Tag Archives: Dwight Howard

Patience Pays Off for Lakers’ Front Office Duo

So what do I do when I have nothing to write about?

I write about what I know best – the Lakers.

So I was thinking yesterday about the Lakers and how the team added Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Antawn Jamison this offseason.

When you think about this, and you wind back the clock three, four, five months and you really think about this, you wonder – How the f*** did this happen?

Lakers executive Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchack just don’t get enough credit for saving a declining Lakers team/era.

It starts and ends with Andrew Bynum.

From the day he drafted him, Jim Buss supported Andrew Bynum like no one else did. He believed the young kid could blossom into a superstar, and the Lakers next franchise player.

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The first time Mitch Kupchack has smiled in a few years…

In 2007, a struggling Lakers team was fighting to just make the playoffs. The deal was available – a package centered on Andrew Bynum for All-Star Jason Kidd. Many Lakers fans, and even Kobe Bryant, wanted the team’s management to pull the trigger on the deal. Jim Buss couldn’t do it. He couldn’t part ways with the 19-year-old center and his vast potential.

Then came the summer of chaos in 2007.

Kobe Bryant, frustrated with the Lakers front office for not making the Kidd deal, requested to be traded. He then trashed Bynum in a viral video that went public.

The Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves began talking about trading Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom for Kevin Garnett, but the T-Wolves wanted more.

With their franchise in disarray and their superstar player unsatisfied, it would have been easy for Kupchack and Buss to cave.

They didn’t. They held firm, and did so again, with the Jason Kidd offer remaining on the table. So the Lakers moved on from the summer without making any significant moves.

In 2008, Bynum started showing the talent that Buss always believed he had. But when Bynum went down with a knee injury, Kupchack made the Gasol trade and the Lakers went on to make three NBA Finals and win two championships.

Eventually the team’s championship window closed, and Buss and Kupchack returned to work.

In February 2011, the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes were on. The offer was on the table – Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony, with other minor players involved.

Anthony, an impending free agent, was willing to sign an extension with the Lakers. Bynum was coming off two knee surgeries in the last three season, and concerns that he was “injury-prone” were rampant at the time. Also, the team had a better record without him, 18-7, than with him, 18-9, that season.

The Lakers front office didn’t budge, in large part because Jim Buss strong support of Bynum.

Months later, after the team was coming off an embarrassing sweep to the Dallas Mavericks, the debate raged – should the Lakers give their core another chance or should they make a major move?

In December 2011, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack decided on the latter and traded for Chris Paul in a deal involving Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, leaving the Lakers.

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So David Stern allows the heavily lopsided Gasol trade, rejects the fair CP3 trade, and allows the lopsided Dwight trade?

What happened next was out of their control – David Stern rejecting the trade. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, then asked to be traded, and Mitch Kupchack granted his wish.

Lakers fans everywhere were upset that Kupchack actually traded Odom, and more importantly got “nothing” in return for him. Even Bryant said he didn’t like the move.

They didn’t get “nothing” though. They received a first round pick and a $8.9 million trade exception, which would come in handy later.

After another second round exit in the 2012 playoffs, the Lakers definitely needed help. With Gasol’s consecutive second-round disappearing acts, he was the player most likely to be traded. So the trade offers came in – Kevin Martin and Luis Scola from Houston, Josh Smith from Atlanta, and other potential draft day trades.

The Lakers were a desparate team, but Kupchack and Buss were a patient duo. They wanted the right move, not just any move to please a frustrated fan base.

That patience paid dividends as the Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for two-time MVP Steve Nash in July, a move only possible with the Odom trade exception.

Then a month later, Jim Buss finally gave up Andrew Bynum, and Mitch Kupchack delivered the Dwight Howard trade.

Buss waited on Bynum as he developed from a 17-year-old project into the NBA’s second best center and then traded him for the league’s best center. Buss, the rich kid who supposedly lived off his father’s reputation, showed that he’s more than capable of managing the franchise.

To most Lakers fans, Buss and Kupchack will be remembered as the duo who brought Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to LA.

Instead though they should be remembered for all the moves they didn’t make.

Imagine the Lakers having Jason Kidd now? Or Kevin Garnett? Or even Carmelo?

Or they could have Steve Nash AND Dwight Howard now?

And that’s why every Lakers fan should send Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack a card plus chocolates this Christmas.

