HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It’s easy to get tangled up with semantics during election season. Same goes for injury issues in the NBA.
When you hear that New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon is out indefinitely with a right knee injury, the same one that cost him all but nine games last season and led to him missing the entire preseason and the Hornets’ season-opening loss to the Spurs, you have no choice but to ask an obvious question.
Does “indefinitely” mean that he’s done for the season?
There is no clear-cut answer right now. Gordon has had multiple MRIs and team medical officials have indicated that there is a reason for the pain he’s been experiencing, but no specifics have been made public.
This post might pack a little extra meaning for NBA GMs Masai Ujiri, Joe Dumars, Rod Higgins, Billy King and Dell Demps.
Forty years ago, the Milwaukee Bucks made Wayne Embry the first black general manager in NBA history. In fact, they made him the first black GM in U.S. pro sports.
That’s one of the reasons Embry will be honored Aug. 17 with the Legends Award at the annual Fellowship Open golf tournament in Milwaukee. That award goes to citizens who have demonstrated a personal commitment to helping others. Previous recipients have included baseball’s Hank Aaron, football’s Willie Davis and former Bucks player-turned-fast food entrepreneur Junior Bridgeman.
Embry, 75, a Naismith Hall of Famer, has been in and around the NBA for more than a half century, beginning in 1958 — 11 seasons as a player with Cincinnati, Boston and Milwaukee, and almost without interruption since in front-office roles with the Bucks, the Cavaliers and the Raptors. In Cleveland in 1994, Embry became the first African-American president of a sports team and twice was honored as NBA Executive of the Year. He is in his ninth year in Toronto as a senior advisor.
“Wayne’s legacy is best defined by his leadership and the example he sets for others,” NBA commissioner David Stern wrote in a letter to Fellowship Open board chairman John Daniels. “In addition to acknowledging his position as a role model whose career is an inspiration to younger generations, Wayne recognizes the importance of giving back to the game and to the community. He has taught players to use the values they have learned while competing to make a positive impact on society. The NBA has benefited greatly from Wayne Embry’s commitment to the game of basketball. I am honored to join with you to celebrate his career and to thank him for all he has given us. He is a true pioneer.” (more…)
No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis, the new cornerstone of the team, sprained his ankle during a practice and that could cost him an opportunity to work out against the U.S. Olympic team beginning on Friday.
Restricted free agent and the key piece of the puzzle Eric Gordon has already visited with the Rockets and Pacers and plans to keep himself open to any opportunities that come up around the league.
Suddenly there are new reasons to worry in New Orleans. But they’re nothing at all like the old reasons.
Remember, it was not even 18 months ago when the Hornets had to organize a mid-season ticket drive to fill seats in order to meet an attendance clause that could have triggered an escape clause in their lease.
Remember, it was less than seven months ago when commissioner David Stern shot down the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers and delivered the Hornets a handful of veteran talent that could have avoided the plummet in the standings.
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. This week’s blogtable was yesterday, but below is a special bonus Chris-Paul-just-got-traded-to-the-Clippers edition:
Now that CP3 is going to the Clippers, does that end justify David Stern’s means; nixing the deal to the Lakers last week? Did he do his job as caretaker of the Hornets, or did he stick his nose in where it didn’t belong?
Steve Aschburner: The league and commissioner David Stern “stuck their noses” where they didn’t belong the moment they bought back the Hornets from George Shinn. From that point, though, other than flipping the keys to Price Waterhouse to run in a blind trust, there was going to be meddling in the Hornets’ affairs — the same way owners meddle in GMs’ and coaches’ business all the time.
So I wasn’t surprised — and certainly wasn’t outraged, like some overly emotional souls in the media — by what Stern did in blocking the Lakers-Rockets deal. I liked that outcome on the court better for all involved but taking back fat contracts and guys in their 30s is no way to spiff up a jalopy of a franchise for a potential buyer. The Clippers package is better for that, for selling now and winning later. (Of course, Dell Demps could have parlayed Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Lamar Odom into younger assets too. Just maybe not by the time New Orleans was brought to market.)
