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.

LeBron James set to make debut for Lakers at Trail Blazers tonight

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PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — It’s not going to be just a game when the Los Angeles Lakers invade Moda Center Thursday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers in the regular-season opener for both teams.

It will be a happening.

It’s the first game in the splendid 16-year NBA career of LeBron James that the future Hall of Famer will be wearing the uniform of a Western Conference club — the Lakers, with whom he signed a free-agent contract during the offseason.

Members of the national media and a TNT audience will be watching along with a full house at the 20,000-seat Moda Center. And James has caught the fever.

“The season is here,” James told reporters after a recent practice. “First of 82 (regular-season games). It will be fun.”

The basketball world is intrigued to find out how well the 33-year-old James will mesh with his mostly younger teammates, and how much he can help them improve on their 35-47 record of a year ago. Thursday at Moda Center is the first step, but Lakers coach Luke Walton isn’t taking it as a giant leap for mankind all in one swoop.

“We’ve got four years,” said Walton, referring to James’ contract, which calls for three years guaranteed and a player option for a fourth. “We want to make sure we’re not only playing our best come the end of the season, but that he is fresh. It’s a goal for us, and it’s not a one-year journey.”

James, who led the NBA with 36.9 minutes played per game in 2017-18, likely won’t match that average this season. Even so, he figures to be on the court a lot Thursday night.

“If my body is feeling good, then I’m out there,” James said. “If my body is not able to perform at the level I would like to play for my teammates, then I won’t.”

The Lakers could have drawn an easier first opponent that the Trail Blazers, against whom the Lakers have had no success in recent years. Portland holds a 15-game win streak in the series dating to March 2014, and has won seven in a row at Moda Center.

The Blazers mostly stood pat after going 49-33 and earning the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs a year ago, then getting swept in four games by New Orleans in the first round. Portland added a pair of low-cost free agent guards, Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas, to bolster its perimeter shooting game. The Blazers may also have a more significant role available now for 7-1 stretch forward Meyers Leonard, who shot .783 from the field and .727 from 3-point range in the preseason.

“Seth and Nik give us a totally different element with Meyers, the way he shot in the preseason,” Portland general manager Neil Olshey said. “We brought in guys who could have more of an impact at the offensive end.”

The Blazers may be without their starting small forward, Moe Harkless, who missed the entire preseason while rehabbing from knee surgery. His place will likely be taken Thursday night by third-year pro Jake Layman, who averaged 12.0 points and shot .512 from the field and .500 on 3-point attempts through the preseason.

“We’re pleased with the way Jake has seamlessly stepped into that role,” Olshey said.

Report: Clippers “have a better than not chance of getting” Kawhi Leonard next summer

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This line of thinking has gone from a quiet buzz around league circles to a rumor to the point where the game’s top news breaker — Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN — is reporting it as 50/50 or better:

Kawhi Leonard could be coming to the Clippers next summer as a free agent.

Here is what Wojnarowski said on a podcast with Zach Lowe:

“What the Clippers are doing right now is very below the radar. What they’ve done to put themselves in position. They didn’t gut themselves and they’re not tanking. They’re putting a competitive team on the floor. I think, right now, with Kawhi Leonard, they have a better than not chance of getting him. We know things will change. He could love Toronto…

“The Clippers are in great position with him. They have two max slots. They will be heard from again, I think, in these Jimmy Butler trade talks.”

The Clippers name came up in the Butler trade talks early, but Minnesota (read: Tom Thibodeau) reportedly asked for Tobias Harris and the Clippers shot that down cold. The talks have gained no traction after that, according to sources. The Clippers like Harris (who is a free agent this July and wants to get paid) and ideally want to keep him, but there will be serious roster overhaul in Los Angeles this summer and what happens to Harris will depend on a lot of other variables. Leonard included.

What Wojnarowski is reporting here is along the lines of what a lot of people around the league are talking about. This isn’t out of left field.

I can hear Lakers fans now: He is coming to us. (Knicks fans may be thinking that too, unless they are busy dreaming about Kevin Durant.) But there are a couple of reasons the Clippers make sense over those other markets.

First is the shadow of LeBron James. Not everybody wants to play in it. If Leonard — or, more accurately, the people around Leonard — want to build his brand and have him become the center of a marketing machine, being in that shadow could be seen as stunting his growth.

Them there is just fit with an organization. By his nature, Leonard does not seek out the brightest lights, he is not on social media, he does not dream of being part of the celebrity culture, and Leonard does not like a lot of drama in and around the locker room. All of those things come with signing a Lakers’ contract, and the same thing with the Knicks. While the Clippers are in Los Angeles and players there can seek out all those distractions if they want, the Clipper brand isn’t doesn’t bring the same intensity of spotlight that the Lakers with LeBron would.

All of those reasons — plus one extra guaranteed year at north of $40 million — could keep Leonard in Toronto if the team does well this season. However, if next July he’s looking to move on, the Clippers really could be his new home.

Paul George: I would have signed with Lakers if Pacers didn’t trade me to Thunder

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Paul George didn’t request a trade from the Pacers. He merely informed them he’d leave in free agency and told people he’d sign with the Lakers, leaving it up to Indiana what to do about it.

The Pacers traded him to Oklahoma City, where George found a long-term home. He re-signed with the Thunder this summer.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

Paul George revealed to ESPN’s The Undefeated that he “would have been in a Lakers uniform” if he had never been traded from the Indiana Pacers. But after the Pacers dealt the five-time All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder instead last year, he fell in love with his new team and playing with Russell Westbrook before eventually agreeing to a four-year, $137 million contract extension this past offseason.

“It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now,” George told The Undefeated. “But it wasn’t overstated. I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform.”

Even while with the Thunder, George spoke openly about the appeal of Los Angeles. Despite not meeting with the Lakers in free agency, he still called them tempting. He’s mostly just confirming what we already believed.

Remember, the Lakers could have traded for George last year. Instead, they banked on getting him without surrendering assets, and that gambit failed. Importantly, they still lured LeBron James, but they’re still searching for a second star.

This ought to reopen questions about whether the Lakers erred by not trading for Kawhi Leonard. Leonard reportedly has interest in Los Angeles (though maybe more in the Clippers), but the Lakers watched the Spurs trade him to the Raptors. Will Leonard similarly fall for Toronto and spurn his hometown team?

It’d be a mistake to assume Leonard will follow the path of George, who’s a completely different person. But it’d also be a mistake not to evaluate the precedent set by George and learn from it.

Pistons play recording of Aretha Franklin’s national anthem while spotlighting open microphone at center court (video)

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Pistons legend Isiah Thomas eulogized Aretha Franklin – a proud Detroit native – last summer and concluded with a message to the deceased singer:

I want you to know, I love you. The world loves you. And most importantly, Aretha, Detroit loves you.

Detroit showed its love for Aretha before the Pistons’ opener yesterday. Thomas again spoke kindly of her then asked for a moment of silence. The arena went dark and quiet.

Then, a spotlight shined on an unattended microphone at center court as a recording of Aretha’s national anthem played. While this video shows the powerful rendition of the song, by focusing on the images of Aretha shown on the scoreboard, it doesn’t even capture the full feeling of the moment.

Seeing that open spotlighted microphone throughout the entire anthem was hauntingly beautiful and a great tribute to the Queen of Soul.