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NBA AM: Will The Dominoes Drop In The NBA?
Posted By Steve Kyler On December 13, 2011 @ 10:32 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Does The Domino Drop Today? Agents and players around the NBA are still in holding patterns, awaiting some of the upper tier dominoes in the free agent/trade market to drop and open the door for more deals to be completed.
Here is what we are hearing this morning, and maybe some closure for some situation is near:
Nene and The Nets? Everyone and their brother in the NBA believes the Nets are going to sign Denver free agent Nene. The problem is the Nets are still holding out hope they can pry away Orlando’s Dwight Howard in trade, and they are holding all deals until they get closure.
In speaking with high ranking senior Magic official – new CEO Alex Martin – the Magic are not trading Dwight Howard. Not now. Not before the start of the season and in Orlando’s mind – not ever.
Now as Prince once pointed out “Forever is a mighty long time” – the Nets have made it clear that if they don’t have a deal by the end of the week they are going to have to move on, and that means inking Nene to a huge multi-year deal.
The Rockets are believed to be Nene’s second choice if things fall through with New Jersey, so they too are holding the line. The Rockets are trying to pry Marc Gasol away from the Grizzlies, but Grizz sources say unless Gasol goes public about not wanting to be in Memphis, they will be matching any offers on him.
Houston’s next option is Samuel Dalembert, and he is waiting for his window to open either in Houston or Denver.
So once New Jersey’s pursuit of Howard ends, expect them to trigger a few deals quickly as everything for them is lined up.
The Pacers? The Indiana Pacers have quietly assembled a respectable team. Sources say that the Pacers have been going as hard as anyone in the league over the last few days and that the intensity and focus of the team is at an all-time high. Pacer source marvel at how well Darren Collison is playing in camp and expectations of a home court playoff seat are increasing.
It seems Pacer coach Frank Vogel is channeling his inner Brad Stevens, and for you Butler fans you’ll get the reference.
The Pacers are trying to land one more scorer to round out the squad and have been linked to a dozen players. Hawks free agent Jamal Crawford is said to be the team’s top target, however Crawford is said to be indecisive and wavering.
The Pacers told agents of players they have offers out to that they are closing up business and focusing on camp, and that if they cannot sign the next piece they have some trades they were working on.
Memphis sources say there is renewed interest in O.J. Mayo from the Pacers and that both teams have at least the framework of a deal ready to go that would land Mayo in Indiana and Brandon Rush, who has almost no role with the new look Pacers, and possibly a signed and traded Josh McRoberts to the Memphis.
The Pacers are expected to make some decisions today, so we’ll see which way they go.
Where Is Earl? Orlando Magic fans have been blowing up my twitter on the status of Magic free agent Earl Clark. Sources close to the process say Earl desperately wants to be back in Orlando and that that’s his first option. The problem is until Orlando closes some deals they are reluctant to add more bodies. Earl also has offers from other teams, notably the Denver Nuggets who may be offering more years and more dollars, but sources say Earl wants Orlando, so it might be just a matter of time before he lands back in Central Florida. As with all of the dominos in place if Orlando drags to long Earl may have to take the chair that there, rather than wait for the chair that’s not.
Shawne Williams Is Torn: Like Earl and Orlando, Shawne desperately wants to be back with the New York Knicks, but the problem is the Knicks have only their “room exception” worth $2.5 million to offer and they have extended that to several players. Williams has gotten offers from several teams including the New Jersey Nets and the Miami HEAT, but for Shawne who was almost out of the league last year he may have to make a business decision more than a basketball decision.
Williams was the 17th pick in 2006, but his career in the NBA has been rocky to say the least. Last year in New York likely saved his career and for that he is incredibly loyal, but because of those same issues it might be bad business for Shawne not to cash in on as big a deal as he can get.
The Nets are in a holding pattern, as covered above so Williams has time to, but this won’t be an easy decision for a player who genuinely loved being a Knick.
Larry Hughes Is Ready For Another Run: It’s hard to believe Larry Hughes has been in the NBA for what’s going on 13 years. Hughes was drafted with the eighth pick in 1998 by the Philadelphia 76ers and has logged time with eight NBA teams including his new team the Orlando Magic.
As the Magic get ready to open their brief exhibition schedule next Wednesday, Hughes who found himself out of the league last year is hoping that this veteran magic team can be a home for a player who understands he’s playing on borrowed time.
“It feels good,” Hughes said of getting an offer from the Magic. “I took a year off from basketball. It was different. I got a chance to reconnect with my family, but I love the game.”
Hughes is the first person to point out that playing for 12 or 13 years in the NBA is rare and that getting another opportunity isn’t a guarantee.
“You definitely have to fight,” explained Hughes. “You realize that while playing.”
“This is year 13, minus one. A lot of guys don’t stick around this long either way it goes. I am happy to have the opportunity to come and see some familiar faces in Otis, who I worked with in Golden State. Q, we have the same agent. I have been around a while so I know the situation I am getting myself into.”
The Magic have had nothing but problems with perimeter defense and while Hughes is not the same player he was in 1998, or even 2008 – he understands how he can help this Magic team.
“It’s a good fit for me.,” said of the veteran Magic. “Any time we can win, its good, it’s great. For them to want me to play defense, it’s even better. It’s something I love to do. I feel like I bring that edge, I bring something different on the defensive end – what we’re missing here right now.”