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What was Orlando Thinking?

The parallel careers careers of Dwight Howard and Shaq just got even more paralleled. After already sharing the most intimidating bodies of their times, the same first team, the Superman nickname, and the off court shenanigans, leaving Orlando for the Lakers can now be added to the list of similarities.

But what will not be a similarity is Orlando’s roster following the departure of the Supermen. Whereas the 1996 team was still left with Penny Hardaway and finished their first post-Shaq season 45-37, the best player on their 2012 roster is…Aaron Afflalo? And their record, well, it’s not going to get close to 45 wins.

Even Dwight is surprised by how little the Magic got for him.

The Magic traded away a top-5 player in the league and got back a defensive specialist (Afflalo), a chucker (Al Harrington), two unproven youngsters (Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless), and three late 1st round picks. That’s kind of a terrible trade.

Philadelphia gave up Vucevic, Harkless, and Andre Iguodala, who combined make nowhere near the impact as Howard, and still got back Andrew Bynum, a much better piece than the Magic’s whole package.

Several questions arise from this deal. One, why did Orlando not want to take back Bynum or Pau Gasol (or even Iguodala)? And secondly, after all these months of Dwight Drama and nearly the whole league interested, are we supposed believe that Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington is the best deal Orlando got for Dwight Howard?

The first question might have an answer already. Orlando GM Rob Hennigan has been saying this summer that he wants to rebuild the Magic the “Oklahoma City way,” hoping to build a team from scratch through the draft and with young players. That’s understandable. No point in getting a player like Gasol who is in the later stages of his career if you have no chance of contending for a while. But it’s not like Bynum is an old guy. He’s 24 and already arguably the second best center in the league behind Howard. Sounds like a pretty good young piece to rebuild around.

The new face of the franchise in Orlando.

And it’s not as if they got a ton of good young players instead. Afflalo, the “centerpiece” of the trade for Orlando is 26. Harrington is 32. Harkless and Vucevic are 19 and 21 respectively, but have yet to prove they can contribute. And the three draft pick Orlando is getting come from the Nuggets, Sixers, and Lakers who all got better in the trade. Those picks will get Orlando a marginal role player in the late first round. Maybe the Magic just want to be really terrible and hope the lottery goes there way (which I’m sure will miraculously happen this year with absolutely no involvement by David Stern).

Regardless of the draft picks, the Magic should have came away from this deal with the best pieces to build around seeing as they gave up the most. Instead they got the least in return. Even within the trade they made, there was a better deal to be had for Orlando that could have gotten them Bynum.

So if Orlando ends up getting the short end of the stick in this trade, why make it? There were plenty of trade options available to them over the past year that could have given them a better young core to build around.

The Nets didn’t have a great offer for Howard, but the Magic could have gotten Brook Lopez, a solid young center, in return.

The Rockets had a ton of young pieces to offer, including Royce White, Patrick Patterson, Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones, Chandler Parsons, and Kevin Martin (not really young, he’s 29). I’m not sure which of those Houston was willing to part with, but a package of three of those players plus a few draft picks would given Orlando some young talent that is slightly more proven.

The Bobcats better watch out. Orlando’s going to be gunning for the fewest wins title this season.

Golden State reportedly dangled Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis at Orlando, offering a package centered around one of those two players. Both those players have more star power than Afflalo.

The Hawks made Josh Smith and perhaps Al Horford available, while clearing a ton of cap space to be able to resign Howard in his hometown. Smith or Horford alone would give Orlando a better piece to build around than what they got.

While it’s doubtful the Heat ever came close to offering this, many people believed Dwyane Wade for Howard would be a logical trade for both teams. From rumors of getting Wade in return to actually getting a few role players and picks shows just how miserably Orlando failed in this trade.

The saddest part is that Orlando eventually traded Howard to the team that had the best player to give back in return. But somehow, Andrew Bynum did not end up on the Magic.

On the bright side, we have a full season ahead of us with no chance of any Dwight Howard trade rumors. Then the drama can start all over again when Dwight’s a free agent.

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Dwight’s Collateral Damage

Dwight Howard has done an impressive job transforming himself from a likable and goofy star into the NBA’s biggest prima donna in just 6 months. For a man who refuses to utter a swear word and who entered the league hoping to add a cross to the NBA logo in deference to his religion, he clearly is not a bad person.

