invoking his option for the 2012-13 season. According to sources, Golden State has received no such promises.
via Free Agent Reports - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.

The issue here is that teams seem to not be aware that under the new CBA, the only way for Paul to get the most money and years he can is to opt-out and then re-sign. That's the only way for him to get the fifth year. It's going to require a leap of faith no matter what. If he goes to your team, and you win, then he re-signs. If you don't, then you need to go in a different direction anyway. But it's worth the shot. You're not going to get Paul with an extension. Not after the deal your owners pushed for. 

Meanwhile the Rockets keep desperately trying to worm their way into the conversation. They have the best talent. But it won't happen. From Yahoo:  
The Rockets would offer some combination of Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, Patrick Paterson and draft picks. 
via Clips, Warriors, Celtics in Paul trade talks - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Dallas is also mentioned, which is interesting. Jason Terry and Jason Kidd would be $18 million expiring in 2013, and they could offer Roddy Beaubois or Dominique Jones.

No one wants to make the premium offer or Paul. This is the problem when this stuff gets leaked. The Hornets can't get a deal fast enough before teams exert leverage using the fact that Paul won't re-sign in New Orleans. It's an impossible position for them.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 5:51 pm
 

Lakers talking Gasol or Bynum for Chris Paul?

Posted by Ben Golliverkobe-cp3

As NBA teams race to spend their Mid-Level Exceptions on the likes of Kwame Brown, Jeff Foster and Samuel Dalembert in free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers lay back in the cut, holding two of the league's premier big men -- Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum -- on their roster. Both players have questions about their long-term fit in L.A. and both ended their 2010-2011 seasons in disappointing fashion. Add up the ever-present demand for quality big men and the Lakers' surplus of potentially ill-fitting low-post parts and it's a recipe for trade rumors galore.

Indeed, Yahoo Sports reports that New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who is eligible to sign an extension this season but reportedly desires a new team and/or bigger stage, has been the subject of recent conversation between the Lakers and the Hornets involving Gasol or Bynum. 
The Lakers and Hornets talked several days ago, league sources told Yahoo! Sports, but it was one of those circuitous conversations that left the sides unclear what it would take to get a deal done, and the talk ended with no formal offers. The Lakers and Hornets expect to speak again this week, sources said. The prospect of Pau Gasol as the primary player going to the Hornets won’t be acceptable, sources said. The Lakers will ultimately be willing to let New Orleans pick its player in the deal – Bynum or Gasol – but New Orleans is determined to get quality, and quantity, in a deal.

Bynum has privately been heard to say this offseason that he wants his own team, and the chances of him getting that – in New Orleans or Orlando – have never been higher. Years ago, Kobe Bryant wanted Bynum moved for Jason Kidd, but Bryant’s been insistent all summer that he still believes in this core, isn’t interested in wholesale change.
The Hornets face the prospect of rebuilding their entire roster from zero should Paul eventually communicate that he wants out and if former All-Star forward David West signs elsewhere in free agency. If you're the Hornets and you're aiming for a slash-and-burn rebuild, you want to shed center Emeka Okafor's 8-figure contract that potentially runs through 2013-2014 in any Paul trade, and the Lakers have a handy piece in facilitating that thanks to forward Lamar Odom, whose contract is only fully guaranteed through this year.

Emerging from the Chris Paul fracas with Gasol locked in through 2013-2014 or Bynum through 2012-2013, a chance to re-sign Odom, loads of cap space to build a roster and whatever other tertiary trade pieces L.A. can scrounge up (money, future draft picks, etc.) wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for New Orleans. Not by a long shot. The preference is probably for Gasol, despite the fact that he's 31, but either player gives you a platform to build around. Other potential suitors -- particularly the New York Knicks -- can't make an offer that's even in the vicinity. As for Gasol not being enough as the centerpiece? Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams both moved last year without anyone nearly as good as Gasol being part of the return package. Once that leverage kicks in, demands crumble.

