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Stern dunks on Lakers

10:55 pm in David Stern, Lakers, Trades by The Emperor

The NBA’s Shady Dealings

12:48 pm in David Stern, Trades by Wilde Sage

Yahoo! Sports—one of the only media outlets to examine the credibility of the NBA with any degree of objectivity—highlights the league’s shady dealings with the Chris Paul trade. Take a look at an insightful article written by Adrian Wojnarowski—and get the inside scoop at how the NBA appears to be willing to chose winners and losers at all cost.

Read the entire article here: Chris Paul Trade Stained NBA’s Credibility.

Another domino falls

12:11 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wicked Chicken

The Lakers leverage and trade assets went out the window with the Lamar Odom debacle as all Lakers fans can do is longingly watch their title hopes be traded to their Staples center roommates. You know, the Junior Varsity team that gets a pat on the head every year? Well guess what, the Clippers are all grows up now and have a fiercely talented roster headlined by names like Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan, Mo Williams, Chauncey Billups, and of course their newly acquired superstar point guard Chris Paul. Hate to say it, but the big ticket this year could be to see the Clippers, not the Lakers. Can you imagine seeing Jack sitting court side for the Clips? Can you imagine how many sportscenter highlights we’re gonna see of CP3 lobbing to Blake Griffin? Can you imagine if Mitch and crew didn’t put Lamar on the trading block and then deal him for nothing? Lakers fans and staff might be celebrating a superstar acquisition instead of scratching their heads thinking, “now what?”

But at least the Lakers fans can feel comfortable knowing team executives are adding saviors like McBob to the lineup.

A Big Mistake

10:25 am in Andrew Bynum, David Stern, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Lamar Odom, Trades by Wicked Chicken

Certain events through life, history, and even the NBA can create a ripple or butterfly effect that can have a long lasting impact for future events. The Lakers executives clearly had a plan to go aggressively into acquiring new talent and it has blown up in their faces. I’m hoping this is part of some sort of master plan and the pieces will fall into place, but I fear they have shown their cards, lost all leverage, and are now in desperation mode while trying to cover their tracks. I fear Lakers fans may be doomed for dark days ahead.

Back in May of 2011 I loosely outlined a plan for improvement of the roster in a way that is viable financially and would (should) fit within trade regulations. I talked about how they were in need of a sharp shooter off the bench so I applaud the signing of Jason Kopono to the roster. I think he will prove to be valuable as long as he can play some defense on the other end.

I talked about how Andrew Bynum should not be moved unless Dwight Howard was in the deal. Bynum is the best true center in the league with the exception of Howard, his size combined with his skill set are irreplaceable and losing him would leave a massive hole only filled by the new “Superman.”

I also talked about how Lamar Odom should be nearly untouchable. His length and versatile skill set combining ball handling, passing, 3-point shooting, rebounding, and running the fast break are so unique there is nobody in the league that possesses these same traits at his level. Lamar should have never been on the trading block. As much as I love Chris Paul, the combination of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for CP3 is just too much to give up and would have left the power forward position basically empty.

The path the Lakers management has chosen has only supported that concern. Shopping Odom in the CP3 deal backfired as David Stern meddled in affairs he had no business being in. As a result, Lamar became disgruntled (and rightfully so) and demanded a trade. To further compound things they sent Lamar to Dallas for virtually nothing. A draft pick form an elite team like Dallas? That means they’ll get a pick in the very late first round. Does anyone think that pick would bring in a player of Lamar’s caliber? Keep in mind Odom was drafted 4th overall in the 1999 NBA draft by the Clippers. The Lakers let the 6th man of the year, an impossible matchup, and an incredibly versatile and valuable player at a reasonable $8.9 million salary go for nothing.

Pau Gasol is all but gone once they strike a deal for CP3 or other elite point guard. If they swing a Chris Paul deal they’ll be left with a starting lineup of Bynum, Kobe, Metta-Ron-Ron, and a gaping hole at power forward. Who are they gonna start? Derrick Character? Oops, he blew out his knee. So who’s next? Luke Walton taking over the starting power forward position?

If the Lakers go after Dwight Howard and give Pau and Bynum up what are they left with as a starting lineup? Kobe, Dwight, Metta, Fisher, and a rookie at power forward? This trade doesn’t address the major issue at point guard and leaves the power forward position in limbo as well.

Even if they are able to pull off a deal for CP3 and/or Dwight Howard, will the team as a whole really be better and properly balanced with what they will have to give up to acquire those pieces? Would it be better than if they had just left the team intact and added small pieces like Kapono?

The Lakers have put themselves in a bad position with the reckless moves they’ve made. Each move is leading to a more desperate move reminding me of the days when the Lakers management made the horrible decision to trade Caron Butler for Kwame Brown. We all remember how dark those days were don’t we? Looks like we’re heading that way again. The dominos are falling.

