Making Sense of the Phoenix Suns.

I’m going to give you three NBA teams who aren’t so high in the standings: the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Throw Phoenix into the mix and you have four struggling teams.

Remember the old Sesame Street bit where they sang, “One of these things is not like the other?” This is similar, in the sense of how the teams built their current rosters.

Sacramento has gone the rout of putting as many young, high potential guys who like to shoot the ball (not much else) together.

Houston has a young group of interesting roster decisions. The point there is that they are young. Agree or disagree with how Darryl Morey got the players, the Rockets have exciting youth.

Cleveland rounds out the list with multiple lottery picks littering the roster.

The underlying theme in this is that the teams are young, and however frustrating it is to watch the team on the court (Sacramento), they have potential.

Phoenix however is different. There is no mention of a young building block with the potential or aptitude for stardom (i.e. Kyrie Irving, James Harden or DaMarcus Cousins). Continue reading

David Stern’s Lasting Impression

Get ready sardines and liver, David Stern is going to leave a worse taste in people’s mouths than you.

I’ll be the first to point out that David Stern has been commissioner longer than I’ve been alive. Therefore I obviously wasn’t around for the frozen envelope stuff and what not, but in my recent years of NBA fandom you can see the wheels falling off.

Yes, Stern, Bird and Magic may be credited with saving the NBA, but the lasting impression of Stern certainly isn’t a pleasant one.

Because of my limited viewpoint, so to speak, we’ll start with the things that have occurred in my years of fandom.

Continue reading

Best Fits for Pau Gasol

This could be complete junk by the time you read this. Pau Gasol could be on a team that is not the mighty purple and gold Lakers (note the heavy sarcasm). He might be first fiddle. He might be second fiddle. Who really knows? But if Gasol is traded, certain situations and teams are probably better fits for the seven-footer. What we have heard from various media outlets and insiders in various cities and counties is that Houston and Minnesota are two teams who are interested in Gasol.

Houston’s interest in Gasol is natural seeing as they would have acquired him in the much-ballyhooed trade that was vetoed by the point-man behind the Hornets… David Stern. Houston would have surrendered Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a first round pick to the Hornets while receiving Gasol. And Houston is probably still interested in Gasol. The kicker is that Chris Paul is off the board, so there won’t be any three-team swap with the assets going to the Hornets. In any deal for Gasol, the Lakers would probably like a point guard in return, because of the whole Chris Paul thing. Houston, incidentally has a very good one named Kyle Lowry. Now, whether the Rockets want to include Lowry in any deal remains to be seen. If they wanted to include him, he’d probably be a Laker and Gasol would be a Rocket. Here is the thing with Houston, Gasol would be a good fit, but at what cost?

Houston would probably have to surrender not only Lowry, but also Scola. If this is a two-for-one, LA comes away with a seven-win improvement and Houston takes a four-game hit. All per ESPN’s trade machine. This serves up the first point, does this make Houston better? Does it? Do we, or Houston for that matter, want a reincarnation of Memphis with Pau Gasol as the centerpiece of the team? Gasol is easily one of the better 20 or 30 players in the league, but I can’t see him being a team-centerpiece at this point. Houston also sacrifices their starting point guard and power forward. I know Houston is deep with youth almost everywhere, but is sacrificing Lowry worth it? As it stands Houston would be in the playoffs if they started today. So maybe they don’t need to do anything. I just think this whole thing is a bad idea. Houston is set as it is, and they don’t need a whole lot to make noise in the playoffs. They have maybe the most valuable thing in the NBA that isn’t LeBron James: a deep bench with young, fresh legs. That might be all that Houston needs.

Minnesota has also reportedly expressed interest. This one actually makes a lot of sense. A Gasol-Love post paring seems pretty formidable. Who plays the five would be up in the air, but that’s a very good duo to dump the ball into. Both can also stretch the floor with jumpers and hurt you on the low block. If you can’t tell, I’m already jumping on the imaginary bandwagon. The other pairing that would be formidable would be Gasol with his countryman Ricky Rubio, those two along with Love and Nikola Pekovic is a very good nucleus. Throw in JJ Barea and you have, as stated, a very good team. The other key with Minnesota is that the assets LA would want from Minnesota would be some combo of Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, a pick(s) and some other smaller pieces. Beasley will probably be traded in one way or another, so why not ship him to LA in a Gasol deal? Williams also goes to the Lakers with the Timberwolves not losing as much as other teams would be for dealing the number two overall pick from the previous year.

