Posts Tagged ‘Dell Demps’

Pelicans need to explore Calipari option


VIDEO: Should Anthony Davis sign an extension with the Pelicans this summer?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — This parting of the ways between coach and franchise is not about Monty Williams and the job he did or did not do as coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.

No offense to the coach, dumped this afternoon after five years on the job, but this is about Anthony Davis.

Anthony Davis … the recent past, present and future of the franchise.

And in order to secure a shared future, the Pelicans have to spend the next few days carefully examining their options to replace Williams. That coaching search has to begin in the same place Davis rose to stardom, Lexington, Kentucky. That’s where John Calipari has continued his burger All-American-to-UK-to-the-NBA pipeline since Davis helped the Wildcats to a national championship in his only season on campus.

The first call needs to be to Calipari, an ambitious sort who has coached as many (current and future) NBA players the past few years as just about anyone collecting a NBA paycheck these days. If his relationship to Davis and so many other of the NBA’s stars, young and otherwise, is as rich as advertised, perhaps he can be the key to the Pelicans keeping Davis in the fold for years to come. There is the pesky detail of that five-year contract extension Davis can sign this summer to think about when finding the replacement for Williams.

Pelicans general manager Dell Demps knows it. The Benson family knows it. The entire city of New Orleans and Pelicans fans around the globe know it.

They have all experienced the pain of a losing a transcendent franchise player before (Chris Paul, anyone?), and what could be more painful than watching Paul and his new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, on the cusp of making franchise history by making the Western Conference finals, than having to announce that they are searching for direction once again by firing Williams and hunting for his replacement?

It’s hard for me to blame Williams for the Pelicans’ struggles during his tenure. Sure, he leaves with ownership of whatever shortcomings he had as a coach. And like every one of his (former and future) peers, he walked into the job knowing that he’d be tossed out the door at some point. Nothing lasts forever these days, unless your name is Gregg Popovich.

I understand what this season meant for Williams, Davis and the Pelicans. I was there courtside for that unbelievable win over Pop’s Spurs in the regular season finale for both teams. That was the game that secured the playoff fate for the Pelicans and Spurs, entry for the Pelicans and that early exit for the Spurs, courtesy of the seeding free-fall the loss produced.

The emotion coursing through Williams and his family as the postgame celebration commenced was impossible to ignore. Williams had grown tired of the criticism, the second-guessing and the whispers he and his family had to endure in New Orleans. That moment of triumph will never be erased. But it was buttressed by the reality of his situation. A first round sweep at the hands of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors would likely mean he’d coached his last game as the Pelicans’ coach.

That reality came to fruition this afternoon and now the Pelicans have to decide if they are ready for the regime change that would come with a coach like Calipari, or if Demps and the current brain trust want to retain control.

They’ll say all the right things and promise to do what is in the best interest of the franchise going forward, standard fare for these sorts of things.

But if the best thing does not jive with the wishes of Davis, the 21-year-old wunderkind who could one day soon be the face of the NBA, something has gone terribly wrong.

Rarely do I advocate for a franchise bowing down to their star player in these sort of situations. This is that rare exception where genuflection to the wishes of your best player makes more sense than any fragile attempt to maintain some semblance of control of the situation. Don’t let pride or ego get in the way of doing the right thing by Davis, and in turn the entire organization and its fans.

Yes, it’s a dangerous way of doing business if your franchise is not rooted in a championship culture that can withstand the pressures of the moment.

Think back to the beginning of the end for Paul in New Orleans. Byron Scott was dumped as coach without anyone consulting with the franchise player. It was a move dismissed by many, at the time, as something Paul would get over.

He did.

Elsewhere.

The Pelicans have to make sure Davis doesn’t follow that same script. Doing so means at least exploring whatever possibilities might be there with Calipari.

You have to at least poke those tires, make Calipari tell you he is not interested, and then move on to the next phase of the process.

