November 30, 2011
The Indiana Pacers need a point guard, badly. Their lack of a compelling playmaker wasn't the reason Indiana lost to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs last season (which was around 197 years ago, if memory serves), but an All-Star level point man would not have hurt.
The New Jersey Nets? They could use an MVP-level center who dominates games defensively while still dropping 20 or more points per game. What team couldn't use that?
The Boston Celtics? They'd like the finest point guard of their particular generation. Or even the last generation, the generation that tends to populate Boston's roster.
So if everyone can get what they want, as we attempt to cross the threshold between the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement and the start of the way-too-late "offseason" on Dec. 9, why do all these trade ruminations sound completely and utterly awful?
Is the pessimism (and, let's face it, misanthropy and disgust) from the lockout carrying over into what is supposed to be the NBA's silly season? Aren't we just supposed to sit back and laugh as teams trade and sign themselves into oblivion?
Apparently so. And, in regards to the second question, apparently so. We watched for years as NBA GMs treated their players as trading cards, regardless of the salary implications, and now we're right back into the mess that created the five-month lockout. Sue me if I kvetch too long.
Either Chris Paul(notes) or Dwight Howard(notes) could go to New York as free agents next summer and somewhat approximate what they'd make by sticking with either New Orleans or Orlando. Both players would prefer to be sent to another team before next summer to grab a nice contract extension in the midst of the season, as Carmelo Anthony(notes) somehow managed (thanks, Isiah) last February, rather than having to take a potential 20 percent pay cut for the ability to play alongside Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) (and, apparently, absolutely nobody else of any value) in New York.
Couple that with Boston's continued uneasiness with Rajon Rondo's(notes) continued prickishness, and you have a trade market. Out of absolutely nowhere. Also, the New Jersey Nets want in because they have a rich owner, payroll flexibility, and all those Williamsburg trust fund dollars coming in next year when the team moves to Brooklyn. Give the kids a break, because a nine-buck Pabst Blue Ribbon sounds absolutely delicious if witnessed in front of Dwight Howard giving you 25 and 10.
Enter the Pacers, hoping to facilitate and possibly land an All-Star. Prickishness be damned. Here's Woj:
For the past few days, Pacers officials — and third-party surrogates — have been making calls and gathering information and insight into Rondo's reputation as a teammate and leader, sources said.
The Pacers and Celtics have discussed the preliminary framework of a deal, but two sources said Indiana would need a third team to provide Boston with the talent it wants to do a deal. The Celtics are likely trying to gather the necessary pieces to make a bid for Ainge's ultimate target: New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, sources said.
The first thing that comes to mind? It's lovely to be able to write a basketball post quoting someone in the know about things that are actually happening, even if nobody trades a soul.
Secondly? Seriously, Indiana?
And seriously, Boston?
Indiana needs someone exactly like Rondo to come up with clean shots for all its potential scorers. It needs someone who can create opportunities on the break following steals and long defensive rebounds. On paper, Rajon Rondo is absolutely perfect for the Indiana Pacers.
We're done with the paper stage, though. Actual games start in a month. Teams can start working Mikan Drills later this week. Also, Rajon Rondo is a bit of a prickly pear. You have to watch what you let go of, in this instance, as much as you prepare for what comes in. This isn't February. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around, when only nine thousand people are showing up each night to watch a team that costs as much as the Pacers plus Rondo would.
And Boston? Chris Paul is a bit of a Hall of Famer. Even considering the, um, considerable assists the New Orleans home scorers give him, the guy might be the best at the position since Magic Johnson. This comparison includes both John Stockton, and Milt Palacio. But he might not sign a contract extension with the C's and, more importantly, even the best point men take a while to fit in. To find their spots, get theirs, help others, and run the show. And Boston, more than any team with the possible exception of San Antonio, is running out of time.
Celtics, you're sure you want to risk that? Risk your one last chance at another ring? Can't blame you if you do, Chris Paul is a nice consolation prize to emerge from a dynastic run with, but his legs at times approximate Rajon Rondo's moods. And moods can be dealt with, especially when the person behind that mood can find Ray Allen(notes) exactly where he wants it. Knees are another story. Take it from the moodiest guy you've ever met.
Then there's the story out of New Jersey that has Nets GM Billy King tossing out a trade idea hatched on the corner of Bollocks! and Seriously? streets, via Chris Broussard and Marc Stein outta ESPN, featuring … well, just read this:
The New Jersey Nets are prepared to offer a trade package featuring Brook Lopez(notes) and two future first-round picks to acquire Dwight Howard before the Orlando Magic center becomes a free agent in July 2012, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com this week that, to sweeten the proposal, New Jersey would likewise offer to take back the contract of Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu(notes), who has three seasons left on his contract worth just under $35 million.
Also, I would have liked the season to start on time, my credit card debt wiped out, better sideburns, and a cellar full of scotch that would make Orson Welles jealous. Also, a cellar.
Sure, Howard will be a free agent next year, so all deals involving him can't exactly match his talents note for note, but his notes run at an MVP level. Even for 66 games, you have to come correct. And this deal doesn't, even if (stop laughing) New Jersey taking on Hedo Turkoglu's contract will "sweeten the proposal."
If Billy King is making this pitch, then I applaud the man. If Otis Smith is listening, then I … shoot. It's Billy King and Otis Smith. Together, they're pretty much the entire reason why we didn't have basketball to watch in November. Enjoy your PBR tallboy, Dwight.
We're back, I suppose. Back to fanciful trades that excite fans and GMs alike, and yours truly tossing cold water all over things. No team ever succeeded by sticking staid, save for said Spurs, but that doesn't mean the earliest reports we have as the offseason sets in are encouraging. Indy needs a leader. New Jersey needs a center who manages more than nine rebounds in a week. Boston needs a slightly less jerky point guard. Orlando needs to never listen to me again. New Orleans needs to find a way to lose Chris Paul with dignity, while still retaining assets.
Are these early whispers the way to go about this? I think each point on this star can do better. Good thing it's only early July late November.