But the 26 year old center, drafted out of high school, is proving he still has yet to grow up. Immaturity in the NBA usually describes players like DeMarcus Cousins or Andrew Bynum who regularly show lapses in judgement, inconsistent effort, and poor body language. Dwight’s immaturity is a different breed and possibly a much worse one, considering the damage it has done, not just to his own reputation, but to the NBA as a whole.

Howard is the only one smiling at his latest round of antics.

For the NBA’s most physically imposing specimen, Howard’s childish antics have long seemed out of place. But as they have begun to affect his business decisions and those of several NBA teams, he needs to grow up and quickly.

Now it appears the Howard drama could be nearing its end, or at least relocating and continuing in Brooklyn. A ridiculous 4 team, 14 player trade is in the works that could look something like this, according to ESPN:

According to sources the Nets would receive Howard, Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark in the proposed deal. The Magic would get Brook Lopez, Luke Walton, Damion James, Shelden Williams, Armon Johnson and three first-round picks — two from the Nets and a lottery-protected first from the Clippers. The Cavs would get Kris Humphries, Quentin Richardson,Sundiata Gaines, a first-round pick from the Nets and $3 million in cash. The Clippers would receive MarShon Brooks.

Trade talks are still ongoing, so this is subject to change, and may not ever come to fruition. As of now, though, this appears to be the most likely scenario, as Howard has limited his trade request to just the Brooklyn Nets.

Howard’s inability to decide his fate at the trade deadline has clearly affected many people, and his change of mind to again desire to be traded will affect even more.

The list of casualties in the Dwight Howard hostage situation:

  • Howard’s reputation
  • Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy (fired), with whom Howard long butted heads and who Howard demanded be fired if the Magic hoped to keep him
  • Orlando General Manager Otis Smith (fired), who Howard complained did not include him enough in decisions
  • Deron Williams: Williams re-signed with Brooklyn largely because of the possibility of Howard coming. He seems to have been recruiting Dwight for some time.

    Teaming Dwight with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace would make the Brooklyn Nets instant title contenders

  • Joe Johnson: Without Johnson D-Will says he would not have stayed with the Nets, so by trading for him they were able to keep one superstar (Williams) that they needed to bring in another superstar (Howard). Complicated stuff.
  • Gerald Wallace: Wallace was an early attempt to achieve the same outcome that the Johnson trade brought. The Nets hoped having Wallace on the team would make them more appealing to both Williams and Howard.
  • Damian Lillard: Drafted 6th overall by the Blazers using the pick sent to them in the Wallace deal, Lillard would most likely have been taken outside the top-10 had the Blazers not been there. Other teams in the lottery didn’t have a pressing need to draft a point guard.
  • Mirza Teletovic: Teletovic was forced to restructure his contract with the Nets after the Joe Johnson trade to free up extra cap space to fit Howard into the salary cap. He gave up several million dollars.
  • Brook Lopez: Lopez would go from being a complementary piece on a talented playoff team to the main option for a barren Orlando roster.
  • Kris Humphries: For the proposed trade to work, Humphries (as well as several of the smaller trade pieces) would have to agree to a one year agreement with the Nets and a sign-and-trade to the Cavaliers. Given that the Cavs have the space to sign him for a longer deal without the trade, Humphries would lose out on the financial security of a multi-year contract. His agreement to this trade is its biggest holdup right now.
  • MarShon Brooks: Brooks would go to a Clippers team that has a very similar player in Jamal Crawford. That could reduce his role.
  • Jason Richardson, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Armon Johnson, Damion James, Sundiata Gaines, Luke Walton, Shelden Williams, and Quentin Richardson: These guys are all just throw ins to the trade to make it work financially and to give teams like Orlando and the Cavs more financial incentive to be a part of the deal, as they shed salary.
  • Houston Rockets: Houston tried desperately to get Howard during the draft, hoping to use their three 1st round picks to entice Orlando into a deal. If not that, they hoped to move into the top-10 and draft Andre Drummond and include him in a trade for Howard. Neither of these worked, and Houston is now left with 3 more decent players on a team full of decent players. They’re still stuck in no man’s land between playoff contention and the lottery.
  • Brian Shaw/Michael Malone: The Pacers and Warriors respective assistant coaches are among the names of interviewees for the Magic coaching job. These coaches both had important roles on their teams’ benches and their departure could have a negative impact on their former teams.
  • Marvin Williams: Atlanta traded Joe Johnson and Williams, clearing cap space to make a run for Howard, who grew up in Atlanta. Williams will get a fresh start in Utah.
  • Andrew Bynum: The lower we get on the list, it’s more of a stretch to determine the impact. Bynum’s name was mentioned a lot as the Lakers’ trade chip to get Howard. LA’s willingness to trade him could drive him away as it did to Lamar Odom.
Obviously the ripple effect caused by Howard has been extensive.

