NBA AM: Chris Paul Is A Clipper, Is Dwight Next?
Paul Is A Clipper, What About Dwight? The L.A. Clippers and New Orleans Hornets finally consummated a deal last night sending Chris Paul and two 2015 2nd round picks to the L.A. Clippers in exchange for forward Al-Farouq Aminu, guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman and Minnesota’s 2012 unprotected first round pick.
The process of getting a deal was long and tumultuous, but ultimately the deal got done.
With Paul off the market, the national attention has shifted to Orlando were a similar set of circumstances are playing out with Magic center Dwight Howard.
Howard has the option to become a free agent in July, and must spend at least six months on his team in order to sign a maximum deal worth $102 million over five years.
This little Collective Bargaining wrinkle has created quite the problem for the Magic.
Howard has made it abundantly clear that he was not happy with how the Magic have managed him and the roster suggesting it was time for him to move on.
Howard’s public comments opened the flood gate of trade rumors with the Magic fielding calls from virtually every team in the league trying to pry Howard away from Orlando.
It seemed the New Jersey Nets had the framework of a deal to land Howard, so much so Howard is reported to have told teammates he was headed to the Nets. The Nets told other team they thought that had a deal only to have Orlando back away and pull Howard off the market.
The general message out of Orlando is they want to keep Howard and feel like he is their player to lose.
Sources close to the process point to the money Howard would forfeit by walking away, and the fact that the new Collective Barging Agreement gives them a $30 million advantage in keeping him. They do not feel he’ll walk away from the money and they do feel like they can improve the team to Howard’s satisfaction.
Magic fans openly question why the Magic are not making moves and the main answer is they have been trying.
Unfortunately the Magic’s assets are not nearly as favorable as others, and most teams due to the compressed training camp schedule and upcoming pre-season games are trying to make what they have work.
Magic sources say the team has offers out to a number of teams on a number of players, but that the Magic may have to wait out other team’s roster decisions before being able to significantly alter or improve the team through trade.
The Magic claim Howard is off the market and teams who have made overtures for Howard confirm the Magic are not entertaining trades involving Howard.
Unfortunately the problems that lead to the trade talks have not been solved, so it looks like for now the Magic are content with the circus of uncertainty involving Howard and as the season gets started expect the speculation on Howard’s happiness to be a daily report until either the Magic put Howard back on the market or make a major trade to appease him.
January 1st is a key date in all of this, because whatever team Howard is on January 1st can pay him $30 million more than any other team, so if Howard genuinely wants out of Orlando, he has 16 days to pitch enough of a fit to force a trade.
If Howard is still on the Magic roster January 1st, they have a huge advantage in keeping him.
The 2011-2012 NBA Trade Deadline is set for March 15th.
Stern Sets The Record Straight: NBA commissioner David Stern joined the New Orleans Hornets management on a conference call last night to try and clear up his role in all of the trade talks involving Chris Paul. Here is what Stern had to say:
“There seems to be some confusion this week about the NBA’s ownership of the Hornets and how it relates to this situation, and I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify that with apologies for not clarifying it sooner, but I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to comment until we completed this transaction.
“About a year ago, the Hornets were in serious trouble. There were issues about payroll, there were issues about the team’s viability in New Orleans, and I said to the board of governors, I said to them, I never thought I would be recommending what I’m about to recommend, but I believe that the league should purchase the Hornets in order to both complete the season and maintain the team’s viability in New Orleans.
“The board said yes. They unanimously at the first meeting approved that, and off we were. I will say to you that the circumstances under which we bought the team and the management structure that was approved by the board was that Jac Sperling would be responsible for ensuring that the team was operated within a budget that must be approved by the audit and compensation committee but that any transactions outside the ordinary course of bids and all transactions involving players and coaches required the approval of the commissioner or his designee. And in that context, I was operating as any as the highest ranking executive of the owner of the New Orleans Hornets.
“And that’s the way we have always worked with this team in terms of signing off on transactions, player transactions that were recommended by Hugh and by Dell and by Jac, and it was in that capacity that we have been functioning here with respect to ownership of the New Orleans Hornets.
“I was not and have not been acting under any broad mandate of the commissioner to approve or disapprove trades. Our sole focus was and will remain until we sell this team hopefully which will be in the first half of 2012 how best to maintain the Hornets, make them as attractive and competitive as we can, and ensure that we have a buyer that will keep them in New Orleans. And in that regard we’ve worked with the mayor of New Orleans, Mitchell Andrew; we’ve worked with the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal; we’ve worked with the corporate community; we’ve had discussions with cable companies who will carry the games that have increased coverage of the team; and of course we have been dealing directly with the fans, who have now, as it was announced last week, purchased well over 10,000 season tickets. So we’re dealing with what we expect will be record season tickets, record sponsorship, increased cable revenue, and hopefully a renewal of the lease that will assure after we finish after the 1st of the year discussions with the governor and the legislature that will assure the continuity of the New Orleans Hornets in Louisiana.