Lamar Odom to D-Town

9:26 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wilde Sage

After David Stern burns the Lakers by blocking a trade for CP3, the team burns itself by making a trade to the Dallas Mavericks. LO for a draft pick? Really? That’s right. The Lakers are sending Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for a first round pick and future considerations. Doesn’t “future considerations” sound a little too nebulous for the reigning sixth man of the year? As Kobe Bryant said: “Now I’m getting pissed off.” He’s not alone. Unless this gives the Lakers leverage for a bigger trade down the road, it’s a huge mistake on a road that’s usually traveled by the Clippers. Lamar’s a unique player. The ability to play multiple positions,  grab a defensive rebound, and push the ball up the floor is a rare attribute for a 6-10 player.  As the loss of Lamar Odom creates a big void in the Lakers lineup, let’s hope that management is working a little MAGIC behind the scenes.

Stern goes rogue and stings NBA

2:43 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

So this is what corruption looks like? In one heavy-handed swing, David Stern landed a shot that shattered the integrity of the game. After years of conspiracy theories, Stern provided more ammo to support the claim that his game is about controlling and manufacturing outcomes—and not about responsible stewardship. Remember, it was only a couple of years ago that NBA referee Tim Dognhey was shipped away to prison for betting on games he officiated. Back then, Stern called Dognhey a rogue official. Do you believe it now? If the Stern can control player movement after teams follow the rules in the new CBA, what else can he do?

As  social medial networks are ablaze with comments about Stern’s attempt to burn the teams involved in the trade, a few words come to mind to describe how he scorched the NBA’s reputation—again. Corruption. Collusion. Control. It’s one thing to negotiate a CBA that attempts to create greater competitive balance—it’s another thing to intervene in team business when the league doesn’t like the outcome. Yes, the NBA owns the Hornets. But, it placed Dell Demps in charge to manage that team with full autonomy—all in an attempt to avoid a situation like this.

Zach Harper from the Daily Dime Live said: “If this is a case of limiting what a big-market team can do, that sounds like league collusion to me.” Meanwhile, Larry Coon from ESPN stated that: “For whatever reason, Stern is now exercising his power to nix deals he doesn’t like.” Sounds like Stern is crossing the Rubicon, right? As Ramona Shelburne writes in the NBA sets a dangerous precedent, “it simply doesn’t make sense to allow Hornets general manager Dell Demps to negotiate this hard and this deep into this many possible trades for Paul for the league office” to ultimately pull the plug. The magnitude of the move subdues the excitement that naturally comes with the start of a new season and taints the entire NBA operation. With Stern at the helm, possibilities no longer have a shot at becoming a reality. It’s a sad day for the NBA—and it exposes David Stern’s penchant for maintaining a heavy-handed level of control over the game he’s suppose to govern fairly and objectively.

As Yahoo!’s Charles Joel points out, “After a career of bullying players and coaches, mishandling lockout negotiations, dishing out draconian fines and managing a cheating referee scandal, this is how Stern launches the 2011-12 NBA season”? Although Stern is feared by league officials, one is unable to deny that his questionable tactics over the years have damaged the game immeasurably. Perhaps, the lockout was a byproduct of incompetence rather than collusion—but blocking a fairly negotiated trade was an act of corruption. Either way, the NBA must act—and act quickly.

So how does the NBA clean up its own mess? First, it must reverse its decision and allow the trade to happen based on the parameters of the agreement negotiated by the three teams involved. Second, and most importantly, David Stern must step down immediately. The NBA product is too valuable for Stern’s anachronistic approach to keep holding it back. As he has demonstrated through his actions, Stern doesn’t have the ability or intention of maximizing the value of the NBA brand. Regardless of his intentions, it’s never been easier to blow the whistle and make the right call. Stern must go. 

CP3 trade reversed by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert?

10:08 pm in David Stern, Lamar Odom, Trades by The Emperor

Rumors are swirling that the league has reversed the trade involving Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odomm and that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert may be behind it. Although I have no proof of this letter’s legitimacy, there appears to be an email floating around from Gilbert to commissioner Stern asking him to veto the trade. Take a look:

Dan Gilbert's email to Stern

What will Stern get his dirty little hands on next?

Oh, and apparently there’s a petition to reverse the trade reversal.

NBA lockout nears end; Let the games begin

1:44 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

During Thanksgiving weekend, NBA fans discovered there’s one more thing about which to be thankful—a 2011-12 basketball season. After meeting for 15 hours on Friday, the NBA and its players agreed to a tentative deal to end the lockout early Saturday morning. With an NBA season ready to unwrap before our eyes on Christmas day, there’s one thought that tempers the excitement. Namely, what took so long?

Everyone knew a deal was coming. The only question was at what cost? Upon announcing the agreement, Commissioner David Stern said “the greater good required us to knock ourselves out and come to this tentative understanding.” So these sentiments couldn’t have been at work a couple of months ago to keep everyone at work? Apparently everyone on the planet knew it was beneficial to reach an agreement near the beginning of the lockout—except for Stern and a group of hard-line owners. Stern’s draconian stance, old-school posturing, and antiquated gimmicks made it nearly impossible to reach a deal before games were lost. Kind of childish, right? Meanwhile, ESPN’s Abbott called Stern a “winner” upon the announcement of an agreement because “a missed season would have mucked up his legacy profoundly and called into question his ability to control his owners. A deal, on the other hand, shows he still has the touch.”

