Lamar Odom traded to the Mavs

Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzski, right, goes up to block a shot off Los Angeles Lakers’ Lamar Odom in the second half of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on May 4, 2011. The Mavericks defeated the Lakers 93-81and lead the best-of-seven playoff series 2-0. UPI/Christine Cotter

The Dallas Mavericks acquired Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers, which will have ripple effects throughout the NBA as teams try to finalize rosters in this chaotic period following the NBA lockout. Above you see a photo of Odom battling Dirk Nowitzski last year in the NBA playoffs. Instead of working to get revenge for the Lakers, Odom will now be a crucial part of the Dallas effort to return to the NBA finals.

This trade signals the end of the bizarre saga surrounding the Chris Paul trade that was rejected by David Stern. That controversial decision has rocked the NBA, and now we’ll be hearing about it over and over again as New Orleans tries to unload Paul to another team. The Lakers decided to back out of the talks rather than submit a new trade from Chris Paul to the league, and in dealing Odom put an abrupt end to that scenario. Meanwhile, the Lakers now seem to be focusing their attention on acquiring Dwight Howard in a deal that would involve Andrew Bynum.

As for the Mavericks, this trade for Odom became possible when they decided to work a deal with the New York Knicks when it became clear they would be losing center Tyson Chandler to the Knicks. That gave the Mavs an $11 million trade exception which they then used to acquire Odom. Odom made it clear he didn’t want to leave LA, but the powers that be clearly decided to go in another direction.

Dallas has more moves to make as it reworks in roster in the wake of losing Chandler. Chandler was a very important piece of their championship puzzle, but he’s the kind of player that can be replaced. Dallas is now one of the teams that might get a shot at landing Dwight Howard as the Orlando Magic have permitted them along with the Lakers and the New Jersey Nets. There’s also buzz out there that Vince Carter will land in Dallas as well. Carter can still score, but he’s not the kind of player one thinks of to help a championship team. Maybe he’ll be better in a reduced role.

The Dwight Howard sweepstakes will be the next big story that will have ripple effects around the league. We’ll see how serious Dallas is in that contest.

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Blake Griffin and Chris Paul need each other

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin dunks over Miami Heat in fourth quarter action in Los Angeles on January 12, 2011. The Clippers defeated the Heat 111-105. UPI/Jon SooHoo

Hornets fans are going to cringe when they read the title of this post. I get it — the Hornets are a solid 31-18 and the Chris Paul trade talk has died down considerably since last summer.

But these facts remain: 1) New Orleans is not a legit contender, 2) the team’s second-best player (David West) is getting older (30) and approaching free agency, and 3) Paul can become a free agent in the summer of 2012.

After some trade rumors were floating around last summer, Paul met with the New Orleans newly-hired braintrust and has since kept his mouth shut, playing the role of good soldier. He’s having a good season (16.7 points, 9.7 assists, 2.6 steals) and the Hornets are having a nice year. But virtually no one believes that they’ll be representing the West in the Finals this summer. One online casino’s long-term market shows the Hornets as a 19-1 longshot to make the Finals. That’s pretty telling considering how inconsistent the Lakers have been this season.

So what does this have to do with Blake Griffin? Well, I went to see my beloved Bucks take on the Clippers last night at the Staples Center and got to see Griffin in person. He went for 32-11-6, and generally killed Milwaukee with a plethora of post moves, drives and long jumpers. The Bucks are a good defensive team, but they had no answer for Griffin who flat-out dominated the game offensively for the Clippers.

Griffin is a special talent. He can jump out of the gym, but he has the ability to channel his athleticism into effective basketball talent which is not always easy for someone so athletic. The 31-year-old Baron Davis is serviceable at point guard, but if the Clippers could somehow acquire Paul (25), and surround the dynamic duo with a couple of shooters and a defensive center, Griffin and Paul could lead the Clippers to the Promised Land.

How do the Clippers acquire Paul? I doubt the Hornets are going to listen to trade offers right now, but if I’m Clipper GM Neil Olshey, I’d call up Dell Demps and make a standing offer of Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and the Minnesota Timberwolves unprotected 2012 first rounder. The deal would net the Hornets a future All-Star in Gordon, as well as cap relief and solid post play in the form of Kaman. With the direction the T-Wolves are headed, that 2012 draft pick will probably be in the Top 5. Gordon would be a steep price to pay, but if you want a Top 2 point guard in a point guard-dominated league, you’re going to have to give something up.