Meanwhile, for Los Angeles, it would mean better roster balance, more room for the remaining big man to breathe and a dynamic playmaking point guard to extend the career of All-Star guard Kobe Bryant. It would amount to a gigantic upgrade at the position of greatest need while taking a step back at the position of greatest depth. If included, Okafor would be one of the best reserve big men off the bench or could be flipped in another deal. For roster chemistry reasons, the Lakers probably want to ditch Bynum instead of Gasol, although contractually he is a better value as long as his knee issues don't recur. Parting with either one is a no-brainer if it Nets Paul in return.

The Lakers are built and paid to win now, and Paul brings that promise to any team he plays on, especially one that's already as loaded as the Lakers are. If there's a risk, it's that both Paul and Bryant have issues with their knees, but pairing two of the game's top-8 players, not to mention elite competitors and most marketable faces, would make this a risk well worth taking.

The Hornets should slow play this so as to maximize the total package for Paul. But the main pieces are there: a centerpiece player in return, financial relief and the odds and ends that go into dealing with a team as loaded as the Lakers (picks, millions in cash, etc.). It's difficult to imagine that another team can make as compelling of an offer without totally demolishing their team's core or identity. Swing a trade like this, and the Lakers as potential contenders don't skip a beat, at least for the next two or three seasons.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 10:04 pm
 

Dwyane Wade's new Jordan Brand 'flight' ad video

Posted by Ben Golliver



With the 2011-2012 NBA season finally back on "play", Nike and Jordan Brand can put away the "Basketball Never Stops" and "Love The Game" ad campaigns and get back to selling their athletes. 

Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade is one of Jordans' three signature athletes -- New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and New Orleans Hornets (for now) guard Chris Paul are the others -- and the sneaker brand unveiled its latest commercial for him earlier this week.

Jordan's theme this year is "Flight", whether that's flying by someone off the dribble, flying through someone on the way to the basket or flying over someone to finish at the rim. Wade's commercial is a straightforward and unspectacular take on the "flight" theme. The spot opens with Wade's defender stepping in to intercept a pass on the perimeter and looking to take it to the house for a dunk on the other end. Wade's instincts kick in and he prepares to leap through the air as the basketball court transforms visually into what looks like a massive skateboarding halfpipe. Wade uses some Matrix-like moves to scale a lift-off platform before the scene returns to the court, where he has now timed his leap perfectly to execute a chasedown block. The crowd reacts, Wade smiles at the baseline cameras and the tagline "This is flight" flashes across the scene. End scene.

Compared to Jordan's lockout efforts, this new ad is far less profound or evocative. Rather than making you rethink what you thought you knew about professional athletes and their dedication to the sport, this is all visceral: "Holy cow, he's way up there, doing extraordinarily athletic things." This isn't necessarily a bad approach. Many fans -- and consumers -- might feel strongly that the time for overthinking is over now that the NBA season is finally back.

RELATED: Dwyane Wade pledges his loyalty to Michael Jordan during the NBA lockout
Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Would OKC be better without Westbrook?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... Wait, we're almost to winter. What happened? Who cares, there's a season! The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a couple weeks. To get you ready for the season, we've put together some pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Should Oklahoma City trade Russell Westbrook?

We all heard it. Read it. Saw it. Someone even said it. Russell Westbrook needs to chill out.

For the Thunder, pretty much all of the 2011 postseason was focused on Westbrook and what he should and shouldn’t be doing. Pass more, dribble less, shoot less, give it to Durant, know your role -- and on and on. Despite all of that outside noise, the Thunder became the youngest team in 20 years to go to the conference finals and that was with the 23-year-old Westbrook leading them.

For most Thunder fans, they were all saying, “What’s the big deal? That’s just Russell Westbrook.” But it didn’t matter. When people saw box scores showing 30 attempts by Westbrook’s name and the fact he took six more shots than Durant, there wasn’t a person in the world that could calm down the harrumphing going about.

