Tag:Rockets
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:10 am
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Magic want Melo-like haul for Howard

Magic executives have continued to tell teams this week they do not intend to trade Dwight Howard, but several teams came away from the conversations with a clear picture of what the club wants if it changes course: a replica of the deal Denver pulled off last February for Carmelo Anthony, multiple league sources told CBSSports.com Thursday.

If the Magic decide to trade Howard, they have “not closed any doors” on potential suitors, said a person familiar with the organization’s strategy. Teams that are on and off Howard’s list of preferred destinations – the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers – will be considered, and may the highest bidder win, sources said.

What Orlando is seeking if it makes a deal for the All-Star center is a package similar to what the Nuggets received for Anthony at the 2011 trade deadline: multiple good, young players and draft picks. Orlando executives view the Denver model as a middle ground between blowing up a contender and starting over with draft picks and reaching for veteran All-Stars whose contracts ultimately could hinder the recovery from a Howard trade.

Representatives of three teams in the mix for Howard – either on his list or among teams willing to gamble on trading for him in the hopes that he can be persuaded to stay beyond this season – told CBSSports.com Thursday that the Magic have not decided which path to pursue. Howard, 26, can opt out of his $19.5 million contract after the season and become an unrestricted free agent. His formal trade request through agent Dan Fegan of Lagadere Unlimited remains on the table and he has not given the Magic any commitment to opt in and/or re-sign after the season.

In a complicated, three-team trade for Anthony that was consummated after a five-month marathon over his desire to join the Knicks, the Nuggets came away with a treasure trove of young talent and draft picks: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and 7-footer Timofey Mozgov plus a future first-round pick and two future second-round picks. Felton has since been dealt to Portland for Andre Miller. The Nuggets recently signed Gallinari to a four-year, $42 million extension (about half what Anthony makes over the same period), and are hoping to get Chandler, a potential 20-point scorer, back after a stint in China before the season is over.

The Nuggets also received another 7-footer, Kosta Koufos, from Minnesota, which made the trade work under league cap rules by taking Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph from the Knicks along with a second-round pick from Denver.

For a variety of reasons, a similar haul isn’t realistic for Howard, despite the fact that he’s a far more valuable star than Anthony. The Knicks also got former All-Star Chauncey Billups in the deal, and the Nuggets were able to parlay interest from the Knicks, Nets and other teams Anthony had no intention of extending his contract with into a bidding war that drove the price for him through the roof.

If a player is heading out of Orlando with Howard, it is likely to be Hedo Turkoglu. Unlike Billups – a productive veteran leader with one year left on his contract – Turkuglo will be a liability in the deal due to his declining skills and the $23.4 million he is owed over the next two seasons.

Nonetheless, the revelation that Orlando wants similar assets as those Denver received for Anthony moved the needle on the Howard saga with only a week to go before the March 15 trade deadline. If the Magic decide not to trade Howard by next Thursday, they face the prospect of losing him as a free agent and receiving no assets in return.

The Mavericks and Lakers, teams loaded with high-priced veterans, do not have the kind of assets the Magic want for Howard. The Nets, with 24-year-old 7-footer Brook Lopez and promising rookie guard MarShon Brooks, come closer – though two people familiar with the Orlando strategy told CBSSports.com Thursday that none of the three teams has assets that would entice the Magic to part with Howard. Perhaps this is why Orlando officials have been more forthcoming in recent days about what they’d want in a package for Howard, and why at least one rival GM interpreted this shift in posture as an indication that Orlando understands it needs to create competition and prime the pump on the bidding war.

With the Magic determined to trade Howard to the team with the best offer if they decide to move him, a deal sending Howard to a so-called “rental” team (i.e., one he will refuse to give a long-term commitment to as part of the trade) could play right into the Nets’ hands. If, for example, Orlando traded Howard to Golden State and Howard opted out after the season, the Nets would be in a position to sign him as an unrestricted free agent without giving up any players or draft picks.