Morning shootaround — May 7


VIDEO: Highlights from games played May 6

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Nets open to trading Williams, Johnson | Pelicans refute Dumars talk | Duncan’s choice will affect Ginobili’s future | Thibodeau miffed over lack of free throws for Rose

No. 1: Nets open to trading Williams, Johnson — Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King addressed the media yesterday in his end-of-season news conference and much of what he had to say wasn’t a surprise. Per King, the team wants to re-sign free agents Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young and, overall, King was pleased with the team’s late playoff push and playoff run. The one piece of surprising news, however, was that the Nets seem open to trading their multi-million dollar backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Tim Bontemps of the New York Post has more:

Brook Lopez has been the subject of plenty of trade rumors the past few years. But after an impressive second half, the Nets have made it clear they view him as the franchise’s centerpiece moving forward.

Nets general manager Billy King reaffirmed that Wednesday, saying he’s committed to re-signing Lopez if he opts out of his contract as expected and becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.

“For us to get in the playoffs that stretch, [Lopez] was the guy who carried us. He was our best player,” King said during his end-of-season sitdown with reporters. “Without Brook Lopez, there’s no way we even get to where we go to this year.

“I’ll say it again: We want him back. I want him back, [coach] Lionel [Hollins] wants him back, ownership wants him back. We’ve all said it. There shouldn’t be any more doubts about it.”

But while the Nets seem committed to Lopez, they’re ready to move on from having the NBA’s most expensive backcourt. King says he’s open to trading Deron Williams or Joe Johnson this summer.

“We’re going to explore all options, as we have [previously],” King said. “Will there be a trade? There could be, but I’m not sure. But we’re going to look at every option to get better.”

When King put together the triumvirate of Williams, Johnson and Lopez three summers ago, the Nets thought they would be headed into Brooklyn with a team ready to compete for championships. That hasn’t happened, though, as the Nets have compiled a combined 10 playoff victories and advanced to the second round just once in the past three years.

Now the Nets appear headed for significant changes, and it will be a big surprise if all three high-priced former All-Stars are back next season. The plan instead seems to be building around Lopez while keeping Thaddeus Young, who also has a player option that he’s far more likely to exercise.

The Nets are in an incredible predicament, of their own making, after they sent three first-round picks (and the right to swap a fourth) to the Celtics for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in 2013. One of those first rounders is for 2016, meaning the Nets can’t tear down their roster this offseason.

So while the Nets certainly have an eye on the oodles of cap space they are projected to have when the salary cap spikes next summer – currently more than $50 million – they have to find a way to remain competitive next season without sacrificing the only kind of long-term flexibility they have.

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Gordon Healthy, But Unfulfilled in N.O.


VIDEO: Eric Gordon takes a bump against Toronto and still makes the difficult shot

DALLAS — Friday’s game at Phoenix (10:30 p.m., ESPN) will be the 55th of the season for Pelicans guard Eric Gordon. That is significant because it is four more games than he managed to play in his first two injury-saddled seasons in the Big Easy.

The irony isn’t lost on him. He’s healthy, finally, but the teammates expected to lift this franchise back into the playoff hunt are not.

Starting point guard Jrue Holiday, an All-Star last season in Philadelphia, and Ryan Anderson, the 3-point shooting stretch-4, have played 56 games, total. Neither might play again this season. Starting center Jason Smith has played 31 games. He won’t play again this season.

Tyreke Evans, paid an eye-popping $44 million for four years by the Pelicans last summer, has been hurt off and on. He’s averaging a career-low 12.0 points a game while shooting 14.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Gordon hasn’t blown anybody away. But he has shown steady improvement, if only sporadic spectacular bursts to the bucket. He describes his season as “OK,” yet at 15.8 points a game and shooting 38.9 percent from deep, he’s been the Pelicans’ most reliable player outside of All-Star power forward Anthony Davis — who was added to the injured list Wednesday with a sprained left shoulder.

Eric Gordon (Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE )

Eric Gordon (Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE )

“I feel I can do more,” Gordon told NBA.com. “I’ve had some big, explosive games this year. Now for me it’s just all about having the ball a little bit more, shooting the ball a little bit more and being able to do all the playmaking that I’m used to.”