With a compressed training camp and a Magic team caught up in trade talks and controversy surrounding star Dwight Howard, things are still taking shape in training camp.
Hughes says he’s already starting to understand what his role will be with the Magic.
“On the defensive end, it’s to defend 1,2,3 – every position on the perimeter,” explained Hughes. “On the offensive end I have been running the two, I also have been running the 1; so being able to play with JJ. Play with Jameer at the same time. Get Jameer off the ball some. Take some matchup problems away from JJ. I am here to fill a role, whatever the role coach gives me, that’s what I am going to do.”
Hughes will also get to be a veteran mentor in some regards to the Magic two rookies in Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins. So far the two rookies have impressed the veteran Magic players, mainly because of how hard they are working to catch up with the rest of the team.
“I like them,” smiled Hughes. “They are here every day at practice early. They are here before anyone gets here. They are working on all of these different plays and all these different sets Coach is throwing in. They come out and they work hard. They are asking questions. They are thinking the game of basketball. They are not just running around like a chicken with their head cut off, they are actually thinking the game of basketball and how coach wants things run.”
The Magic organization surrounds their facility with images of the Larry O’Brien trophy, insuring that the goal in Orlando to win a championship is never out of mind.
Hughes who has been around the league a few times now, says he really tries not to let that into his process yet, understanding this Magic team has a lot of work to do before a championship is realistic.
“My thing is to go out and win as many games as possible,” explained Hughes. “It’s tough to win a championship. If you put yourself in that position, you give yourself a better chance – but it starts on day 1. Going out and competing every night. Winning that first basketball game, then that next basketball games… that’s when it start to have an effect.”
Larry Hughes won’t single-handedly win the Magic basketball games – those days are clearly behind him, but for a team that so desperately lacked in the perimeter defense department last season, Hughes could be an interesting role player and if his body holds up.
Hughes may be a nice surprise for the Magic who need a lot of things to break their way this year.
The Hornets and David Stern: NBA fans really do not like the situation that is playing out in New Orleans involving Chris Paul. It stinks of collusion, it stinks of bad management – it just stinks.
Before you pass too much judgment on this brutally botched process, consider how we got here.
Last year George Shinn was trying to sell the Hornets to minority owner Gary Chouest. Sources say Shinn was refusing to put any more money into the Hornets and when the BP oil spill hit the Gulf Coast, Chouest’s Edison Chouest Offshore took a major hit from suspended oil drilling, which combined with a hefty asking price killed a potential deal.
Sources say Shinn was going to default on loan payments, which would have caused a ripple effect impacting every NBA team that owed money – either in risk-related rate increases or outright debt calls from investors fearful for their money.
Sources at the time pointed to the cost of the domino effect one team defaulting would have on all of the team as being more expensive than buying the team. So the NBA and its 29 owners agreed to buy the team.
Since owning the team the NBA has treated the franchise like a “fixer up” house. They have pumped tons of resources into the Hornets on every front turning around the business outlook of the team.
Sources say there is a “ready-for-signature” sweetheart arena lease that would keep the team in New Orleans through 2025. The Hornets have 10,000 season tickets sold for this season. There are plans to renovate and improve the building. There are tax inducements and benefits in place and even a new TV deal that could swell the broadcast revenue maybe even three fold.
To put it bluntly – the Hornets are now positioned and priced to sell.
Enter the Chris Paul saga.
No one expects that Chris Paul will stay in New Orleans beyond this season. However if Chris is going to be traded, he has to return a future for the franchise.
The NBA has spent hundreds of man-hours working on the business side to make this team attractive to would-be buyers, they cannot afford – literally – to allow a deal on the basketball side that ties the team to long-term contract money and no future.
No offense to Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Lamar Odom – who would have landed in New Orleans as part of the now-dead Lakers deal – but those players are at or past their prime, and on high dollar contracts.
None of them draw a national TV audience, and none of them are marquee enough to sell a season ticket around. They might win basketball games, but this isn’t about winning basketball games yet.
The L.A. Clippers deal is almost there in terms of what the NBA wants in return for Chris Paul – a deal built around young guys on their rookie deals and an unprotected first round pick.
Fans want to believe this is about David Stern wanting to steer players… and at some level maybe that’s true.
But what all of this is really about is ultimately selling the Hornets.
The NBA wants the Hornets to look like a can’t-miss investment for an owner… the NBA has put the paint on the house, installed new appliances and added new carpet… they cannot allow the basketball operation side to park a used car in the driveway just as they are trying to sell it.
Young guys, draft picks and a promising future will be the “bow on the top” that gets this sold, and that’s why the NBA is being aggressive about what the Hornets get back for Paul.
A clean slate full of young guys and draft picks is a lot more attractive to a would-be owner who can then mold the team his way, rather than a roster full of guys that have two or three years left that handcuff the owner to high dollar salaries with no flexibility.
Chris Paul is going to be traded. That is going to happen soon, but the deal that gets it done will be a lot more about enhancing the sale value of then Hornets and a lot less about anything else.
You may not like how this is playing out, but this is about business first and the NBA’s desire to flip the Hornets in a sale as quickly as they can.
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