These are strange times in the NBA. Strange times, indeed. We want to believe this whole fiasco revolving around the Chris Paul-to-the-L.A. Clippers trade is over. But we know, and y’all know, it isn’t. That’s what happens when a league is forced to trade one of its most visible and valuable assets. That’s what happens when there are accusations someone screwed around with the amnesty waiver process to make sure Chauncey Billups ended up a Clipper. That’s what happens when reporters ask a GM from Houston who thought he had a trade done last week, to comment on what exactly happened and the man backs off saying he isn’t allowed to speak on it. That’s what happens when league representatives appoint a man to run basketball operations for a team, and then step in at the last minute, completely overrule him, and then act later on like they were in agreement the whole time. This whole situations reeks of something nasty. As Adrian Wojnarowski writes, the CP trade stained the NBA’s credibility. We feel for Dell Demps. He was never told about the NBA’s stance on what they deemed a fair deal. He wanted the playoffs, coming from a place like San Antonio where winning is everything. Demps felt he needed a deal to keep the Hornets in the playoffs for the fans’ sake. Stern let him go on negotiating knowing full well he would never approve of the trade, if only to save his league from the perception of another super team. Then after the deal was torched, as Wojnarowski writes, the NBA started to leak things about Demps to the media in an attempt to destroy his credibility. Too bad we will never hear from Demps on what exactly went down. Not unless the man wants to be fired for good. The final straw was the night of CP’s trade to the Clippers, Stern forced Demps to listen in on a conference call where Stern told the media the two of them were on the same page all along and that Demps and the rest of the Hornets never thought the initial Houston/Laker/Hornet deal was done. Yeah, okay. The bottom line isn’t that one deal was nixed and the other felt contrived. It was how it played out, and the subsequent effects of it. We will never know whether the NBA clearly tampered with the amnesty waiver wire to get Billups to the Clippers. But the accusations are there, and when you see the Clippers finally agree to move Eric Gordon only after they land Billups… well, you can connect the dots … Meanwhile, we had the chance to chat with the TNT crew yesterday – Shaq, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson – and Barkley thinks there is a legitimate question now on who the best team in L.A. is. What the Clippers need most of all are shooters. If they could land one or two shooters to complement Paul’s passing – and while we love Billups, we doubt he can go full-time as a two – it’ll be a nightmare to guard that team with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan turning games into “lob city” … As for the Lakers, Kobe Bryant is blaming the other owners in the league for how screwed up the team is now, saying many of them didn’t want to see the Lakers get another star. But Bryant says at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. They’ll have to play with the guys they have, and even though he can’t wait to see what the Clippers got, he believes the Lakers are fine. That’s on the outside. On the inside, Stephen A. Smith says Kobe is pissed with the organization and how the team is regressing, and get this, may demand a trade. Even Ric Bucher said he wouldn’t be surprised if Bryant demands a trade within the next month … And new coach Mike Brown is making his stamp already. He says Metta World Peace will not be starting this year. It’ll come down to Matt Barnes, Luke Walton or Devin Ebanks. Brown wants MWP to bolster the second lineup instead … Josh Howard has signed with the Jazz (meaning Andrei Kirilenko won’t be back), and Carl Landry was re-signed for a year at almost $9 million in New Orleans almost immediately after the CP deal became official … The Pacers are still looking for bench scoring, and according to Mike Wells, they are going after Michael Redd … Keep reading to hear Garnett call out Stern and Dwight Howard call for a trade …
Dwight Howard hasn’t rescinded his trade request. That’s the news of today (He’ll probably go back on his word tomorrow, just like he did the day before, and the day before that and…). Howard is trying to do what he can to keep this all out of the media and off Twitter, and says he had another conversation with Magic GM Otis Smith about his feelings and that what came out during that meeting will stay between the two. We get the feeling there are going to be some problems in Disney World this year. Howard apparently still wants out; the Magic want to keep him and plan to in order to give themselves a shot to prove themselves. The rest of the team is caught in the middle. In a crash-course season, it could get bad. Even the TNT guys we spoke with yesterday started arguing over what Orlando and Howard should do, and it seemed everyone had a different take on the future … Kevin Garnett called out David Stern the other day, and had his whole “We’re making a burrito, putting it in the oven, testing it, breaking it down, eating it” run-on quote which was amazing. Yet, he’s not done going at David Stern. KG joined WEEI in Boston to talk about the upcoming season and the state of the Celtics, and in his opinion, he felt the players should’ve stayed strong and not agreed to anything with the owners until their points were met in negotiations. Then he added this about whether wounds need time to heal: “But to sit back and complain about the things that [David] Stern is doing, jamming up trades and all this other stuff, I think he’s been playing God for a while. But we need to understand that he’s also grown our league. He’s also done a lot of good things in our league. At some point if you’re going to go forward, you’ve got to get past mad and come in here and understand that and focus on the positives.” We get the feeling a lot of players aren’t real happy right now with the commish. Garnett added the regulatory Kendrick Perkins love session, talking about how much the trade affected the Celtics (can’t believe people in Boston are still talking about this). It seems Garnett and Doc Rivers both think Rajon Rondo is the smartest player in the league, and Garnett also said he’s probably the most stubborn and hated as well, telling the guys on the show those qualities are Rondo’s gift and curse. What makes him so stubborn is his intelligence and KG sees a lot of himself in Shorty but adds “I’m not as cocky as he is.” We’re sure control will love that one … In our chat yesterday, Barkley also said the Celtics were probably going to be his favorites in the East, partly because this season is going to be so different and he thinks the vets will know exactly how to navigate it … Has anyone seen the pictures of Mike Bibby from New York’s media day? He looks like Pee-wee Herman … Maybe we got caught up in all this trade talk, but do you realize real NBA basketball starts tonight? Yep, the preseason – as short as it is – is kicking off tonight. Check NBA TV at 7:30 to see Cleveland travel to Detroit. Then Saturday afternoon, at 2 p.m., it’ll be New York/New Jersey. There’s a double-header that night starting at 8 with the Spurs and Rockets, and then Sacramento at Golden State. Finally on Sunday at 7:30 p.m., a real game: Oklahoma City and Dallas. It’s only preseason, but this feels so good doesn’t it? … In college ball, Missouri and Wisconsin both won very easily … And you’re not going to believe this, but guess who’s sitting out already in Dallas? … We’re out like TM103.
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