Prior to the beginning of last season Howard demanded trade, citing the Nets, Lakers, and Mavericks as desired targets. Orlando clearly did not want to part with their franchise centerpiece and tried to convince him to stay during the first half of the season. But Howard maintained his desire to be traded, and Orlando did not want to risk losing him as a Free Agent after the season and receive nothing in compensation, as Cleveland did after LeBron’s departure.

But constrained by his request to be traded to 1 of only 3 teams, none with desirable assets they were willing to part with, Orlando had its hands tied. But as a deal with the Nets, centered around Brook Lopez and draft picks, pieced itself together, Howard suddenly changed his stance (several times), finally deciding he wanted to stay with Orlando – but

Howard long made his frustration with former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy known.

would not sign a new contract. Instead he just waived his Early Termination Option, agreeing to stay with Orlando 1 more year before becoming an Unrestricted Free Agent, essentially realizing Orlando’s greatest fear of losing him for nothing.

Howard injured himself late in the season, forcing him to miss the playoff – ironic considering he claimed to stay with the Magic to make one more title run. Following the season he gave Orlando the ultimatum: him or Van Gundy. Along Van Gundy’s firing, Otis Smith was shown the exit. Howard then laid his trade demand back on the Magic management. Not cool.

Howard’s saga has shown his immaturity was worse than anyone ever imagined. He seemingly manipulated his team in order to try to force his way onto the Nets without them giving much up. Sadly it appears that plan may have worked.

Somewhere, LeBron is smiling. Just weeks apart he gets his first title and is no longer atop the NBA’s most hated list.

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Steve Nash’s Arrival Brings About Many Questions For Lakers

“We’ll try to hit a home run,” Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchack said a few weeks ago on the Lakers’ offseason plans.

Well the addition of Steve Nash was a bomb worthy of the Home Run Derby. Nash instantly turns the Lakers into serious title contenders.

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That was one clutch phone call by Kobe Bryant…

By acquiring Nash the Lakers fixed one major problem but made another one much worse.

The Lakers were already reaching deep in their pockets with Kobe Bryant’s, Pau Gasol’s, and Andrew Bynum’s high salaries already on the books. Taking on Nash and his three-year, $25 million plus contract only makes things worse, financially.

Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, an NBA team had to pay an additional dollar for every dollar it went over the luxury tax threshold.

But under the new CBA, the consequences for going over the threshold become much harsher. Take a look at it here:

  • If a team is $0 to $5M over the tax, they pay $1.50 per dollar (so if you’re $3M over, you pay $4.5M in taxes).
  • If a team is $5M to $10M over the tax, they pay $1.75 per dollar
  • If a team is $10M to $15M over the tax, they pay $2.50 per dollar
  • If a team is $15M to $20M over a tax, they pay $3.25 per dollar
  • If a team is $20M over, they pay $3.75 per dollar, with the penalty increasing by .50 for every additional $5M it goes over

The system was made to prevent big market teams like the Lakers, Knicks and Mavs from becoming the ‘Yankees’ of the NBA.

The Lakers would have payed over $50 million in luxury taxes last season under this new system. Next season with Nash, this number would blossom much higher. Along with that, the Lakers still have to pay the players their actual salaries. Even the real Yankees would have a tough time swallowing that bill.

Financially the Lakers can’t keep everyone. Though the new CBA’s luxury taxes don’t kick in until the 2013 – 2014 season, expect the Lakers to cut salary soon, just as they did with Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher last season.

Mitch Kupchuck will now have the task of deciding where to cut salary. Who stays? Who goes? Who comes?

The Lakers still have yet to use their one-time amnesty clause and Metta World Peace would be a prime candidate for that. But who better to guard Durant and Lebron than World Peace with his size and strength?

