Tag:Houston Rockets
Posted on: July 20, 2011 2:18 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 2:35 am
 

Yao Ming announces retirement in China video

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming officially announced his retirement in Shanghai, China. Posted by Ben Golliver.
 
yao-ming-retire

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming officially announced his retirement from the NBA at a press conference in Shanghai, China, in front of a crowd that included his family, Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Chinese Basketball officials and hundreds of media members.

He began by addressing the crowd in Chinese. 

"Today I need to make a personal decision as a basketball player," Yao said through a translator. "I will stop my basketball career and I will formally retire."

Yao then went on to give a list of thanks, which started with the game itself. "I am grateful to basketball. It has brought happiness to many people, including myself."

Yao said he would not leave basketball completely and will begin working with the Shanghai Sharks, the Chinese team he played for prior to coming to the NBA. He said he hoped his forthcoming work with the Sharks would "help bring happiness to the fans" and serve as a "contribution to the Chinese basketball industry."

"This will be just a comma, not a period," Yao promised. "I will not leave basketball, I have many things to do."

After that statement, Yao briefly addressed his "friends overseas" in English. 

"I would like to thank you for giving me a great nine years during my NBA career," Yao told Rockets fans. "Nine years ago I come to Houston as a young, tall, skinny player. The entire city and team changed me into a grown man. Not only a basketball player. And also I had my first daughter over there. I feel like a Houstonian and I will always be with you."

"I've been around a lot of great players, but none as hardworking as Yao Ming," Morey said. "Such a great player, how humble he is, also his humor, how funny he is."

Here's video of Yao's opening remarks in Chinese, which are translated to English.



Here's video of Yao's direct statement to Rockets fans in English.


Posted on: July 19, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 5:54 pm
 

2011-12 schedule breakdown: 20 can't-miss games

Posted by Royce Young



With everything regarding "next season" in the NBA, you've got to add a disclaimer that the lockout could very well wipe out all of these games. So with the 2011-12 schedule being released, I suppose it's realistic that this might just evolve into the 2012-13 schedule if things go bad.

But if you're an optimist in these negotiations, you've got 2011-12's lineup, which means you have to start getting ready. Clearing your schedule on a holiday isn't really a challenge and you're most definitely not going to miss opening night, but what about the can't-miss, super-showdowns littered throughout the schedule? Here are 20 games you absolutely cannot miss.

Nov. 2: Cleveland at Boston
And thus kicks off top pick Kyrie Irving's NBA career. Too bad for him it comes in Boston against one of the best defensive teams in the league. It might not be a pretty start for young Kyrie, but it'll definitely be a learning experience. And a quick welcome-to-the-NBA moment.

Nov. 2: Houston at Sacramento
Jimmer Mania will finally get off to its NBA start and the league was kind enough to let it begin at home. You can be sure Sacto will be buzzing but not just over Jimmer. There could be a little optimism for the Kings are Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and company might have a little something brewing this season.

Nov. 2: Atlanta at Minnesota
Before there was Jimmer Mania, there was Rubio Fever. Kevin Love will finally be able to believe what he sees as the floppy-haired Spaniard takes the floor with the Timberwolves for the first time against the Hawks.

Nov. 2: Memphis at Clippers
The Blake Show returns. Enough reason to be excited about this one.

Nov. 3: Orlando at Miami
The first showdown. It could be Dwight Howard's beginning to his farewell tour and one a few games against the Heat he has left. But there's never any love lost between these two Florida squads and with an early leg-up at stake, you can be sure this game will be intense.

Nov. 16: New York at Denver
Melo returns. It won't be near as monumental or should I say, angry, as LeBron's return to Cleveland, but you can be sure that Nugget fans will be ready for it. Carmelo made it very clear that he didn't want to be in Denver and I'm sure fans there don't appreciate that. Plus a bonus: Unlike the Cavs, the Nuggets shouldn't suck.

