In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we go over the insanity of the week that was, the best value signing of free agency, and why you should be very, very scared of the Mavericks. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. So... that was a fun week. What surprised you the most over the past week?
KB: Undoubtedly, it was how involved Stern and the league office were in the Hornets' trade discussions. Ultimately, I believe the Hornets got a better deal as a result. But I was stunned by the role the league took on. It had been my impression that the league would advise on certain priorities for trading Chris Paul, but I never envisioned that the commissioner would be telling the Hornets' basketball people what to do -- or that Stu Jackson would be the architect of the eventual deal. All's well that ends well, I guess. But I definitely found that surprising.
2. What's next for the league with the Hornets? When are they going to start looking at buyers?
KB: Stern said there would be a new owner in place in the first half of 2012, so they're moving fast. Clearly, there must be a list of contenders, and they'll evidently begin narrowing it down after the New Year.
3. Give me your best value signing of free agency.
KB: It's hard not to like what the Pacers did, getting David West for $20 million over two years. Indy has a nice group with West, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, Paul George and George Hill/Darren Collison.
4. So Dwight Howard's off the table. Let's indulge in fairy tales for a minute and ask the question, what could Orlando do between now and All-Star Weekend to convince him to stay?
KB: Well, the hope in Orlando is that a good start over the first two months of the season, with an expressed willingness to add another significant component to the roster, would appeal to the part of Dwight that, deep down, wants to stay. I'm not convinced that's going to work, simply because I'm not sold that the Magic have enough to be a title contender. (I'm puzzled by the Glen Davis addition, for example, but I'm told that's what Dwight wanted.) I suppose one thing they could do is just give the ball to Dwight every trip down the floor from Christmas Day until the All-Star break and hope everyone else is too tired and beat up from the compressed schedule to guard him. Having said all that, I do not expect Howard to finish the season in Orlando.
5. What in the name of everything holy is Dallas doing?
KB: That's easy. They're trying to get Deron Williams, Dwight Howard or BOTH. Getting both will be difficult, but the Mavs already are projected to be at least $18 million under the cap next summer, and if they bought out Lamar Odom ($2.4 million guaranteed) and amnestied Brendan Haywood, that's another $14 million. Scared? You should be. Just imagine how the Nets and Magic feel.