2011 NBA Free Agency and Trade Current Events: This league is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s

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Let’s say you had a full day of work on Thursday, and then a dinner engagement with a friend, or your kid had a basketball game or something. Then on Friday you had another full day, and then a work Christmas party. This is the holiday season, everyone’s busy. Perhaps you’ve missed what’s gone on in the NBA. Being a fan, you’ve heard some things. “Wait, the Celtics traded for David West? I thought he was a free agent!” “What do you mean the Hawks signed Tracy McGrady? Why?”

To help catch you up and straighten all this out, here are 88 lines about 44 NBA things in the past two days. (Inspiration here.)

1. So the Lakers had a deal to send Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Pau Gasol to the Rockets, while the Rockets would send Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a pick to New Orleans, and New Orleans would send Los Angeles the best pure point guard in the league. Many people thought this was a fair deal for all involved, the same way many people thought seeing “Kangaroo Jack”  and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” in the theaters was a good idea.

2. Psych, the league blocked it! Citing “basketball reasons,” the league shorted out the trade, making pretty much everyone in the known universe angry.

3. Oh, and Dan Gilbert wrote the commish a letter after the deal was already blocked. Because when he writes letters the reaction is usually positive.

4. Meanwhile, the Magic went from “not taking trade calls” to “taking trade calls” to “possibly having a deal with New Jersey” to “possibly filing tampering charges against the Nets” to “not filing tampering charges against the Nets” to “giving Dwight Howard permission to talk to other teams” to “having their CEO deny they gave permission for Howard to talk to other teams” to “No, just kidding, we totally gave Dwight permission to other teams, including the Lakers, Mavericks, and Nets.” And miraculously none of these things were the decision the Magic made under the influence of alcohol this week.

5. The Celtics managed to pull-off a sign-and-trade for David West, which would be really awesome if for any reason Kevin Garnett were to magically transform into a point guard. West and Rondo will be excellent in the pick-and-pop, though.

6. Tyson Chandler announced on radio that he was signing with the Knicks, which means that the Knicks elected to bring in size and defensive toughness over hyper-super-duper-starness or offense. Millions of people have already fled to the bunkers, have you?

7. Thaddeus Young inked a new deal with the 76ers, so that he can enjoy the feel of pine beneath his bottom while they try and sort out the 1,800 combo-forward/combo-guards they have. The deal is actually a really good one both in value and bringing back Young.

8. The Celtics re-signed Glen Davis. Just kidding, they hate Glen Davis, they sign-and-traded him to Orlando for Brandon Bass, because you know the old saying, “You can never have enough undersized power forwards.”

9. Grant Hill elected to return to the Phoenix Suns on a one-year deal. I can’t tell you the reason, but it rhymes with “schmountain of scmouth.”

10. The Pistons re-signed Tayshaun Prince to a four-year deal. The reason is… wait, why did the Pistons re-sign Tayshaun Prince to a four-year deal?

11. The Clippers signed Caron Butler to a three-year, $24 million deal. If you’re searching for answers, perhaps looking at the big name on the logo might be a start.

12. The Kings signed Marcus Thornton to a four-year deal which everyone is going to argue about. It’s the perfect combination of “too much for a bench player” (if he comes off the bench) and “great value on a young rising star” (if he becomes a star).

13. The Suns signed Shannon Brown to a one-year deal. Turns out Alvin Gentry felt they had a need at “garbage-time dunker.”

14. Brandon Roy announced his medical retirement and the world cried. Headlines read “Typical day in Portland happens.”

15. Greg Oden’s not going to be ready for the start of the season and has suffered a “setback” in his career. I was confused since in general his entire career has been a setback, poor guy.

16. The Bucks signed Mike Dunleavy to a cheap deal which most people think is really great value. Considering their confusing efforts to both move to go younger and bring in sub-super veterans, this season’s shaping up a lot like the last one.

17. Marquis Daniels signed a one-year deal with the Celtics. That’s actually a nice story after they ditched him because he couldn’t play due to nearly breaking his neck for them.

18. Tracy McGrady signed with the Hawks. It’s going to be good for Tracy McGrady to teach Josh Smith how to bail on his team and demand a trade right, veteran presence and all.

19. Mario Chalmers re-signed with the Heat. It’s not known if the Heat used the “Little Brother We Pick On” exception or not.

20. The Suns traded Mikael Pietrus to the Raptors for a second-rounder. Five more Euro players and Bryan Colangelo has the whole set!

21. The Pacers signed Jeff Pendergraph to a one-year deal, which makes you think Josh McRoberts is probably on his way out. I am the only person who finds this interesting.

22. The Pistons bought out Rip Hamilton. So that was that “Woo-hoo!” you heard all across America, we just don’t know whether it was from Hamilton or Pistons fans, collectively.

23. The Mavs are closing in on Vince Carter. Take a second to imagine Rick Carlisle dealing with Vince Carter on the floor, it’ll brighten your day.

24. Oklahoma City re-signed DeQuan Cook. I got nothing, that’s a pretty good signing for them.

25. The Knicks are closing in on Mike Bibby. In a related story, the walls are closing in on Knicks fans.

26. The Magic amnestied Gilbert Arenas. That’s it, that’s the joke.

27. The Cavs haven’t amnestied Baron Davis yet, and it’s unclear if they will. He did not show up to camp overweight, so you can decide which of those statements is more surprising.