Nov. 18: Miami at Cleveland
LeBron returns, again. It's the third time he's played in Cleveland since "The Decision" and some of the sting certainly has worn off, at least in that fans won't be buying tickets ONLY to yell at LeBron. But you can be sure that an unusual amount of Maverick blue will be littered throughout Quicken Loans Arena.

Dec. 1: Miami at Boston
LeBron and Wade return to the scene of one of their greatest crimes. The Heat opened the season in Boston and took an embarrassing, humbling loss at the hands of the Celtics but got revenge in the postseason, besting the Celtics in five with the final game coming on the parquet. It's not exactly a rivalry, but the Heat don't enjoy the Celtics and the Celtics certainly don't enjoy the Heat.

Dec. 8: Lakers at Miami
I'm not totally sure, but I think Kobe is still in American Airlines Center shooting. Kobe loves beating LeBron and you know the feeling is mutual. Two of the league's biggest, most visible teams with the two biggest, most visible stars. If you aren't watching, I have to wonder what the heck you could possibly be doing.

Dec. 23: Oklahoma City at Miami
LeBron and Kevin Durant. Two of basketballs most enjoyable, explosive talents that are always easy on the eye. The Thunder have always been painted as the anti-Heat, but the young kids from OKC don't care about making a statement for the little guy. There may be a good storyline, but it's more about a really good Eastern team versus a really good Western team.

Dec. 27: Clippers "at" Lakers
By no means have the Clippers caught up to the Lakers, but there is a chance that this team could be pretty decent. After a horrific start to last season, the Clippers put together a solid last four months of the season. Some might be looking at this game as a changing-of-the-guard type of affair -- which it's not -- but the Clippers could definitely raise some eyebrows.

Dec. 29: Dallas at Oklahoma City
The first Thunder opportunity for payback and redemption comes almost two months into the season. It’s a long time to wait, but you can be sure the Arena Formerly Known As The Ford Center will be amped about this one. The last time the Mavericks were in Oklahoma City, they broke the Thunder’s heart with that ridiculous 15-point comeback. No way Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder fans have forgotten.

Jan 14: New Jersey at Utah
It'll certainly be more unceremonious as Melo's return to Denver which was more unceremonious as LeBron's return to Cleveland, but Deron Williams coming back to Utah will definitely have the attention of Jazz fans. There's some that still blame Jerry Sloan's retirement on Williams and that whole situation didn't sit well in Salt Lake. Williams will likely feel some anger from Jazz fans, even if it's not entirely deserved.

Jan 19: Chicago at Miami
A rematch of the Eastern Finals. Derrick Rose's last memory of the Heat is LeBron and Wade storming back in Chicago and stealing Game 5 when the Bulls had it all but won. These two teams will likely be the class of the East and with this being the first meeting of the season, somebody's going to make a statement.

Jan. 29: San Antonio at Dallas
The old champs versus the new ones provides a new twist to an old rivalry. These two Texas titans have never gotten along and have had some pretty awesome games over the past decade or so. You can be sure that for once, Dirk and the Mavs will have a bit more swagger in Dallas as the Mavs take the floor against Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Funny how a ring can do that.

Feb. 12: Chicago at Boston
It's the Thibodeau Bowl. The Celtics might be aging but you know they aren't going to just hand the East over. The Bulls are rising and you know they want to rub last year's triumph over the Celtics in the regular season in their face.

Feb. 17: New Orleans at New York
Take a good look at Chris Paul and wish, Knicks fans. You know he's a free agent in 2012 and you know he'd look pretty nice alongside Amar'e and Melo. But he's on the other side right now and there's a pretty good chance he's going to drive you crazy, at least on this night.

March 11: Boston at Lakers
It's the league's best rivalry, maybe sports' best rivalry. Every Celtics-Lakers game is an event. I don't think I even need to give you reasons why this game is huge.

April 1: Memphis at San Antonio
It was stunning at the time, but after watching the Grizzlies rip through the Spurs before bowing out to the Thunder in seven-game, it felt like we should've seen this coming. And this was with the Grizzlies missing their best scorer in Rudy Gay.