Paul and Griffin would be devastating in the pick-and-roll and Griffin’s ability to post up would take the pressure off of Paul and allow him to take over in the clutch if the situation warranted it. Paul would also love playing with D’Andre Jordan, who has already shown a Tyson Chandler-like ability to finish alley-oops with outstanding power.

Worried about L.A. being a Laker town? Kobe is starting to show his age and if Paul and Griffin are headlining the Clippers, it won’t take long for a good portion of the Laker “faithful” to switch sides and start rooting for the city’s other team.

I’m not suggesting this is likely to happen, or even remotely possible. I’m just saying that it should happen. Even if Donald Sterling is the worst owner in the league.

Oh, and if CP3 isn’t available, Deron Williams would work too.

What’s really going on with Chris Paul?

Feb. 28, 2010: New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul did not play due to an injured knee during an NBA game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated New Orleans 108-100.

John Reid of the The Times Picayune speculates that it was Paul’s new management (LRMR, LeBron’s buddies) who were behind the news/rumors that Paul wanted out of New Orleans.

“I have a friend in the NBA who stays close with him (Paul),” said veteran sportswriter Sam Smith, who used to cover the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan for the Chicago Tribune. “He said Paul has been telling him that he didn’t come up with any list or push to be traded. But part of my sense is that these people have been speaking for Paul, and they are doing a lot of leaking. And Chris has kind of been influenced by these guys, allowing them to kind of walk all over him and kind of confused about what’s going on.

“He’s really hurting himself. I’ve talked to a couple of GMs who said he’s really suffered a blow personally. He’s made himself look like one of these arrogant guys that’s not communicating anything and sort of wasting the tremendous amount of goodwill that he has built up.”

Paul’s own statements about the meeting with the Hornets’ brass indicate that he wants to stay in New Orleans.

“The meeting went well. It was great to get an opportunity to sit down with Coach Williams, President Weber and our new General Manager Dell Demps. I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team. I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come.”

Some say that both this statement and the team’s statement was just a smokescreen in order to portray a unified front, to get the Hornets approximately equal value in any forthcoming trade.

Since the meeting last Monday, things have been awfully quiet. It’s been a full week and no new news.

I just don’t know what Hornets’ management could have told Paul in the meeting that would have convinced him that the team would contend in the near future. Thus far this summer, they’ve elected not to use their mid-level exception and they traded away the #11 pick (Cole Aldrich), presumably to save money.

As it stands, the Hornets are projected to have about $10 million in cap space next summer, but that could rise to about $18 million if David West opts out of his deal. If the team can find a taker for Emeka Okafor (possibly packaging him with Darren Collison), they would have enough money to sign two max free agents (under the current CBA). Perhaps Carmelo Anthony and RFA Al Horford would be willing to join CP3 in New Orleans.

Should the Hornets go the route of the Bucks?

March 09, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..Milwaukee Bucks Brandon Jennings , Andrew Bogut , and Ersan Ilyasova high five after taking a 6 point lead over the celtics with just over 3 min left in the game..Milwaukee Buck won over the Boston Celtics 86-84. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

Over on Hornets247, Michael McNamara argues that trading Chris Paul away would mean that New Orleans is adopting the philosophy of the Milwaukee Bucks, which just doesn’t work for him.

First off, it is necessary to acknowledge your own personal philosophy with regard to what qualifies as success in the NBA. Personally, I am an all or nothing guy and believe in only three directions: being a legitimate championship contender, building toward being a legit contender, and completely rebuilding. I look at a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, for instance, and see a direction that I would never take personally. They have a nice team that is built to make the playoffs for the next five to seven years, but have absolutely zero chance of ever winning an NBA title. Zero. A squad full of good, but not great pieces that play hard every night but will just not have enough talent to get through four quality teams come playoff time.

Now for some, they might be happy with Milwaukee’s future and consider their franchise a success considering the market they are in and the resources they have to work with.

As an all or nothing guy I can think of scenarios that are far worse than CP3 leaving in two years. I can imagine other players following Paul’s lead if we trade him out of fear. How do you say no to the next guy who feels entitled when you just appeased Chris Paul’s trade demands? I can imagine becoming a perennial playoff team terrified to blow up the roster; a team that overpays their own players just to remain slightly above average. (I am looking at you Atlanta). I can imagine an asylum run by the players, a front office with no control, and a coach who feels powerless. All of these things happen if you let fear of the future dictate the present. All of these things are worse case scenarios for me, but again it all depends on your definition of success.

