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Category: Chris Paul

Steve Blake says he's indifferent about starting at point guard

Before the Chris Paul trade got nixed, who would claim the Lakers' starting point guard spot remained one of the pressing questions for the 2011-12 season?

But once it appeared the Lakers would acquire Paul, that question suddenly became moot. Before everyone could wonder how the Lakers could shore up their frontline depth without Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, however, the NBA soon killed the Lakers-Rockets-Hornets deal for what they call "basketball reasons." Now everything appropriately centers on how Gasol and Odom will handle returning to a team that wanted to ship them out, and whether the Lakers can ever acquire Paul and Dwight Howard. 

After Thursday's voluntary workouts at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo, Blake shed a dose of perspective on how the Lakers should react to any changes big or small.

PHOTOS: Lakers' season-opening practice

"I've been playing eight years and I've seen it all," said Blake, though he uttered those words before the NBA killed the Paul deal. "I've been traded and seen guys get traded. Now it's just the way it is. You don't think anything else of it. If there's a change, you adjust and you move on. There's no harping on it or mentally thinking about it all the time. It's just part of your job and you move forward."

For Blake's part, that includes handling without much reaction Mike Brown's revelation that he's keeping the starting point guard open. Both Blake and Derek Fisher are coming off sub-par seasons, but who starts at point guard reveals to what degree Brown still values Fisher's experience and locker-room clout. 

"I'm going to try to be the best player I can be," said Blake, who's added some strength and has added some arc to his shot after averaging a career-low four points per game on 35.9% shooting. "I'm not going out there to try to win a starting job or anything like that. Everyone on this team is my teammate. I'm not here to try to show them up or beat them. I just want our team to be better. Whether it's coming off the bench, fine. Starting, great. It's all about us winning a championship this year."

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 --Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Magic Johnson: Bad decision by NBA, Stern

Fabforum

The Lakers were prevented from getting their most dynamic point guard since Magic Johnson, a blocked attempt that stunned NBA followers everywhere.

Even Johnson was irritated by the veto of the Chris Paul trade.

"Wrong decision by Stern & the owners," Johnson posted on Twitter on Friday. "Sends a bad message to fans. Was a good deal for the Lakers, Hornets & Rockets-everyone got better."

Johnson later added: "Lakers fans should be very upset. Love them or hate them, people will always watch the Lakers."

Johnson sold his ownership stake in the Lakers, about 4.5%, last season, but he still holds a title as a Lakers executive vice president.

He made recent headlines by saying the Lakers were the third-best team in the Western Conference, behind Dallas and Oklahoma City, and that changes to the roster were necessary if they wanted to win a championship.

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--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Magic Johnson. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

Mark Cuban supports NBA blocking Chris Paul trade

Mark Cuban

Never one to shy away from controversial matters, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stuck his nose in a subject that will surely irk Laker fans.

This time, it involves something more serious than just describing Phil Jackson as Jeanie Buss' "boy toy." In an interview with ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, Cuban defended NBA Commissioner David Stern for blocking a three-team trade that would've sent New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul to the Lakers. 

"The message is we went through this lockout for a reason," Cuban said. "Again, I'm not speaking for Stern. He's not telling me his thought process. I'm just telling you my perspective, having gone through all this. There's a reason that we went through this lockout, and one of the reasons is to give small-market teams the ability to keep their stars and the ability to compete."

Considering the Mavericks' hefty payroll, Cuban's commentary predictably reeks of of hypocrisy. In fairness, Cuban protested when the NBA-owned Hornets traded guard Marcus Thornton and cash last season to the Sacramento Kings for forward Carl Landry. But if Cuban had tried to acquire Paul, and  Stern had blocked it,  the Mavericks owner would've cried conspiracy theories despite any hefty fines thrown his way. 

If the NBA were truly serious about ensuring competitive balance, it would've ensured instituting various measures, such as a hard cap or unlimited maximum salaries. That would've given more players incentive to stay with teams for the long run, even if it's a small-market team.  

"I wouldn't have been happy, but I would have understood because it was a conversation a lot of owners had long before the Laker deal was consummated," Cuban said. "It was like, 'Look, sure, I'd love him. Give [Paul] to me in a heartbeat.' But the whole idea of the lockout was to prevent stuff like that.

"Players will always have the right to choose what they want to do as a free agent, but the players agreed to rules that said, 'You know what? Let's give the home team, the incumbent team, an extra advantage.' And that's how the rules were designed. I think they're going to work."

Obviously in Paul's case, the rules aren't working.

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--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: NBA owners like the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban, left, and Commissioner David Stern came out big winners with the tentative agreement to end the NBA lockout. Credit: LM Otero / Associated Press

Lamar Odom avoids Lakers training camp but Pau Gasol is there

Odom

Pau Gasol reported for the first day of training camp but fellow Lakers forward Lamar Odom did not, according to a team official Friday.