April 8: Lakers at Oklahoma City
The Lakers visit the Thunder Nov. 23 for the first time, but go almost four months between trips as they return with just a week left in the season. That’s a bummer, but there’s a chance this game could have major Western playoff seeding implications. The Lakers always bring out the best in Thunder fans, but if the stakes are raised, it’ll just be that much better.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 3:57 pm
 

2011-12 schedule breakdown: The big ones

Posted by Royce Young



With everything regarding "next season" in the NBA, you've got to put the disclaimer on it that the lockout could very well wipe out all of these games. So with the 2011-12 schedule being released, I suppose it's realistic that this might just evolve into the 2012-13 schedule if things go bad.

But if you're an optimist in these negotiations, you've got 2011-12's lineup. You can start planning your evenings around big games, TNT double-headers and of course, the NBA's showcase games which come on opening night, Christmas (only three games!) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Let's take a look at those.

OPENING NIGHT
Chicago at Dallas (8:00 ET, TNT)
The champs will be handed their rings against the MVP and the Bulls to kick off the 2011-12 season. Honestly, the Mavs' ring ceremony may be better entertainment than the game. Mark Cuban has hinted at doing something bigger than just rings, so we'll see what he has in store, if anything. It'll be an emotional night in Dallas as the Mavs raise their first championship banner into the rafters as Dirk, Cuban and Jason Kidd all soak it in and get handed a ring.

Houston at Utah (9:00 ET)

Not a marquee game and it's really just kind of filler, but it'll be our first look at the remade Jazz with Enes Kanter and Alec Burks against the Rockets without Yao. Not necessarily a game full of stars, but it's two teams looking to get off to a good start on the path to a playoff push.

Oklahoma City at Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 ET, TNT)
The young Thunder travel to L.A. to take on the veteran Lakers to finish up opening night. It's Kendrick Perkins versus Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, Kevin Durant against Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook against whoever the Lakers try and stick on him. The Thunder and Lakers always play entertaining games as evidenced by their opening round series in 2010. Maybe there's a chance that either Durant or Kobe will catch fire and push Michael Jordan's opening night record of 54 points. At least that could be in play with these two terrific scorers facing off.

CHRISTMAS DAY

Boston at New York (12 ET, ESPN)
It's not Christmas Day basketball without the Knicks. Actually, I don't know if that's totally true, but it's somewhat of a tradition to kick things off after present opening wraps up with a day game at Madison Square Garden. This one features a rematch of the opening round of the playoffs last season with the Knicks hosting the Celtics. The Knicks have a bunch of star power and should be improved from last season. The Celtics are the Celtics and will be good. There's a chance that this game could reasonably feature two of the top three or four teams in the East. Which of course would make Christmas afternoon at MSG that much more fun.

Miami at Dallas (2:30 ET, ABC)

Feels like these two teams have a history or something. Did they play recently? The league loves to come back with a Finals rematch on Christmas and not only is this going to be a good game featuring two good teams, but these organizations really don't care a lot for each other. It's in Dallas which is an edge, but it'll be the first time LeBron steps on the floor with Dirk after the wrenching defeat in Miami in six games.

You can be sure that both teams will approach this game almost as if it were more important than just a late-December regular season game. It's bigger than that. Maybe just in terms of pride, but for two teams that aren't keen on each other that just finished up facing off for the title, Dallas against Miami on Christmas could be one of the NBA's premier games this season.

Chicago at Los Angeles Lakers (5:00 ET, ABC)
The reigning MVP taking on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in what'll certainly be a majorly hyped showdown. Both teams will be at or near the top of their respective conference and both teams might be looking at the other as a potential Finals opponent. The Lakers have had a history of big letdowns on Christmas, but Kobe said emphatically last season that the Lakers need to get up more for those games. Well, here's another chance, this time against the suffocating Bulls and their MVP point guard.