His gains haven’t stopped the team from again shopping him, something that eats at Gordon. As he walked from the American Airlines Center court to the team bus following Wednesday morning’s shootaround, he said, “It is disappointing because … I am back to where I should be [physically] and will be. And just to hear stuff like that out there kind of throws you off sometimes.”

Gordon has become a forgotten man on a losing team, his production not living up to his hefty contract (he has two years and $30.4 million left on it) and his fragile health serving as a trade deterrent. For his part, Pelicans coach Monty Williams says he keeps the faith that Gordon can revive an unfulfilled career after being the seventh overall pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2008.

“I’ve probably been the only guy that has [kept the faith],” Williams said. “I’m not backing off of that.”

Throughout his six seasons, Gordon’s career has been filled with more “what ifs” than accolades.

  • What if the original Chris Paul deal in which the then-Hornets sent Paul to the Lakers had never been squashed by former commissioner David Stern — acting as the personnel decision-maker on the then league-owned team — and Gordon had remained with the Clippers to pair with Blake Griffin?
  • What if he had never injured his knee, an issue that lingered and limited him to nine games during his first season in New Orleans?
  • What if New Orleans, as Gordon asked, had not matched the max offer sheet he signed with Phoenix as a restricted free agent?
  • What if he had never pleaded for New Orleans not to match and had simply, and happily, joined the franchise that coveted him?

“He has been through a lot, from the trade and things that happened in L.A. that were pretty disheartening for him, and then the stuff in Phoenix,” Williams said. “That was a time where I’m sure he wishes he could go back and do some things differently. But … check everybody out at 22 and ask what would they do differently [in their lives]?”

Gordon is now 25 and wiser, and he’s set a new course for himself, starting with a heavy-duty conditioning program following knee and ankle surgeries the past two years. He spent a large portion of last summer working out in Los Angeles at Athletes’ Performance under the guidance of Jen Swanson, now the director of sports performance for the Chicago Bulls.

“I was there five days a week … five to six hours a day,” Gordon said. “This is without basketball [activities]. It is all workout stuff to prevent injury. This is the best I’ve felt in a while.”

He’s missed just three games this season with a bruised hip after a hard fall against Sacramento. Which, of course, raises the biggest “What if?” of all.

What if Holiday and Anderson and Smith had all stayed healthy?

“Definitely there’s a foundation here,” Gordon said. “The crazy part is we’re still having injuries while we’re a young team and that’s just something we’ve got to figure out because we’ve always had injuries since I’ve been here. So we still haven’t played our full, collective unit since I’ve been here. But our foundation is good.”

Having a full, healthy team in New Orleans with Gordon a big part of it likely won’t happen until next season. And if Pelicans general manager Dell Demps shops Gordon this summer and finally finds a taker, it won’t happen then.

“You never know,” Gordon said. “Any player can get traded, I don’t care how high or low your value is, any player can get traded at any given time. It’s not like I do anything negative. I do play well and I do give a good, consistent effort every day.

“To me, it’s all about how how we can make ourselves better and how we can win. That’s all that matters.”

All-Star Appearance A Welcome Accolade For Pelicans’ Superstar Davis

Pelicans big man Anthony Davis is a multifaceted All-Star.

Pelicans big man Anthony Davis is a multifaceted All-Star.

NEW ORLEANS — There should be only so many different ways for one player to make you jump off the sofa.

But there’s Anthony Davis posterizing Joel Freeland of the Trail Blazers with a tomahawk dunk; there’s Davis reaching up and back and nearly to the top of the backboard to get a one-handed throw down on Luis Scola of the Pacers; there he is roaring down the lane with the force and ferocity to make Glen Davis of the Magic hit the deck like a bowling pin at the end of an alley.