The other team aggressively trying to maneuver for a shot at acquiring Howard and persuading him to sign this summer is the Rockets, who need a replacement for retired center Yao Ming and who are still recovering from the voided Chris Paul trade that would’ve landed Pau Gasol from the Lakers. But a more serious contender could emerge in the coming days: the Hawks, who are dealing with disgruntled should-be All-Star Josh Smith’s own reported trade request. Smith and Al Horford would represent a coup for the Magic considering the alternative of losing Howard for nothing, and Atlanta is Howard’s hometown, where he attended Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Even with the potential of getting – and keeping – a player of Howard’s popularity and impact, questions remain about whether the Atlanta ownership group would be able to afford two max players going forward. Joe Johnson is owed $90 million over the next four years.

If nothing else, Howard’s familiarity with Atlanta would diminish the biggest impediment for another potential rental team giving up major assets to get him: Aside from it being an untenable gamble in a normal season, it’s even more so in this one. If, for example, Howard were traded against his will to Golden State, he’d play only 26 games with his new team – and only 12 home games in his new surroundings.

“That’s not a lot of games to get attached to Golden State,” one rival executive said.

Could the Warriors possibly give up Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Ekpe Udoh, etc., under those circumstances? The Magic hope so, which is why the Howard saga quietly escalated to the next phase Thursday: Orlando’s attempt to follow the Denver model by creating a bidding war and scoring a Melo-like haul of assets.

So from now until 3 p.m. on March 15, the Dwight Howard story is open for business, 24 hours a day.
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:29 pm
 

Lakers open to attending Arenas workout

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is awaiting word on details of a workout Gilbert Arenas is planning in Los Angeles later this week and is open-minded about attending, two people with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Wednesday.

Although the Lakers have publicly been noncommittal about whether to pursue the three-time All-Star, Kupchak has nothing to lose by evaluating Arenas as a potential solution to the team's point guard woes. The workout date has not yet been set, but Kupchak is said to be willing to attend depending on timing and logistics.

"The Lakers are going to take a look at him," one of the people familiar with the matter said.

Arenas, 30, was waived by the Magic via the amnesty clause after averaging 8.0 points in 49 games for Orlando last season, including two starts. In a total of 70 games for Orlando and Washington in 2010-11, Arenas averaged 10.8 points -- his first full season since serving a 50-game suspension for bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room in December 2009.

Arenas played only 47 games in the previous three seasons due to an assortment of knee injuries, and there are doubts among NBA executives about whether he has anything left. But the Lakers, with no ball-handling guard who can break down opposing defenses, are seeking a spark anywhere they can find it. The team also has been linked with Cleveland's Ramon Sessions and Houston's Jonny Flynn, though neither situation has progressed.

While the Lakers are on the East Coast, losing in Philadelphia Monday night and playing at Boston Thursday and at New York Friday, Kupchak has stayed in L.A. and would be in position to attend Arenas' workout personally.

 
Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:01 pm
 

Chuck Hayes cleared to play

Free agent Chuck Hayes, whose four-year deal with the Kings was voided after he failed the team's physical, has been absolved of any heart issues by the renowned Cleveland Clinic, his agents said Thursday.

Hayes underwent "a full day of exhaustive testing and exams" Wednesday, directed by Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, according to a statement released by agent Calvin Andrews of BDA Sports. On Thursday morning, doctors informed Hayes that "he does not have a heart problem" and that "their recommendation is that he can continue to play basketball without any concerns," the statement said.

"I am happy to say I have a healthy heart and have been cleared to play immediately," Hayes said. "I look forward to getting back on the court as soon as possible."

Hayes' preference is to revisit the deal to play for Sacramento, according to a person familiar with his thinking. The Kings on Wednesday rescinded an offer to free-agent center Samuel Dalembert, but that decision is believed to have been independent of Hayes' second opinion because it was made before the final results were known, a source said.

Kings GM Geoff Petrie did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hayes' updated medical condition. Petrie is said to have been distraught over Hayes' initial diagnosis, calling it "one of the most heartbreaking moments of my professional or personal life."

Hayes' $21 million contract was the second deal voided due to the discovery of a heart condition during the NBA's abbreviated free-agent signing period. Celtics restricted free agent Jeff Green signed a one-year, $9 million deal with Boston but had the deal voided when his physical turned up an aortic aneurysm requiring season-ending surgery.

