I have been moving house for the past three days, so have therefore been without internet (being the last person under 70 in the country to not own a smartphone) and unable to keep up with the early goings on of what has been a rapid-fire start to the NBA off-season.
During that time, obviously the biggest news I missed was the trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers that wasn’t.
Soon as I heard about it, I spent half a morning just reading info on it, trying to break it down in my head and figure out just what in the name of Xenu had happened to convince David Stern that a trade where New Orleans received around 60 cents on the dollar for a top-10 player in the league who was leaving as a free agent anyway was a bad basketball trade.
What’s obvious here is that this trade did not fail for basketball reasons. The obvious and most cited reason for its failure was that a small faction of AROWFNO + MJ (Angry Rich Old White Fuckwit NBA Owners + Michael Jordan) got together, led by resident prom queen runner-up Dan Gilbert, and used their power as “owners” of the Hornets to ensure the trade would not go through. Sure it’s taking a dump on all that autonomy stuff Stern preached when the league bought the Hornets, but everyone knows that Stern is the master of doublespeak. He’s like an onion. You gotta keep peeling and peeling and peeling away at the layers and eventually you might hit on the real thing which is probably gonna make you cry.
Therefore, to think that it was as simple as even trying to please Gilbert and co is still missing the point. Stern is no fool. He knows that the best times for the league come when the biggest and most famous teams are winning, and that this deal would have been a blockbuster for his league. There’s gotta be more. I even thought about seeking some other opinions before asking myself why the fuck I cared.
Then I realised. Isn’t that the whole point?
Look, the Carmelo saga last year was horrible. Denver lost their star player, New York lost most of their good young secondary guys and everyone got dragged through it for months – but didn’t we ultimately go through with it willingly? Didn’t we keep checking ESPN, HoopsHype, RealGM, whatever your source of choice to see if, yes, this was the day Carmelo had finally been traded after the Nuggets received an offer they couldn’t refuse? Or, alternately, checking CNN to see if Mikhail Prokhorov had sent some Russian mafia goons to kidnap LaLa Vasquez and not release her until Carmelo signed an extension with his team? (I’m not ruling this out with Deron, by the way).
Point is, all this media attention was great for the NBA. One of the lessons from the lockout was how quickly people actually can stop caring about the league. Nothing like a few months of juicy, league-reviving trade rumours to get people re-engaged, even though they hate themselves for being so interested.
Dell Demps obviously didn’t get this memo with his last paycheck. He made the cardinal sin of only thinking about his team and the best move for it – by trading Chris Paul quickly before the start of the season, he hoped to avoid a circus like that which hung around Melo and get his team, along with any new players, quickly up to speed with their post-Melo future. (One would think that Orlando would want to do something similar with Dwight Howard, however Otis Smith is not the sharpest GM around – he may just be willing to let this drag, thinking he’s getting a better deal even as he’s losing leverage). Which is just not on when you have a ringmaster like Der Kommissar Stern (one of the kindest names my dad and best mate have for him). Luckily for him, the NBA’s position as owners of the Hornets meant he could do something about it by veto-ing the trade.
Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, the law of unintended consequences came and bit Stern in the arse here when the NBA was showered with bad publicity for their meddling in what was seen as a reasonably fair trade. The Hornets got three fairly nice pieces for their superstar, the Lakers got their man and the Rockets finally managed to cash in some of their proverbial quarter trade assets for a 50 cent piece.
This isn’t really the place, but isn’t it time we looked past Daryl Morey’s whiz-kid numbers geek facade and acknowledged that he’s in over his head as a GM? His whole strategy has been to acquire assets to trade for a star, but superstars don’t want to play in Houston and we’ve established that by his failure to snare anyone so far – and the one guy he possibly could have had was Deron Williams, and he blew that. This strategy has left the Rockets in NBA limbo for the last few years – not good enough to contend, not bad enough for top draft slots – and it doesn’t seem like he has a Plan B.
Latest news now is that the three sides had been working on a way to re-do the trade, but the Lakers have pulled out – possibly to go all in after Dwight, and they’re dumping Lamar Odom on Dallas. Which frankly makes me wonder how long it takes before we see:
a) the end of Khlomar
b) the inevitable Kimmy – Mark Cuban romance or attempt at such by Kim (failing that, her getting back together with old boyfriend and Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin)
c) Kim getting Botox shots from the grassy knoll
d) any other wacky Kardashian rumour you care to name.
(Author’s Note: I was in Dallas last July, and I have to say I was amazed by just how unassuming the grassy knoll and the Texas Book Depository were. If it wasn’t for all the JFK graffiti on the fence behind which the shooters were said to have hid, it could be any outer city ring road.).
Regarding Dwight, I’m working on some Trade Machine stuff that I should have up soon, assuming he doesn’t go anywhere in the next few days. I still think the Nets are legit players for him, and I wouldn’t rule out the Clippers either if they choose not to pursue Paul too aggressively. Nor am I totally ruling out the (unlikely) potential of the Knicks offering Amare for him. Don’t call me insane – they did offer him for Paul and it’s possible Dwight, who doesn’t need that many offensive touches, may be a better fit next to Melo.
Either way, I’m off to bed soon. I’m gonna need my sleep. And not just because I’m gonna have to be able to run if David Stern reads this and sends his goons after me. (Or Prokhorov doesn’t realise I was kidding…really sir. I was. Love your jet ski video. You have some really mad skill sir. Please don’t send Igor and Vladimir to kill me in my sleep).