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First Cup: Monday

12/12/2011
  • John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune: An apology is owed to the 10,000 Hornets fans that NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league’s 29 owners not-so-gently urged to buy season tickets to make the Hornets viable in New Orleans and more attractive to a potential owner. It’s owed by the commissioner and the Hornets’ 29 current co-owners because at present, Stern and the 29 have torpedoed the Hornets’ season and immediate future. They’ve ensured that trading Chris Paul and receiving a decent return will be more difficult than ever. And all because they felt they needed to step in to “protect” their investment from evil forces last Thursday. Heaven knows where the Hornets would be now if they’d been allowed to carry out the three-team deal that General Manager Dell Demps foolishly thought he had the authority to make, which would have sent out one starter, superstar point guard Chris Paul, to the Lakers and brought in three starters (forwards Luis Scola and Lamar Odom and guard Kevin Martin), a backup point guard (Goran Dragic) and a draft pick. No, as Stern said and Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert emphasized in his email to Stern, that deal wasn’t better for the Hornets than keeping Paul in a New Orleans uniform. So the Hornets putter along today, incomplete, unsettled and distracted.

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: The Clippers and the New Orleans Hornets were working vigorously Sunday night to consummate a blockbuster deal that would send All-Star point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers' cross-town rivals, said two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak on the matter. The deal hasn't been completed, but both sides were in the closing stages of the negotiations. The Clippers would send the Hornets center Chris Kaman, backup second-year guard Eric Bledsoe, second-year forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the No. 1 draft pick they got from the Minnesota Timberwolves that is unprotected in the 2012 draft, considered to be one of the best in recent years. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the NBA have to sign off on the deal. A package from the Lakers for Paul was turned down by the league. The NBA will probably review the Clippers deal Monday.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic appear headed for a breakup, but Howard indicated Sunday night that it didn’t have to come to this. The All-NBA center said that he would not be asking the team to trade him if Magic management, including General Manager Otis Smith, had done more to obtain the players Howard had asked them to acquire.“I’ve talked to a lot of guys and they’ve expressed a lot of interest and would come here,” Howard said. “And I’ve expressed that to the correct people, and none of it’s happened.” Offered the chance to respond, Smith countered that he has consulted with Howard on most, if not all, moves made in recent years. Smith also said that he did acquire some of the players Howard had suggested. “We looked at some,” Smith said. “Some we have [on the roster]. Some we don’t. So I’m not necessarily saying that he isn’t accurate. I think that there was a list. Some of them are duplicate talent, which is something you can’t do all the time. Some are, quite frankly, on your roster.” One example of a player Howard has said he likes and Smith has acquired is Glen “Big Baby” Davis, whom the Magic have acquired in a sign-and-trade deal that hasn’t been announced yet. But Howard maintained that Smith could have — and should have — done more. “The stuff that I’ve asked for, the stuff that I’ve felt our team needed to get better, none of it has happened,” Howard said. Was that because of a lack of effort? Or was it because the team didn’t have the trade assets — perhaps because of other moves Smith has made? “None of it has happened,” Howard only said.

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: Tough weekend for the Lakers, who didn't get Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. All they got was a headache. Lamar Odom wasn't happy, so he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for a 2012 first-round pick, which made Kobe Bryant very unhappy. "I don't like it," Bryant said Sunday, the third day of training camp. "I've known Lamar for a long time, and for the team itself, he's meant a lot in terms of his versatility, his personality. He's a big presence for us in the locker room, just from a team chemistry standpoint. He's great at bringing guys together and things of that nature. "I trust management knows what they're doing. I let them do their jobs, I never get in the way but it's tough. You're talking about sixth man of the year last year. He played lights out." Bryant then mentioned General Manager Mitch Kupchak. "Mitch has proven over the course of the years that he's been able to build great teams here," Bryant said. "We have to all trust that he's going to do that."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: It's a definite head-scratcher, huh? So what was the Lakers' real reason for trading Lamar Odom to Dallas? It was only partly that he requested a trade and the Lakers didn't want his negative emotions to be a drain on the team. It was definitely somewhat that they wanted the trade exception and Dallas' No. 1 pick as assets to maneuver further in a trade market they found few clubs overly impressed by a very well-paid 32-year-old Sixth Man of the Year. The main reason the Lakers did it, though, is to save a lot of money: $18 million this season. Even though a little or a lot of that money could go back out to another backup power forward, it's in the bank for now. Is saving money a real reason in Lakerland? Usually not. But while company policy has been to prioritize winning over saving – as seen by the league's highest payroll – the Lakers do work to save as long as it's not likely to cost them that winning.

