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Tag:Tyson Chandler
Posted on: January 23, 2012 12:46 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 7:22 pm
 

Howard for Amar'e and Chandler has been floated?

Posted by Royce Young

Not all trade rumors are created equal, so with this one, I don't think much setup is needed. Via Stephen A. Smith on his ESPN Radio show in New York:
"As I told you a little bit earlier in the hour, I have some news to report about your New York Knicks.  The Orlando Magic, I will preface my statement by telling you that they have categorically denied this, but my sources tell me that they have inquired about Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire going to Orlando for Dwight Howard.

Let me confess to you that I'm torn.  From a basketball standpoint, it would seem you do that trade in a heartbeat. You don't teach seven-feet and you don't teach the dominate and the skills that Dwight Howard has. But I like Tyson Chandler. I like the fact that he rebounds and defends."
Forget the part about how Howard isn't seven feet tall and that he kind of sort of defends and rebounds. The question is, is this really a possibility?

This isn't exactly new news though. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote a couple weeks ago multiple GMs had already floated this trade idea. Now all that's happening is evidently the two sides have actually discussed it to some degree.

Here's the thing with trade talks: I wouldn't doubt that this has been "discussed." Because a lot of GMs gauge the market by dangling trade ideas to other GMs. Kind of an effort to feel another guy out, see how much he values a player and sees if maybe eventually there could be a deal put together. Or to just see what maybe the state of a trade is to know what a competitor might have to give up.

That's my feeling of this supposed inquiry by the Knicks for Dwight Howard. I also suspect 28 other teams have "inquired" about Howard's availability too. That's kind of the thing that happens when the big big man in basketball apparently is available for the right price.

Would a Howard and Carmelo Anthony tandem do any better than an Amar'e - Melo duo? Maybe, probably, but there's really no way to know. The Knicks have bigger issues than just in adding starpower. The Knicks need depth, a point guard than can control and offense and for Carmelo Anthony to play better.

The Dwight Howard discussion is fun, but it's not realistic. And quite honestly, I think Magic GM Otis Smith is gaining confidence that Howard might just want to stick around in Orlando. I think that's the best shot to take for the Magic anyway. Discussing trades is one thing. I wouldn't be surprised if a team "inquired" about Derrick Rose last week too. Doesn't mean a deal is happening.
Posted on: January 14, 2012 11:39 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 11:40 pm
 

Point Problem: Knicks have big issues to work out

Posted by Royce Young



OKLAHOMA CITY -- I guess Carmelo Anthony is really, really important to the Knicks. Either that, or they have some pretty serious issues to figure out before they actually start thinking of themselves as an Eastern contender.

Yeah, it's definitely the latter.

We already kind of knew that but after New York signed Tyson Chandler, then started playing a little defense and then beat the 76ers, it was easy to start wondering. But all that was brought back to Earth after the Thunder dismantled the Knicks in Oklahoma City Saturday night 104-92.

Here's where the Knicks faltered: Yeah, their defense was bad and I think an empty chair could've done a better job on Kevin Durant than Bill Walker, but the Knicks issues lie within their offense. They're still playing fast (fifth in the league in pace), but they are playing far from efficient. Scoring almost appears to be a chore at times, Melo or no Melo. All a player the caliber of Anthony does is provides a one-on-one bailout option when the ball stops moving and everyone starts standing.

Why is there a problem though? With Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo and Tyson Chandler, there shouldn't be issues, right? While those three form a nice trio, there simply isn't a good option to steer the boat. Mike D'Antoni has been using rookie Iman Shumpert at point guard recently, but changed that plan Saturday by starting Mike Bibby. He says it's not a permanent move, but was more of a matchup thing. But he didn't deny that he's looking for answers.

"You can always search a little bit and we are searching," he said. "When you lose two, you always re-evaluate everything. I'm not ready to say yea or nay [on starting Bibby for good]. It's definitely not Iman's fault or anything like that. It's just trying to find the right combos."