A lot of it became about Durant needing a so-called "true" point guard to play with, someone that would get him the ball and then get out of the way. And while all this Chris Paul is hot and heavy right now, some have been rumoring him to Oklahoma City for Westbrook for some time. The common thinking is that alongside a pass-first guy like Paul, Durant would flourish and rule the league as the first 100-point-per-game scorer ever. (Or something like that.)

It was even taken so far that Durant and Westbrook were feuding, which isn't true at all. Did they and do they continue to get frustrated with each other? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean they want a divorce. Consider this quote from Durant this summer:

“I don’t want any other point guard,” Durant said. “He’s perfect for us, the type of guy he is, the type of player he is, the type of teammate he is. We’re all competitive, especially me and him. We get the best of each other in practice every day, and we want to go at each other and make each other better. We are going to have disagreements. That’s what all good players on good teams do.”

Let's assume though, you’re Sam Presti (designer glasses and perfectly gelled hair and all). You just signed Westbrook to an extension the second a new CBA is signed. Dell Demps calls you. Chris Paul for Westbrook, straight up.

What do you do?

First instinct says to do it, right? Chris Paul with Kevin Durant and a supporting cast of James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison sounds like an incredible roster. It sounds like it because it is.

But that's why you're not Sam Presti. He wouldn't do it. Because it's not what's best for his roster in the present, nor in the future. Westbrook's younger, hasn't had a major injury and probably hasn't actually found his ceiling yet. But it's not just about age, it's also about fit.

Consider this: Via NBA.com, the Thunder's offense actually improved more when Westbrook usage went up. Think about that. The more Westbrook inserted himself into the offense, the better OKC scored. And we're talking about a top five offense in both points per game and offensive efficiency.

Look at the numbers: Westbrook assisted Durant on more field goals made than any other player in the league (279, next closest is CP3 and David West with 212). The Thunder’s offense finished the season in the top five in both points per game and offensive efficiency, and was a top three unit the last couple weeks.

What made the Thunder turn the page offensively after Jeff Green was traded was three-fold: 1) Green and his horribly inefficient offensive ways were gone, 2) James Harden had a much bigger role and 3) Westbrook had a bit more leash.

The issue was never about Westbrook and Durant working together. It was about the structure and how things changed in a 7-game postseason series against a veteran team and good coach. Don’t you think Rick Carlisle had a gameplan prepared to stop the Thunder? And with seven games to figure it out, he was going to have something. The Mavs did their best to take away Durant and put all the pressure on Westbrook to make plays. Westbrook had to score. It was the only way the Thunder would crack 90.

What hurt Oklahoma City there was the fact that Westbrook often tried to do too much instead of taking a deep breath and that Durant had difficulty getting free of Shawn Marion for Westbrook to pass him the ball. In the series against the Mavs, OKC’s offensive rating dropped all the way to 78.2, which is horrible. But that was more about what the Mavericks did right, than the Thunder did wrong.

Dallas was prepared for that. Oklahoma City, all the way down to its coaching staff, was not. It’s something to learn from. And despite that, the Thunder were a couple blown fourth quarter leads away from having that series 3-2 in their favor and coming back to OKC. They weren't that far off, not by any stretch. 

Westbrook needs to improve in some areas. He knows it. Good thing he’s just, you know, 23 years old. At the rate he’s improved and transformed his game from year one to year three has been kind of incredible. He’s added a solid jumper, sees the floor much better, is under control more, passes the ball more authoritatively, actually understands offense and is capable of running one. Don’t forget: The Thunder won 55 games, the Northwest Division and was two fourth quarters away from playing for an NBA title. All with a team that features its top four players under the age of 25. The Thunder got to the Western Finals more because of Russell Westbrook, not in spite of him. People seem to forget that when they start playing with the Trade Machine.

The Thunder aren't just fine with Westbrook. They're actually better off with more of him.

 
 
 
 
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