Dave Murphy is a long time FB&G reader and commenter (you know him as Dave M) and runs the great site Searching For Slava. He’ll be contributing more to FB&G this season and today he brings us the news of the day in his Friday Forum.
Three weeks ago today, the chances for an NBA season seemed increasingly dim. And yet it somehow came together in the wee hours between Friday and Saturday and the stampede was on. Training camp starts today as does the official opening bell for free agency contracts. With a compressed lead-up to opening day, the focus is squarely on possible trades and acquisitions. In particular, some Laker-centric rumors were raging late Thursday, rendering linkage attempts somewhat comical. It appeared thatPauwas headed to Houston and Lamar toNew Orleanswhile a guy named Chris Paul was sure to be arriving here. InHollywood. The land of screenplay rewrites. As this post headed off to press, events did a 180. Yep, you guessed it, David Stern and certain members of the hardliners (remember them?), killed the deal.
From filling holes on the cheap, to future luxury tax oblivion, to the greatest trade deal that never happened, here’s some stuff to make you scratch your head in wonder:
From Timothy Varner, Hoopspeak: It wouldn’t do for Chris Paul to go to Boston or NY or, even, heaven forbid, the other Los Angeles. Chris Paul must play for the Lakers. The league benefits if the Lakers benefit and this was an ipso facto case of brazen favoritism. How else could one explain the Lakers giving up nothing more than the measly pairing of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom? Thankfully, what we’ve learned over the past few months is that the NBA is protected by a righteous band of flaming cherubs—true crusaders for fairness and equality. Its owners. And they wouldn’t have it. Their shouts for justice rang out and David Stern responded by vetoing the deal. Dell Demps, we assume, is still allowed to trade Chris Paul, but not to a large market team, or at least not to that large market team. Let him pick freely from the available talent in Milwaukee and Minnesota. In its entire history, the NBA has never seen such a lopsided trade. Ever. And if the NBA had allowed this event to set a precedent of questionable, even unthinkable, personnel maneuvers, then what? This sort of thing DOES NOT HAPPEN in the NBA. NBA owners do not turn their thumbs up to questionable player signings or lopsided trades. (The NBA later denied that it had acted in response to its owners; instead, the NBA claims it didn’t like the trade for basketball reasons. David Stern, in other words, just told Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom that they are no where near as talented as Chris Paul. SorryPau, but this isn’t even a race. You lost before you left the mark.)
From Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk: After things seemed to cool off on Wednesday, the Chris Paul trade rumors have heated up fast and furious on Thursday. That includes a three-way deal where Paul ends up with the Los Angeles Lakers, who give up Pau Gasol. The details are not yet clear, but Chris Paul would land with the Lakers, Pau Gasol would end up with the Rockets (who are looking for a big man) and the Hornets would get Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and some picks. Landing Paul would force a radical change change in offensive philosophy for new Lakers coach Mike Brown – he said he wanted to go with a “twin towers” idea with Gasol and Bynum, not unlike what the Spurs did with David Robinson and Tim Duncan – but he would do it for the best point guard in the league.
From Kurt Helin, ProbasketballTalk: The only public relations move worse than the league allowing Chris Paul to be traded to the Lakers after a five-month lockout allegedly about “competitive balance” is to have David Stern come in with an iron fist and kill the deal because owners complained. Well done NBA. Well done indeed.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’Lakers: The Lakers had a real problem with outside shooting last season. Outside shooting happens to be something – really the one thing, from a basketball standpoint – Jason Kapono is very, very good at. Plus, he comes cheap. Mash those ingredients together, and the news from ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin,the Lakers have agreed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal for about $1.2 million makes some sense. The 30-year old Artesia High graduate and former UCLA product’s career mark of 43.7 percent from downtown instantly making him the most accomplished bomber on the roster, and the Lakers don’t commit anything substantial in dollars or contract length.
Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: A new era in Lakerdom is about to begin. The trade for Pau Gasol almost four years ago sent the franchise back into the NBA stratosphere. Today, it appears, Pau is leaving town along with Lamar Odom, who himself arrived in Los Angeles as part of a franchise-shaking trade. In return for these two great Lakers, whom we’ll always love and think of as family, the team is acquiring Chris Paul. He needs no introduction. We all watched him torment the Lake Show in the first round of last year’s playoffs. He’s one of the best point guards of all time and a top-five player who’s still only 26 years old. Oh, honey.
Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: This is a deep stain on Stern’s reign as commissioner. He got bullied by small-market owners into prolonging the lockout, and they just did it to him again. His stewardship of the sport is a bad joke. It’s time for him to go.
Mark Medina, L.A. Times Lakers blog: As the entrance to the Lakers’ practice facility opened, Pau Gasol drove slowly toward the exit, waving to reporters walking nearby. There was nothing meant by the friendly gesture, but it surely symbolized his departure from the Lakers. Times Lakers reporter Mike Bresnahan is reporting hat the New Orleans Hornets will send Chris Paul to the Lakers in a three-team trade, while the Lakers will send Gasol to the Houston Rockets and Lamar Odom to the Hornets. In turn, the Lakers are also expected to acquire another frontcourt presence, possibly veteran Emeka Okafor. Once this becomes official Friday when training camp opens, some questions suddenly become irrelevant. The ones about whether the Lakers can upgrade their point guard needs, whether Lakers Coach Mike Brown keeps Derek Fisher as his starter or how Steve Blake will compete for more playing time no longer spark concern.
Mark Medina, L.A. Times Lakers blog: Lamar Odom is still a Laker, but he doesn’t sound completely thrilled about it. Odom admitted that he was “shocked” and “surprised” when told Thursday afternoon that the Lakers agreed to trade him to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a deal for point guard Chris Paul. But this evening when he heard that the NBA had killed the trade, Odom said he was in “total disbelief” over these new developments.
From Kevin Ding, The OC Register: Lakers don’t want to spend much, and one option remains combo guard Delonte West, who played in Cleveland under new Lakers coach Mike Brown. West is in interesting personality and toldSLAM Magazine’s Tzvi Twersky in September how he was on house arrest, wearing an ankle bracelet monitor when not playing basketball for the Celtics at NA arenas last season because of his arrest for weapons possession in 2009. West, 28, is a definite talent with a sweet shot (37.3 percent career 3-point shooter) who would/could even take most of the point-guard playing time away from Steve Blake and Derek Fisher. But he also would like the best paycheck he can: To help make ends meet, he took a job as a Regency Furniture Showrooms delivery man during the lockout.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’Lakers: This is an absolute disaster for the NBA. It creates the appearance of a league office, not to mention players, at the mercy of a spite-driven agenda by owners. If Quazimoto, Anita Ward and Tattoo from “FantasyIsland” all joined forces to ring a 10-ton bell, it wouldn’t make this much noise. And once that bell’s been rung, you can’t go back in time. And beyond the muck Stern submerged his league into, for the Lakers, a season already filled with question marks and the complications of a compressed schedule just grew even stickier.
Jeff Miller, the OC Register: Thank you, Pau Gasol. In case you’ve forgotten, Gasol’s arrival here in 2008 only marked a rebirth for the Lakers, and more importantly, Kobe Bryant. He helped this franchise to two NBA titles and a third Finals appearance. He was an anchor in the middle stabilizing a team that teetered. He was the reason Bryant – and, in turn, all the Lakers and their fans – believed again. If not for Gasol, who knows where this team might have gone in the spring of ‘08? One thing’s certain: All the way to the NBA Finals oppositeBoston would not have been the ultimate destination.
Kevin Ding, the OC Register: Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson foresaw this controversy back on Dec. 29, 2010, saying about the day Paul demands a trade: “Who’s going to pull the button on it? When Chris says he has to be traded, how’s that going to go? … Someone’s going to have to make a very nonjudgmental decision on that part that’s not going to irritate anyone else in the league.”
Ending with Phil Jackson’s crystal ball statement seems as fitting a way as any, to close out one of the strangest days ever in Lakers history. The next time a Friday roundup is posted, it’ll be the verge of our “exhibition season” – two games against the Clippers at Staples, on the 19th and 22nd. And then, our season-opener against the Bulls on Christmas day, the first leg of our lone triple-header, three games in three nights. With a new head coach, and who-knows-who on the team, the season promises to be memorable. Enjoy the weekend and what is sure to be an active few days of discussion about the Chris Paul era that never was. ToPau and Lamar – thanks for the memories, goodbye and welcome back!