Hayes, 28, averaged 7.9 points and 8.1 rebounds last season with the Rockets, who signed Dalembert Wednesday after the Kings rescinded their contract offer to him. 
Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:19 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:44 pm
 

Chris Paul traded to Clippers

Chris Paul is headed to Los Angeles after an agreement was reached Wednesday night sending him from New Orleans to the Clippers, ending a fiasco in which the NBA found itself in an uncomfortable conflict of interest with its role overseeing the trade.

The Hornets will get Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Minnesota's unprotected first-round pick in the 2012 draft and the expiring contract of center Chris Kaman for the All-Star point guard. The Hornets announced the departure of Paul, their franchise cornerstone, in a news release Wednesday night. The Clippers also get two second-round picks in 2015.

The trade was agreed to under excruciating and controversial circumstances after a previous deal sending Paul to the Lakers was rejected by the league office, which was thrust into the unenviable position of handling the negotiations in the absence of a Hornets owner. After the traditional conference call vetting details and salary-cap compliance of the trade occurred, commissioner David Stern scheduled a media conference call with Hornets chairman Jac Sperling, team president Hugh Weber and general manager Dell Demps -- whose authority to execute the trade was usurped as part of an unprecedented set of circumstances.

"The future is bright for the New Orleans Hornets," Demps said. 

CP3 traded to the Clippers

As part of the trade, sources said Paul would agree not to opt out of his contract after the season, thus giving the Clippers -- and new teammate Blake Griffin -- a two-year commitment for their soon-to-be high-flying pairing at Staples Center. Paul didn't wind up with the Knicks, his first choice, or the Lakers, his second. But the trade puts an end to a frustrating saga for the NBA, which emerged from a five-month lockout only to be besieged by trade requests from two of the game's biggest stars wanting to move to the biggest markets -- precisely the kind of activity the owners were trying to stop.

The Lakers, whose effort to land Paul in a three-team trade with Houston fell apart over the weekend when it was rejected by league executives running the Hornets, had been back in the picture in the past 48 hours. But a person briefed throughout the awkward trade negotiations said the league office’s efforts had been focused almost solely on completing the deal with the Clippers, who had – in the estimation of NBA executives Joel Litvin and Stu Jackson – a superior mix of assets around which the New Orleans franchise will be able to rebuild.

"I think the future of the Hornets is looking better today than it's ever looked before and I'm excited about that," Stern said.

In the Lakers-Rockets deal, the Hornets would’ve received Lamar Odom from L.A. and Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic from the Rockets, in addition to draft picks. League executives decided that while that package would permit the Hornets to compete immediately, it would not be the best long-term avenue – and would be one that would deter prospective owners. One detail stood out: Not factoring other contracts that would’ve been signed and traded out in the three-way deal, the Hornets would’ve been taking on more than $24 million in guaranteed money next season – not the best way to rebuild organically after losing a franchise player, the league decided.

The Clippers, wary of giving up too many assets for a two-year commitment from Paul, tried to hold onto sharpshooter Eric Gordon in the deal but ending up parting with him instead of point guard Eric Bledsoe. After L.A. had claimed veteran point guard Chauncey Billups off amnesty waivers from the Knicks Tuesday, it was widely concluded that the move paved the way for the Clippers to sweeten their offer for Paul by including Bledsoe. In earlier versions of the trade, the Clippers were asked to give up both players – a steep price even for a superstar when the star hasn’t given assurances that he’ll eventually sign a long-term contract.

Paul has an early-termination option after the season and had made it clear to Hornets management that he would exercise it and test the free-agent market. Under the new collective bargaining agreement recently ratified after a 149-day lockout, it would’ve been an expensive decision, as the Hornets would’ve been able to offer an extra year and about $26 million more than any other team.

The Paul saga became embroiled in the inherent conflict of interest that came about when NBA owners voted to take custodianship of the flagging franchise from debt-ridden owner George Shinn in December 2010. The perfect storm of controversy greeted the league, and Paul -- a member of the players' negotiating committee -- almost immediately after a lockout ended.