Minnesota doesn’t lose a whole lot, but would have to send salaries like Brad Miller’s and Anthony Randolph’s to Los Angeles to even it out.  The picks going to LA will be … well I’m not sure. These things tend to work themselves out. Maybe a future first rounder? Honestly I have no idea.

Teams who loaded up on assets to go after Dwight Howard might find Gasol a viable alternative, though I can’t see any one of the teams possibly interested in Howard (New Jersey, Golden State, etc.) making a run at Gasol.

So if I’m Minnesota, I make the call to LA and get the Gasol thing done if the Lakers are willing to do it.

The Door is That Way, David Stern

The door is the first on the left. Or the right, frankly it could be the door at the end of the hallway. I have no idea seeing as I’ve never been in the league office.

Point is David Stern has fumbled numerous times. David Stern fumbled with the Sonics situation (still bitter about that), fumbled with the first Chris Paul trade, fumbled with the PR on that, fumbled in the second Chris Paul trade and almost came away with Chris Paul still playing for the Hornets. David Stern fumbled, fumbled again and probably would fumble if he had Walter Jones and Jeff Saturday blocking for him against a bunch of pee-wee players.

Stern won his battle in Seattle because of some cheap shots among other things. He also sets off a domino effect of pain and suffering if he keeps his promise of getting Seattle another team. Stern would probably have to take someone else’s team away from them, leaving them in the situation that we are in, in Seattle. (If you can’t tell yet, I’m not David Stern’s biggest fan.) Or he can be smart about it and give Seattle an expansion team, squash the Sacramento/Anaheim business and give Anaheim a team, and everybody’s happy. Because of the state of the economy, Stern is likely to uproot a team and move them to Seattle. It would be terrible if Anaheim got a team before Seattle. Anaheim is a great town, but what is the use of getting them another team if people can sit in the car for a bit and make the trek to LA to see one of the Lakers or Clippers? The closest thing we have is the Blazers who are in an entirely different state.

Back to the commissioner’s fumble-prone habits. Episode two took place recently when he nixed a deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston, Lamar Odom to New Orleans, Luis Scola to…. You get the point. A few days later the Clippers stepped up to the table and made a run at the talented New Orleans point guard — only to come up short when David Stern wanted the Clippers to give up their last viable trade piece that doesn’t throw down ridiculous dunks in point guard Eric Bledsoe. The Clippers thought this to be too much and backed out.

Time passed, albeit two days, and the league and one certain commissioner backed off the Bledsoe involvement and agreed to the Kaman, Gordon, Farouq Aminu, Timberwolves first rounder-for-Paul-swap.

All this mumbling-fumbling almost got Stern one of his star players being irked for an entire year, left another one of his star players (Kobe Bryant) perplexed and not liking another trade that was a domino falling over down the line (Lamar Odom trade). And oh yeah, he still has the Seattle situation to deal with.

Best Haul for Paul & Will His New Team Have Horns Like Darth Maul?

No. Sorry to disappoint or raise eyebrows, really. Chris Paul will not be playing for the Chicago Bulls or even the Milwaukee Bucks.  Plain and simple, plus that was the first corny rhyme that came to mind.

Moving on to the vetoed group of players that the Hornets almost obtained for Chris Paul:

Vetoed Players Supposedly Going to New Orleans for Chris Paul:

F Lamar Odom (from Lakers)

PF Luis Scola (from Houston)

SG Kevin Martin (from Houston)

PG Goran Dragic (from Houston)

In most situations trading superstars results in a big rebuilding year or the mesh year where all the players learn to play together in order to move forward as somewhat of a respectable squad. We saw the Timberwolves struggle post KG. Cleveland and Toronto were two of the worst teams in the league last year after falling victim to the creation of the Super Friends.

This wasn’t Al Jerfferson and spare parts for Kevin Garnett. It would have been a pretty good return for the Hornets. Odom can guard any position. Scola is a very underrated big man. Kevin Martin could give you 35 at the drop of a hat.  Dragic was once perceived as Steve Nash’s replacement. This wasn’t a bad return at all. In all essence it made the Hornets better. Yes, that’s right better, better without their best player and face of the franchise. It’s more of a complete team if this trade would have gone down. A starting five of Dragic, Martin, Trevor Ariza, Scola and Okefor with Odom as a sixth man, or even Scola and Odom down low. It’s a pretty intriguing scenario. One that might not mark high in the books of the average fan, but for someone who knows basketball, or at least thinks they do, this makes some sense.