Odom hinted he would not appear at camp in an interview Thursday with The Times, saying, "Maybe I'll see you there, but I doubt it. You don't want to go to no place you're not wanted."

Odom and Gasol were involved in a trade Thursday for New Orleans guard Chris Paul that was blocked by the NBA. It is unknown how long Odom will be away from the team.

PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years

Gasol was trying to put the failed trade behind him, as per a post on his Twitter account earlier Friday.

"New day my friends," he wrote. "On my way to El Segundo for the first day of training camp #staypositive #NBAisBack"

General Manager Mitch Kupchak addressed the team about an hour before training camp was scheduled to begin.

Meanwhile, the Lakers will not take the extreme step of seeking legal action against the NBA for blocking the trade, according to the team official.

The Lakers begin the season Dec. 25 against Chicago.

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Photo: Lamar Odom. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Chris Paul ruling: David Stern says Paul more valuable to Hornets

Chris Paul

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner report several nuggets regarding the NBA's decision to block a trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. Pau Gasol, who would have been traded to Houston, felt "devastated" about the initial trade. Odom, who would've gone to New Orleans, said he's unsure if he will report Friday to Lakers' training camp. Shannon Brown also plans to sign with the Phoenix Suns. 

--NBA Commissioner David Stern told Bloomberg why he nixed the Paul deal. "The decision was taken that Chris Paul in New Orleans was more valuable than the trade that was being discussed." 

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wonders about the implications behind the NBA's decision to block the Paul trade. 

--CBS Sports' Ken Berger argues the NBA acted like a second-rate bush league by blocking the Paul trade. 

--The Times' John DeShazier argues the nixed Paul trade hurt the Hornets. 

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding reports the NBA told the Lakers nothing about the proposed Paul deal.

--The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen argues Stern damaged the NBA's credibility. Feigen also explains how this hurts the Rockets' rebuilding effort

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper looks at all the story lines surrounding training camp. 

--Ball Don't Lie's Eric Freeman criticizes the NBA for not observing its own rules. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky wonders about the ramifications behind the NBA blocking the Paul trade. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky lists a few unanswered questions about the blocked trade. 

--Fox Sports' Mark Kriegel believes the Hornets got shafted. 

--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe believes the NBA could've prevented this mess by instituting a hard cap, franchise player tag, draft pick compensation or unlimited maximum salaries. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin mentions how former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson once feared the NBA could reject a Paul trade.  

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David Stern explains why he blocked Chris Paul trade

Stern

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement Friday about his decision to block the deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, who would have given up Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a three-team deal involving New Orleans and Houston.

Stern has come under heavy criticism from some for blocking the trade. Many small-market team owners appealed to Stern to block the trade, but Stern says in the statement that that had no impact on his decision.

The nixing of the deal leaves the Lakers in a state of flux, with Gasol and Odom both upset over reports of the deal. It remains to be seen how they will react as training camp opens, and what long-term effect this will have on the team.

The statement:

“Since the NBA purchased the New Orleans Hornets, final responsibility for significant management decisions lies with the commissioner's office in consultation with team chairman Jac Sperling.  All decisions are made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the Hornets.  In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”

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-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: David Stern. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images

Chris Paul deal: NBA must admit its mistake, reverse decision

With all the anger spurred by the NBA's rejection of a trade that would've sent the New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul to the Lakers, Commissioner David Stern needs to own up to a mistake and reverse course
With all the anger spurred by the NBA's rejection of a trade that would've sent the New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul to the Lakers, Commissioner David Stern needs to host his own one-hour special to explain his "Decision."

He must apologize for flexing his muscle in the front-office operations of the Hornets', a team owned by the league. He must acknowledge that some team owners, including the Cleveland Cavaliers' Dan Gilbert, urged Stern to intervene in the deal. He must admit he failed during the recent labor negotiations to come up with a way to keep this situation from happening. And then he must backtrack and allow the trade to go through.

Why? Basketball reasons, of course.

But this time, instead of a disingenuous cover for Stern's desire to restrict player movement, "basketball reasons" would serve as a legitimate argument beyond minimizing the public-relations damage from rejecting the proposed Lakers-Hornets-Houston Rockets deal. Stern's explanation to Bloomgberg doesn't cut it: "The decision was taken that Chris Paul in New Orleans was more valuable than the trade that was being discussed."

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No appeal possible for blocked Chris Paul trade

Fabforum

The Lakers planned to appeal to the NBA office after the Chris Paul trade was nixed, but there was a problem: The NBA considered the trade to have been blocked by New Orleans, not the league itself.

It's a sticky situation because the NBA owns the Hornets after purchasing them last December.

