At the end of the regular season, Ron Artest Metta World Peace was involved in a nasty altercation with 6th man of the year award winner James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder. During the April 22 game between the Lakers and Thunder, World Peace delivered a decidedly unpeaceful elbow to the side of Harden’s head while celebrating a big dunk. The shot gave Harden a concussion and earned Metta a seven game suspension that held him out of six of the Lakers first seven games in the playoffs. He’s back with the team now, and the Lakers are matched up with the Thunder in the second round of the NBA playoffs, which is a little bit aaaaawkward since Metta hasn’t technically even apologized (because he doesn’t fraternize with opponents and won’t “shake the backups hands”) to Harden for the vicious elbow. Well, nothing says your sorry like a thoughtful gift…like a power forward.
Kobe Bryant has enjoyed quite a bit of clout during his time as a Laker. When the Shaq-Kobe feud become too much to handle, Kobe said he wanted to be the man in L.A. and Shaq was traded away. When the Lakers were getting bounced in the playoffs every year and Kobe had yet to win a championship without the Big Diesel, Bryant campaigned for some help, and the Lakers went out and basically stole Pau Gasol in the night. The purple and gold have gone out of their way to make sure their superstar is happy because when he’s unhappy, he makes sure people know about it. Hey, guess who’s unhappy!
The Orlando Magic can’t seem to hang on to their big men with Superman fantasies. In 1996, their franchise center Shaquille O’Neal bolted Orlando for the bright lights of Los Angeles, feeling he had outgrown the Magic and his constant power struggle with coaches, front office, and teammate Penny Hardaway. Now, the Magic have another franchise big man in 3-time reigning defensive player of the year Dwight Howard who also would like to get the hell out of town as quickly as possible. He openly campaigned for a trade during the shortened offseason that say Lamar Odom get shipped to Dallas and Chris Paul head to the Clippers, but the Magic decided to hang on to their disgruntled superstar, and he’s responded…by continuing to campaign for a trade. As the season has dragged on, Howard has become less particular about where he ends up, expanding on his wish list of new teams to play for. After blowing up at his team after an embarrassing blowout loss to the terrible New Orleans Hornets, Howard has now officially added another team to the places he would like to be more than Orlando.
Lamar Odom has had a pretty rough year. After his team got bounced from the NBA playoffs via second round sweep at the hands of eventual champion Dallas, Odom was witness to two deaths in the span of two days. First his cousin, who Odom described as one of his favorite people in the world, was shot and on life support. Odom flew to New York to be by his side and talked the family through pulling the plug on the 24-year old. Two days later, while being driven to a hair cut, the SUV he was riding in collided with a motorcycle which spun out of control and struck a pedestrian on the sidewalk, killing a 15-year old boy. Odom has always been a sensitive guy, whose play was driven by emotion, so it puts the slow start he’s had to this season (the worst of his career) into context. Being that close to two tragic deaths in the span of 48 hours would mess just about anyone up. In fact, it would have been completely understandable if Odom were to take some time away from basketball to collect himself and his thoughts away from the rigors of an NBA season. Michael Jordan did that very thing after his father’s death, spending a few years playing baseball before making a successful return to the Bulls. It would have been a perfectly legitimate and logical choice for Lamar. Turns out, he wanted to do just that…but someone talked him out of it.
In news that didn’t seem like it would happen, Chris Paul was traded from New Orleans Hornets to the Clippers. You know, the other team in Los Angeles? Yes, the saga of will they or won’t they let Chris Paul out of Louisiana is finally over, and after days of it looking like he would have to wait a season leaving the team with nothing, a trade was finally reached that has enough “star power” coming back to New Orleans even David Stern couldn’t come up with a good reason to kill it. That screaming you’ll hear today, by the way, is from the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans, who were supposed to have Chris Paul on their team last week, but had the trade vetoed by the NBA for “basketball reasons,” whatever that means. So now, the Lakers have no Paul, no Odom, and will have give more than they want to in order to pry Dwight Howard away from Orlando. It’s not too often the Lakers have been the “other team” in L.A. so expect some crazy shenanigans to try and get back on top. So what was this magical deal that even David Stern could approve of?
In the aftermath of the vetoed trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, former 6th man of the year Lamar Odom, who would have ended up in New Orleans, demanded a trade. Odom saw that the team was willing to package him in a deal without telling him about it, and decided that his time in Los Angeles was at an end. The Lakers obliged by puzzlingly sending him to the team that swept the Lakers in last year’s postseason on their way to an NBA Championship, the Dallas Mavericks. Even more puzzlingly, they did it for nothing more than a roster exemption. So basically, the best player off the Lakers bench, who helped the team win two titles, was dumped to the biggest hurdle in L.A.’s quest to get back to the Finals for…nothing but cap space. Lakers players came in to training camp the next day and expressed universal displeasure over the move. Kobe Bryant told reporters that now he was “pissed off,” and didn’t understand why the team would help its biggest rival in the West. Derek Fisher said he wouldn’t be happy trading Odom for anyone, let alone for no one. Odom today spoke to the media with his new team, and it turns out he wasn’t so enthused about this whole thing, either.
Making waves in the last week in the post-lockout NBA has been the saga of Chris Paul. Paul, currently in the last year of his contract with the New Orleans Hornets, made it known that New Orleans was not where he wanted to be anymore. He gave the team the choice to keep him, let him play out his contract, and then let him walk at the end of the year in free agency, or trade him. To add some difficulty for the Hornets, Paul made it known that he wouldn’t sign an extension except with a certain number of teams, which greatly reduced the number of suitors for the Hornets to find a good deal with, since nobody was interested in renting Paul’s services for one lockout-shortened season. Doesn’t sound like much of a choice for New Orleans, but what can you do?
Reports surfaced over the weekend that a deal had been struck, however, that would send Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three team trade with Houston Rockets. In the deal, the Hornets would get Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom and Goran Dragic, the Rockets would get Pau Gasol, and of course Paul to the Lakers. While fans and media alike were salivating at the possibility of watching Paul and Kobe Bryant on the same team, the NBA owners decided they didn’t want to play against that tandem and called on commissioner David Stern to do something about it. Stern ended up blocking the trade for “basketball reasons,” causing a huge uproar and left the teams involved scrambling to find a way to make the trade work.
However, the Lakers became frustrated with the league office and the trade negotiations in general, so they pulled out. In the aftermath of the trade-that-wasn’t, former 6th Man of the Year and Kardashian in-law Lamar Odom was so insulted by being involved in the trade without being consulted and demanded a trade. Now, Odom is in Dallas, and the Hornets found a new suitor for their disgruntled point guard in the other team from Los Angeles, the Clippers. Hold off on buying tickets to the Blake Griffin-CP3 alley oop fest, though, because it looks like that deal is now dead as well.