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY
Chicago at Memphis (1:00 ET, ESPN)

Completely fitting for the game to be in Memphis. Honestly, I think it should become league traditional that the showcase game in the afternoon happens there. But not only will it be a special day in Memphis, it'll have two pretty darn good teams. The surging Grizzlies will host the Bulls in a game featuring two terrific front courts and a couple of scrappy defensive teams.

Oklahoma City at Boston (8:00 ET, TNT)
Two contenders, yes, but the hook to this one honestly might be that it's Kendrick Perkins' return to Boston. He was adored by fans, coaches, player and the front office, so no doubt it'll be emotional. Then once that's out of the way, we'll have a game with two really good, fun teams.

Dallas at Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 ET, TNT)

One of the West's most underrated rivalry games closes it all out. Late last season, the Mavs and Lakers scuffled a couple of times which led people to assume the Mavericks were soft as the Lakers pounded them in an important game. Didn't matter obviously in the end, but no doubt the Mavs haven't forgotten.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 1:32 pm
 

It's not always 'shun-ny' in Seacaucus

By Matt Moore

When the NBA entered the lockout, David Stern's office issued what is essentially a nuclear gag order, more of a "shun order" to members of the league office, coaches, team officials and staff. Basically, the first rule of lockout club is you do not talk to the players about lockout club. The league threatened a $1 million (note: one million dollars) fine on anyone who broke the rule and there's been concern that people like Rick Carlisle could get tagged for it. 

Except when the league said that, it only really meant it in most situations, or ones they're not aware of. More specifically, they meant it for situations where the owner isn't present. Because apparently otherwise, it's fine.

A prime example:
But while Heat stars James, Wade -- recovering from Lasik eye surgery and sporting shades, both pictured below with Bosh -- and Juwan Howard were seated in an area separate from the suits', they later mingled on the dance floor with team GM Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra, vice president Nick Arison, the son of Heat owner Micky Arison and former Heat all-star Alonzo Mourning, who now works in player relations. They got special permission from the league to attend the glitzy bash together.

One guest said, "The players were on one side of the ballroom, the executives on the other, and later they met on the dance floor."
via NBA lockout put on hold as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Miami Heat execs celebrate Chris Bosh's wedding in Miami - NYPOST.com.

And another:
Good to see the NBA gave its blessing for the Rockets to attend Kevin Martin’s wedding and Yao Ming’s retirement announcement.

Martin was married to his longtime girlfriend Jill Adler last weekend and with the league’s permission, Daryl Morey and Gersson Rosas were permitted to attend.

They did, however, have to be careful not to make too much small talk with the athletically gifted members of the guest list.
via NBA schedules out Tuesday — whether they’re needed or not | NBA | a Chron.com blog

So pretty much if there's a wedding, you can mingle with those on the other side of the iron curtain that's been dropped. It helps if an owner's involved. You can meet but only if there's the chicken dance, the Righteous Brothers, or Lil Wayne involved. But seriously, no talking! 

On the one hand, it's nice that the league can differentiate between personal and business. On the other, it's pretty typical that the league says there are no exceptions to the burden of its iron guantlet, except when it says so. 

More importantly (or not), though, how awkward would that conversation be?

"Hey, person who pays my bills except he just locked me out of my job because he wants me to take a drastic paycut?"

"Hi there, employee who I've stonewalled and who has launched a P.R. war against me and my colleagues in pursuit of denying me what I feel is the only way to profitability in the business I run which pays him?"

"..."

"...."

"...Great party!"

"Absolutely! Try the punch!"

"..."

"..."

"... Well, I gotta go, see you, you know, around."

"Yeah, it was good, er, seeing you."

/awkward hand shake

How bizarre must that have been? Of course, by the time they had five or six rum and cokes I'm sure they were more chummy.

Hey, wait a second. 

Guys! I have an idea for how to end the lockout!


Posted on: July 17, 2011 7:20 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 11:57 pm
 

Report: Miami Heat to pursue Shane Battier?

The Miami Heat are reportedly interested in free agent forward Shane Battier. Posted by Ben Golliver. shane-battier

Last week, we noted a Houston Chronicle report that unrestricted free agent forward Shane Battier, who was traded by the Rockets to the Memphis Grizzlies before the trade deadline, is interested in hooking on with a contender.

