The Chris Paul fiasco gives NBA a black eye

The proposed Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers has created a firestorm.

The Hornets, who are owned by the league which acquired it from George Shinn a year ago, realized it was unlikely they would be able to retain Paul with a contract extension or in free agency after he opted out of his contract after this season.

So New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, a respected player personnel man who came from the respected San Antonio Spurs, went to work, hoping to get something for Paul instead of nothing if he left in free agency. Or in Stern’s words, “Getting something more for that player in the event he will leave than if he stays.”

Demps, in his second year as GM of the Hornets, arranged a huge three-team trade with the Lakers and the Houston Rockets: Paul to the Lakers; Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Los Angeles forward Pau Gasol to the Rockets, who would have sent forward Luis Scola, guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic and a first-round draft pick to New Orleans.

Stern got serious pressure from a number of owners, including Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who fired off a letter to Stern and other owners calling the trade a travesty.

This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.

Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.

I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process. And it doesn’t appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard.

The teams are still talking in an attempt to salvage the deal and they have appealed Stern’s decision.

Meanwhile, Stern and the NBA are being savaged by commentators everywhere. Here’s Bill Simmons and Micheal Wilbon.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Who has the “thinnest line” in the NBA?

What is a “thin line,” you ask? Well, I’m not 100% sure I coined it, but it’s my term for a player who scores, but brings almost nothing else — rebounds, assists, steals or blocks — to the table.

In order to determine who has the thinnest line in the NBA, I divided the player’s points by the sum of their rebounds, assists, steals and blocks to come up with the Thin Line Ratio (TLR). The bigger the number, the thinner the line.

To be eligible, a player has to average at least 20 minutes per game. And to be fair to the biggest scorers in the league, if their rebounds, assists, steals and blocks add up to 10+ per game, then they’re not eligible. So players like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Danny Granger and Kobe Bryant are in the clear. I figure any player who is posting 10+ in those four categories is bringing plenty to the table.

So here’s a look at the 10 thinnest lines in the NBA:

1. Kevin Martin (TLR: 2.89)
2. Jamal Crawford (2.79)
3. Marcus Thornton (2.69)
4. Ben Gordon (2.51)
5. Eric Gordon (2.43)
6. Ray Allen (2.43)
7. Jason Terry (2.36)
8. Richard Hamilton (2.33)
9. Corey Maggette (2.31)
10. J.J. Redick (2.28)

Surprise, surprise…that’s a list of nine or ten shooting guards, depending on how you classify Corey Maggette (and maybe Jamal Crawford). These are players whose job it is to shoot the ball and they obviously embrace that role. You won’t see these players battling for rebounds or doing a lot of penetrate and dish.

The top point guard in TLR? Aaron Brooks (2.19), winner of this year’s Most Improved Player award.

The top small forward (other than Maggette)? Josh Howard (2.12)

The top power forward? Bill Walker (2.14), but he played in just 35 games. Al Harrington (2.12) was the next highest PF on the list.

The top center? Andrea Bargnani (1.91), but is he really a center? The next highest eligible center is Channing Frye (1.33).

Who has the thickest line (i.e. the lowest TLR)?

PG – Jason Kidd (0.61)
SG – Thabo Sefolosha (0.72)
SF – Luc Mbah a Moute (0.78)
PF – Jared Jeffries (0.71)
C – Marcus Camby (0.43)

Jason Kidd plus four defensive specialists. Boy, that would be some ugly offense, but they’d be a bitch to score on.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Why did the Rockets trade for Kevin Martin?

Richard Justice (of the Houston Chronicle) wrote an interesting piece about the Kevin Martin trade and the immediate aftermath. He discusses Martin’s tough start, how the Rockets almost traded for Amare Stoudemire and how Martin settled in in his 33-point performance against the Spurs.

According to Morey’s evaluations, Martin has been one of the NBA’s most efficient scorers in the last 30 years. He’s the only player who has shot 40 percent from the beyond 3-point line and averaged eight made free-throws a game in the course of an entire season. And he has done it in two of his six NBA seasons. confirms that Martin is the only player in league history to average better than 40% from 3PT and make at least eight free throws per game. And he did it twice.