Reality is, neither Shumpert nor Toney Douglas is the answer. They're both nice players, but pretending either is a potential answer at point is like thinking you have a chance with that Hooters waitress that winked at you. Pipe dream, you guys, pipe dream. And as the Heat learned the hard way last season, Bibby isn't either. The hope is that when Baron Davis is healthy that he can take over that job, but that's not at all a guarantee. I mean, that's where things are -- the Knicks are hoping that Baron Davis is the answer at point guard. Think about that for a second.

It's really an interesting situation for New York, because it's one that the Heat are constantly trying to overcome themselves. Except the Knicks are like Miami Lite, a less talented version with less depth and not the same starpower. In truth, the Knicks would kill for either Norris Cole or Mario Chalmers at this point. And if they had one, they might kill a little more too. Or at least get killed less.

(Sidebar: Let me go ahead and throw out what everyone else has probably two thousand times this season: Steve Nash just makes too much sense for the Knicks. I have no idea what they possibly have that could interest the Suns, but with Phoenix not really going anywhere and Nash's contract and career ending soon, you have to give it a real shot. Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert and whatever picks the Knicks have left -- maybe?)

It is still early. The Knicks still have a whole lot of games left and remember, the Heat were 9-8 at one point last season. But I think when we watched that team, we could all see that eventually it would click. I have a hard time seeing that with this Knicks team.

"It's just going to take a while," D'Antoni said. "Almost always we have at least one or two rookies on the floor and without a training camp, excuse excuse, and I don't want to do that, we're just struggling right now a little bit. We just got to work through it."

Said Tyson Chandler: "We need practices under our belt. We need to get better chemistry on both ends of the floor."

That's an easy thing to say. We'll work through it. We're getting better. Give us time. At some point, there have to be results. D'Antoni has been heralded as an offensive guru, but his offense isn't working. And I don't think the blood is on his hands. He just doesn't have the personell. I mean, a team with two top 10 offensive players like Melo and Stoudemire shouldn't rank in the bottom third of the league in offensive efficiency. There has to be a reason for it.

The Knicks want to pretend that they have a new look and a new commitment to defense. And while they entered Saturday's game in the top 10 in points per 100 possessions, they aren't anywhere in the same universe as a team like the Bulls or Heat that can hang their hat on it. The Thunder proved that with their 70-point first half. It's the offense, stupid. It's a problem and unless the Knicks start finding answers, it's not looking like they're going anywhere they didn't go last year.
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:57 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:01 pm
 

Report: First 2012 Team USA roster set?

Posted by Ben Golliver

team-usa

A recent report indicated that USA Basketball is set to announce its preliminary roster for the 2012 London Olympics. The roster reportedly will include members of the 2008 Beijing Olympics team and the 2010 Turkey World Championships team.

Initially, the report indicated that the preliminary roster would be made up of 18 players, however SheridanHoops.com reports that the roster is now 19 players deep with the addition of Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Here's how the reported roster shakes out by position.

Point Guards: Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams
Shooting Guards: Kobe Bryant, Eric Gordon, Dwyane Wade
Small Forwards: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Lamar Odom
Power Forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love
Centers: Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard 

A few interesting things to note from this roster.

First, veteran point guard Billups is included rather than the younger and more talented Rajon Rondo, who withdrew from the 2010 team after it became clear he was going to be left off of the final roster. Billups is 35 and figures to be one of the seven players cut from what will be the final 12-man roster. What does Rondo's exclusion mean for his Team USA future?

Second, positional versatility and two-way play was clearly valued in this selection process. The inclusion of both Iguodala and Odom over Rudy Gay is a mild surprise but both players complement the likes of James, Durant and Anthony a bit better. Both will also have a tough time squeezing into the final 12. The only way Iguodala gets there is if someone else is injured; Odom, a standout for the 2010 team, could be one of the toughest cuts.

Third, the reported addition of Aldridge creates an intriguing frontcourt logjam, akin to the dilemma that faces Western Conference All-Star team voters. Aldridge, Griffin, Love, Odom and Chandler figure to be in competition for the final two roster spots, with the top-10 seemingly secure. Griffin would seem to be the odds-on favorite for one of those two spots given his combination of on-court skills and immense international marketing potential. If so, the battle for the final spot between the other four talented big men will be heated. 