That situation could have snuck New Orleans into the playoffs as a 6 seed max. They’d be better than the Nuggets with half of Denver’s core in China with no way out in the near future. Memphis is on the rise but could take a hit if Marc Gasol leaves. Dallas could slip up a bit with the loss of Tyson Chandler to the Knicks. I’m not saying Dallas gets a 7 seed or even misses the playoffs all together, but it will be a tougher road to hoe without Chandler. Utah has a problem with a gargantuan frontcourt logjam. Phoenix is on its last Steve Nash-supported leg. San Antonio is aging, and this might be its last window of opportunity. Portland just lost Brandon Roy to retirement. New Orleans would have had a shot.

Let’s look at the other vetoed components of the deal.

Other Vetoed Components of the Deal (in imitating voice from the heavens kind of voice)

The Lakers would have obtained Chris Paul obviously, but Houston would have come away with Pau Gasol in this trade. Which is extremely intriguing to think about when you imagine the many stockpiled picks and former lottery or 1st round picks that Houston has on its roster. If you’re wondering where a recent first-round pick went from the last couple years, they are probably in Houston: Hasheem Thabeet (now in Houston) Jordan Hill (Houston) Courtney Lee (Houston) Terrence Williams (Houston) Patrick Patterson (Houston) and finally Jonny Flynn (you guessed it … Houston).

You add Pau Gasol to that mix, plus players like Kyle Lowry and Chase Buddinger as well as recent first rounder Marcus Morris. It’s not, or rather would not, be a team that would be favored in Vegas for a title, but the playoffs certainly would have been in sight.

Is a Chris Paul Trade to the Lakers a Good thing?

There is speculation that Chris Paul is headed to Tinsletown with Pau Gasol going to the Houston Rockets. Lamar Odom will go to New Orleans with a group of players supposedly including Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic. Plus, everyone’s favorite most exciting trade piece (wait for it….) picks.

From the onset you probably think “oh, this is great for the Lakers!” or “Lakers are going to win another title!”

It’s fine to think that, but when you look at it a second time it might not seem as jazzed up as it might be. Think about this, the last few years the Lakers have changed the landscape of the game with their size on the front line. Teams are rushing to the phones to acquire big men like shoppers running out on Black Friday to get a new blender. GMs and coaches are sacrificing in other areas just to get big on the front line to compete with the Lakers. Now the Lakers are essentially sacrificing that, which is fine, because they enter a new dynamic or play style.

Andrew Bynum is a good player, one who might be dealt to the Magic as a centerpiece for Dwight Howard. But now all those teams who rushed out to get big on the front line are going to be salivating when the Lakers come to town. They will have headaches back court wise, but in the front court… Man I just don’t see how Andrew Bynum alone is going to win you anything. Chris Paul and Kobe are great, don’t get me wrong, but really? The Lakers just witnessed the Heat fail to win a title WITHOUT a real big guy. Say what you will about Chris Bosh, but he’s no Dwight Howard. And on that note, maybe the Lakers are going to ship him to Orlando for Howard. But with what? Luke Walton? Metta World Peace? Orlando isn’t going to take that trade unless Jerry Buss magically buys them too (pun intended).

Back to ‘By Himself’ Bynum. The Lakers traded Odom and Gasol for a point guard. Chris Paul is probably the best in the league, but still. Dealing Odom and Gasol to the Magic for Howard makes sense. You still have two top-tier big guys after all is said and done. But now after sending Odom out in the deal you are absolutely barren in the frontcourt. Bynum can and will hold his own with most guys, but it’s a little puzzling that the Lakers aren’t getting much front court help back. The Lakers are saving some money here by sending out some 28-30 million with Odom and Gasol and getting only 16 and change back with Paul. So, maybe there is some wiggle room for them to go get another big. Maybe Emeka Okafor’s obnoxious-ish contract is following Paul in tow to LA. If Okafor isn’t involved that leaves the Lakers some cap space to get another post player, but they likely won’t find one with the talent of a Gasol or Odom.

This puts an interesting light on David Stern seeing as some people might criticize him for making this deal because he and the league own the Hornets. It’s also puzzling as to why Stern hasn’t moved the Hornets himself. He did promise Seattle an NBA team within 5 years of the Sonics moving. It’s coming up on five years soon-ish…

You know who’s the most excited about this potential trade? The Mavericks, Celtics and Heat. The Mavs probably will lose defensive anchor Tyson Chandler and the Heat have no bigs at all. And now the Celtics don’t look as much of a fool for trading off Kendrick Perkins. As it is, the landscape of the NBA might be changing once again.