"This is technically a New Orleans decision," said an NBA official who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the trade.

In other words, one of the three teams involved in Thursday's trade technically got cold feet, but it's hard to deny the existence of a contributing factor to the death of the deal. Some small-market owners were irritated by the Lakers acquiring the league's top scoring-passing combo at point guard.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called the trade "a travesty" in an email sent to NBA Commissioner David Stern that was obtained by Yahoo! Sports.

"I just don't see how we can allow this trade to happen," Gilbert allegedly wrote. "I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do. When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?"

Another factor in the the stunning reversal of the trade was the Hornets' failure to get more young talent, according to a league official with knowledge of the situation.

Among other players, the Hornets would have received Lakers forward Lamar Odom, 32, and Houston forward Luis Scola, 31.

"The truth of the matter is they need to get younger if they’re going to trade one of the top 10 players in the league," said the official. "Those are 30-plus guys with miles on their odometers."

Old but effective.

Odom won the league's Sixth Man of the Year award last season after averaging 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. Scola averaged 18.3 points and 8.2 rebounds last season for the Rockets.

The Hornets also would have received Houston guard Kevin Martin, 28, who averaged 23.4 points a game last season, and Houston guard Goran Dragic, 25, who averaged 7.1 points. Houston included a first-round draft pick in the trade.

Paul, 26, can become a free agent after the season, forcing the Hornets to try to gain assets before their star guard leaves without compensation in July.

Lakers forward Pau Gasol, 31, would have been sent to Houston in the trade.

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Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom must channel frustration properly

--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Lamar Odom, left, and Pau Gasol. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

Chris Paul non-trade: Lakers' Mike Brown meets adversity

Mike BrownMike Brown's first season as the Lakers' coach won't be defined by his DVDs explaining his defensive concepts, his grinding mentality or his infectious enthusiasm.

Those will be ingredients. But most of Brown's success or failure with the Lakers will hinge on how he handles adversity. His first test has nothing to do with managing a tough losing streak or an upset Kobe Bryant. It has everything to do with the fallout surrounding the Lakers' three-team trade that would've sent Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom to New Orleans and brought Chris Paul to the Lakers. 

With the NBA nixing the deal, Brown has to assuage a hurt and distrusting Odom and Gasol enough so that they feel the Lakers' coach values their services, let alone report to training camp. He must tap into the teammate support and show them he's on their side. And, somehow, Brown must use this as a motivational tool for the Lakers' 2011-12 season.

All this with the backdrop that the Lakers could deal Odom and Gasol to another team anyway.

Had Phil Jackson remained head coach, it's possible he would've united his players against the Lakers' front office, much like he did in his final season with the Chicago Bulls against General Manager Jerry Krause and owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Brown certainly doesn't have that personality, and considering how he's followed the company line ever since his hire, it's unlikely he'll conspire against Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family. 

But Brown has an opportunity to show he's genuine about trying to earn players' respect and trust by first giving it to them, and that means more than just feel-good, coach-speak. Some ways include devoting the first offensive sets to the high-post plays that involves Gasol. Brown could grant Odom more playing time as a starter beyond Andrew Bynum's five-game suspension. He could immediately talk with Bryant and Derek Fisher, giving them ownership of keeping the locker room in high spirits. 

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Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom must channel frustration properly

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Pained by the realization the Lakers would trade him in a deal for Chris Paul, Lamar Odom nearly hit all the initial stages of grief.

He felt shock and denial, telling The Times' Brad Turner that he didn't initialy believe the news that the Lakers agreed to trade him to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a deal for Paul. Odom felt pain and guilt when he told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that he wondered whether his reality television ventures with Khloe Kardashian angered Lakers officials. And with the NBA nixing the deal, Odom displayed anger when he expressed doubt to Turner that he'd arrive at the Lakers' practice facility Friday for training camp.

"They don’t want my services, for whatever reason," Odom said with a hint of forlorn. "I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I was proud to be a Laker, so I’ll try to help them in the process as much as possible."

PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years

It's understandable that Odom feels this way. But it's critical he immediately channels those feelings as motivation for a sharp season, much like the way Gasol has professed via Twitter.

"It's been a crazy day but as always I'm going to be & stay positive," tweeted Gasol, who was initially traded to Houston in the three-team deal. "Thanks everyone for your appreciation and support."

Gasol demonstrated in the 2011 postseason that he couldn't properly handle the frustration over his poor play despite what he told himself after each game. Gasol's at least taking the first step, though, to ensure he doesn't let any negative thoughts regarding the Lakers' proposed trade rattle his psyche. Odom can draw back on personal adversities, such as the deaths of his grandmother, mother and his then 6 1/2 month-old son. But it remains to be seen how long Odom will feel frazzled. 

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