Aldridge can swing between the four and five better than any of the other candidates, but he also has the least Team USA experience, having backed out on the 2010 World Championships team. Aldridge's coach with the Blazers, Nate McMillan, happens to be a Team USA assistant, so that could help.

Love is the best rebounder of the group but his athleticism, even though it's much improved, is not on the same level as the rest of Team USA. Chandler boasts a championship pedigree with the Dallas Mavericks and is the pure defender and long, active big men that could be the centerpiece of an aggressive defensive unit. Odom's versatility and perimeter game creates mismatch opportunities but the wings are likely too crowded on this team to properly utilize his capabilities. 

Spain, the reigning European champs, bring both Pau and Marc Gasol to the table. Howard plus any of Team USA's starting power forwards should still have an interior advantage, but choosing the reserve big men will be critical in the event of foul trouble.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 1:54 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Report: Team USA to set first roster in 2 weeks

Posted by Ben Golliver

2008-team-usa

With the 2012 London Olympics just seven months away, Team USA is reportedly heading for its first round of roster cuts.

ESPN.com reports that USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo will announce a roster of 18 "candidates" to make the 2012 team in less than two weeks.
"We have so much talent right now, the pool is extraordinary," Colangelo said.

The final 12-man roster and six alternates must be submitted June 18, before the NBA Finals will be complete. But all 18 names have to be given to the U.S. Olympic Committee by the end of January to be placed in the drug program.

Colangelo said the announcement will be made by Jan. 18.

The site reports that the only player not on either the 2008 Beijing Olympics team or the 2010 Turkey World Championships team who is under consideration is Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin. Given his starpower, Griffin seems a lock, leaving 17 spots in the pool.

Eight of those are expected to go to 2008 Beijing Gold Medal-winning players: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams. All seem solid locks.

That least nine spots for members of the 2010 World Championship team. Six players who would seem to be locks from that roster: Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

That leaves three final spots in the 18-man pool contenders for the rest: Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala, Brook Lopez, Lamar Odom and Rajon Rondo.

The toughest decision at this stage will likely come in choosing a third true center in Lopez or another talented perimeter player in Granger, Iguodala or Odom. USA Basketball has been built on versatility and athleticism in the recent past but its wings are crowded with an embarrassment of riches. Love and/or Griffin could swing up from power forward to center, though, which could free up a spot for another wing in the 18-man group.

Another question is Rondo. He withdrew from selection from the 2010 team after it became clear he wasn't going to make the cut. Given the big names in front of him (Paul, Rose, Williams and likely Westbrook), what happens here? Paul and Williams both have recent injury concerns and Rondo's talent level is such that leaving him off this early would seem a risk not worth taking.

No matter how you slice it and regardless of who is left on the outside looking in, this team is stacked. Looking ahead, assuming full health from all involved, an 18-player pool and a final 12-man roster could look something like this. Cuts designated in parentheses.

PG: Paul, Rose, Williams, (Westbrook), (Rondo)
SG: Bryant, Wade, (Gordon)
SF: James, Durant, Anthony, (Gay)
PF: Bosh, Griffin, (Love)
C: Howard, Chandler, (Lopez)
Posted on: January 6, 2012 9:50 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 10:15 am
 

Thomas 'not thrilled' with NY getting Chandler

By Matt Moore


If Knicks fans want a reason to believe in the quality of the Tyson Chandler acquisition, look no further than Iasiah Thomas. Because he didn't like it. The New York Postreports: 
Conveniently appearing on the Sid Rosenbug Show on Miami radio yesterday following the Knicks’ 2-4 start, Thomas questioned Glen Grunwald’s acquisition of Chandler, which forced the team to cut Chauncey Bilups to get under the salary cap.

Thomas said the NBA has become a guard’s league, and the Knicks cannot win solely with a star-powered frontcourt of Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. The Chandler commitment cost them a shot at point guard Chris Paul with next summer’s salary cap space, and Paul was subsequently dealt to the Clippers.

“The guard play right now in the NBA is off the charts,’’ Thomas said. “Losing Chauncey, I thought he brought a veteran leadership to the team. His savviness and guard play has always been severely undervalued. Detroit found that out when they let Chauncey go. I think there was a certain amount of leadership to what he brought to [the Knicks] last year.’’

