David Stern is worse than the worst fantasy commissioner you’ve ever seen. Thursday night the NBA vetoed the CP3 deal due to the conflict of interest with its ownership of the Hornets. This decision was also based on the ideology of how the NBA doesn’t like the big markets pushing the small guys around. I don’t want to go over too many details of the debacle (check out this article for more details), but seriously some people have to pay for this Mickey Mouse move. This non-deal has made it abundantly clear that the NFL is run at a first-class level, while the NBA is probably run worse than a little girl’s lemonade stand (excluding the Verizon girl). An NBA spokesperson saying this was vetoed because of "basketball reasons" is about as believable as the "it’s not you, it’s me" routine. Maybe worse. The Hornets basically traded Chris Paul and got back Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic. That’s a damn good return. By comparison, the Utah Jazz got back Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two first-round picks for Deron Williams. What’s more, the Nuggets got back Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and some other smaller pieces. My point is that even though there’s the new CBA with the idea to limit players from dictating their destiny, it’s still completely bogus to veto this deal. One of Adrian Wojnarowski’s sources had a gem by saying, "(Stern) wasn't going to let Chris Paul dictate where he wanted to go." Some basketball reason, right?
This was going to be an article about the changing value of players and how they would co-exist with each other. I had the vast majority of it done when the news came down that it was vetoed, so I decided to make some changes since there’s some useful info in here. This deal isn’t going to happen today, but you’d have to think that a carbon-copy deal will come to fruition because the cat’s outta the bag on CP3. Things are going to change quickly tomorrow when free agency starts at 2pm EST, too.
The players are organized to how it should have been. Let’s check it out:
Chris Paul- The Lakers saw enough last year after CP3 had a big series against them in the playoffs with averages of 19.8 PPG, 11.0 APG and 6.6 RPG on an impressive 52.5 percent from the floor. Assuming he ultimately goes to LA, the Wake Forest product goes from a situation where he was the focal point and had the half-court offense run through him entirely to where he will often have to acquiesce to the Black Mamba frequently. Paul has been a no-brainer as the top point-guard pick in fantasy for the past four years and he certainly loses that distinction once he puts on the purple and yellow. He still will be a very good point guard, but fantasy owners should absolutely draft Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams before even considering CP3. Paul also loses some value with the potential knee concerns. I’m writing an injury guide that will be out this weekend and here’s a little preview about what I wrote:
There should be some concern for his balky knee injury. Last year after Paul sprained his knee and tore his meniscus, Dr. James Andrews attempted to surgically repair his meniscus by essentially putting it back together. Due to the severity of the meniscus tear, the surgery was a failure and Andrews opted to take out that meniscus. The meniscus, anatomically speaking, is a fibrocartilage and its primary purpose is to alleviate the stresses that come with weight-bearing exercise. This may sound bleak and all, but missing one of the four menisci doesn’t make him extremely susceptible to a knee sprain in the immediate future. This develop caused a lot of people to compare CP3 to Brandon Roy. Not quite. Roy has the worst knees in the NBA right now since he is missing all four of his menisci which leaves his knees on an unstable foundation and will result in swelling on a frequent basis. It’s not the same for Paul at this time, but the compensation of his left knee only having one meniscus does leave it vulnerable to wear down at some point. Assuming his three remaining meniscus are close to 100 percent, chances are they should hold up for the season. Although, Paul’s knee will swell up on him due to the rigors of an NBA season, especially with the back-to-back-to-back schedules.
The Lakers actually begin the season on a back-to-back-to-back. The knee concerns and how Paul will not have the ball in his hands as much put him just outside of the top 10 in eight-cat leagues.
Kobe Bryant- Kobe’s overall value doesn’t drop as much as you’d think once Paul becomes his teammate. Of course you can expect his assist totals to drop from 4.7 to around 3.3 per game and his PPG maybe to drop a point from the 25.3 PPG he posted last year. On the plus side, CP3 should make him a much more efficient shooter to from the inside. He could also see a slight increase in his 5.1 RPG from last season.
Most people might think that Kobe could see his 1.4 3PM per game average go up with CP3, but many defenders of Kobe are unlikely to leave Kobe wide open for the Paul drive-and-kick pass. Fantasy owners shouldn't forecast him to have more than 1.5 3PM this year. The problem with drafting Kobe is that things are a bit more risky with Dwight Howard possibly being sent to LA. If I’m drafting today, Kobe would be the 17th pick in eight-cat leagues.
Derek Fisher- It’s safe to say we will have heard more about Derek Fisher before the season started than we will in the season. He’s completely safe to ignore and doesn’t even have enough upside for those that are worried about Paul’s knee acting up.