In rejecting the three-team trade that would've sent Paul to the Lakers, commissioner David Stern was acting not in his capacity as commissioner, but rather on behalf of the other 29 owners who technically own the Hornets. Now that Paul is gone, to be paired up with bright young star Griffin, the latest NBA fiasco is over. Perhaps only now can the league focus on the rushed, compressed, 66-game schedule that begins Dec. 25. 

Paul's debut for the Clippers will be against the Golden State Warriors -- another team that tried briefly to land him -- in the last of a five-game opening-day schedule on Christmas Day.

Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:02 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 11:59 am
 

CP3 developments push Nets' pursuit of Howard

So now we know why the Magic never filed those tampering charges against the Nets.

For one thing, the latest developments in the Chris Paul saga point to New Jersey (i.e. Brooklyn) moving into prime position to land All-Star center Dwight Howard in a trade -- if Orlando decides to go that route.

Or so the Nets hope.

The Lakers re-entered the Paul trade talks Tuesday night, and would need a third team to funnel the young prospects to New Orleans along with Pau Gasol in return for the gifted point guard. Clippers brass were unfazed by these developments, sources told CBSSports.com, having expected that the Lakers would re-enter the talks at some point -- either for real or for leverage purposes.

UPDATE: The re-emergence of the Lakers, who had a three-team trade for Paul also involving Houston fall through when league executives deemed it too expensive and not yielding enough young talent for New Orleans, combined with other factors Tuesday to signal that the Nets' pursuit of Howard was about to reach a new level of urgency. One of those factors was free-agent big man Nene, one of the Nets' top free-agent targets, agreeing to a five-year, $67 million deal to stay in Denver.

If the Lakers sent Gasol to New Orleans for Paul, they presumably could not find enough talent elsewhere to include in a separate deal for Howard as well -- although the Los Angeles Times reported that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was engaged in conversations about both Paul and Howard. The Mavericks, the third team on Howard's list of preferred trade destinations, continued to dutifully clear 2012 cap space Tuesday, an effort sources say is geared toward a possible run at Howard if he gets to free agency or Texan Deron Williams if he is not persuaded to stay with the Nets when the team moves to Brooklyn in 2012.

League sources confirmed that talks between the Nets and Magic gained momentum in recent days and that New Jersey was working on a complicated set of scenarios to land Howard that could involve one or two other teams. The Nets are "pushing hard," a source said, but the biggest hurdle was uncertainty over whether the Magic are ready to give up on trying to persuade Howard to stay in Orlando.

A person familiar with the discussions described them as "very complicated," and two other people confirmed that one scenario would loop in the Trail Blazers as a third team to provide swingman Gerald Wallace as a second primary piece along with Nets center Brook Lopez in a package for Howard. As part of the deal, New Jersey also would have to take back Hedo Turkoglu and the $34 million left on his contract.

UPDATE: A league source told CBSSports.com that the Magic are "not in a rush to do anything," and that the team's first priority is to keep Howard. The scenario as currently constructed with Wallace joining Lopez in Orlando as the primary pieces is not enough to persuade the organization to move forward with the deal quickly, the person said.

"If people think things are imminent, then they're being led down the wrong path," the person said.

The organization is determined, however, to avoid another Shaq scenario -- when Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando as a free agent in 1996 and the team got nothing in return. If the only option is to trade Howard, sources said the team will be take its time to find the right deal. GM Otis Smith will not, and has not, limited himself to exploring deals with the three teams Howard has signaled he's willing to sign a long-term deal with -- the Nets, Lakers and Mavericks, sources said.

Though it isn't certain yet whether the Magic are ready to go through with a deal parting with Howard, Orlando seems to be seeking some elements of the kind of package New Jersey worked for months to assemble for Denver last season in its pursuit of Carmelo Anthony: a combination of established players, prospects and draft picks. Given Howard's stature and the stakes for both teams, this package will have to be substantially more valuable -- and thus, more difficult to assemble.

Which brings us back to those tampering charges that never materialized.

The Magic last week were weighing the possibility of filing a tampering charge against the Nets over a reported meeting in Miami involving Howard and Nets officials. The alleged meeting occurred before Smith gave Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, permission to speak with the Nets, Lakers and Mavericks about a possible trade. A league source told CBSSports.com Tuesday that the potential tampering charges are "on the back burner" while the team weighs its options. Knowing that the Nets may turn out to be the best trade partner, the Magic were reluctant to burn that bridge before the negotiations even got off the ground, sources said.