Trade Gasol? Gasol’s value to the Lakers just went through the roof. Nash will create off pick-and-rolls and find Gasol all day on cuts and open mid-range jump shots, which he knocks down routinely. Don’t be surprised to see Gasol rebound from a less-than-stellar season and return to the All-Star game, if he’s still in purple and gold next season.

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Is Bynum the Lakers’ next team leader? If you have to think about, then probably not.

What about Bynum? Bynum will only become better with Nash. The Lakers’ issues of not being able to get the ball into Bynum on the low block disappear with Nash at the helm.

But the real question for Lakers management is, ‘Is Bynum the next superstar to lead this team’?

If it’s a yes, then Gasol has to go. If it’s a no, then it’s time to go after Howard. The chances that Howard leaves as a free agent after next season are real. Still the Lakers would have a superstar point guard, they are an annual title contender, would be able to offer him the most years and money (like in the D-Will Nets situation), and it’s LA where he’ll get all the attention he craves; Hey Dwight, are you sure you want to leave?

But with the addition of Nash and the Lakers’ dire financial issues, is the Dwight Howard deal even possible?

It was a real possibility before, but less likely now. Orlando remains stubborn in wanting the Lakers to take back either Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson along with Dwight Howard.

Asking the Lakers to take on additional money? Somewhere Jerry Buss just ‘LOL’, literally. Turkoglu has 2 years, $23.8 million left and Richardson has 3 years, $18.6 million. The Lakers would have to send back at least Metta World Peace, if not more, to match salaries.

The Magic are going to have to lower their demands for the Lakers to move in. They just might though because the Lakers’ offer appears to be the best on the table.

Tough, franchise-altering decisions lay ahead for the Lakers.

Hey Mitch, how about one more home run? Don’t hit too many though, you’ll make the Dodgers jealous.

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Why Fans Love Scalabrine

If you are a religious “SportsCenter’s Not Top 10” viewer, love wasting valuable study time perusing NBA blooper videos on YouTube or have become acquainted with NBA Memes, you undoubtedly know who Brian Scalabrine is.

Standing six feet nine and weighing in at a generous 235 pounds, the Long Beach native is arguably one of the most popular players in the Association, yet he hardly ever touches the hardwood.

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Every time Scalabrine sets foot on the floor, fans either get excited or wish they never left the arena early.

Scalabrine was drafted 34th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft, which includes current All-Stars like Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Tony Parker as well as notorious duds like Kwame Brown.

And while even a “bust” like Kwame Brown boasts far more impressive numbers than Scalabrine, the “White Mamba” is beloved around the league, whereas Kwame is constantly labeled a disappointment.

His red hair, rotund frame and camera-friendly pre-game squat thrusts make him a must-see attraction throughout the entire NBA and at an 11-year average of 13 minutes per game, it is popularly believed that he has the highest jersey sale to playing time ratio since Naismith decided to cut a hole in the peach basket.

Needless to say, an NBA without “Scal” would be incomplete, and here’s why:

1. He looks like the average American, just elevated-

When fans see the high-flying acrobatics of LeBron James, the speed and agility of Russell Westbrook and the cannonball shoulders of Dwight Howard, they develop a sense of separation from the game.  Scalabrine’s lack of foot speed, occasional mental errors and sedentary nature during games draws fans in because barring his height advantage, he resembles the typical middle-aged sports enthusiast watching the game from home.  Each and every one of us can see a few of our own characteristics in a thirty-three year-old man who has started less than 12 percent of the NBA games he’s played.

2. He’s had his few signature moments-

Despite averaging only 3.1 points per game on the career, Scalabrine’s career defining moment in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals will forever overshadow these statistics.  In Game 5 of a hotly contested series against the Pistons, the eventual NBA champions, Scalabrine, at this time a member of the Nets, found himself in the game after starters Kenyon Martin and Jason Collins had both fouled out.  Contributing with 23 minutes off the bench, Scalabrine was 6 of 7 from the field, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range in a triple-overtime victory.  He sank a key 3-pointer in triple OT to seal the deal for the Nets and finished with a career-high 17 points.  The performance is listed as an Honorable Mention in the “NBA’s 60 Greatest Playoff Moments.”

3. He’s a likeable guy-

One of the main reasons fans are chanting “SCALA-BRINE” every time the Bulls are winning by a generous margin and every time he touches the ball is because of his personality.  While most players would lie about staying in contact with former teammates following their departure from a team, “Scal” did exactly opposite after he left the Celtics, jokingly explaining to a reporter that it doesn’t count as “keeping in touch” when Ray Allen only leaves him voicemails during games.

