The NBA: Circus

Gasol and Odom in happier times.
Or, should I say, in times never to happen again?
(image by the AP)

“When a team trades u and it doesn’t go down? Now what?” Odom tweeted Thursday night.

FINALLY. OFFICIALLY. We will have a 2011-2012 NBA season. And, yes, it’ll be for just 66 games. We’ll witness back-to-back-to-back games. The oldies will benefit from the shorter season. So will the young ‘uns. All 30 teams are back in tow. And though we’ll miss the antics of Kenyon Martin and JR Smith, as well as the raw talent of Wilson Chandler, the prospect of seeing the most awesome heroes and heels of our basketball lives trumps everything.

No more exhibition games. No more charity/benefit tournaments. No more seeing Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in suits at some labor-related conference. No more tugging here and there for that damn BRI. This time Kobe, LeBron and Dwight will all be parading their wares in their respective NBA unis, although 2 of those names might end up wearing the same colors by season’s end.

And the most fun part? Training camp has barely even started and already a whirling dervish of events has us fans enraptured and bewildered.

Welcome to the circus that is the NBA! Here are some of the more interesting acts so far:

-       The NBA and the NBPA finally finish their bickering and ratify the new CBA. Who knew it could even be possible after the players filed lawsuits and the owners were adamant with their demands? Somewhere, some way, greed gave way to understanding. Or so it seems.

-       And then this happens: CP3 gets traded to the Lakers, Pau Gasol goes to Houston and the NBA’s version of a Happy Meal (Scola, the better K-Mart, Dragic and the black Kardashian) is shipped to New Orleans. Whoa. The world is off-kilter. LA fans are divided between chants of, “Paul will save LA!” or “Now what do we have to trade for Dwight?!” Still, it doesn’t beat a certain someone’s “Decision” last year. What happened after, however, just might.

-       David Stern’s decision to “block” the Paul trade doesn’t really strike me as underhanded. The way I understand it, he did it with respect to the fact that the NBA owns the Hornets, though it does seem to undermine the authority the NBA gave Dell Demps to have a free hand in managing the club. I think Stern was just looking out for the league’s interests (what else is new?!), or maybe he just felt he “owed” the owners something because the current deal doesn’t really satisfy everything they wanted in the first place. The worrisome thing for me, though, is the timing and publicity of the decision. I’m sure many “as good as closed” deals have been blocked by ownership in the past, but this happening right after the lockout ends and the way it went viral over the web just reeks of politics and the pitfalls of social networking.

Chris Paul's mood is darker than the jersey he's wearing.
In his mind, he should be in Laker gold.
(image by the AP)

-       Nevertheless, having said all that, I think Stern actually did the Lakers a favor. Losing their two best big men (I don’t believe for one second Andrew Bynum could ever be the world’s second best center like Gasol, and I find it hard to imagine he can impact a team like Odom currently does) for CP3? Too steep for me. The very thought is insulting for both Pau and Lamar. Perhaps either one of them plus that Mr. World Peace character, or a Bynum-Odom combo, would’ve sufficed. But a Laker team without Gasol, or any dominant (and reasonably durable) big man (remember: Gasol for Dwight is more enticing than the prospective Bynum + Walton possibility), even with CP3 and KB24 will be hard-pressed to be a world-beater. The thing is, how can the Lakers convince the two bigs to come back and play after practically telling them to take a hike? And, by all indications, the Lakers have every intention of finding a way to get Paul to Hollywood, so, again, where do Pau and Lamar stand?

-       In other news, Nene to the Nets? He’ll make for a very enticing reason for D-Will to stay put, and maybe free up some pressure from Brooke Lopez.

-       Bye bye Brandon Roy. Too soon. Just too soon. You’re a walking, talking reason why we should all seize each moment. After all, we never know when it’ll be our time to hang those laces, right?

Bad luck or the Blazer curse? I guess we'll
still see Roy -- as an announcer on ESPN.
(image by Don Ryan/the AP)

-       RIP for Rip’s Detroit days. Rip Hamilton is a casualty of the amnesty clause as the Pistons decided to let him go. And with Rodney Stuckey a restricted free agent, and an enticing find for many teams, it seems that the Pistons are resigned to a year of backcourt experimentation.

-       Shane Battier to the Miami Heat. You’ve seen the latest Star Wars film, right? The one where Anakin becomes Darth Vader? Yeah, that one.

Shane Battier embraces the dark side.
(images by the AP and by Ferigato/DevianArt)

-       Oh but, yes, I just remembered! Mike Brown is coaching LA! Wow. Have fun with that. 


After everything is said and done, Mike Brown is still
Andrew Bynum's coach. Blind leading the blind?
(image by the AP)
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