A lot is in flux in the Magic front office, with team president Alex Martins taking over as CEO for the departed Bob Vander Weide, and now the brass are trying to evaluate what is the best option for dealing with the Howard situation, sources said. 

"There's going to be a little bit of a bidding process if anybody wants him," an executive within the league said Tuesday.

The Nets' pursuit of Howard is tied to their acquisition of Williams from the Jazz last season, and now is inexorably linked to the Paul talks, which are perhaps the most complicated trade negotiation in NBA history. League executives Joel Litvin and Stu Jackson, acting on behalf of the 29 owners who have custody of the franchise, are running the talks for the Hornets. After being declared dead Monday, negotiations between the Clippers and league office reignited later that evening and continued Tuesday -- with the Clippers waiting for the price for Paul to come down since they were the only team bidding for him. 

The Clippers' successful waiver claim of veteran point guard Chauncey Billups undoubtedly helped that effort, as Clippers GM Neil Olshey was then free to include point guard Eric Bledsoe in the deal. But Olshey was still unwilling to part with both sharpshooter Eric Gordon and the Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round pick, and that was primarily the reason no conclusion was reached Tuesday, sources said. 

The best the Nets can offer for Howard is Lopez, a less accomplished but more durableversion of the Lakers' Andrew Bynum, plus multiple first-round picks and a signed-and-traded Kris Humphries. But the Nets have been exploring ways to bring in a third or even fourth team that could convey more assets to Orlando, and New Jersey GM Billy King has signaled to associates that such a maneuver won't be a problem. King has proved to be one of the most adept executives in the league at assembling complicated, multi-team deals.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:27 pm
 

Nene re-signs with Nuggets

The Nuggets are keeping this free agent, agreeing to terms Tuesday night with Nene for five years and $67 million, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Nene attracted significant interest from the Nets, Rockets and Pacers, among others, but decided to stay in Denver on a day when the team acquired Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer from Dallas into the trade exception left behind from the Carmelo Anthony trade last February.

The next order of business for Denver, which still has room to do more shopping, is to re-sign restricted free agent Arron Afflalo. A person with knowledge of those discussions said the two sides were making "good progress" toward a deal Tuesday night.

Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri met with Nene and his representatives Monday night, one of several meetings the team has had with its free-agent big man. Other meetings have included owner Josh Kroenke and coach George Karl.
 
The Rockets had hoped to pair Nene with Pau Gasol, but a three-team trade sending Chris Paul from New Orleans to the Lakers fell through. The Nets targeted Nene in the free-agent market but also have been pursuing a trade for Magic center Dwight Howard, a 2012 free agent who has been given permission to discuss a potential trade with New Jersey, the Lakers and Dallas.
 
Posted on: December 11, 2011 12:27 am
Edited on: December 11, 2011 2:36 am
 

Lakers pull out of Paul talks

A tortured three-team trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers fell apart Saturday night when the Lakers and Rockets were unable to satisfy criteria set forth by the NBA, which owns the Hornets, three people with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

The Lakers immediately shifted gears and agreed to trade Lamar Odom to Dallas for draft picks, a move that rival executives and a person briefed on the team's basketball strategies viewed as a precursor for a push to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando.

Odom goes into a trade exception created when the Mavericks signed and traded center Tyson Chandler to the Knicks in a complicated, three-team deal, setting the stage for the Lakers to seriously engage the Magic in talks to acquire Howard, who on Saturday admitted that he'd requested to be traded.

CBSSports.com confirmed reports that Howard requested to be traded to the New Jersey Nets, but two people with direct knowledge of Howard's plans said Saturday that the All-Star center has long wanted to play in Los Angeles. Howard's affinity for the city is so strong that sources said the Lakers' co-tenants in Staples Center, the Clippers, should not be ruled out as a trade partner for Orlando.

The entire league will be trying to acquire Howard in the coming days now that his trade request is public and the Magic have acknowledged giving his agent, Dan Fegan, permission to discuss trade possibilities with the Lakers, Nets and Mavericks. But the Lakers are the only team capable of offering an All-Star 7-footer, Pau Gasol, and a potential All-Star 7-footer, Andrew Bynum -- while also being willing and able to take Hedo Turkoglu and his poisonous contract. 