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Part of the reason for Rondo’s stardom was Scal’s unrelenting defense in practice. Well, sort of.

His most charismatic moment, though, came in a press conference following Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals.  When asked by a European reporter what it is like to win an NBA title knowing that he never set foot on the court during the series, the big man replied, “I’ll tell you, it’s not that difficult to do because maybe now you could say I didn’t play a second, but in five years, you guys are gonna forget.  In ten years, I’ll still be a champ.  In twenty years, I’ll probably tell my kids I started and in thirty years I’ll probably tell ‘em I got the MVP, so I’m really not too worried about it.”

Scalabrine came off a one-year, 1.4 million dollar deal with the bulls at the end of the season and is now an unrestricted free agent.  While it is uncertain if he’ll be with the Bulls next season or any team for that matter, you can bet “24” (no, not Kobe) will be worn, albeit a bit sarcastically, by fans all across the nation.

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NBA Draft Lottery: The David Stern Conspiracy Continues

It’s been a rough year for David Stern’s PR team. As the NBA commissioner, much of the blame of the lockout fell on his shoulders. The refusal of the owners, which he represented, to concede to the demands of the Players Union elongated the process and resulted in missed games and a truncated regular season.

Then came the Chris Paul debacle. Shortly after the league-owned New Orleans Hornets agreed to trade their superstar point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers, the league announced that Stern had shot down the deal for “basketball reasons.”

This set a pack of rabid Laker fans on Stern, and their complaints made some sense.

Jack Nicholson and a hoard of crazed Lakers fans protested David Stern’s decision to cancel the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers.

It seemed to be a conflict of interest that NBA commissioner was the owner of a franchise that was controlling the fate of two other franchises (the Houston Rockets would have gotten Pau Gasol in the trade).

Matters only grew worse when Paul was instead traded to LA’s other team, the Clippers, to team up with the NBA’s newest superstar in Blake Griffin. While the trade with the Clippers did land the Hornets some younger pieces to build around than the Lakers/Houston deal, things just smelt a tad fishy.

New Orleans better be ready for this handsome mug on their billboards.

Fast forward five months and Stern and the Hornets are in the news again. New Orleans won tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery, or better known as the Unibrow Sweepstakes as the Hornets will undoubtedly select Kentucky’s Anthony David first overall.

The league recently sold the Hornets to New Orleans Saints’ owner Tom Benson, and I’m sure Stern wishes the  deal wasn’t struck until after tonight’s results, as the addition of Davis will significantly boost the team’s value. But Stern and the league technically are still the team’s owners while the deal with Benson is finalized and approved by the other NBA owners.

After last year’s lottery went to Cleveland, allowing them to replace their lost superstar with

Vince McMahon might just be the perfect choice to replace David Stern as commissioner, given his background in WWE and their honest and not-rigged wrestling.

a new one in Kyrie Irving, it just so happens that this year’s lottery winner also lost their former franchise player. Conspiracy? Who knows, but if these types of “coincidences” keep happening, Vince McMahon might need to take Stern’s job.

Other story lines from the Draft Lottery:

  • The Bobcats fell to No. 2 in the draft, continuing to hold onto the unlucky claim to be one of just two teams (the other being the Phoenix Suns) to never have won the draft lottery. This news will be especially hard to swallow this year, coming off the worst season in NBA history based on winning percentage and drafting second in a draft with just one elite player.
  • The Brooklyn Nets did not move into the top three, meaning their pick at No. 6 will go to the Portland Trailblazers as part of the Gerald Wallace deal. Again, a tough break for a team that could have used extra help with the return of Deron Williams in doubt and the chances of acquiring Dwight Howard having disappeared. You can’t sympathize too much, though, because this was just a poor trade. The trade for Wallace could have been completed for a much lower pick, so even if the Nets only liked the draft’s top three players (their reasoning for only placing top-3 protection on the pick) they could have traded the No. 6 pick for a useful player to entice Williams to stay.
  • The Warriors, on the other hand, were able to keep their pick, which was top-7 protected, thanks to a terrific tanking job to end their season (they went 5-22 to finish the season, moving from the 10th worst team to the 7th over that span and securing the No. 7 pick). There have been rumblings in Golden State that trading the pick is a possibility, with Andre Iguodala’s name popping up frequently, but given Philadelphia’s admirable performance getting deep into the second round of the playoffs, it seems unlikely they would trade away a key player for a chance to draft an unproven rookie. Golden State will have four picks in the draft, though, so it is likely at least one of those will be traded away.

