Rumor: Lakers to make run at Dwight Howard AND Chris Paul?

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Now we know the lockout is officially over because ridiculous, outlandish Lakers trade rumors are flying around and gaining some momentum. Like the Lakers getting Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Reality be damned.

These ideas gain traction because Lakers fans dream big. Outlandishly big. Plus Lakers ownership can be bold. It’s one of the reasons they have all those banners hanging up at Staples Center.

Combine those things with the fact that the Lakers championship window with this Kobe Bryant led unit is closing — they have another year or three — and you have Lakers fans thinking about how to rebuild on the fly.

Which brings us to the ridiculous Dwight Howard and Chris Paul rumors, which were thrown out there by Mark Heisler at SheridanHoops.com that has people buzzing.

When the NBA couldn’t get a full ban on sign-and-trades, it left his Lakers in position to pull off a coup they’re dreaming of, which would make signing LeBron James pale by comparison.

If Dwight Howard and Chris Paul wind up on the market — a safe assumption as far as I’m concerned — the Lakers could offer Andrew Bynum for Dwight and Pau Gasol for CP3, or vice versa. Nothing says that they will be enough to land either player, but it should put the Lakers in the running for both.

Not going to happen. Not both. Probably not either.

You can make a reasonable case for how Dwight Howard ends up in L.A. — the Magic have to trade him or risk losing him for nothing, so they strike a deal with the Lakers that includes Andrew Bynum, some picks and more. Maybe that is the best offer Orlando would get. But the question becomes one of public relations in Orlando. First, could they even trade Howard without a fan revolt? If they do decide they have to move him, could the Magic trade their franchise center to the team that took Shaquille O’Neal from them before? Best offer or not, the Magic may not go down that road.

As for Chris Paul, he has said he wants to play in New York or maybe with the Clippers. If the Hornets do trade CP3 (and that’s not a given considering the league owns the team right now) they will want young stars and picks back — building blocks for the future. Pau Gasol is not that. The Hornets would want a package with Bynum and picks just like Orlando. Nobody else on the Lakers roster is young and helps you build a winner.

Which means the Lakers can try to get one or the other, but they will not get both, they don’t have the trade chips (and are too far over the cap to get one as a free agent). And to even get one Jim Buss has to let Bynum go, something he is loath to do.

But dream big guys, dream big.

Brandon Jennings no fan of the NBA’s new Awards Ceremony event

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Come June 26, Drake will be on stage in New York City, handing out the NBA’s awards — Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and so on. (We need to set an under/over on the number of players Drake hugs that night.)

The NFL does it. The NHL does it. And the NBA has decided to follow suit with a broadcast awards ceremony where everything — except the All-NBA Team — will be announced that night. It’s happening because the broadcast partners want it.

Brandon Jennings is not a fan. Here is what the Wizards’ point guard Tweeted:

Jennings took down a Tweet that said if he had won the award he would have wanted to get it with the organization and his teammates around him. (And no, he knows he’s not winning the award. If you were going to put that in the comments be more creative.)

There’s something to what Jennings is saying. The NBA award roll out was awkward at times in previous years, but it gave the fans a chance to celebrate the awards with their favorite player. Now, everyone will watch it unfold on television from a ballroom in NYC. That feels a little colder. Also, we will get to see the reaction of those who don’t win (particularly this season, where several players can make a strong case for MVP).

It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, and how the league tweaks it going forward. The more than two month gap between the end of the regular season and the awards could feel a bit awkward. But we’re not going to knock the idea until we’ve seen it in action.

Portland GM makes it official, Festus Ezeli will not be back with team next season

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This season the Portland Trail Blazers found their center of the future (and the present) in Jusuf Nurkic.

Which makes the next step fairly obvious: Portland will not pick up the option on Festus Ezeli for next season, GM Neil Olshay confirmed at the team exit meetings Tuesday.

Portland signed Ezeli on what they thought was a great contract (one-year, $7.4 million, with a team option for the second year) because he was coming off knee surgery last summer. However, Ezeli was never healthy, needed a second surgery, and never got on the court. After taking it slow over last summer he practiced with the team twice in mid-October, there was more swelling, so he pulled back.

This summer Ezeli will not draw any guaranteed money from teams, but some teams may take a look at him. Athletic bigs get a lot of chances in the NBA.

Gordon Hayward will play for Jazz in Game 5 without minutes restriction

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Gordon Hayward has averaged 20.5 points a game in these playoffs — and that includes a 40 point outburst in Game 3 — but what has been more impressive is he has done it efficiently, with a true shooting percentage of 61.1. While Joe Johnson and others have stepped up, Utah will need Hayward’s shot creation if they are going to win this series.

They will have it Tuesday night in Game 5.

After missing the second half of Game 4 due to food poisoning (he tried to play but was ineffective in the first half), he is back and ready to go this time around.

So is Rudy Gobert. The Jazz will be at full health, while the Clippers remain without Blake Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs.

Having those two back is a boost for the Jazz, they need to score more consistently against the Clippers, but the bigger key will be defensively trying to deal with Chris Paul on the pick-and-roll. He has been masterful this series, and the Jazz need to keep him in check to give their offense a chance.

When NBA switches to Nike uniforms next season, Hornets will move to Jordan Brand

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There are not going to be dramatic changes to the look of the NBA when Nike takes over the apparel contract for next season, replacing Adidas. Instead of the Adidas logo, there will be a swoosh, sleeved jerseys will fade away, and some teams will modify their alternate jerseys, but the league is not getting a total uniform makeover next season. Things will look basically the same.

Except in Charlotte — they will not have a swoosh, they will have the Jordan Jumpman logo.

The why is obvious — Michael Jordan is the primary owner of the Hornets and, obviously, the guy the Jordan brand was named after. The Jordan Brand is part of Nike. The Hornets made the announcement this week buried in a press release about moving the fan shop at the arena, hat tip to Sole Collector for finding this. Here is what the release says:

The re-opening of the Hornets Fan Shop will coincide with the launch of the team’s new Jordan Brand uniforms as Nike becomes the NBA’s uniform provider beginning this season.  The Hornets will be the only team in the NBA wearing Jordan Brand uniforms, and with the agreement taking effect, the Hornets Fan Shop will have even more of the popular Jordan Brand Hornets merchandise than it has had previously.

While it’s not like the Lakers or Celtics are going to be changing up their traditional uniforms, even teams like the Hornets will keep a similar look under Nike.

What should be interesting to see is what the Christmas Day and All-Star uniforms look like under a Nike touch.