The Rockets, who were supposed to get Gasol in the various versions of the ill-fated, three-team Paul trade, were said to be disconsolate over the breakdown in the talks. League sources said Houston's plan had been to acquire Gasol and follow it up by acquiring free-agent big man Nene with a four-year, $60-$64 million offer.

As disappointed as the Rockets and Lakers were, the Hornets' coaching staff and front office were said to be in "collective shock," according to a person in touch with key members of the team. The breakdown of the Paul trade sent the Hornets scrambling for another suitor for the All-Star point guard, who has made it clear he wants to be traded or will leave New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent after the season.

The Hornets' coaching staff had been "ecstatic" when the initial deal was agreed to Thursday sending Odom to New Orleans from the Lakers and Luis Scola and Kevin Martin from the Rockets, among other pieces, until commissioner David Stern rejected it in his role as the final decision-maker for the owner-less Hornets for what the league described as "basketball reasons."

"It was like going from the highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows," the person in touch with the Hornets' decision-makers said. "The kind of pieces that they got, the kind of players they got and how they were going to use them, they were just really excited."

The key to the deal from the Hornets' perspective, was Scola. Hornets coach Monty Williams also had been looking forward to the opportunity to coach Odom, a supremely talented player he believed he had a chance to reach and coach to his full potential.

Other teams, including the Clippers, Warriors and Celtics, were putting other moves on hold until the Lakers' pursuit of Paul reached a fork in the road. But given that the NBA blocked the initial trade sending Paul to the Lakers Thursday, and set forth conditions as the Hornets' functioning ownership that the three teams couldn't meet, it's difficult to imagine executives jumping into another Paul soap opera not knowing what the parameters for a deal would be.

"Everyone is scared" to deal with the Hornets about Paul now, a person plugged into the discussions said early Sunday.

Still, one front office executive said that talks with the Warriors and Clippers about a Paul trade would now be reignited. Previous discussions stalled when the Clippers refused to include sharpshooter Eric Gordon in the deal, and the leverage New Orleans had to hold out for a better offer is now gone -- ironically, killed by the league's refusal to approve deals that the Hornets' basketball staff supported as a way to avoid losing Paul for nothing. In an ill-conceived effort to strengthen the assets New Orleans would receive for Paul, the league has left the woebegone franchise in the unthinkable predicament of getting stuck with the disgruntled superstar and having him make the franchise-crippling decision of leaving as a free agent without any compensation.

Among the most coveted assets the Clippers possess is Minnesota's unprotected 2012 first-round pick, which in a strong draft could be the piece that finally pushes a CP3 trade to its merciful conclusion. Under normal business conditions, the Clippers wouldn't have to offer such a valuable asset after other avenues fell through for the Hornets. But with the league office calling the shots, this is anything but business as usual.

Really, only one thing was certain early as the aftermath of the Paul saga circulated through front offices across the league. However it's resolved, the logical next step could be a courtroom when, as one team executive said, "The lawsuits start flying."

While some executives and agents were confused as to why the Lakers didn’t seriously engage the Magic in trade discussions that would’ve sent Bynum and Gasol to Orlando for Howard and Turkoglu in the first place, sources said the answer was simple: the Lakers want to try to position themselves to land both Paul and Howard.

“They got greedy,” one person briefed on the situation said.

Despite sources confirming that Howard had requested to be traded to the Nets – a team that has been on his list since at least February – two people with knowledge of his plans said he views L.A. as a better fit for his off-court aspirations. The conflicting signals from Howard are similar to what Magic executives have experienced over the past year as the All-NBA center has frequently changed his mind about whether he wants to stay in Orlando or not.

The Magic, attempting to avoid the scenario that saw them lose franchise center Shaquille O'Neal as a free agent in 1996 and get nothing in return, are adamant about exhausting trade possibilities with teams whether they are on Howard’s list of preferred destinations or not.