Sorry Abbott. The inability to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal without losing games scared his legacy and put his shortcomings in the spotlight—again. Remember, the goal is to avoid missing any games. In fact, Stern’s poorly played strategy costs the NBA 16 games unnecessarily. There’s nothing that says someone “still has the touch” by failing to get the season going on time. Even though there’s plenty of excitement surrounding the announcement of a season starting on Christmas day, let’s not forget that a skilled negotiator with true leadership skills gets the games started on the first of November.

Naturally, there are a high degree of complexities involved in the process. But, there’s no reason to take it too the wire. In fact, there’s reason to take it past the wire. It’s not like this day wouldn’t come eventually. The question was always when and at what cost? Perhaps the antiquated negotiating tactics were deeply rooted in a false premise. According to the NBA’s Deputy Commissioner, Adam Silver, “the owners came in having suffered substantial losses and feeling the system wasn’t working fairly across all teams.” Oh, that’s a good reason for prolonging the inevitable. If “the system wasn’t working fairly,” the league must change the rules? Because the lost money had nothing to do with certain owners mismanaging payrolls, right? Well, failures in all walks of life typically blame a “system” for getting in the way of success—instead of making the system work to their advantage. Nonetheless, the tentative agreement is in place—and there’s a lot of excitement about what lies ahead in a sequel to one of the most exciting seasons in NBA history. Now, it’s time to play ball.

David Stern gets schooled

7:26 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

As an old-school lawyer, David Stern resorted to anachronistic techniques to negotiate a new CBA. It failed. Speaking pedantically to players and issuing ultimatums was unlikely yield positive results —and it didn’t. Today, negotiators must learn to create a culture of cooperation and use more modern tactics to move closer to a deal. According to Stern, however, he said the deal would “get worse” if the players didn’t accept. Think about how childish this sounds. Sure, using the scarcity principle is a valuable tool in negotiations; however, the condescending and simplistic language makes it look as if Stern’s techniques are as antiquated as Donald Sterling’s management style. Well, Stern did receive his JD as recently as 1966. Perhaps, it’s time to read an updated text on how to handle the negotiation process in the modern era. After all, this is the second time the league has cancelled games under his watch—and the time is ticking with the rest of this season on the line.

Although many in the NBA hold Stern in high regard, his inability to negotiate a deal within the appropriate timeframe for a second time illustrates that he’s in over his head—again. The totalitarian approach might have worked in the past, but it’s a player’s league now. During the entire lockout, Stern has made himself look foolish and unprepared to negotiate with equal partners. Ponder this for a moment: This weekend, UFC President Dana White took a sport that was initially rejected by the public right into primetime—all while David Stern failed to keep one of the most desirable products in the world on the market. Sure, there are multiple facets to the CBA process, but one thing is for certain—David Stern is getting schooled.

A permanent Shaqation

3:00 pm in Accolades, David Stern, Lakers, Statistics by Wicked Chicken

Shaquille O’Neill announced his retirement via twitter and immediately the basketball world started to reflect on his many accomplishments throughout his incredible 19 year career. Shaq was a rookie of the year in 1993, a 15 time All-star, three times he was the All-star MVP, a two-time NBA scoring champion, three of his four championships came with the Lakers where he took finals MVP honors, but was given the regular season MVP only once in 2000 where sports writers decided to hand his awards over to Tim Duncan.

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Shaq in his prime was an absolutely unstoppable force as he was incredibly agile and athletic for his size. O’Neal shot over 58% for his career with his only kryptonite being his free throw shooting and his tendency to be lazy taking too many Shaqations. This drew the ire of Kobe Bryant during their 3-peat years and caused Jerry Buss to pause during extension time. In turn Shaq demanded a trade and blasted Buss and the Lakers organization on his way out.

Shaq won another championship with Miami and bounced from Phoenix to Cleveland and finishing in Boston, but was never the same dominant performer as he was with the Lakers as O’Neal’s conditioning, injuries, hunger, and “father time” caught up to him.

Jerry Buss has announced he will retire Shaq’s jersey even though he was berated showing the class that Jerry and the Lakers organization is known for. In the end Shaq will be known as one of the greatest players and centers of all time sitting next to Kareem, Wilt, and Olajuwon and the crazy thing is I don’t think Shaq actually ever achieved his true potential as a player.

Here’s a statement by Jerry Buss:

“Shaq had a long and amazing career, with a huge impact both on and off the court. His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn’t have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams.”

David Stern on Shaq:

“If you’ve come of age with the NBA, you haven’t known an NBA without Shaq. You’ve known just an incredible, incredible athlete and competitor, and you’ve known somebody who, with his sense of humor and his presence, has helped to grow our game tremendously. You can be a terrific competitor and you can do it for a very long period of time. And as difficult as it is sometimes, you can retain your sense of humor. Shaq has always maintained his sense of humor. He’s a giant. He’s physically imposing, he has an imposing smile. In the game, he imposed his will, and he has done it for quite a long time. It’s been a great run and we’re going to miss him greatly and we hope we can find ways to keep him involved in the game.”

So should the Lakers give Shaq a statue before Kareem?