“I will just say a couple of other things, and that is that I know there’s been a fair amount of comment about an email that I received from Dan Gilbert. I assure all that, first, my decision was made long before I received that email, and second, I wouldn’t have acted upon it even if I had received it, because my goal here was to determine what improved the Hornets. There’s been some speculation that there was a reason why we didn’t want I did not want to have Chris go to a team in a large market, because that would somehow have some impact on life under the collective bargaining agreement. All I can say there is that’s not the responsibility that I undertook as the person responsible for ultimately for making decisions on transactions like this on behalf of the New Orleans Hornets.
“This is the protocol that was used when the NHL had to take over the Coyotes and the Stars, in both of those cases in bankruptcy, and I believe this is what baseball did when they took over the Montreal Expos. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure I remember that. And that’s the responsibility that I had.
“It wasn’t my first choice, but it’s the job that I undertook after discussion with the owners. There was some discussion actually about the team’s other teams becoming involved in transactions likes this, and on balance, it was the view of our committee’s and mine that for competitive reasons NBA teams should not have a role in approving player and coach transactions, that the role is better played by the commissioner. Not my favorite role, but I did it.
“And the reason I didn’t feel free to comment previously was that I was not and would not comment on the merits of particular players involved in a trade, who’s better or not better.
“I am saying that it is our belief, Dell, Jac, Hugh and the commissioner’s office, that the proposed transaction that we have tonight is a very good transaction and better for the future of the Hornets and their future in New Orleans than the transaction on which I did not sign off, I guess, four business days ago.”
Is Orton Ready? Orlando Magic big man Daniel Orton’s measurables are impressive. 6’10 in shoes. 275 pounds with a 7’4 wingspan and a standing reach over 9’2.5. He has an NBA body and even in brief glimpses most pundits think he has NBA game.
Last season Orton logged two games in the D-League and no minutes for his Orlando Magic team. Chronic knee problems derailed his rookie campaign – not that he would have seen many minutes – so coming into his sophomore season Orton, one of Orlando’s only true centers outside of Dwight Howard, hopes to earn some action more than validate his draft stock.
“I learned a whole lot last year,” explained Orton. “How to deal with certain situations and how to, you know, deal with adversity – more so with it being adversity on top of adversity. Learning how to push through and never give up.”
Some had said that Orton talent-wise might have been a top lottery pick. Concerns over his knee cost him in the draft and now he could equally be a boom or bust type player.
So to say Orton has a lot to prove is maybe an understatement, but he’s not letting that dictate how he approached things this year in Orlando.
“It’s not so much that,” Orton said of validating the Hype. “It’s proving myself and being given the opportunity. Hopefully I make the best of it. I just really want to prove myself more than anything.”
Like most young players who go to winning teams, Orton’s job, if he earns it, will to be to backup Dwight Howard, who plays a ton of minutes meaning Orton will have to be painful efficient to have a role.
“I think if anybody goes back and does any study on me, if they want to take the time to do it,” explained Orton. “They’ll notice at Kentucky that was pretty much my role. When I came in, I performed and I performed well. I might not have scored the most points, but when it took efforts on defense, I think I did really well on that. When it took time for me to be make big plays, I think I did that pretty well too.”
Daniel’s knee cost him all of last season, an injury he says is behind him.
“The knee is fine.” Orton said confidently. “As far as how I feel physically? I feel really good. It’s not the best I have ever felt, but I feel good.”
The 21-year-old Orton will get a shot at playing this season, especially in pre-season. How he does against elite NBA bigs will go a long way to towards carving out his role.
Banging against Dwight Howard in practice every day can’t hurt either.
“Even our strength coach tells me every day, ‘you got to go against Dwight… you got to go against Dwight… that’s 260 pounds,’” joked Orton. “I just refer back to him that I am 270 pounds; 275 pounds right now. You got to realize that I have the weight to throw back at these guys. I am getting my strength up. As far as battling these guys – I will be ready. I will be ready.”
As a young player Orton accepts that his role won’t be on the offensive end, but that he hopes some plays find their way to his comfort zone.
“What Stan has set for me, you know as far as setting screens and rolls,” explained Orton. “Eventually I hope I can pick and pop a little bit, I think this is a great system for me.”
Not playing last year was not easy, and it was not uncommon to see Daniel off to the side by himself joking around with the ball boys.
“It was hard,” revealed Orton. “It’s hard not being able to do something you love and enjoy doing of course. It wasn’t the first time I have been through it, so I just knew to stay focused and stay positive. Focus on what I need to focus on and eventually get back to where I need to be.”
With his knee injuries behind him and a clearly defined need for a back-up center in Orlando in front of him, Orton knows what he needs to do to play.
“Defending,” Orton says confidently. “Rebounding. Shot blocking. Getting guys open and making my teams better.”
Could playing above the rim be part of the plan too?
Orton most assuredly won’t be the next Dwight Howard, but for Orlando Magic fans there is a chance he could be the next Marcin Gortat, and that’s exactly what the Magic need.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNBA, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA Chats today starting with Joel Brigham at 1:30pm EST. Joel covers all things Central Division including the Bulls and the Pacers. Joel’s chats fill up fast so getting in early is always smart. My weekly NBA Chat drops at 3:30pm. I will do my best to get to as many of your questions as possible. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats or if you are looking for a chat that already completed try here: Previous NBA Chats