On Sunday, the Miami Herald reports that the Miami Heat are interested in Battier, a hard-nosed, veteran perimeter defender.  
Regardless of whether James Jones re-signs (and there’s mutual interest), we hear forward Shane Battier will be very much on the Heat’s radar after the lockout. The Houston Chronicle, after interviewing Battier, said “don’t be surprised” if he signs with the Heat or Bulls.
At first glance, this seems like an imperfect match for three reasons. One: The Miami Heat already have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James playing heavy, heavy minutes on the wing. Two: Forward Mike Miller is under contract through 2014-2015. Three: The Heat have big holes to fill at the point guard position and the center position, and they don't have much financial wiggle room to address those issues.

If I'm Heat president Pat Riley or coach Erik Spoelstra, Battier is not my No. 1 target. But he would certainly be near the top of the list when it comes to back-up plans. 

Battier is a versatile, intense, tough defender who enjoys playing on that side of the ball. He embodies the culture that Spoelstra has tried to instill in Miami, one in which the offense flows from defensive effort. Battier is super intelligent, known to pour over scouting reports, and he would be a fit with Spoelstra's advanced stat-influenced approach as well. It goes without saying that Battier is unselfish on offense, not needing shots or touches to get his game going. He's a solid rebounder for his position and is a 38.5% three point shooter. All of those attributes fill a need for the Heat, who are building around the ball dominance of Wade and James. 

Further, Battier would relieve some of the regular season pressure on either Wade or James, able to defend top-level perimeter scorers for long stretches without help, something no one else on Miami's roster was capable of this year. At 32, Battier should be available on a relatively short year deal at a figure that fits inside Miami's mid-level exception. In other words, he wouldn't necessarily have to be Miami's major offseason signing if he's willing to take a discount to play for the odds-on favorite to win the 2012 NBA Finals.

Adding Battier would require some compromises. The biggest? James would need to be used in an unorthodox manner, either as a point guard in a big lineup or as a power forward with Chris Bosh sliding over to center. James showed the ability to play virtually any position last season but is playing him outside his usual position ideal? That's an open question.

Other issues: There's no room for Wade, James, Battier, Miller and Jones. At least one -- probably Jones -- will need to move on. In Miller, the Heat have far more questions than answers. Given his tough injury history and down year this season, it shouldn't come as a surprise if Miami is looking to shore up its depth on the wings.

Ultimately, I would expect the Heat to spend its available money addressing the center position first, if at all possible. Should the top candidates sign for more than the mid-level or elsewhere, there aren't many point guards worthy of a big pay day. And that's where the interest in Battier comes from.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 8:30 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 8:46 pm
 

Robert Horry: Derek Fisher is too old for Lakers

Robert Horry says Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher is too old. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derek-fisher-robert-horry

Robert Horry was one of the NBA's all-time great winners. They say you need a lot of luck and the right circumstances to win an NBA title, making Horry one of the luckiest judges of circumstances the league has ever seen.

Horry won multiple titles with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, snagging the moniker "Big Shot Rob" along the way. Never a star, Horry could be counted on to do the little things, be in the right place at the right time and step up to take an important shot regardless of how much pressure there was in a given situation. His career haul: Seven rings. More than Michael Jordan. More than Kobe Bryant. More than Shaquille O'Neal.  Pretty nuts.

In other words, Horry knows winning. Asked by the Los Angeles Times what it will take for the Lakers, Horry didn't mince words, pointing the finger at the Lakers' starting point guard, and his former teammate, Derek Fisher.
"I think they need another good point guard. No disrespect to Derek Fisher. But Derek is long in the tooth. I've been there, done that. I understand that. They need to get a point guard who can distribute the ball, get people in order and not be afraid to tell Kobe [Bryant], 'no.'"
Aside from a new point guard, Horry urged minor changes over major changes.
"All they need is a season of rest. They have more time off to rest. If they don't do anything ridiculous like blowing it up, they'll be fine. Go out and add a couple more bench pieces, get some role players who don't mind doing some dirty work, and they'll be fine."
Fisher, 36, has five rings and is the president of the Players Association, so it goes without saying that he is one of the league's most respected elder statesmen. The numbers, however, aren't particularly kind to him. Fisher averaged just 6.8 points -- his lowest total in more than a decade -- and 2.7 assists last season. He didn't miss a game for the sixth consecutive season, but his lack of athleticism and quickness proved to be limiting factors for the Lakers.