With CP3 on the squad I know there is a chance. I know tha t with Kobe slowly declining, Howard not improving offensively, and Wade always one fall away from a serious injury that CP3 can be a top two player in this league if he puts it all together and stays healthy. I know that in at least seventy games per year the Hornets will have the best player on the floor and in the NBA that means more than it does in any other team sport. I know that if management makes the right moves and ownership is willing to pay the luxury tax that the Hornets at least have a shot. The same cannot be said for twenty to twenty five teams in this league.

As a Bucks fan, using the franchise’s current state/direction as a reason not to follow its philosophy is puzzling.

Milwaukee is a small market team in a cold-weather city in the Midwest. It is often ranked by NBA players as the least desirable place to play, even though when people stay for a few years they tend to warm up to the place. Given the circumstances, the Bucks are never going to be in a position to land a big name free agent unless the supporting cast gets so good that the player in question sees the Bucks as his best opportunity to win a title. It’s true — the Bucks would probably need a Reggie White-type signing to become a championship contender. (Football fans over 30 know what I mean.)

The author says that the Bucks have no chance to win a title with their current game plan, but GM John Hammond came from Detroit, where they won a championship a few years ago with very much the same philosophy. They had a group of star-less, yet talented castoffs and a defensive-minded coach to lead them all in the same direction. In the Finals, they beat a more talented (and a far more disjointed) Laker team.

Hammond knows the Bucks are never going to go into the season as championship favorites, but if the chemistry remains and Brandon Jennings develops, they could perhaps become the third- or fourth-best team in the East. The author looks at this like a death sentence, but what it really means is that the Bucks are an injury or two away from a Finals appearance.

(It’s really no different than the philosophy executed in small market San Antonio, only the Spurs have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to build around instead of Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. The Spurs have a better core because they had the #1 pick in the right draft and found a couple of stars later on in subsequent drafts.)

How does this relate to Chris Paul? If the Hornets elect to trade him and get a few prospects in return, they’ll be going the route of the Milwaukee Bucks, at best. If they hold onto him, he’s likely to only grow more disgruntled unless the franchise is quickly able to turn things around and suddenly becomes willing to spend. The Hornets need a Pau Gasol-type trade to keep Paul happy, and those kinds of deals don’t happen every season. Even if they did, the Hornets don’t spend like the Lakers, and New Orleans is not L.A., so retaining the talent would be difficult.

Considering the Hornets’ summer moves (lack of a free agent signing, trading away the #11 pick), the writing is on the wall. Do Hornets fans want to hold out hope that the franchise can quickly transform its declining roster around a pouting Paul, or roll the dice on players with upside like Anthony Randolph and Danilo Gallinari, along with a ton of cap space?

As for Paul, look at it this way — if a girl doesn’t want to stay with you, why would you want her to stay? By the time she tells you she wants to break up, she has already checked out. No amount of convincing will work, so what’s the point? Why not move on and give yourself the best chance to meet a new girl?

Chris Paul still wants out

NEW ORLEANS - FEBRUARY 16:  Chris Paul of the New Orlenas Hornets prepares to participate in the Playstation Skills Challenge, part of 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend at the New Orleans Arena on February 16, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says that what we saw from the Hornets’ brass on Monday was a ‘smokescreen’:

“The telltale thing is that Chris Paul won’t comment publicly other than what was released about it,” said a person familiar with Paul’s strategy. “Leon Rose didn’t come out and say, ‘Chris is happy in New Orleans.’ If he was happy, they would’ve said that. … The only way they can get close to full value is to say, ‘You guys can’t make trade demands.’ They’re orchestrating this thing to likely move him.”

The Hornets, meanwhile, have been looking at Orlando, Charlotte and New Jersey as potentially attractive trade partners once the firestorm settles down, according to one of the people with direct knowledge of the Hornets’ strategy. Two other sources familiar with the situation confirmed prior discussions involving the Bobcats and Nets and said those talks are expected to advance in the coming days.

Berger has emerged as one of the league’s more plugged-in writers, but one has to wonder how close this ‘person familiar with Paul’s strategy’ actually is to the man himself.

Paul doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, so the Hornets can send him wherever they want. The Nets are interesting trade partner due to the upside of Derrick Favors. I doubt New Jersey would give up Brook Lopez, but a deal that included Favors along with salary cap relief might be appealing to the Hornets.

As for Charlotte, it just doesn’t look like the Bobcats have a young piece on the level of Favors (or the Gallinari/Randolph combination from the Knicks). Tyrus Thomas has spent most of his potential capital and Gerald Wallace is getting on in years.

Favors can’t be traded until August 15, though an agreement in principle could be made sooner than that. If the Nets can come out of the summer with a core of Paul and Lopez (while possibly turning Devin Harris into some help on the wing), it will salvage an otherwise disappointing summer.

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