I am filling in for Chris Sheridan tonight. Hopefully this will go better than Brian Cardinal and Alex Ajinca filling in for Dirk Nowitzki.
We applaud Deron Williams for his candor, but we also hope he doesn’t have to eat his words.
Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger has a story coming out of Nets practice today where Turkish legend Deron Williams called David Stern a “bully” and said he speaks to Dwight Howard “all the time.”
“You’re fighting a bully, man,” Williams said. “David Stern’s a bully. You can’t really go up against him, man.”
Asked if he really wanted to call Stern a bully, Williams didn’t back off.
“He knows he’s a bully,” Williams said. “Ain’t no secret. I think everybody knows that.”
Then, Williams did try to soften it by adding that being a bully is part of Stern’s job description.
“He’s got to be, man,” Williams said of Stern. “I think every owner of every big business is a bully. It’s how they become successful.”
Williams said he hadn’t spoken to Chris Paul but has spoken with Howard, who has told the Magic he wants to be traded to the Nets. He didn’t think anything was wrong with hitting up a friend.
“Well, there’s technically tampering – I don’t know, there’s a fine line about tampering – but Dwight’s my friend, so if I want to call and talk to him, I’m going to call and talk to him,” Williams said.
Here’s the problem: The guy who decides whether or not you are guilty of tampering is the same guy you just called a bully. And now, since he’s shown a recent proclivity to blow up trades involving superstars, he just might do it again – just to show Williams how much of a bully he really is.
Meanwhile, the fallout continues from the scuttled Chris Paul trade.
In Lakerland, Dave McMenamin, a former colleague of mine at NBA.com now at ESPN Los Angeles, says Lamar Odom asked the Lakers for a trade and was promptly shipped to Dallas: “In the aftermath of the canceled deal, Odom skipped the Lakers’ first day of training camp Friday. He did, however, go to the practice facility to have a face-to-face meeting with general manager Mitch Kupchak, during which he expressed his desire to be traded, according to the source. Kupchak asked Odom to reconsider his position and told the 12-year veteran to think over his decision. “You don’t want to go to no place you’re not wanted,” Odom told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Odom abstained from practicing again on Saturday, instead using the practice time to undergo his annual team physical. In a conversation with Lakers management on Saturday, Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwarz, reiterated Odom’s desire to be traded, according to the source.”
Gotta wonder how Khloe feels about that one.
Meanwhile, the rival Clippers are humming along in free agency. Having already poached Caron Butler from the Mavericks, they plan on matching the four-year, $40 million offer sheet the Golden State Warriors gave backup center DeAndre Jordan, according to ESPN’s Ric Bucher. “The Los Angeles Clippers plan to match the Golden State Warriors’ offer sheet of four years and $40 million for center DeAndre Jordan, a league source said, a move that will practically force starting center Chris Kaman to seek a trade elsewhere, according to a second source. A salary averaging $10 million annually is a breathtaking leap for a player who averaged seven points and seven rebounds last season, which was Jordan’s third in the NBA — for which he made less than $900,000. It’s also an extraordinary expenditure by normally tight-fisted owner Donald Sterling for a second-round draft pick. But there are several reasons why keeping Jordan, listed as 6-foot-11 and 265 pounds, is money well spent at any price. For one, he is good friends with the team’s young cornerstone power forward Blake Griffin.”
And late word comes from soccer-loving Marc Stein that Paul would like to land with the Clippers: “If he can’t land with the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks, Chris Paul’s preference is to be traded by the league-owned New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers to play alongside Blake Griffin, according to sources close to the situation. The Clippers know that Paul is unlikely to sign an extension with any team that trades for him because the rules in place in the NBA’s new labor agreement make it more advantageous for top stars to play the season out and then sign a longer deal in free agency, even if they’re staying with the same team. But sources told ESPN.com that the Clippers merely want Paul to pick up the 2012-13 option in his contract at the time of the trade — thus delaying his free agency by one year — if they’re going to give up one of their two most prized trade assets for Paul: Eric Gordon or Minnesota’s unprotected No. 1 pick in 2012. … Sources say that the Clippers, meanwhile, are quietly confident that having Paul for the next two seasons will ultimately lead to a long-term arrangement, especially if L.A. manages to sign Griffin to an extension next summer.”
Under that scenario, Paul would go from sharing a backcourt with Kobe Bryant to sharing a city with him.
The Rockets, spurned in their attempt to land Pau Gasol, turned their attention to brother Marc – and were spurned again. From David Aldridge of NBA.com: “Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley told TNT’s David Aldridge on Sunday afternoon that the Grizzlies would match the four-year, $55 million offer sheet the Houston Rockets have reportedly prepared for restricted free agent center Marc Gasol, considered the top big man in free agency this offseason. Under the new rules in the new collective bargaining agreement, the Grizzlies would have three days from the time they officially receive the offer sheet to either match it or decline to match. … “We’re keeping Marc,” Heisley said. “We can’t afford to let him go … Marc and his agent have to decide what they want to do. But we would definitely match that if that came up to us.”
It will be interesting to see how long Grizz owner Michael Heisley is willing to carry what amounts to nearly three max salaries in Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay, plus Mike Conley’s $9 million annually.
In New Orleans, the Paul fiasco has kept David West’s status on the back burner. But the power forward made news today, signing with the Pacers after a sign-and-trade with the Celtics fell apart. The AP’s Brett Martel has a money quote from West on why he left the Big Easy: “I’ve got the utmost respect for Monty (Williams), what he is and what he’s about. But at this time in my career, I just needed something more certain, something more stable, and the same thing goes with Dell (Demps),” West said. “Those guys are really good at what they do. It’s just an unfortunate situation that both of those guys have been put in. Same thing with the players down there. It’s just too much uncertainty in terms of the direction the team is going in, the ownership situation. There just really is no direction with no legitimate owner, so that just makes it tough. It really made it tough for me to see myself going back there.”
Lemme make sure I have this straight: Paul for Odom, Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick was not a good trade. But signing West and packing him off to Boston for the expiring contracts of Jermaine O’Neal and Sasha Pavlovic was?
Elsewhere, Kurt Thomas signed by the Trail Blazers. At 39, he’s the oldest guy in the league and got a two-year deal to caddie for Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge. Memo to Eddy Curry: This is how long big guys can play if they just stay in shape and don’t rock the boat.