On the bright side, Fisher still was able to log 28.0 minutes per game, meaning there's plenty of room to reduce his role over the next two seasons, as he's under contract through 2012-2013. It's certainly possible that his "old-man game" still has a place for the Lakers off the bench. A complicating factor with continuing Fisher in his current role is that Bryant's athleticism is also starting to give a bit too age. Pairing Bryant with a more active, dynamic starting point guard would be the ideal situation, with the option of returning to Fisher in big late-game moments should the need arise.

Fisher is one of the smartest and sneakiest players in the league, master of every trick in the book. But each new year brings another crop of super-elite athletes at the point guard position. Horry is correct here. Unless there's an extended work stoppage that allows Fisher extra time to rest his body, the time is right for the Lakers to make a change at the point.

Here's video of Horry's comments about Fisher courtesy of YouTube user LosAngelesTimes.



Posted on: July 11, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 6:11 pm
 

Battier expects career to continue with contender

Posted by Matt Moore

Shane Battier made the biggest shot in Memphis Grizzlies history. That may not sound like much to you, but every serious sports franchise has to start somewhere.

The Grizzlies started, really started, with Battier's game-winning 3-pointer at the end of Game 1 in San Antonio vs. the Spurs. It was his out-of-nowhere three that led to the first playoff win in Grizzlies franchise history, and kick-started the process of the first playoff series win in Memphis history. Not bad for a guy not known for his offense.

Battier's a free agent, whenever this nasty lockout business is through. And the question will naturally arise if he'll be rejoining Memphis to make good on all the success of last year.

Don't count on it.

In a wide-ranging talk with the Houston Chronicle, Battier discussed his situation. He talked about how disappointed he was with Houston for trading him, how that team came within Yao Ming's injury of having a real shot, and about how the Grizzlies are set up for the future. But he also made it clear to the Chronicle that he expects to play for a contender next season. From the Chron: 
Battier expects to draw interest from contenders, which is one of the reasons the Rockets elected to trade him. Don't be surprised if the next time the Michigan native takes the court he is spotting up outside the 3-point line for the Chicago Bulls or taking charges for the Miami Heat.
via Solomon: Midseason trade still irks Ex-Rocket Battier | Jerome Solomon on Sports | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle.

Now, those are the author's suggestions filling in, not words from Battier. But he made it clear that he'll be chasing a championship in the twilight of his career. Memphis will be one of the better overall teams in the league, still relatively young and with loads of potential to make good on the promise set forth in 2011.

But they aren't real contenders. Whether it's because of their market, sub-star stars, their limited roster thanks to money devoted to the players who got them to this point, or just plain ol' history, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone, inside or outside Memphis, who thinks they are ready to chase a title.

Playoff run?

Sure.

Meaningful basketball?

Absolutely. But there's still some time before Memphis is "there."

And as long as that's the case, Shane Battier won't be.

Chicago's not a bad thought, though he doesn't bring enough offense to really help them. New York, much the same deal. Boston's a great fit, with the veteran atmosphere, its need for depth and his defensive presence. The Lakers would be sickening for Battier's fans to watch, but it makes a bit of sense if they did some restructuring. San Antonio's another great fit -- after all, he likes Texas and plays defense. Miami's a hard one to envision, but he could definitely be used to teach the team a thing or two about chemistry and to be the defender on the wing they need.