28. Chicago, Denver, San Antonio, Utah, New Jersey and Washington want Josh Howard. And that pretty much sums up this free agency period.

29. The Spurs amnestied Richard Jefferson, which was a bit of a shock. So one franchise is still sane.

30. The Pistons brought back Jonas Jerebko for $4 million a year, which is a steal. Detroit’s been kind of bipolar with the good decision/bad decision last couple of days.

31. Because of the Tyson Chandler signing, the Knicks may amnesty Chauncey Billups. He’s literally threatened teams that are lottery squads about making a bid on him, because he’s Mr. Super Fun Happy Guy.

32. The Suns signed Sebastian Telfair. So we can all get excited for his redemption story for the 800th time.

33. The Spurs signed T.J. Ford. Get your “Texas boy comes home” stories here.

34. The Raptors signed Jamal Magloire. That should solve all of their problems.

35. The Heat signed Eddy Curry. That joke’s gotten old.

36. Shane Battier signed with Miami on Twitter. This is actually a quality signing that helps them, it just makes everyone else sick, because, you know.

37. The Kings signed Chuck Hayes to go alongside DeMarcus Cousins. He may slap DeMarcus Cousins (read: he will slap DeMarcus Cousins).

38. Really quietly in the Tyson Chandler deal, the Mavericks picked up a $13 million trade exception. That sneaky Cuban, and by Cuban we mean Donnie Nelson.

39. Oh, hey, the Chris Paul trade? Back on the table.

40. Apparently the Rockets are going to throw in some more young pieces, like Patrick Patterson or Courtney Lee. So the Hornets might actually get the type of players they need versus the ones they were getting before when everyone thought it was such an awesome deal.

41. Everyone hates David Stern. You knew that already, but the veto thing has made people go bonkers, including one associate of mine referring to it as a “crime.”

42. The Pacers re-signed Jeff Foster. Odd.

43. Nene is reportedly getting offered a bajillion dollars from New Jersey, who is desperate after Caron Butler got away. That tells you a lot about the Nets.

44. Charlie Bell showed up drunk for his DUI hearing. Welcome back, NBA.

Why is Robin Lopez holding this dog during his exit interview? (VIDEO)

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What did Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez have to say during his exit interviews? I can’t really tell, it’s all a bunch of white noise. All I see is him holding his giant, shaggy dog named Muppet while speaking to reporters.

I can’t get over it, really. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before?

Lopez is the perfect candidate to do this if you think about it, given his propensity to be a little off-kilter.

Via Twitter:

Lopez was mostly talking about taking away positives from a weird Bulls season in which they struggled all year until miraculously making the 8-seed before challenging top-ranked Boston in round 1.

Clippers, Jazz prepare for Game 7 in Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES  (AP) – Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul was adamant the sun would not set on Paul Pierce‘s NBA run in Salt Lake City on Friday night.

“I looked over at ‘Truth’ during one of (those) timeouts and I said ‘You’re not ending your career in Utah,’ ” said Paul, referring to Pierce’s popular nickname. “We told him that. We just said we want to keep this thing going for him. Paul was big tonight. Like the 3 he hit over there on the wing, and stuff like that. Just his energy and his voice in those different timeouts I think was huge for us.”

With a crucial 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6, the Clippers will attempt to extend the career of the 39-year-old Pierce, who is retiring at season’s end, and capture the series Sunday in Game 7 at Staples Center.

The winner advances to the second round to meet the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven affair beginning Tuesday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

Paul, whose two late free throws sealed the win against the Jazz, led the charge by scoring 29 points, dishing eight assists and allowing the Clippers to avoid elimination in the opening round for the second straight season. The Portland Trail Blazers bounced them last season in six games, aided by injuries to Paul and Blake Griffin.

And as Paul loathes to hear, the point guard has never guided a team past the second round.

“This is what we talked about before (Game 6),” said Paul, who has become the Clippers’ main force offensively with Griffin out of the playoffs again, this time with an injury to his big toe. “Doc (Rivers) said to go out there and give yourself a chance. We knew we couldn’t win both games (Friday), and we wanted to give ourselves a chance.”

Utah will have another opportunity to end Pierce’s career on Sunday despite missing a chance on its home court. After the Jazz won Game 5 on Tuesday at Staples, All-Star forward Gordon Hayward made it clear he didn’t want to return for a Game 7.

Hayward, though, is humming a different tune now.

“We’ve come a long way from where we were three years ago,” Hayward told the Salt Lake Tribune. “If you had told me at the beginning of the year you’d be in a Game 7 against the Clippers in L.A., I’d have been like, ‘Bring it on.’ ”

The Jazz will be forced to bring their best with center Rudy Gobert hobbling again. Gobert, who sustained a hyperextended left knee in Game 1 that kept him out of the lineup for two games, sprained his ankle in the second half of Game 6 and was forced to the bench because of it during critical stretches.

Gobert said the ankle wouldn’t hinder him Sunday.

“I sprained it on somebody’s foot,” said Gobert, who finished with 15 points, nine boards and three blocks, according to the Tribune. “I tried to run through it, but that didn’t work out. I’ve had a lot of sprained ankles before. I will be good.”

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.