NBA PM: Chris Paul And the NY Knicks?
The New York Knicks were one of last season’s hot topics, having landed Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups in multiple trades. The Knicks were hopeful that their new big three would put them in the same class as the Eastern Conference’s elite, and in particular the Miami HEAT.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. The Knicks got back to the playoffs, but a first round loss was well short of what they envisioned for their triumphant return to postseason play after a six-year absence. It hurt them significantly that Billups wasn’t healthy and only managed to play in one playoff game, but it’s clear that the Knicks are still a step behind the East’s top teams even when Billups is in the mix.
This is the setting behind the recent the New York Daily News report that Isiah Thomas is working behind the scenes to try and land New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul in New York. Paul can be a free agent next summer, and speculation has been rampant that he will bolt the Big Easy in favor of a more championship-ready team.
The problem with that speculation is that it’s coming from just about everyone but Chris Paul.
Unlike so many NBA stars who are on the verge of free agency, Paul has been quite clear in his intentions. No playing coy, he wants to be in New Orleans and he wants to lead the Hornets to a championship. His allegiance has as much to do with the role the team has played in helping the city recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina as it does with anything else, and Paul will not easily turn his back on the city or its team. He is a role model in the very truest sense of the word, and understands his role in the delicate morale of his adopted community.
Is it exciting to think about Chris Paul running alongside Carmelo Anthony and Amare’s Stoudemire? Certainly. But for that vision to become reality will require more than a miraculous outcome from the new collective bargaining agreement, which will likely make it impossible for the Knicks to afford a third max contract type of player. It would also require either a relocation for the Hornets or a complete collapse of the team on the basketball court.
As things stand, the Hornets are in pretty good shape. They have just $42 million in committed salaries for next season, meaning they have the cap space to add several key free agents before re-signing All-Star forward David West. They have an excellent new management team under GM Del Demps, one that has Chris Paul’s full support. They also have one of the best young head coaches in basketball with Monte Williams, who also very quickly gained Paul’s trust and respect. Ownership is prepared to spend money, management knows they have to build a contender or risk losing their cornerstone, and Demps comes from a San Antonio Spurs system that was quite successful in putting together championship teams during his tenure.
Does all of this mean that Chris Paul absolutely won’t bolt New Orleans? No. But what it does mean is that Isiah Thomas might be better served sitting next to Dwight Howard and talking about playing with Amar’e Stoudemire rather than trying to convince Paul to leave a city he is unlikely to leave. At least in Howard Thomas will have an audience with a very disgruntled should-be champion whose team has little chance of getting to the Finals in the near future. As things stand today, the Hornets can still put that kind of team together.
If they do, Paul goes nowhere.
DeMar DeRozan’s New Weapon
DeMar DeRozan understands that summer is about getting better, and that one of the ways the Toronto Raptors are going to get better is through players like himself improving individually. DeRozan talks with HOOPSWORLD about his new offensive weapon, his summer workouts, the lockout, his new head coach and more in this exclusive interview from Impact Basketball in Las Vegas:
Kyle Lowry The Leader
It’s been an exciting week in Las Vegas, and not because the slots are loose or the girls are wearing even less clothing. No, this week has been a salve for starving basketball fans as Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball offers up the Competitive Training Series, which has sometimes been referred to as a league.
A bit less than a league, but far more than pick-up basketball, the Competitive Training Series combines organized games between dozens of NBA stars with a very effective training program designed by Coach Abunassar and his staff. Among those taking part this week is Houston Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry, who lead his team to a win despite 42 points from John Wall on Wednesday.
“I never play any games like it’s ‘just pick-up;’ I like to be competitive,” Lowry told HOOPSWORLD. “Playing against John, who’s an up-and-coming young player is a great chance to be competitive. I think my whole team is taking this very seriously. That’s what this program, competitive training, is all about. It’s about competition and playing hard and getting a good workout in.”
For the players in Vegas, it’s more than just a chance to play some basketball; it’s a chance to play against the same players they face during the NBA season and stay in the kind of shape they’ll need to be in when camp starts . . .which could be at a moment’s notice depending on labor negotiations.
“That’s why I’m here every day, working hard. You have to be ready whenever we get the word that camp is going to start. Some of the games here have been blowouts, but most of them have been intense. I think everybody wants to win every game.”
For Lowry, this is also about team building with his Rockets teammates. He has Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger already in town, with Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Hasheem Thabeet hopefully joining him soon.
“I think that’s always the leader’s role, to get people involved,” said Lowry, sounding like the veteran leader his team needs now that Yao Ming has retired. “At the same time the guys have to be committed to doing the work. I want to get our whole team together some time soon, especially since it looks like the lockout might last a little bit longer. If we can get one or two sessions in before the season that would be great. (Luis) Scola was out at the FIBA Americas, so hopefully I can get him back here and get us working as a team.
“It’s really just about getting guys out there, playing hard, and playing together. The offseason is a great time to build chemistry, and if you can play competitive games together you’ll be that much better when the season starts.”
The start date for the 2011-12 season is still officially set as November 1st, but developments this week give us reason to believe that might not happen. Whenever the season starts, Rockets fans can take comfort knowing that Lowry is behind the scenes keeping his teammates together . . .and even in competitive shape.
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