...

“If you don’t have great guards, it’s hard to put together a game plan,’’ Thomas said. “You’re only as good a coach as your guards.’’
via Isiah Thomas, former Knicks president, not thrilled with Tyson Chandler acquisition - NYPOST.com.

Thomas is right, here.

I know, I know. We're uncomfortable with that statement as well.

But it has less to do with the state of the league than D'Antoni says. The Bulls teams that ended the Pistons' run didn't have great point guards. Yes, they had the greatest shooting guard of all time, but calling Jordan a guard is like calling a T-Rex a lizard. Yes, it's technically true but you don't compare its danger level to a gecko. Furthermore, the Lakers' dynasty under Phil Jackson featured a star shooting guard, but also had Derek Fisher at point guard. Billups was always going to play point gaurd for the Knicks, and the shooting guard scoring load on the perimeter is held by Carmelo Anthony. 

But the Knicks do need a point guard, because of their coach. D'Antoni is under heavy fire from fans and pundits right now, despite the fact that it's clear this is not the roster he would assemble if he had his choice. His system needs a playmaker. Anthony's only play is to score. It's not just Steve Nash. The Knicks looked more cohesive last year with Raymond Felton who is a huge downgrade from Nash offensively. It's like trying to run a car without an ignition system. So in that sense, Thomas is on target. 

But here's where he's wrong.

Chandlr wasn't the wrong acquisition. Chandler has brought defense and a better attitude to the Knicks. He can change the course of a game and provides a defensive balance to D'Antoni's offensively-geared staff. Chandler is not the poor fit for the Knicks. Anthony is.

Anthony is a scoring wing. But even that's fine and great in D'Antoni's system. And he's a small forward, who next to Amar'e Stoudemire, could be great. But Anthony is primarily an isolation, off-the-drible shooter. He's a great rebounder, and that's a legitamate boost for the Knicks, but offensively, there's not much more of a worse fit for the Knicks an D'Antoni than Anthony.

Chandler wasn't where they went wrong. And keeping Billups wasn't a mistake, as he has passed the point where he can consistently contribute efficiently, and isn't a playmaking guard at this point. But the Knicks' design may have been damaged already... by Thomaz' involvement in the Anthony saga.
Posted on: December 25, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 9:41 pm
 

Theory and Proof: Knicks beat Celts with defense

By Matt Moore

Carmelo AnthonyTheory: The Knicks are still learning defense but they have a path to it.

Proof: For a quarter it certainly looked like the Knicks were the same team they always have been under Mike D'Antoni. But excepting the third quarter 35-17 meltdown by the New York Knicks, the home team put in the effort and technique on the defensive end, and that's what led to their two-point win over the same team who swept them in last year's playoffs, the Boston Celtics. Well, that and Carmelo Anthony.

But outside of that horrific run to start the second half, the Knicks showed what you want to see if you're a New York fan. They were active defensively, especially when Tyson Chandler was in the game. They repeatedly attacked the Celtics at the rim (11 blocked shots). They held a huge advanteage on the offensive glass until the third quarter which accounts for a signifianct portion of Boston's advantage on the glass.

There was a different feel for the Knicks, who wound up winning the game by defending a Kevin Garnett fadeaway jumper well enough. The Knicks also flashed a new attitude, repeatedly standing up to Boston's bullying approach, concluding with Bill Walker getting in Garnett's grill after his miss, then taking a shot to the throat from Garnett. This is an ugly, tense, rivalry that gets nastier with every game.

And for once, it looks like the Knicks are ready to bow up to the bullies. Throw in the best scoring frontcourt in the league and the Knicks have their season off to the start they wanted. Even despite that third quarter.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:48 pm
 

2011 NBA Free Agency Winners and Losers



By Matt Moore


All the big names have landed, and while there are still a handful of guys working out where they'll be playing in 2011-2012, we have a pretty clear image of how free agency worked out this year. So to give you a recap on how teams managed to do, here are your winners and losers for NBA free agency.