The Rest of the Lakers- As I stated earlier, it’s really hard to project how this will shake out with the rest of this team. If this deal had gone through as reported, the Lakers would have a gaping hole at the four and they’ll likely sign a cheaper option to complement Dwight or Bynum. This is a very fluid situation. Stay tuned.
The Houston Rockets’ roster would have been gutted. They’ll definitely be signing some guys with so many free agents ready to sign deals starting tomorrow at 2pm EST. Kevin Martin departing would have obviously the biggest news and Gasol would've likely stepped in to Luis Scola’s role. They’re almost certain to sign a big, but we can focus on Gasol and some of the wing guys:
Pau Gasol- Apparently the Lakers were not happy with the egg he laid in the playoffs. Gasol had a huge year during the regular season and even played in all 82 games. He still has three years left on his deal and he will absolutely be the Rockets main source for scoring. Gasol was already a borderline first-round pick in fantasy leagues and going to a less potent team certainly doesn’t hurt him. He’ll likely see his remarkable 53 percent from floor drop a percent or two on another team. Gasol's efficient game, shot-blocking prowess, above-average FT% for a bit and the possibility of a 20-10 on any given night will make him a top-15 guy in almost any scenario.
Courtney Lee- Lee showed some flashes last year with averaging over 10 PPG down the stretch. He dropped 19 points in one of the two games where Kid-Mart was hurt last year and that wasn't even his best game. Lee has shown enough to take over at the two and could see his MPG jump from 21.3 last year to over 30 in 2012. It’s worth noting that he played 28.4 MPG after Aaron Brooks was traded last year. The Hilltopper also took 3.7 three-point attempts in April as well as shooting a pristine 93 percent from the charity stripe in March and April; he also averaged a steal per game. If Martin is dealt, CL-Smooth can be a real asset and would be a wonderful sleeper.
Terrence Williams- During the draft season last year there was a lot of buzz around Terrence Williams thanks largely due to his triple-double he dropped on the Bulls in April 2010. T-Will’s April of 2010 was fantastic as well with a line of 14.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 6.3 APG. Was this a while ago? Yeah and he fell off quite a bit last season. The point is that Louisville Cardinal has upside and could produce numbers on the wing for the potentially thin Houston roster. He’s capable of playing to two as well as the three and could become a useful sixth-man/utility player. We’ll pay close attention to him for their preseason games.
Chase Budinger- Budinger could take on more of the scoring burden on the wing. The U of A alum dropped 35 in his last game of the season and took 4.2 attempts from three-point land after the trade deadline. He’s under contract this year and the team should certainly exercise the team option at $942K for next season. Even if a deal doesn't go down, he’s definitely worth a flier in the last couple rounds.
Jonny Flynn- Flynn is under contract with the Rockets for this year and next year and he’s now the backup to Kyle Lowry. If Lowry did get hurt, Flynn could have upside with his quick trigger from the three-point line. He'll need Goran to pack his bags though.
Patrick Patterson- The Rockets should be signing a center at some point. For the sake of argument, let’s say they don’t and they get Gasol at the five. Hey, they started the Chuckwagon (likely to sign in Sacramento) at the five, so it’s possible. Patterson is probably the best option to complement Gasol based on their current roster. Some fantasy owners might remember Patterson dropping three double-doubles in a row in March and blocking over a shot per game over the entire month. He also shot a sterling 55.8 percent from the field last year and a not-too-shabby 71.4 percent from the stripe. There’s a lot to like about him and he’d be a sleeper should the Rockets stand pat (pun intended).
The New Orleans Hornets, like the Rockets and Lakers, still have some moves to make.
Kevin Martin- Kid-Mart is good to go. Whether he winds up in New Orleans or stays in Houston, he’ll be in a similar situation to the one back in his Sacramento days. Back then he was doing all the heavy lifting offensively before his ankle cost him some time. There’s a very good chance he scores 25 PPG in The Big Easy or H-Town(23.5 last year). If your league counts FT%, he shouldn't go later than the third round.
Luis Scola- Scola doesn’t see his value alter much either since he’s heading over there with his high-scoring mate.
Lamar Odom- L.O. would gain some nice value should he make it out of Tinseltown. He would likely resume his point-forward role and should be viewed as a nice middle-round pick. The way the Lakers are rebuilding their roster it's a good bet that he's dealt either to get CP3 or Dwight Howard.
Goran Dragic-If Goran goes to New Orleans--which sounds like a movie title-- he would likely beat out Jarrett Jack for the starting gig. He dropped a triple-double in April and has plenty of upside. Owners that drafted already might want to make a speculative scoop.
Contrary to what Dan Gilbert said (YOU MUST READ THIS), not putting this deal through is a travesty. This is going to get very ugly and we'll be hearing plenty about this reversal for a long, long time.
Thanks for reading! I'm going to be a busy man with updates over the weekend and I'll be posting updates on Twitter as well as writing columns. Post your comments below!