  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Odom should help ease the loss of center Tyson Chandler, who was traded to the New York Knicks in a three-team deal. The Mavericks received an $11 million trade exception in the sign-and-trade, $8.9 million of which they shipped to the Lakers in the Odom deal. Adding Odom and Vince Carter to a mix that already includes Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion has Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle giddy. "We're going to be a very good team," Carlisle said. "And we're going to be a dangerous team." Nowitzki surveyed the landscape and came to the same conclusion. He's especially glad that Odom -- with whom he's had many tense battles -- is in the trenches with him. "I've always been a fan of his game because he's a great all-around player," Nowitzki said. "He's very smooth, very fun to watch, so I think he's going to fit in great. "He can play multiple positions, he can guard multiple positions. He's long, so he's going to fit in well."

  • Eddie Seko of The Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks weren't able to welcome Lamar Odom into town today. He's taking care of things in LA before making the trip to Dallas. He has 48 hours to report after the trade is official, which should be sometime this afternoon. But whenever he and Vince Carter get here, it's going to be interesting to see the Mavericks come together. One sure thing is that the forward threesome they have is going to be a tough one for anybody to go against.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Having been unable to land the elder Gasol brother, the Rockets have begun a pursuit of the other Gasol. Unlike their trade for the Lakers' Pau Gasol, which came to a shocking and in some ways debilitating end when first vetoed then foiled by the NBA, they don't expect to land the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol. The Rockets on Sunday prepared an offer for Marc Gasol, a person with knowledge of the offer said, hoping to engage the Grizzlies in talks for a sign-and-trade agreement. The Rockets will offer the maximum contract they can to Gasol, worth $55 million over four years, but the pursuit of Gasol is a longshot because he is a restricted free agent. If he signs a Rockets offer sheet, the Grizzlies would have three days to match the offer to keep him and Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley told NBA.com on Sunday that his team would match the offer. "I don't know what the offer is, but you got to try," said Rockets guard Kyle Lowry, who was in Memphis in Marc Gasol's rookie season. "We need a center. I love Marc. He's my guy." Until then, the Rockets were in "the preliminary stages" of talks with the Grizzlies with little hope that they would fill their center position with Memphis' Gasol.

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Houston Rockets are preparing a maximum-contract offer sheet worth $55 million over four years for Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, according to several media reports. Griz owner Michael Heisley expressed his reluctance to negotiate Gasol's contract in the media Sunday afternoon so he responded with an economy of words. "We'd match that," said Heisley, who would have three days to make good on his word under NBA rules. Gasol's position as a restricted free agent seemed to take a strange turn Sunday except for this: The 7-footer hasn't signed Houston's reported offer sheet and there are no indications that he will. Griz management seemed genuinely puzzled. Heisley said the Griz already offered Gasol a five-year deal that is worth more than Houston's reported offer sheet. The Grizzlies' proposed deal is also said to be worth more than any other team can offer under the league's new collective bargaining agreement.

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: The Pacers, who are not close to being done with their offseason reconstruction, added a huge piece and a perfect fit Sunday, signing free agent power forward David West to a two-year, $20 million contract. It is a deal that works for the Pacers on two levels: It gives them a starting power forward who has been a regular 19-point, eight-rebound guy in the NBA for many years, a two-time All-Star and a player generally acknowledged as a true professional. All the reports say West is fully recovered from knee surgery and will join practice immediately. It works because the Pacers didn't overpay or over-commit and were able to maintain salary cap flexibility moving forward. The Pacers were leery about giving the 31-year-old West a long-term contract, worrying he would be on the downside of his career at the same time the younger Pacers were just hitting their primes. This deal gives Indy the player it needs now and the financial freedom it needs later. ... This is not a championship team, obviously, but then, how many championship-quality teams are out there? Nobody expects them to compete with the Miami Heat, but this group has every reason to believe it can win at least 35 games in a 66-game season, and can make some noise in the playoffs. For the Pacers and their long-suffering fans, this newly hopeful NBA season can't start soon enough.

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Speaking of deals, the Pacers are having conversations with the Memphis Grizzlies about a possible sign-and-trade deal. The Pacers would send Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush to the Grizzlies for O.J. Mayo. Don’t those names sound familiar? The Pacers tried to send McRoberts and a first-round pick to Memphis for Mayo at the trade deadline last February. The sticking point in the current negotiations is that the Pacers want to include Rush in the deal. The Grizzlies are trying to unload guards, not add them.

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: The reigning most valuable player's attitude always has been: Join the Bulls if you want. If not, we'll try to beat you. "It's just me, man," Rose said. "If it's not coming from the front office, you're not going to hear me saying anything about recruiting anyone. The city speaks for itself, especially for basketball. If you want to come here, opportunity is here. The front office is great. Our fans are the best. "I wouldn't trade my teammates for anything in the world. Our front office does a great job picking guys with the right attitude. They just want to win." Rose will win on the bottom line soon. General manager Gar Forman said the formality of Rose's five-year, $94 million extension is being finalized with Rose's agents, Arn Tellem and B.J. Armstrong. "Derrick is the centerpiece of what we're putting together here," Forman said.