Winners

New York Knicks: It takes a lot for them to get a winning status when they picked up Mike Bibby and re-signed Jared Jeffries. Tyson Chandler is a lot. Chandler gives them exactly what they need at center, for a reasonable price considering he's coming off winning the Finals as a difference maker starter and compliments Amar'e Stoudemire well. This could wind up as a disaster, but for pursuing defense over offense and size over speed, they get into the winner's circle.

Los Angeles Clippers: Two days ago I would have planted the Clippers in the losers circle with a dunce cap. $24 million for Caron Butler over three years? DeAndre Jordan for a ridiculous price? Are they stoned in Clipperland? Chauncey Billups who may or may not hate the ground you walk on for denying him free agency? But then they landed Chris Paul. And you go "Oooooooh" like you just figured out that they got off the island and it's a flash-forward not a flash-back. Shooters to go with Paul, veteran defenders to go with Paul, and the big man to provide long-term support for Griffin. The Clippers avoided disaster by getting CP3. But funny how that makes everything seem better.

Miami Heat: Eddy Curry already looks like a waste (has had conditioning issues already). Mario Chambers is a divisive point guard, but he's good enough to start for a team with no cap space. Landing Shane Battier, though, genius. Battier is going to miss threes like all Heat spot-up shooters do. But he's going to make their defensive rotations even better, their team chemistry even better, their basketball IQ even higher. He's worth the money and a win for them.

Indiana Pacers: We were all convinced the Pacers were going to splash onto the scene and overpay for a big man in such a way as to cripple the franchise. Instead, they got David West on a low eight-figures, 2-year deal that guarantees if his knees or production go, they have options and are not stuck. They re-signed Jeff Foster to give them another center, and they were prudent with not re-signing Josh McRoberts for more than he was worth. Good upgrade for them.

Phoenix Suns: Shannnon Brown is a great fit for the system, and they managed to convince Grant Hill to return. Brown in the run-and-gun system under Gentry should excel with Aaron Brooks stuck in China. Hill still played brilliantly last season and staying in Phoenix means he stays with that training staff which has extended his career after one filled with injury issues. The Suns didn't make any significant step forward, but in terms of just making good value signings, they did as well as most. 

Mid-level centers: Kwame Brown got one-year, $7 million. DeAndre Jordan made out like a bandit. Marc Gasol walked away with more money than Kendrick Perkins and Nene (though Gasol is arguably the best free agent in this class, just without the name value). It's a league short on legitimate star centers, and while the biggest free agent center names (Chandler, Nene, Greg Oden) did not land monstrous deals, the mid-level centers available rose up to meet in the middle of the band. Good year to get paid. 

Losers

Boston Celtics: They had David West stolen out from under them in the midst of the Chris Paul debacle. They re-signed Marquis Daniels which isn't bad but isn't great. They traded Glenn Davis in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Bass which is pretty good but doesn't address most of their concerns. They gave Jeff Green a big one-year deal after which it was discovered he will miss the entire season after surgery when a heart condition was revealed after a stress test. Their bench is unbearably thin with starters that can't log big minutes. No, it was not a good few weeks for the Celtics.

Orlando Magic: Giving Jason Richardson and Glen Davis mid-size contracts is not the way to keep Dwight Howard, I don't care how good a friend he is with them. The Magic sacrificed their future, which is going to become very important to them in the next six months, in order to try and make another run with the same team that didn't succeed last year, plus Davis who is a big who doesn't help their issues in rebounding and has conditioning issues. Re-signing Earl Clark doesn't make a big enough impact to matter.

Detroit Pistons: Re-signing Tayshaun Price at that price makes no sense whatsover, especially not for four years. They need to be looking to the future. I understand the desire to reward Prince for his time and send him off in Detroit white, but this team has questions it has to answer quickly, and Prince gets in the way of development for Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko. Rodney Stuckey's re-signing gets in the way of Brandon Knight's development and continues his very mixed-results stay in the Motor City. 

Dallas Mavericks: Maybe 2012 will make up for it. But if we're just judging the Mavericks on what they gave up and what they got back, this wasn't a good offseason. Even outside of the trades which brought in a quality player and sent two out, Dallas lost its starting center and part-time starting two-guard in agency, without really bringing in anyone. They're deep enough to survive it but this was a team that would have been considered favorites had they brought back the gang. As it is, there are questions about the Mavericks this season and beyond.