Wherever Battier goes, he'll bring with him success and an outspoken attitude that rarely vibes with the traditional NBA player mind.
Posted on: July 10, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 5:38 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Southwest Division

Posted by Royce Young



Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier, we took a look at the Southeast, Atlantic and Central Divisions. Let's continue on with the rough and tumble, yet aging, Southwest Division.

New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets easily present the most interesting lockout case of any team in my mind. First off, the league owns them. Secondly, and related to that, Chris Paul is a free agent in 2012. The league took on the responsibility of the Hornets because David Stern wasn't about to see a franchise lost on his watch and wants to do everything he can to keep the team there.

But a prolonged lockout resulting in a lost season really might end professional basketball in New Orleans. Chris Paul would have the ability to walk with the Hornets never having an chance to get anything in return, meaning the one draw the team has could be gone and the already struggling franchise might not have anything to show for his exit. On top of that, David West opted out and is an unrestricted free agent currently. So not only could the roster be entirely turned over, the already suspect fanbase might take another blow.

Now of course if Stern and the owners can negotiate a deal that makes a franchise like the Hornets profitable no matter what, then the league can sell the team and potentially pocket a bit. That's obviously something in the back of Stern's mind. The Hornets really make this lockout all the more intriguing because now Stern has a stake in things directly. He's not just the mediator trying to produce a good system for his league, but he's an owner too now.

Dallas Mavericks

Here's one benefit of a prolonged lockout: The Mavs get to be champs for two years instead of one. Bonus? I don't think they'd think so. Especially because the window the Mavs have to remain serious contenders isn't going to stay open much longer. Dirk is aging, Jason Kidd is like 78 and there are a bunch of questions surrounding players like Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea.

Mark Cuban is a big market owner, but I can see him as someone leaning toward making sure there is basketball over the owners guaranteeing profits. He's a fan first and foremost and he's tasted the top of the mountain. Granted, he gets the chance to soak it up a little longer, but if he wants his roster to keep going, losing a year might be the beginning of the end for the current Mavs.

San Antonio Spurs

There's no hiding that the Spurs are getting older. A year lost means another year tacked on to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. A year lost means Gregg Popovich gets a little older and as the longest tenured coach in the league, he might not have many left. The Spurs have a fanbase that will absolutely return in force and Peter Holt is maybe the finest owner in the league, especially in terms of managing a small market franchise, but I'm sure a year of lost basketball isn't something that sits well.

Holt obviously would love a system that levels the playing field a bit and helps smaller markets on the road to basking in the same light the Lakers, Bulls and Knicks get, but basketball is a priority in San Antonio. The window won't be open much longer. Even Tony Parker acknowledged that. And that roster still wants to try and make one more run at it all.

Memphis Grizzlies
Really, Michael Heisley probably isn't all that terrified from losing a season. He's a small market owner who has spent big as of late and saving money on Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley isn't all bad for him. The core of the team, sans Marc Gasol, is all locked up long-term so while a lost season would mean missing out on all the positive movement and momentum from last season, there's still a lot of opportunity ahead for Memphis.

Still, it's a risk to mess with a potentially fragile fanbase like the Grizzlies'. The FedEx Forum has never been known to be full, but during the postseason run, the Grizzlies emerged with one of the most passionate, loyal crowds in the league. There's clearly something working right now and Heisley and the Grizzlies don't want to jade and sour those fans that have come around by damaging all that goodwill they worked so hard to build.

Houston Rockets
Hard for me to guess how the Rockets see this thing. They are an in-between franchise, not necessarily small market but not big either. Their roster is set up to withstand a lockout and return with good pieces intact. They don't have any major lingering free agents of concern.

What I think would scare them a bit though is missing out on the opportunity to compete in the trade market for players like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams all season long though. The Rockets have quality trade pieces and good assets to dangle in front of teams and I'm sure Daryl Morey would have some interesting proposals to make. Sure there's always 2012's free agency but opening it up to that puts the Rockets a bit behind the other, more intriguing, brighter markets. A sign-and-trade might be their best chance to land that superstar player Morey so desperately wants.
 
 
 
 
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