As high as the stakes are for Orlando, they were equally high for New Jersey, which traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks last season for point guard Deron Williams without any assurances that Williams would still be with the team when it moves to a new arena in Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season. If Howard lands with the Lakers, and New Jersey fails to land Nene, the Nets' efforts to surround Williams with enough talent to sign a long-term deal next summer would be on life support. Front office sources, however, believed that Nene's motivation for signing with Houston would've been to play alongside Gasol -- who is still, to his delight, a Laker for now but will now have to deal with speculation that Orlando will be his new home before long.

Talks to send Paul to the Lakers were revived Friday afternoon after Stern took the stunning step of killing the deal in its previous form. The goal was to tweak the deal in a way that allowed New Orleans to come away with younger players and more draft picks, the directive issued by the commissioner's office after a trade that would've sent the Hornets three bonafide starters, a solid backup, and a mid-first-round pick was deemed not good enough.

Stern must approve any transaction as monumental as a Paul trade not as commissioner, but as the final decision-maker for the Hornets in their absence of an owner since the league took over the franchise in 2010 from George Shinn. The deal consummated Thursday would've sent Paul to the Lakers, who would've Gasol to the Rockets and Odom to the Hornets. New Orleans also would've received Martin, Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick from Houston -- a solid haul by Hornets GM Dell Demps under the circumstances in the eyes of many of his fellow executives.

Paul, among the biggest stars and most electrifying guards in the league, has an early-termination option after the season and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He already has declined a contract extension with New Orleans, and it is a foregone conclusion that he would leave as a free agent with his preferred destination being the Knicks.

New York, which last season added Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, decided not to wait for the Paul saga to play itself out and acquired Chandler in a sign-and-trade that gave the Knicks among the most formidable frontcourts in the NBA. It was through some creative cap maneuvering -- words perhaps never before associated with the franchise -- that the Knicks were able to jump ahead of the heavily favored Warriors and land Chandler. By transforming the deal into a sign-and-trade, Mavs owner Mark Cuban created the space to acquire Odom, one of the most skilled and versatile big men in the league who he has long coveted.

In another domino effect of this furious post-lockout player movement, the Warriors plan to sign Clippers restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan to a four-year, $40 million offer sheet Sunday after they clear the cap space to accommodate his first-year salary of about $9 million. The Warriors also had been engaged in trade talks with the Hornets for Paul, but were unwilling to include guard Stephen Curry in the discussions.

Posted on: December 10, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: December 10, 2011 9:50 pm
 

Revised deal reached to send Paul to L.A.

The Lakers, Hornets and Rockets reached agreement on the framework of a revised trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers Saturday, pending the resolution of some moving parts and approval by the commissioner's office, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

Houston would still get Pau Gasol from the Lakers in the three-team swap, while the Rockets would send Luis Scola and Kevin Martin to the Hornets, as in the original version that was killed by commissioner David Stern in his role as final decision-maker on major personnel moves for the league-owned Hornets.

It wasn't immediately clear how the Hornets were satisfying the league directive to acquire young players and valuable draft picks in the deal, but one minor tweak that New Orleans GM Dell Demps was trying to add was the inclusion of second-year forward Devin Ebanks from the Lakers. By late afternoon, it appeared likely that the Lakers would keep Ebanks and that the additional young talent going to New Orleans would be coming from the Rockets, who are seeking to follow up their acquisition of Gasol by signing free-agent Nene to a four-year deal for $60-$64 million, sources said.

UPDATE: The latest incarnation of the deal Saturday night also was expected to include an additional first-round pick for New Orleans that the Lakers were attempting to acquire from a fourth team, two people briefed on the talks said.

There were no indications that Andrew Bynum would be included in the new iteration of the trade, or that Emeka Okafor and the $41 million left on his contract would be going to the Lakers. While that substantial adjustment to the original deal terms might satisfy the league's objective to have Paul replaced in New Orleans by a combination of young talent and better financial books, it would also run counter to the Lakers' goal of trying to acquire Paul as a table-setter for a run at 2012 free agent center Dwight Howard.