New Orleans Hornets: Setting aside losing Chris Paul in trade and impending free agency, the Hornets re-signed Carl Landry for a high one-year deal and brought back Jason Smith for three years. The deals are cheap. It's not a bad set of deals. But it's still a little perplexing considering the overwhelming need for this team to tank in order to ensure a top five pick to go with  

Arron Afflalo: Afflalo hasn't signed yet, which isn't a problem but the fact that no team was willing to bother with making him an offer knowing the Nuggets would match means he may not sign for as much as he could have. Bear in mind DeAndre Jordan is a less established player than Afflalo and was helped by the Warriors' attempt to free him from Los Angeles. Afflalo could have likely wound up with top dollar as an unrestricted free agent. Denver may wind up as the best thing for his career, though.
Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:44 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 12:21 pm
 

NBA Free Agency: Opening weekend winners & losers

Posted by Ben Golliver

nba-winners-losers

Deals, non-deals, endless rumors and more. It was a wild opening weekend for the abbreviated 2011 NBA free agency period. Here's an extended look at who won and lost over the first 72 hours. Let's break it down: from the biggest moves to the smallest signings, from the trades that weren't to the guys who remain unsigned.

The Biggest Deal

The NBA came to a standstill when a proposed 3-team trade between the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would have sent Chris Paul to L.A. fell apart twice thanks to vetoes from NBA commissioner David Stern.

Winners: Orlando Magic

This fiasco was even uglier than the lockout, which is saying something. All the key parties wound up losing one way or another – see below -- but the Magic slide in as winners because the Lakers emerged from the weekend without acquiring a second superstar to pair with Kobe Bryant, and with both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, two excellent potential trade chips for Dwight Howard, still on the roster. The Magic win whether L.A. ends up pairing those two in a deal for Howard or if the idea of such a deal simply sits out there as a potential offer against which Howard’s other suitors must match up. Orlando needs a bidding war in the worst way and the Paul failure ensures that L.A. still has plenty of motivation, and attractive pieces, to actively bid.

Losers: Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets

Paul was seemingly inches from an NBA second life and a brand new level of fame. Instead, he returns to a camp with a roster in tatters and the news that longtime running mate David West is Indiana-bound. His future couldn’t be more uncertain amid the confusion and he’s now forced to deal with questions day after day with no short-term end in sight. Sounds awesome! Thanks, boss.

Hornets GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams, meanwhile, are left with a frustrated Paul who obviously still wants out, a barren roster and serious questions about their autonomy as a basketball operations group, not to mention the fact that the league-owned situation could result in another franchise sale at some point in the near future. All this for a team that -- less than a year ago -- was a dynamic playoff force that gave the Lakers a run for their money. The ground fell out from under them.

Monumental Loser: David Stern

It wasn’t just the tremendously questionable decision to veto the trades that makes Stern a loser. It was the way the process unfolded. On what should have been the most exciting time on the NBA calendar following months of petty bickering during the lockout, the spotlight wound up back on Stern. Vetoing the trade directly alienated his league’s most important team, completely undermined the team he operates, and handcuffed the poor Houston Rockets, who were in the middle of a critical strategic time in their franchise’s post-Yao history. The delayed explanation for the veto led to a virtual standstill in other moves, as everyone around the league waited for the largest domino to fall. The eventual attempts at explanation were vague and way too late, leading to an open season of criticism of Stern and talk of walkouts from training camp. One player, Lamar Odom, was so upset by the trade talk limbo that he followed through on that threat, finding himself dumped to the Dallas Mavericks for virtually nothing. Now that it’s all said and done, the Hornets can look forward to worse offers for Paul and/or the prospect that he walks from the team as soon as free agency allows. Nice.