Chris Paul didn’t get harmed; he was working on an extension that ran through 2012-13 with an opt-out, so as long as he got paid, the Hornets were honoring the deal. Paul didn’t have a right to be traded to the Lakers or anywhere else. Laker fans are in a tizzy but that’s because they’re spoiled by so much going their way through the years. (They never properly thanked Minneapolis for the franchise in the first place, if you ask me.)
Stern did right by the Hornets. His move had the collateral benefit of pleasing many of the league’s owners and fans, who would have gagged on a “have” franchise adding the NBA’s best pure point guard within days of a costly labor dispute staged in part to avoid that very outcome. The Clippers don’t seem “big market” because of their history and their knack for screwing up even promising beginnings. The league got a little more interesting and, well, if Stern and the other 29 aren’t nervous about New Orleans’ long-term viability, I won’t lose sleep over it either.
Fran Blinebury: No. It all started from the uncomfortable premise that the league has ownership of an individual franchise and could act as a forthright and honest broker. That led to G.M. Dell Demps being told that he had full authority to make deals, a message that clearly wasn’t true, but was disseminated throughout the league. No one told the Lakers or the Rockets or any other club interested in trading for Chris Paul that the league office would have to sign off on the deal. If Stern was going to intervene and run the show, it should have been before the N.O.-L.A.-Houston deal was agreed upon. When Stern trampled in after the fact, it undermined the league’s credibility, gave rise to suspicion that he was reacting to anti-big-market, anti-Lakers outcry from some team owners and, most important, did real damage to the Lakers and Rockets teams.
Yes, Stern ultimately got the Hornets a much better deal from the Clippers, but after a long, ugly and silly lockout, at a cost of the league’s credibility.
Scott Howard-Cooper: He did his job as caretaker of the Hornets — but not at caretaker of the NBA. In the end, it became exactly the conflict of interest Stern should have been able to see long ago as a potential perception problem for the league. If he had stayed out of sight and the initial trade had gone through, the uproar would have been how the league-owned team delivered Chris Paul to the Lakers. It would have been a fair deal negotiated according to the rules by the personnel departments of three teams, and it still would be created problems. Putting the Veto stamp on Lakers-Hornets-Rockets created another set of problems. The image of the league should not have been at risk in the first place. New Orleans ended up with as good a return as could be expected under the circumstances, and the commissioner ended up looking bad to a lot of people.
Shaun Powell: In the end, the Hornets got a better deal than before. That’s all that counts. They didn’t get Lamar Odom, who would’ve pouted all year, or a one-dimensional Kevin Martin, or Luis Scola‘s big contract (which is a crippler to a small-market team that’s up for sale). While the basketball world knee-jerked and screamed and said the NBA blew it because the Hornets would never get anything better, New Orleans did just that. They got one of the best young guards in basketball in Eric Gordon, an up-and-comer in Al-Farouq Aminu, trade bait in Chris Kaman and Minny’s unprotected No. 1 which will be gold in next summer’s draft. All assets and all (relatively) cheap. Of course, the bigger issue is the NBA being in a caretaker role. That must change, pronto, because this is a terrible conflict of interest for the league.
The best the NBA can do for the Hornets, other than the just-completed trade, is to put the franchise incapable hands and wash its own hands of being an owner/general manager. Sell this club to anyone except the second coming of George Shinn, who is a bigger villain in this situation than David Stern could ever be.
John Schuhmann: I really don’t know. On one hand, the Hornets got a better “rebuilding” deal, (the three-way trade was a better “win now” deal), and that might help the team get sold. On the other hand, a situation where the NBA office is negotiating trades is a great opportunity for conspiracy theorists to speculate about what the commissioner’s motives are. It also seems like Dell Demps wasted a lot of time working on deals, only to find out that he doesn’t really have the authority to do so. I’m just glad it’s over.
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – The three-team trade between the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets blew up late Saturday night. And now, Dell Demps and the Hornets must find a new deal for Chris Paul.
