Over the last few years, Twitter has completely changed the NBA experience. It gives basketball fans a place to congregate online in order to discuss breaking news or thrilling games. It gives reporters a mechanism to get their scoops to readers as quickly as possible, without having to worry about wasting precious moments for the sake of processing and editing. And, most famously: it provides a means of direct communication between the previously distant athlete and the everyman — glimpses into the mind of a professional ballplayer 140 characters at a time.
During the lockout, the league saw what could happen when a few hundred frustrated players took to social media to air their grievances. It was uncoordinated, sometimes ill-informed, and other times embarrassing, but players nonetheless had a digital megaphone with which to broadcast their perspectives directly to the fans. Some NBAers were more successful in that regard than others, but the lack of censorship was refreshing.
Yet even with a new collective bargaining agreement in place — and the NBA back in business as a result — Danny Granger and Jason Richardson have continued tweeting with the same freedom. Both were clearly peeved by the NBA’s decision to nix a potential three-way deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers on Thursday, and rightfully so. But the manner in which both players lashed out at the league was a bit surprising, even when considering the animosity built up between the players and the NBA over the last few months.
Granger was up first, laying down some pretty heavy snark:
Due to the sabotaging of the LA/NO trade by david stern, and following in the footsteps of my athlete brethern Metta World Peace and Chad Ochocinco, I’m changing my last name to “Stern’s Bi#&h” #effectiveimmediately
Then, following the public release of an email (via Yahoo Sports) from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that supposedly set the stopping of the trade in action, Jason Richardson offered the following:
Once again Buck Nasty a.k.a Dan Gilbert is letting his wrath being felt by being the main voice in the CP trade block.
Both players disregarded the possibility of a league-issued fine in order to voice their opinions on an incredibly important event. Criticizing Stern, the league, and the owner of another team aren’t commonly considered to be acceptable NBA player behaviors, but the league has made this an extenuating circumstance by intervening in the basketball decisions of individual teams. Odds are that plenty of other players are similarly incensed by Thursday’s events, but it’ll be interesting to see what form that anger takes — in social media or otherwise.
In the blink of an eye, the entire landscape of the NBA has changed. As originally reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets, and Houston Rockets have agreed on the framework of a deal that will bring Chris Paul to L.A. The long-standing rumors linking the league’s best point guard and premier glamour franchise have finally been actualized, giving the Lakers the kind of transcendent star to usher in the post-Kobe Bryant era.
The specifics of the deal are as follows:
Los Angeles receives:
In exchange for:
In Exchange for:
2012 first round draft pick (originally from New York)
New Orleans receives:
a 2012 first round draft pick (originally from New York, via Houston)
In exchange for:
*According to salary cap wizard Larry Coon of ESPN.com, the Lakers may also be acquiring two traded player exceptions (TPE) that they can in turn use to acquire other players. Kevin Pelton — of Basketball Prospectus and ESPN.com — wisely connected the dots between the Lakers’ TPE and New York’s Ronny Turiaf, whose contract currently stands in the way of the Knicks’ arrangement with free agent Tyson Chandler.
The Rockets have paid a steep price in order to acquire Pau Gasol, but Houston GM Daryl Morey finally has the star player he has so long coveted. Additionally, the Rockets will have enough room under the cap to continue chasing after unrestricted free agent big man Nene, who could provide the Rox with a dynamic 1-2 punch on their back line. That said, Gasol is likely not the franchise centerpiece that many Rockets fans envisioned after years of Morey collecting tradeable assets.
New Orleans gave up one of the league’s true superstars, but in return have acquired a number of quality assets. Odom, Scola, and Martin are all very good players that can make the Hornets competitive in the short term, but can also be flipped with relative ease if the right deal comes along. The Hornets are trying to move on at this point, but by acquiring several very good assets at the expense of Chris Paul’s ticking clock, they buy time to pursue fair trades and do their proper diligence.
Free agency wouldn’t be free agency without a twinge of instant regret, and the Clippers may be the first buyers in this year’s market to experience it. According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, Caron Butler has agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with the Clips, a fair bit more than the league’s more reasonable teams were willing to offer.
Butler’s positional utility is rather obvious, as small forward has been filled by a fluid cast of semi-regulars for Los Angeles over the last decade. Yet in terms of timeline alone, Butler is an unspeakably odd fit. At 31 years old, Butler is nearly 10 years older than the rest of the Clippers’ growing core, aligning his decline perfectly with the rest of the team’s ascent. Just when Blake Griffin and the Clips will be ready to make an actual push for the playoffs, Butler will likely be even less efficient and less productive than he is now.
And that’s before we even touch Butler’s unfortunate injury history, capped off most recently with a 29-game campaign thanks to season-ending knee surgery. Butler has played more than 70 games in a season just three times in his nine-year career.
Don’t get me wrong: Butler is still a very useful player, and his ball-stopping habits are no longer quite as bad as his reputation suggests. He showed a real willingness in Dallas to adapt into more of a complementary role, a fact not revealed in his static usage numbers. Butler still isn’t a terribly efficient scorer (his shooting percentages tend to be acceptable at best), but he’s capable of playing well with others and reining in his less palatable offensive habits. He also played rather well for the Mavs last season on the defensive end, though how he’ll fare post-surgery without the benefit Tyson Chandler’s shadow remains to be seen.
Even with all of that in mind, the Clippers have acquired a player on a completely different course than all of the franchise’s cornerstones, and managed to overpay him in the process. Butler would have been a nice pick up for a team looking to use their full mid-level exception (worth $5 million), but at $8 million L.A. has squandered its financial flexibility and committed more money to an aging star than he was actually worth. And for what? To fill in a bigger name with a more impressive points per game average on the lineup sheet? To sleep better at night knowing that they had secured a superior small forward option than Ryan Gomes?
This signing reeks of haphazardry. The Clippers had money to spend and Butler was looking to fill his coffers, but beyond that the two are an ill-suited match.