Other Big Deals

Winners: New York Knicks and Tyson Chandler

It’s great when solid matches come together fairly cleanly. New York made no secret of its desire for Chris Paul but was smart enough not to waste precious time on what ended up being a sinkhole. Targeting Chandler and making the necessary moves to acquire him – amnestying Chauncey Billups and trading Ronny Turiaf – took creativity and guts, and the eventual payoff is the best 3-4-5 combination in the NBA. Chandler fills New York’s biggest need and comes in at a reasonable $58 million over four years, a deal that will carry him through the rest of his prime years.

Chandler manages to cash in his new-found respect from the 2011 title team with an excellent pay day from a marquee franchise that is clearly on the upswing. Knicks fans will love his game (as long as he stays healthy, of course).

Losers: Golden State Warriors and DeAndre Jordan

Kudos to the Warriors for doing the right thing with Charlie Bell by telling him to stay away from training camp after he showed up drunk to a court hearing following his second DUI arrest in under a year. It was time to take a stand and they took it. That stand didn’t need to include burning the team’s amnesty clause to release Bell’s paltry $4.1 million salary. With David Lee, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins all on the books for big-time money, the amnesty is a critical protection against injury for the Warriors. With a bunch of promising youngsters in place, it will be a shame if an unforeseen, devastating injury slows the organization’s ability to wheel and deal because they burned the amnesty toon soon and wind up crippled when it comes to cap flexibility.

Why did the Clippers bother to amnesty Bell? For the right to make a substantial offer to Los Angeles Clippers restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan, a player that team consultant Jerry West appeared to question in an interview this weekend. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is impossible to pin down but his management team is highly motivated to retain Jordan, and will almost certainly match the offer given, leaving Golden State with nothing except $4 million of cap room to show for their misguided efforts.  

Winners: Memphis Grizzlies and Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol, like Chandler, was one of the premier names in this weak free agent class. He will reportedly cash in to a similar degree: receiving a 4 year, $55 million offer sheet from the Rockets that the Grizzlies are expected to match. Retaining Gasol was a critical momentum move in Memphis, as the miracle playoff run to defeat the San Antonio Spurs would have been a distant memory if Gasol was allowed to walk and leave a major hole in the middle. Instead, it’s back for more fun for one of the grittiest, most underappreciated groups in the game. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley answered the questions about whether he would step up and pay to play, inking Gasol, forwards Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay and guard Michael Conley to big-time extensions. Good times in Tennessee.

Losers: Los Angeles Lakers and Lamar Odom

Surely seller’s remorse is sinking in after an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend in L.A., which saw the Lakers immediately grant Odom’s trade request, shipping him out of town for nothing more than cap relief and a heavily protected first round pick. The fact that he lands on a major conference rival makes this a very meaningful talent swing and the Lakers are capped out to the point where replacing his many contributions will be exceedingly difficult in the short-term. It’s no surprise that Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher weren’t all that psyched about this move. The Lakers couldn’t have gotten less for Odom and he couldn’t have gone to a worse destination, other than maybe the Oklahoma City Thunder.

On the other hand, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban emerges as a major winner, having flipped a simple trade exception acquired from New York in the Chandler signing for a top-flight, versatile player still in his prime years who happens to be on an affordable, flexible contract. All in less than 24 hours. Meanwhile, a similarly massive trade exception created by LeBron James’ departure still sits unused by the Cleveland Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert. Please advise.

Dwight Howard Saga

Winner: Dwight Howard

It might come with a public relations price, but it probably feels like a huge relief for Howard knowing that the world now gets where he stands: he’s formally requested a trade and has been in contact with teams on his wish list. No more goofy games or beating around the bush. He’s a major step closer to a certain future. The scrutiny will surely increase but at least people, especially Magic fans, have a better idea of where he’s coming from and how they should manage their expectations.

Loser: Otis Smith

It doesn’t get any worse than watching your CEO drunk dial Howard and then promptly resign. Oh, wait, yes it does. Your franchise announces major layoffs and Howard tells the world that he hasn’t had any contact with you since requesting a trade and that you never listened to him when he made personnel suggestions. Oh, yeah, you can also make an illogical 4-year, $25 million commitment to Jason Richardson, a veteran wing on the precipice of decline, when everyone knows you should be looking for any possible way to reduce payroll. Brutal. On the bright side, as mentioned above, at least the Lakers are still in play to help the Magic save some face.