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12 NBA Players And How They Chose Their Jersey Number

6 8 23 9 37 0 7 3 85 45…To me and you, these are just numbers. To athletes, one of these numbers might just be their jersey number, and that “number” is never just a number.

How do athletes pick this “number”? For many, it means more than just their birthday, or their favorite month, their number holds a special meaning to them.

Here are some NBA players, and why they picked their jersey number: 

Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards (‘03 –‘10), #0

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Gilbert Arenas, also known as “Agent Zero”, wore his jersey number like a chip on his shoulder.

At the University of Arizona, Arenas wasn’t able to pick number 25, his high school number, because it was retired. So to prove his doubters wrong, Arenas’ picked number zero and it was his number until he left Washington.

“Zero is the number of minutes people predicted I would play my freshman year at Arizona,” said Arenas…“I decided to go with it because I love proving people wrong.”

Arenas’ averaged 32.1 minutes per game as a freshman at Arizona.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, #0

Westbrook on why he wears number zero,

You go with the zero when you’ve been through something and you are looking to get a new beginning. It helps you get going again. It helps you get the swag back.”

In high school, Westbrook’s only offer from a top tier school was UCLA. Aside from that, his main offers were from Creighton, San Diego, and Kent State. Westbrook never forgot that disrespect, eventually taking UCLA and the NBA by storm.

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, #3

Chris Paul wears the number three because his dad and his brother, who have the same initials CP, were CP1 and CP2, so he wanted to be CP3.

Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat, #3

Wade, who is deeply Christian, chose number three because the Trinity, a principle of Christianity, has three parts.

Lebron James, Miami Heat, #6

Lebron James took No. 6 in honor of Julius Erving.

James on why he chose the number six,

“My second-favorite player was Julius Erving, and he wore No. 6,” James said. “I wore 32 in high school because Dr. J wore it at first. My first child was born on Oct. 6, it’s my Olympic number, and my second child was born in June.”

While in Cleveland, James wore number 23 because of his favorite player, Michael Jordan. Here’s why he switched,

“I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it.”

*Note to Lebron James: Just because you’re not going to do something, it doesn’t mean everybody else shouldn’t do it either. I mean if that were true, then nobody would have any NBA Championships.

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic, #12

Howard chose the number 12 as a reversal of his idol Kevin Garnett, who wore 21 during the prime of his career in Minnesota. It must have been tough for Howard to get punched by his idol though.

Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz, #20 Hayward chose the number 20 in part because of Manu Ginobili, who wears the same number. Hayward on his idol,

“He’s one of those guys I looked up to when I was growing up,” Hayward said…  “I tried to emulate some of the stuff that he did and put it into my game because he’s a great player.”

Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns (’99 –’08), #31

Marion grew up as a fan of the Reggie Miller, and chose his number because of him. It’s ironic how Marion, who has one of the worst shooting strokes in the NBA, looked up to Reggie Miller, who has one of the best shooting strokes in league history.

Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers, #33

Here’s what Granger tweeted on why he wears number 33,

“It’s because when I was 9 or so Scottie Pippen reached up and touched my hand at a bulls game. Been #33 since.”

Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers (’09 –’10), #37

While wearing #37, Artest helped the Lakers to the NBA Title in his first season with the team.

Artest chose number 37 to honor Michael Jackson whose album, “Thriller”, spent 37 weeks atop the pop charts.

Derek Fisher, Oklahoma City Thunder, #37

Derek Fisher on his number switch, from #2 with the Lakers to #37 with the Thunder,

“(My age) seemed to be a negative thing for so long, especially this season. It was a negative thing I was 37….I figured since everybody likes to throw my age around in negative conversations, I’d just go put it out there and let everybody know from the beginning, I am 37, but I think I can do some great things to help this team,” Fisher said.

Throwback Edition: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, #23

Jordan idolized his older brother, Larry, who wore number 45. But when Jordan got to high school, his brother had already taken number 45. So he halved it to 22.5 and rounded up to 23.

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