Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chris Paul to the Clippers: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

You read that right last night...& it wasn't an Onion headline.

Chris Paul, arguably the best point guard in the NBA will be heading to Los a Clipper.

It was a mind numbing road to get to this point, but what started as NBA Commisioner David Stern's ego vetoing a trade sending Paul to the Lakers has become a fair trade on both sides. This will cover the good, bad, and ugly aspects of this move.

Now what one views as good and bad about this trade is mainly subject to your loyalties (especially if you're a Lakers fan) but we can all agree that everyone benefitted. Lets begin!

New Orleans Hornets


The main benefit for the Hornets is that in whatever trade they woul've pulled off there was something in return for Paul rather than watching him leave for nothing. Another benefit is the team avoids any type of in-season drama revolving possible Paul trades ala the Denver Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony last season.

The Clipper deal gives the Hornets the best prospect when thinking long-term. Guard Eric Gordon (who found out about the trade in an ackward fashion) has the potential to be a 25 point-per-game player and is only in his third year in the league. Center Chris Kaman (or rather his expiring contract) will help the team in the 5 spot. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu can fill a void left behind by David West's departure. Most notably the first round pick the Hornets get from the Clippers (via the Minnesotta Timberwolves) is unprotected in what some think is the best NBA draft class since 2003 coming up.


Now here is the part where Lakers fans start yelling and play Devil's advocate. While the Clipper trade set up the Hornets long-term, the Laker trade would've kept them a playoff teal in the short-term.

The proposed Lakers trade would've sent forward Lamar Odom, forward/center Luis Scola, and guard Kevin Martin anlong with draft picks for Paul. That lineup could get you to the postseason, particularly after a shortened season. That would fill seats and would look good to potential buyers of the team. Unfortunately the team's age and contract would probably cancel that out.


The way the NBA and particularly Stern have handled this entire situation was just dumb.

The league made Hornets GM Dell Demps look like a fool in front of his peers when they vetoed the Laker trade. They then tried trying to explain their decision and looked even dumber as they tried. The ugliest part of this fiasco is that it only added to the tensions between owners and players that formed during the lockout.

Los Angeles Clippers


This move by the Clippers has done something that has never been done in its' 30-plus year history and especially after moving to LA from San Diego in 1985.

The Clippers can honestly say that they're on equal footing with the more pedigreed Lakers...and it's believeable!

The Clippers now have Paul, forward (& human dunk machine) Blake Griffin, a young center in DeAndre Jordan, veteran forward Caron Butler, and (maybe?) guard Chauncey Billups in their starting lineup. That's a potent lineup. Of those guys Paul and Griffin are the biggest draws for the Clippers. The buzz around Paul is so powerful that Clipper season tickets have sold out for the first time in franchise history. 

The best thing for the Clippers is that they are, for at least the next two years, no longer a laughingstock of a franchise. They made a move to take the crown for LA & if the Lakers don't do something soon...the Clippers might just take it.


While getting Paul is a game changer for the Clippers, he only agreed to opt in for the 2012-13 season. If Paul becomes unhappy with his situation there he could walk away. Griffin also ties into this, if Paul leaves what's to stop from doing the same? That gambit (while worth taking) may destroy whatever momentum they build up.

Then there is the fact that the Clippers are still owned by Donald Sterling. When it comes to spending Sterling makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like the 2001-2006 GOP Congress under George W. Bush. That alone might derail the good vibes flowing from Clipperland.

If Paul & Griffin leave the Clippers would go back to being a joke.


The ugly factor for the Clippers is how they have used Billups like a poker chip to get Paul. When talks between the Clippers and Hornets first died down Billup was on waivers thanks to being anmestied by the New York Knicks. Billups told teams not to pick him up on waivers and to let him pick his destination, the Clippers didn't listen.

Now that Gordon is gone the Clippers have to convince Billups to play the 2 alongside Paul and hope his 'good guy' personality takes over.

Every man has a breaking point, & I honestly think that Billups has reached his.

Los Angeles Lakers


The only good thing coming from the fallout of this for the Lakers is that they still have center Andrew Bynum, and forward Pau Gasol to use as pieces in a possible trade for center Dwight Howard.


The bad part for the Lakers is that they shot themselves in the foot in trading Odom. When it looked like they were going to get Paul, Odom almost cried during a radio interview. Feeling disrespected after the trade veto, Odom asked the team for a trade & they obliged.

He was sent to the Dallas Mavericks...for essentially a bag of magic beans.

Odom (last season's Sixth Man of The Year) and his contract was a very attractive trade commodity for the Lakers and they pretty much gave him away to a conference rival for nothing. Losing Odom greatly limits what the Lakers can do in the trade market.


The ugly part for the Lakers on this can be summed up in one sentence.

Kobe Bryant is PISSED OFF!!

Bryant may sound diplomatic in front of the cameras, but no one denies that he must be fuming behind the scenes.