As we all woke up Sunday morning in the aftermath of another twist in the CP3 drama, we were one day closer to the start of the season. Preseason games begin Friday, and there’s still much that has to happen before rosters are settled.
With both the Paul and Dwight Howard situations in a state of flux, there are so many dominoes that must fall before we can really focus on the basketball on the court. Here’s a rundown of the teams and players who are waiting for all this to get resolved…
With the Lakers seemingly out of the Paul picture (and talking with the Magic about Howard), do the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors get back into talks with the Hornets? If they do, how are they affected by the $40 million offer sheet that that Clipper free agent DeAndre Jordan is signing with the Warriors? The Warriors are also involved in a three-way trade that would land Jamal Crawford in New York, according to the New York Post.
If the three-way deal went through, the Rockets would have cleared a bit of cap space, reportedly enough to offer free agent Nene a four-year deal worth $64 million. If the Rockets don’t have the space, does Nene return to the Denver Nuggets or focus on the New Jersey Nets?
Of course, the Nets are reportedly Howard’s preferred destination and obviously all-in for the three-time DPOY. Consider this: The Nets have two huge holes at the forward positions, $22 million in cap space (if they waive Travis Outlaw and renounce Kris Humphries), and a desperate need to keep Deron Williams happy … and they haven’t made a single roster move yet.
Until the Hornets find a trade for Paul, the Hornets probably can’t go through with a sign-and-trade deal that would land David West in Boston. Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Indiana Pacers are ready to sign West if the Boston deal falls through. Meanwhile, maybe the Celtics get back in the Paul mix with an offer centered around Rajon Rondo.
That’s 11 teams and two of the summer’s top free agents (Nene and West) who are directly tied into the Paul and Howard situations. And that doesn’t include any three or four-team trade scenarios. There are a lot of dominoes still to fall.
Our man David Aldridge burned the midnight oil to file this report, in which he says progress is being made on a deal to trade Paul to Los Angeles … but it might be a while before anything really happens:
A source directly involved in the negotiations told TNT’s David Aldridge Friday that progress had been made in a potential trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the trade was not expected to be completed Friday and could have several more incarnations before being completed, if it is completed at all.
The trade may or may not ultimately involve the Houston Rockets, who were part of the initial version of the three-team deal, which was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern Thursday night. In that version, the Hornets would send Paul, a four-time All-Star, to the Lakers. The Lakers would send forward Pau Gasol to Houston, and send forward Lamar Odom to New Orleans. The Hornets would receive forward Luis Scola, guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic and a 2012 first-round pick from Houston. But now, the deal could involve more or different teams that can provide the Hornets with the combination of young players and additional Draft picks that the league is seeking for Paul.
The league — which purchased the Hornets in December, 2010, in order to find a potential buyer for the team that would keep the team in New Orleans — thought the Hornets had to do better in order to approve the trade. The Hornets’ management team believed it could convince the NBA to sign off on the deal, as it had in previous transactions, if it went to the Lakers and Rockets and got more assets. It is believed that the Lakers have committed to include more future Draft picks to the Rockets in order to make the deal happen, and the Hornets would have to make additional moves to get additional assets.
The deal will not be completed, however, until Lakers owner Jerry Buss recuperates further from the blood clots that required him to be hospitalized earlier in the week. Buss is expected to be released from a hospital in the next couple of days.
What other teams get involved and who ultimately is shipped where in this deal is anyone’s guess at this point, though. But things are progressing again.
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – Thursday, Dec. 8 was one of the wildest days the NBA has seen in recent memory, as three teams pulled off a trade that would have altered the NBA landscape, only to have the deal squashed by commissioner David Stern. And now, we have to wonder what kind of precedent has been set, and what this means for the future of the players and teams involved.
This was supposed to be the day that the new collective bargaining agreement was ratified. And it was. But that news was completely overshadowed by what happened shortly after the league’s press conference.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
After several days of talks with several teams, the New Orleans Hornets finally reached a deal to get back some assets for Chris Paul, who they clearly believed was going to leave via free agency next summer. They traded Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-way deal that netted them Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola and the Knicks’ 2012 first-round draft pick (via Houston).