Then there’s the defensive end, where Miami’s Chris Bosh seems to have him pinned down on the low block and tries to go up for an easy bucket once, then twice. Both times, Bosh has to eat the ball.  When the Lakers’ Pau Gasol gets an offensive rebound and whirls away from traffic, Davis goes right along, a figure skater in tandem. At the finish of the 360 spin, Davis slaps the ball back with disdain.  And there he is suddenly sprinting way out into the left corner to reach up and slap away a 3-point shot by an utterly shocked Tobias Harris of Orlando.

“How many times have I seen a ‘Wow!’ moment out of A.D.?” ponders teammate Ryan Anderson.  “Let’s see, how many games have we played and how many times have I been out there on the same floor at practice?  Every day he’s doing something that makes me shake my head.”


VIDEO: Brent Barry breaks down Anthony Davis’ game

The No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft officially became an NBA All-Star when commissioner Adam Silver tabbed him to replace Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference team.  Davis’ ascension to that elite level of play has been there since opening night this season, when he scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots against the Pacers.

Except for a period of two weeks in December when he was sidelined by a fractured bone in his left hand, Davis has been everything the Pelicans had hoped. Yet he’s also shown he is a unique player, one no one could have imagined even with the advance hype that he brought out of his one college season at Kentucky.

His most identifying physical mark remains The Brow, which crawls like a single entity over one of his large, curiosity-filled eyes to the other. But at 6-foot-10 with a wingspan of 7-foot-5 1/2,  those long, lethal, larcenous limbs enable him to cover space on the court like a basketball version of the four-armed Hindu god Vishnu.


VIDEO: Davis scores 22 points, grabs 19 boards and blocks seven shots against Orlando

“He knows what he’s doing on offense and he’s a smart, aggressive player on defensive,” said Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown.  “Anthony Davis will shine in the NBA for years and years.  I’m telling you, he’s the truth.” (more…)

Summer Dreaming: Executive Of The Year

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HANG TIME, Texas — Never mind that the weather map says it’ s hurricane season. This is the time of year when there are nothing but blue skies over every NBA franchise from Miami to Portland to Los Angeles to Toronto.

Draft picks have been chosen and brought into camp. Free agents have been signed and trotted out for the TV cameras. Trades have been made to fill holes in the lineups. It’s a time for championship planning among the elite class and fantasizing about moving up by the wannabes.

But the truth is that, despite so much spin doctoring that comes out of all the front offices, there are a handful of team presidents and general managers that made the most of the offseason. That’s why we don’t have to wait till next April — or even the season openers — to know who’ll be taking bows for their work. They’re our summer dreaming picks for Executive of the Year:

Daryl Morey, Rockets — Unless Dwight Howard wakes up one morning and declares it was all a mistake — that he really loved having Kobe Bryant as a playmate, that he thoroughly enjoyed Mike D’Antoni’s offense and that he never, ever meant to leave those clever recruiting banners in L.A. — this is as sure a thing as Usain Bolt outrunning a lead-boot-wearing Charles Barkley. If Howard stays healthy, he and fellow All-Star James Harden will team up to make the Rockets instant challengers for one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference and could even be a dark horse contender to advance all the way to The Finals. But before they even chalk up one “W” in the standings, Morey has put a headlock on the award simply by making the Rockets franchise relevant again for the first time in years. After drifting on a sea of anonymity and mediocrity since the star-crossed Tracy McGrady-Yao Ming pairing came undone, the Rockets are back in the spotlight. A year ago, they were on national TV once. Now they have 10 appearances on ESPN, nine on TNT, one on ABC and even made it into the Christmas lineup with a date at San Antonio.

Billy King, Nets — It’s like walking into a casino with a sack full of money, walking straight to the roulette table and plopping it all down on red. Or black. Either way, it’s a 50-50 gamble and you live with the results. King certainly has the cushion and the endorsement of Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokorhov and the understanding that paying the luxury tax bill of nearly $100 million is no problem. Still, it takes considerable nerve for King to bet it all on the hope that a 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, 35-year-old Paul Pierce, 35-year-old Jason Terry and a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd can take down the two-time defending champs from Miami along with the rest of what has become a strengthened Eastern Conference lineup. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were enough to make Brooklyn a postseason sports destination for the first time since the Dodgers left town, but now it’s the old Celtics who’ll be expected to show them how to win a series or more. To get Andrei Kirilenko to walk away from a guaranteed $10 million to sign a cut-rate deal was probably the second-best move of the entire NBA offseason, trailing only Dwight Howard’s move to Houston. Kirilenko adds a tough defender and a slashing finisher to a lineup that hopes to have Brook Lopez improving on his first ever All-Star season. If he’s accomplished one big thing already, King has jumped the Nets over the Knicks as the headlining team in New York, which is signficant.