Medium Deals

Winners: Indiana Pacers and David West

The Pacers land West, one of the biggest and most proven names on the free agent market who fits in nicely to a well-balanced, fairly deep roster that has talent at all five positions. A nice mix of veterans, youngsters and some solid bigs make this a group that might just compete for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs next season. The price for West – 2 years and $20 million – is totally reasonable and hedged nicely against possible deterioration from his recent knee injury and aging. West scores a ticket out of a totally shipwreck in New Orleans, a solid pay day and the chance to hit free agency one more time in two years before his value starts to really diminish.

Losers: Sacramento Kings and Marcus Thornton

You can be as high on Thornton’s upside as you like: it’s very, very difficult to justify spending $31 million over four seasons on a guy who has the same skillset as the two players that you’re most heavily invested in, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league and a need to up that number in a hurry, it’s not like Sacramento spent its way into a corner here, but there’s simply no way to maximize the effectiveness of Evans, Fredette and Thornton at the same time. Evans and Fredette are 22 and Thornton is 24. Thornton doesn’t meaningfully help you win now and he necessitates a stunted or unorthodox development pattern for Fredette and will almost certainly wind up in staring contests over shot selection with Evans. The money had to be spent and at least it wasn’t spread over five years, but $31 million should solve problems, not create new ones.

Having A Plan

Winners: Miami Heat

Getting Mario Chalmers, a quality point guard who was headed for free agency, for 3-years and $12 million, with a team option on the last year to boot, is an excellent value. Getting Shane Battier for the mini Mid-Level Exception is downright ridiculous. By the way, the Heat brought back James Jones, brought in Eddy Curry and managed to retain Mike Miller. Simply amazing. Miami emerged from the weekend as the overwhelming title favorites.

Losers: Portland Trail Blazers

During a Monday press conference, Portland announced its intentions of starting Brandon Roy and spoke excitedly about the prospect of Greg Oden’s return. By Friday, Roy had decided to pursue a medical retirement, apparently without giving the team any notice, and Oden had suffered yet another medical “setback” that puts his 2011-2012 into jeopardy. Then, with executives scrambling to pursue contingency plans, franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge was forced to undergo a heart procedure that is expected to keep him out up to two weeks. The Blazers salvaged the weekend by signing veteran Kurt Thomas to fill a much-needed hole, but wound up giving a 2-year deal to a 39-year-old. After all of that, the team is still weighing whether or not to amnesty Roy. That’s a tough stretch.

Minor Deals

Winners: Washington Wizards

The Wizards scored a draft pick and Ronny Turiaf for virtually nothing thanks to the cash considerations included by the Knicks for their work in facilitating the Chandler trade. Filling a roster hole for free and grabbing a future asset is always a win.

Loser: Chauncey Billups

Billups compounded a tough situation – getting amnestied by the Knicks without much warning – by flipping out publicly in the hope that he would scare off potential bidders for his services. He could quickly change from loser to winner if his nuclear strategy works and he winds up getting to pick a contender to latch on to, but for now a guy who was always known as a class act sure looks like a jerk. How many times do you think Billups has said “the NBA is a business” during interviews? 10,000? How do you forget all of that so quickly and threaten to disrupt a team’s locker room? He crossed a line.

Winners: Phoenix Suns

They weren’t flashy moves, but re-signing veteran forward Grant Hill back for just $6.5 million and snatching up former Lakers guard Shannon Brown for $3.5 million were very nice value plays that addressed needs. Of course, the Suns have made their fair share of mistakes in recent years, so value plays were about the only moves at their disposal.

Loser: J.J. Barea

Who is going to pay this man? Have we figured that out yet? Had there not been a lockout and had the old Mid-Level Exception system been in place, he likely would have seen a monster financial bonanza off of his impressive NBA playoffs. Instead, he waits and wonders. He could very well still get paid, but something says this free agency process didn't play out quite like he expected. Update: On Monday morning comes word that Barea will get his money, $19 million over 4-years, but is signing with the 17-win Minnesota Timberwolves to do it. From first to worst. Ouch.

 
 
 
 
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