Twitter blew up, the league was abuzz, and columns were being filed about the plusses and minuses of the deal. Many were already preparing for the Lakers’ next move. Since they were keeping Andrew Bynum, they were still able to dangle him in front of the Orlando Magic in an effort to team Dwight Howard with Paul and Kobe Bryant.
The first tweet of the deal, from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, came shortly before 6 p.m. ET. Less than three hours later, Wojnarowski reported that “NBA owners have pushed commissioner David Stern to kill the deal.”
Within minutes, other reporters confirmed that the deal was dead. Paul was still a member of the New Orleans Hornets and the Lakers’ dominant frontline remained intact. Training camps were set to open in less than 24 hours and we were all to pretend that nothing happened.
Later, NBA senior vice president of basketball communications Tim Frank issued this statement: “Not true that the owners killed the deal. It wasn’t even discussed at the board meeting. League office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons.”
Either way, the situation only leads to more questions, especially since the Hornets were getting back a pretty good haul in the deal.
First, if the league didn’t want the Hornets to trade Paul, why did they allow general manager Dell Demps to waste so much of his time (and the time of other executives around the league) negotiating a deal?
Second, if Demps wasn’t allowed to make this deal, is there any deal (involving Paul) that he’s allowed to make? And if Demps can’t trade Paul, aren’t the Hornets just going to lose him for nothing next summer?
Third, is this just about keeping Paul to help the team get sold? And will it get sold in time for the Hornets to make a deal that will get them something in return for Paul?
In his recap of the night, Wojnarowski reported that Demps considered resigning. And obviously, we haven’t heard the last of this story. ESPN has reported that Paul won’t be showing up at Hornets training camp on Friday.
The craziness of the day wasn’t limited to the three-team trade. The first wild moment came when we learned that the New York Knicks had put themselves in the mix for Tyson Chandler, shortly after we heard that the Golden State Warriors had offered him $60 million over four years.
The Knicks, with their payroll right at the salary cap line, seemingly had no way to get Chandler. But then CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported that they were “in the lead” for the center dropping this bombshell: “If the deal goes through, the Knicks use amnesty on Chauncey Billups and move Ronny Turiaf to make room for Chandler, sources say.”
Chandler will obviously help the Knicks defensively, but by waiving Billups, they’re left without a point guard. And by signing Chandler to a long-term deal, they’re seemingly out of the running to sign Paul next summer. They should, however, get plenty of interest from point guards willing to sign for the mid-level exception.
No deal can become official until Friday at 2 p.m., but according to multiple reports, Billups is “irate” about the news and has already gone home to Denver.
The developments of Thursday crept into early Friday morning when ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Howard “is preparing to ask the Magic to trade him to the Nets.”
The Magic could get Brook Lopez, another player (possibly Jordan Farmar) and picks back from New Jersey. That may not seem like a lot, but the Nets, after waiving Travis Outlaw and renouncing their bird rights to Kris Humphries, would be able to absorb Hedo Turkoglu’s contract in the deal. And that would allow the Magic to wipe $21 million off the Orlando payroll. If they then waived Gilbert Arenas using the amnesty clause, they could start fresh.
Here’s what else went down on an eventful Thursday, according to reports…
Shane Battier decided to sign with the Miami Heat, who will also sign Eddy Curry to a deal.
Caron Butler reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers for $24 million over three years.
Tayshaun Prince and Jonas Jerebko each reached agreements to return to the Detroit Pistons on four-year deals.
Tracy McGrady and Jason Collins each reached agreements on one-year deals with the Atlanta Hawks.
Shannon Brown is leaving L.A. for Phoenix.
The Milwaukee Bucks reached an agreement with Mike Dunleavy on a two-year deal worth $7.5 million.
The Boston Celtics will acquire Keyon Dooling from the Bucks for a second-round pick.
Jeff Pendergraph reached a deal with the Indiana Pacers.