UPDATE: While some observers were confused as to why the Lakers wouldn't seriously engage the Magic in trade discussions that would send Bynum and Gasol to Orlando for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu's poisonous contract, sources said the answer was simple: the Lakers want to try to position themselves to land both Paul and Howard. A person directly involved in the Howard sweepstakes confirmed to CBSSports.com a report by Yahoo Sports that Howard has requested a trade to the New Jersey Nets. Howard requested to be traded in two separate conversations with GM Otis Smith since Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

However, a person involved in Howard's decision-making process maintained Saturday that the Lakers were by no means out of the picture -- and that, in fact, Howard views L.A. as a better fit for his off-court aspirations. The conflicting signals from Howard are similar to what Magic executives have experienced over the past year as the All-NBA center has frequently changed his mind about whether he wants to stay in Orlando or not.

The Magic, attempting to avoid the scenario that saw them lose franchise center Shaquille O'Neal as a free agent in 1996 and get nothing in return, gave Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, permission to speak with three teams about a potential trade: the Lakers, Nets and Mavericks

As high as the stakes are for Orlando, they were equally high for New Jersey, which traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks last season for point guard Deron Williams without any assurances that Williams would still be with the team when it moves to a new arena in Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season. If Howard were traded elsewhere, and if Nene decided to join Gasol in Houston in the aftermath of a potential Paul trade, the Nets' efforts to surround Williams with enough talent to sign a long-term deal next summer would be on life support.

Though Howard clearly is the biggest prize in this game of musical chairs among future free agents, his future and the status Nene -- who also has close to a max offer on the table from New Jersey -- are on hold until the outcome of the Paul saga is determined. Stern must approve any transaction as monumental as a Paul trade not as commissioner, but as the final decision-maker for the Hornets in their absence of an owner since the league took over the franchise in 2010 from George Shinn.

The Paul talks were revived Friday afternoon after Stern took the stunning step of killing the deal in its previous form. The goal was to tweak the deal in a way that allowed New Orleans to come away with younger players and more draft picks, the directive issued by the commissioner's office after a trade that would've sent the Hornets three bonafide starters, a solid backup, and a mid-first-round pick was deemed not good enough.

There is no deadline, per se, to complete the deal. But the three teams want to reach a conclusion one way or another as early as Saturday to avoid any further awkwardness and wasted time in a training camp that already is shortened by the abrupt end to the 149-day lockout.

The deal consummated Thursday would've sent Paul to the Lakers, who would've Gasol to the Rockets and Lamar Odom to the Hornets. New Orleans also would've received Martin, Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick from Houston -- a solid haul by Demps under the circumstances in the eyes of many of his fellow executives.

Paul, among the biggest stars and most electrifying guards in the league, has an early-termination option after the season and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He already has declined a contract extension with New Orleans, and it is a foregone conclusion that he would leave as a free agent with his preferred destination being the Knicks.

But given that the Knicks didn't have cap space to offer Paul a max deal next season even before solidifying their defense with the imminent addition of center Tyson Chandler, the consolation prize of joining the Lakers with the opportunity to sign a five-year, $100 million deal after the season certainly would be enticing to Paul. 

Where the younger assets would come from was still being negotiated early Saturday, with potential candidates to go to New Orleans being Patrick Patterson, Courtney Lee and an assembly of draft picks, according to an executive briefed on the talks.

While the commissioner has veto authority over all trades, it is typically only invoked if rules were broken or the deal doesn't comply with salary cap rules. In this instance, the league office is involved because the NBA bought the Hornets from previous owner George Shinn, putting Stern in concert with appointed team governor Jac Sperling on all major personnel decisions.

Rival team executives and agents expressed doubts Friday about how Paul could be dealt to a team other than the Lakers after Stern's well publicized nixing of the original deal components. If Paul were traded, for example, to the Celtics, who initially pursued him with a trade centered around point guard Rajon Rondo, the league would be unable to explain why Paul could be traded to the Celtics and not the Lakers. The league office's role was not supposed to be to decide which teams the Hornetsd do business with, but to ensure that the "best interests of the Hornets" were satisfied, according to a statement from the NBA Friday. 

If Demps were unable to trade Paul in the wake of Stern's trade denial, it would be difficult to comprehend how the Hornets' "best interests" would be satisfied by the star leaving as a free agent in July with the Hornets receiving nothing in return.





 
 
 
 
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