A similar scenario enveloped the Lakers with Bryant in 2007 and amazingly the guy in charge now, Jim Buss, was in charge then. During that time Bryant had players like Smush Parker and Kwame Brown as teammates and Rudy Tomjonovich as head coach. Bryant was so pissed about the situation that he demanded to be traded to the Chicago Bulls.

The situation was resolved luckily for the Lakers when they pulled off the Gasol trade.

The only way this gets fixed for the Lakers right now to get Howard, nothing else will do. Unfortunately according to ESPN's Ric Bucher has said that LA is a distant third beding the New Jersey Nets and the Mavericks for Howard's services.

The Nets...yea...

Well there you have it folks! The good, bad, and ugly form this trade. It all might change before the season starts, but that's where it stands right now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Welcome to the madness that is the NBA!

Imagine yourself driving down a highway when you spot a few cop cars on the other side of the road.

Then imagine right behind those cop cars a multi-car wreck unlike one you've ever seen. It keeps getting worse as you drive along. Even as you think it ended suddenly more wreckage appears. It's so horrifying that you want to turn away, yet you can't. The carnage has your eyes glued to the wreck even as your mind is begging you to stop.

That very feeling is what journalists, bloggers, and fans are experiencing when looking at the current state of the NBA. It almost has some wondering if the lockout that endangered the entire 2011-12 season was actually a better situation.

Now granted, having stadium workers lose at least 41 days worth of paychecks in this current economy is a terrible act under any circumstance. That being said, the way the leauge has behaved in recent days is making the alternative look slightly more peaceful.

The highlight for this thinking has been the ongoing debacle involving New Orleans Hornets (for the time being) point guard Chris Paul.

A couple of weeks after the NBA owners and the players' union declared a tense detente in settling on a new collective bargaining agreement it was evident that it didn't change anything that caused the tensions between the two sides. As teams allowed players to practice in their facilities and were able to talk to free agents 'without making concrete progress' (wink, wink) the prospect of Paul landing in Madison Square Garden was becoming more distant.

Even though the New York Knicks were his preffered destination, the looming signing of free agent center Tyson Chandler effectively took them out of the running for Paul due to the salary cap. That left the door open for the Los Angeles Lakers to make a move. They, the Hornets, and the Houston Rockets began working on a trade that would send Paul to LA, Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol to Houston, and Lakers forward Lamar Odom, Rockets Luis Scola, along with Rockets guard Kevin Martin to New Orleans. The Hornets would also receive draft picks as part of the deal.

Then as the parties agreed on the trade and both the players and owners were ratifying the new CBA on December 8th NBA Commisioner David Stern did something that no one saw coming.

Stern, both out of his ego and a need to have the owners save face as to why they went into a lockout, vetoed the trade citing 'basketball reasons' for doing so. To say that no one bought that line would be an understatement.

This move by Stern was unprecedented in the NBA. The fact that he was able to make this move as the Hornets are owned by the league, made the move ever more shocking. Then as details of why Stern really did this started to come out (like this Bloomberg interview) it only pissed off everyone more, & I mean EVERYONE.

Players were pissed because it showed that owners were still Hell bent of limiting where they could go to. Agents were pissed because the shockwave of this move essentially froze the market just as free agency was set to begin. NBA team executives were pissed because one of their own, Hornets GM Dell Demps, pulled off a decent trade under the circumstances and was basically knee-capped by Stern for it.

This move has pissed off the players so much that rumblings of a possible strike started popping up on Twitter within minutes of the veto being announced. Those rumblings haven't gone away at all even as days have passed by since this happened.

One would think that after being told by everyone how stupidly their move was that the NBA would, I don't know, try to act sane. We're not so fortunate though.

In the days following this move an unbelieveable chain of events has unfolded.

Odom, who felt disrespected by the Lakers, asked to be traded & was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks for essentially a bag of magic beans.

The NBA almost allowed a horrible trade involving free agent forward David West being sent to the Boston Celtics go through before being saved by the Indiana Pacers who signed West to a two-year $20 million contract.

Chaucey Billups, a model player throughout his career, became collateral damage of the Chandler signing when the Knicks waived him via the amnesty clause.

The NBA, after it emasculated Demps & now have relegated him to a mere spectator, are trying to deal Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers only to find ways to mess it up.

Meanwhile the Hornets only have six people in training camp right now.

& now CBS Sports's Ken Berger is reporting that Billups, who was picked up on waivers by the Clippers even as he threatened any team that did, is merely being used as a pawn by them to complete the Paul trade. This of course has pissed off more people.

Now let's leave aside a couple of things.

Leave aside the fact that Paul, along with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (who's in a completely different mess) are forcing their way out of their team ala Carmelo Anthony last season.

Leave aside that the real reason for the lockout was over how the Miami Heat's Big 3 of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh was formed.

Forget those two things for a minute, now ask yourself this: Have you ever pictured the NBA being so dysfunctional near the start of the season?