Chris Paul’s agent informed New Orleans officials on Wednesday that his client will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to the New York Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
As soon as the NBA lifts its lockout restrictions, Hornets general manager Dell Demps wants to meet with Paul and hear that directive from him.
Nevertheless, the prospects of the Hornets executing a trade with the Knicks appear to be relatively dim. The Knicks simply don’t have the trade assets that come close to meeting New Orleans’ criteria for a deal. Demps has been listening to overtures from teams around the league, and has been actively working under the assumption that Paul would reject a contract extension.
The Hornets have no intention of letting Paul walk away at season’s end without trying to get maximum value for him. There are several teams, including the Boston Celtics, that could be willing to make a deal for Paul with the hope of convincing him to eventually sign an extension.
If the flurry of activity expected when teams can conduct free agent business includes a transaction including Paul, the roller coaster ride for several other high-profile players could begin.
The addition of Paul in New York, where he would join All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, would no doubt jolt a few other Eastern Conference contenders to examine their situations to see if there is anything they could do to combat a move of that magnitude.
You’ve got to love having this sort of drama back after that 149-day lockout!
LOS ANGELES –David West landed wrong with 22.5 seconds left in regulation March 24 in Salt Lake City, and uncertainty emerged from every direction. The long-term health of the left knee after the torn ligament, the Hornets roster, the playoff hopes, his future in New Orleans.
Even as the Hornets defy expectations against the Lakers, as they have most all season against everyone, it’s difficult to not at least wonder how the first round would have been different with the leading scorer and former All-Star at power forward. Players and coaches dismiss the hypothetical, choosing to deal only in the actual, but they’re 2-2 against an opponent that came in heavily favored while missing the second-most important part of the roster after Chris Paul. With West, who knows.
Similarly, it is also impossible to measure the injury’s impact on what, at least in appearance, would have been unique contract talks. West can opt out and negotiate as a free agent in the summer with the new owners needing to sign off on any deal with the Hornets. The new owners being the NBA.
West must now decide if the smart move is to leave $7.5 million on the table for 2011-12 in exchange for long-term security or if he should wait another season in hopes of getting a better deal after showing the knee is fine. The NBA must then decide how much it is willing to pay if other teams make lucrative offers, which, in the strange scenario, would lead to one of the 30 individual businesses bidding against the corporate office.
“We’ll talk to our internal staff and come with recommendations and then take it to the NBA,” general manager Dell Demps said. “It’s not that complicated. It’s really pretty simple.”
If he says so.
In one meaningful development, Demps said “we’ve already kind of given them a blueprint or a map of where we want to go, and everyone’s on the same page. When it’s time to execute the plan, it’s really more of just a signing off.” In another, that blueprint includes the intention of locking up West if he does become a free agent, although it could go beyond “just signing off” if West is listening to other offers and the dollar figures are rising.
“I’ve made no secret about it,” Demps said. “We want to have David in the program for a long time. We’re hoping that he retires here and we’re hoping for a speedy recovery. He’s a great guy. Not only is he a good basketball player, but he’s a better person. We just want to keep him in the program.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The New Orleans Hornets are at it again.
You remember the Hornets don’t you? They were the surprise team of the first few weeks of this season after an 8-0 start. They were also winners of 12 of their first 13 games and the Western Conference team no one figured would be a factor in the playoff race this season … until they actually started playing some games.
They’ve had their doubters this season, off the court and literally in the stands. But Chris Paul and company haven’t let any of that slow them down. They have not wavered in their dogged pursuit of not only a playoff spot but a top four spot.
They hit their attendance benchmark last night against the Thunder and battled back for their ninth straight win, courtesy of their stifling defense and David West‘s jumper with 0.5 seconds to play.
Clearly, Hornets coach Monty Williams is pushing all the right buttons with his team right now. We’re a bit embarrassed that no one has mentioned his name, in passing even, as a potential candidate for Coach of the (Half) Year. The Hornets have now moved into third place in the constantly changing Western Conference standings, a testament to their perseverance this season through tumultuous times.