True Hoops

True Hoops

Friday, December 9, 2011

Deal or No Deal?


Here I was ready to write about how the new CBA doesn't really restrict player movement.
Here I was ready to write about how the new CBA doesn't prevent players from going where they want.
More importantly, here I was ready to write about the implications of Chris Paul going to the Lakers.

Then David Stern stepped in and put an end to all that nonsense.

Two prefaces:
1) I'm not sure if trading Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for Chris Paul would have made the Lakers a better team than Miami, OKC, Chicago, or even Memphis (especially if they didn't follow it up by getting Dwight Howard).

2) I don't think this means that the NBA will meddle in the personnel decisions of every team, for every transaction from now on. This was after all, a new unique situation where the NBA happened to own the Hornets, and on the day of signing the new CBA into effect the owners had the ear of the commish.

But with that, let me say......


On so many levels.
You could argue that, Stern made a business decision - in the best interest of the NBA as a whole. Could you imagine how disastrous it would have been if the owners pulled out at the last moment because they were livid about this trade? Alright, If Stern was candid about it, then I could see that.
But make no mistake, this was not done in the best interest of the Hornets or New Orleans, from a business or competitive standpoint.

Chris Paul is leaving after the season, no matter what. So rather than spending an awkward and distracting season filled with trade rumors and questions (a-la Denver), only to get nothing in return at the end of it (a-la Cleveland and Toronto), New Orleans decided to nip the problem in the bud by moving on and getting top value for Paul. Good for them.

This trade would have given them Odom (6th man of the year), Luis Scola (18 points & 8 rebounds/game last season),  Kevin Martin (23 points/game the last 5 seasons), Goran Dragic, and a 1st round pick. When I first heard it, I actually couldn't believe they got so much. I mean really, trading Shaq only yielded Odom and Caron Butler. Who did Minnesota get for Garnett? Who did the Nuggets get for Melo? Exactly.

This is no knock on Paul, but 4 qualities players and a draft pick for him is a good deal.
Shame on the owners for not letting the Hornets get top value.
What's the alternative? They get less value from another team?

Or is this just about not letting the Lakers get better?
What, they're not allowed to improve their roster?
Why, because they're a big market team that always dominates because they have a ton of money?
How has that worked out for the Clippers?
And did you see them in the playoffs last year? You know, when it was obvious their biggest weakness was their perimeter play - as they got destroyed by both Paul AND J.J. Barea.
Besides, they are giving up their second best player and the reigning 6th man of the year!

Oh I get it!
The owners did this to maintain competitive balance!
Especially in the small markets!
Here come the owners to the rescue!

What a load of CRAP.

I can think of 3 examples off the top of my head to dispel that notion right now.
1) The San Antonio Spurs - I seem to remember them winning 4 championships in the last 12 years.
2) The New York Knicks - I seem to remember them being a disgrace to New York and the laughing stock of the NBA for the last decade, despite having one the leagues highest payrolls.
3) The Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzles. Even if this deal went down, I still would like OKC's chance to come out of the west and for Memphis to compete.

With regard to competitive balance, this it what it really comes down to:
No matter how you slice it, the reality in the NBA (and almost every other basketball league from recreation to summer leagues) is that there always will be only 4-6 teams (if that many) that have a realistic shot of winning a championship. Everyone else is mediocre at best. That's just the way it is.

Yes, it's true great teams have great players that can control the outcome of a game.
But also a big part of building a champion is making smart decisions and finding the right pieces and complements.

Yes, bigger markets will have an advantage in terms of spending money and attracting stars. But that just means, smaller markets with less money, have to evolve to survive by drafting and using strategy. When it comes down to it, I think most athletes want to be in a position where they can compete for a championship. Just like it's the job of coaches to put players in a position to be successful, it's the job of owners and GMs to but the franchise in a position to be successful.


How about when Detroit decided in the mid-2000's to bring in a bunch of rugged veterans that no other team seemed to want? Seemed to work out for them.

What about what Memphis has done? Signing Mike Conley? Zach Randoph? Trading for Marc Gasol? Sheesh, Marc seems to be more untouchable than his brother now a days.


Check out Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert's email to Commissioner Stern pleading to kill the Chris Paul trade. Hey buddy, what about some of the trades you made? You know, like trading for Antwan Jamison instead of A'mare Stoudemire, in LeBron's last year.

Or beyond Cleveland, what about decisions by other teams. Like Portland drafting Oden instead of Durant? Okay, that was a tough one. Well, how about Portland drafting Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan? Yeah, the drafts are tough to predict. Must be luck that San Antonio got Tony parker and Manu Ginobili, or that Oklahoma City thought Russell Westbrook could play point. Still, not to knock Portland, they made out relatively well in the late 80's/early 90's. And had it not been for injuries to their whole team, especially Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, they would be doing pretty well right now.

And speaking of Jordan, what he thinks Charlotte can't compete in the current state of NBA affairs? Then someone tell him to make better drafts picks and not trade Tyson Chandler the year after he helps lead them to the playoffs. Maybe the Hornets shouldn't have traded Chandler before that.

And speaking of Charlotte and the Hornets, they have been down this road before. Remember when Baron Davis was one of the best point guards in the NBA and played for the Hornets from '00 to '04? They made the playoffs all of those years - which is more than can be said for the Hornets led by Paul. But then all of a sudden, Davis was discontent and wanted to relocate to California. What happened? They traded Davis and then picked up Chris Paul in the draft! Most would agree that they were better off for it. So, what's to say they can't do something similar?

What, players shouldn't be allowed to go where they want?
Why, because they are using smaller market teams?
I tough it was all part of the business - you know, like when owners and GMs trade any and everyone whenever and to whoever they want.
How do you think Chauncey Billups will feel if the Knicks get Tyson Chandler?
How do you think Pau Gasol feels now? This dude was in LA for 3 and a half seasons and all he did was help LA get to three finals and win two championships. But since he had one subpar playoff performance, now it's time to go?

How about a little reciprocity?

And I'm not ranking on the owners.
I actually believe that many franchises were losing money and that it was reasonable to ask players to compromise on some issues. If that's what the lockout was about fine. But don't try to sell me on this competitive balance stuff. That's just a falsehood.

Do I sound upset?
Well it's not just me. Look at the players reactions (as an aside, in just two words Russell Westbrook manages to convince me that he is genuinely mystified about what just happened).

Let me end with this:
I am a born again knicks fan (still on the fence) that thinks regardless of what trades transpire Miami has the best team in the NBA. I could care less about this trade - other than the fact that it would make the NBA more exciting.

Still, this whole nixing of the trade business is crazy and it is dumb.
It almost feels like borderline tampering/point shaving.
It's not good for business.
More importantly, it's not good for the NBA.

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