Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
The Dwight / CP3 saga: Help or hurt the league, from an insider’s viewpoint and a fan’s?
Steve Aschburner: There are some NBA fans and media types who enjoyed the high of The Decision, its aftermath and the Great Free Agency Summer of 2010. But it was like a sugar rush, as I see it, and this Chris Paul-Dwight Howard stuff – on the heels of a serious business crisis that nearly torpedoed the 2011-12 season – is the same sort of cheap and ultimately hollow thrill. The lockout allegedly was meant to address the superstars-wanting-out malaise in the NBA. Yet it took the commissioner going to extraordinary and, frankly, embarrassing lengths just to keep a lid on things for the past two weeks. This isn’t tabloid TV or precinct politics, where any publicity is considered to be good publicity. I’ll say it again: The league should have pumped up the advantages for a player’s current team, with double the contract length (six years vs. three), double the raises (9 percent vs. 4.5) and Bird rights that don’t transfer in full to the new team if the player pushes for the trade.
Fran Blinebury: Dwight Howard’s situation appears ready to play out just like Carmelo Anthony last season and I don’t believe that inflicts any real damage. However, the Chris Paul fiasco is a huge black eye for the league from both viewpoints. For fans, it will just feed further into the conspiracy theories that say the commissioner’s office is pulling the puppet strings behind the scenes. From the inside, it is unconscionable that the league didn’t: a) find a buyer for the Hornets before now to avoid the whole mess; b) declare in advance that the other 29 owners didn’t trust GM Dell Demps as a legitimate broker in all trades; and c) leave three franchises — Hornets, Lakers, Rockets — crippled by its heavy, ham-handed actions.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Hurt. The wound would be deep enough under any circumstances. Coming immediately after a lockout that turned off a lot of people, players trying to move themselves and commissioners directly involved with trade negotiations are especially unwanted.
Shaun Powell: Well, there’s no debate: It has hurt the league from every angle. Fans were under the impression the labor agreement would’ve solved these issues and we see it has had little to no bearing at all. A-list players are still dictating where they want to go before they actually reach free agency and therefore holding their teams hostage. The NBA did itself no favors by either refusing or being unable to sell the Hornets last spring or this summer and then being put in a position of influencing the future of Chris Paul and a beleaguered franchise; it’s an unforgivable conflict of interest. Dwight Howard threatens to leave another small-market team wondering if it can recover quickly from his potential departure, either this season or next summer. Who’s happy with the state of the league right now? Nobody, really. Except maybe Kwame Brown.
John Schuhmann: I don’t think the messiness that comes with the league owning the Hornets is a good thing, but if twitter activity is any indication, the trade news has brought fan interest back quickly in the wake of the lockout. The drama surrounding the Heat was clearly a boon for the league last season. A Dwight-D-Will tandem and CP3 teaming with Kobe or Blake would certainly make for a more fascinating season than if those two guys stayed put.