Chris Grant, Cavaliers — Things have changed considerably since that first summer on the job as GM when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and the temptation might have been to turn out the lights and simply declare the NBA party in Cleveland over. Grant has steadily reassembled the franchise one piece at time to a point where people are whispering that it’s not out of the question to think James could return next summer when he becomes a free agent. Before that, the Cavs figure to have a resurgent seasons between their splendid young point guard Kyrie Irving and all the other pieces that Grant has put around him. Anthony Bennett may have been a bit of a surprise on draft night, but should fill a need on the front line and free agent signee Jarrett Jack will be both a firecracker lift off the bench. Of course, the big bonanza would be if free agent Andrew Bynum can overcome the knee injuries that left him notable only for sitting on bench modeling outrageous hairstyles last season in Philly. A return to the form that once made him an All-Star with the Lakers makes Grant a genius and, even if Bynum falls short, the Cavs have not made a long crippling financial commitment to the gamble. And don’t forget to give Grant credit for not listening to the suggestions that he should have traded Anderson Varejao. The Cavs will likely make a playoff push in the Eastern Conference and, depending on how bright the future looks next spring, could turn the head of a familiar figure to come home.

Joe Dumars, Pistons — Let’s face it. The Hall of Fame guard-turned-GM has taken his fair share of abuse through recent seasons for allowing the once-proud franchise to drift way out of the playoff picture and even have trouble drawing crowds to The Palace. Was it a curse for making Darko Mlicic the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft, ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade? Then there was that disastrous free agent splurge on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in 2009. But lately Dumars has been making a comeback, drafting a pair of big men in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond who have the potential to anchor the Pistons front line for years to come. He made his biggest play in signing free agent Josh Smith, hoping that the stat-line filler can step into the role of No. 1 option and even team leader. Then Dumars traded for Brandon Jennings with hope that he can be both reined in and unleashed and brought home former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to show him how. Mo Cheeks gets his third shot as a head coach and it’s all a mix that could put the Pistons back in the playoffs.

Dell Demps, Pelicans — The easier path for Demps would have been to keep Nerlens Noel when the big man fell into his lap at the No. 6 pick and keep on selling a theme of acquiring young assets and building for the future. But with a new team name, new franchise colors and a new owner (Tom Benson) writing the checks, it was a time for a new and bolder direction. The young and oh-so-slender Noel was deemed too much duplication on the front line with 2012 No. 1 pick Anthony Davis and was trade to Philly for 23-year-old guard Jrue Holiday, who puts the only All-Star credentials in the New Orleans lineup. Demps then kept dealing to bring more firepower into the lineup with former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans. Of course, that immediately brought talk of a crowded backcourt with Eric Gordon still on hand, but Demps and coach Monty Williams are betting that a three-man rotation cannot only thrive, but put some punch into what was a thoroughly mediocre offense last season. Assuming Davis takes another big step forward in his second season, the Pelicans could contend for one of the final playoff spots in the West.

PREVIOUSLY: Comeback player | MVP | Coach of the Year | Sixth Man of the Year | Defensive Player of Year | Most Improved Player | Rookie Of Year

Is Eric Gordon Done For The Season?





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.

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Embry Honored 40 Years After GM Gig

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…)

Time To Worry Is Over In New Orleans




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.

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Blogtable Bonus: Chris Paul Trade

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.

So Much To Be Worked Out

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.
  • K.C. Johnson reports that the Chicago Bulls will enter the bidding for Howard.

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.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.