Dirk Nowitzki shot 39.9% from long range and averaged 7.9 made free throws in 2004-05. Tracy McGrady (02-03), Corey Maggette (07-08) and Kevin Durant (current) all shot 38%+ from long range with at least 7.7 made free throws per game. That’s the closest anyone has come to matching Martin’s feat.

When you think about it, it’s pretty impressive. Not only is Martin an elite three-point shooter, he is also able to get to the line with regularity. No wonder Morey considers him one of the best scorers in the game.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Why didn’t the Kings get more for Kevin Martin?

In his post-deadline PER diem column, John Hollinger discusses how the Rockets were able to end up with a ton of assets in the three-way trade with the Kings and the Knicks.

Consider the Kings, for instance. They had a coveted star in Kevin Martin, $13 million in expiring contracts belonging to Kenny Thomas, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong, Ime Udoka and Sean May, and $1.6 million in cap room to do an unbalanced trade. They should have been controlling the entire game on deadline day.

Unfortunately, they didn’t choose to play. Sacramento didn’t let teams know Martin was available, and in fact insisted he wasn’t available; unlike Phoenix with Stoudemire, the Kings have no idea if Houston’s offer was the best one they could have had. In fact, there’s considerable evidence they could have done much better — possibly by bypassing the Rockets entirely.

Consider, for starters, what would have been the perfect home for Martin: Boston. The Kings could have sent Martin and little-used Andres Nocioni to the Celtics for Ray Allen and a first-round pick, and cleared $18 million in cap room (the Celtics, given their current time horizon, would have blurted out yes to this offer in a nanosecond).

They then could have used Allen and Kenny Thomas in a deal with the Knicks and walked away with the exact same trove of assets that the Rockets did. If so, Sacramento wouldn’t have Landry, but look at what they’d have instead: Jordan Hill, New York’s 2012 first-rounder, Boston’s 2011 first-rounder, the right to swap picks with New York in 2011 (admittedly, an item of more value to Houston given the two clubs’ likely records next season), and the same cap room they cleared with the Martin trade.

The only reason they don’t have those assets, it would appear, is that they didn’t ask. While the Kings fiddled, Houston forced the action and squeezed all it could from New York. When the Knicks wouldn’t flinch, the Rockets scrambled to get alternate deals in place: first an all-smoke, no-fire rumor with Chicago, and then a late deal with Sacramento that both pried Martin free and thrust the Knicks into action.

That story echoes a fairly constant background noise that’s been heard about Sacramento in recent years. The Kings have a small front office and nearly everybody in it has been there forever; one gets the impression not that they’ve lost their basketball acumen, but that they aren’t putting in the legwork anymore.

That Martin/Nocioni-for-Allen swap and subsequent trade with the Knicks is an interesting angle on this year’s trade deadline. By not making it known that Martin was available, the Kings didn’t get everyone’s best offer. Conversely, the Suns did hear everyone’s best offer or Stoudemire, and chose not to pull the trigger.

Rockets, Knicks and Kings complete major three-team deal

ESPN has the details.

The Knicks will acquire McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez from Sacramento, sources said.

The Rockets get Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries from New York and will have the right to swap first-round picks with New York in 2011 as well as take on New York’s 2012 first-round pick.

Sacramento obtains Houston’s Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey and New York’s Larry Hughes.

This differs from the Rockets/Kings deal I wrote about earlier in that Houston will take on Jeffries’ contract next season and in return get a prospect (Jordan Hill) the right to move up in the 2011 draft. In addition, the Rockets get the Knicks’ pick in 2012. I love this trade from Houston’s perspective.

The Knicks get to see if T-Mac has anything left in the tank and a decent young point guard in Sergio Rodriguez (6 points/3 assists in 13 minutes of PT for the Kings). More importantly, they free up enough cap space (~$30 million) two sign two big-name free agents this summer.

I’m not sure why the Kings wanted to get the Knicks involved. They’re taking on Hughes contract for this season, so I guess it will save them the trouble of buying T-Mac out.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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