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Who Will Step Up And Lead The NBA Out Of This? - The Downbeat - #638

I'm a little bit scared for the NBA right now. It's a good thing we just got signed contracts from the players and the league yesterday otherwise who knows what would have happened.

As most of you know, the Hornets had a deal in place to send Chris Paul to the Lakers. The trade involved the Rockets and would have netted New Orleans Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, and a first-round pick from the Rockets that they received from the Knicks. Sure, it sucked that Paul would have been a Laker but it wasn't a lopsided deal. They may have been able to get something a little bit better from the Clippers, but Sterling didn't want to give up Eric Gordon apparently.

So New Orleans had a deal that had Paul gone by the time training camp started and they would have moved forward as a team. However, that team is owned by the 29 other owners at the moment. So what happened? They freaked out. At least several owners did. Dan Gilbert sent a letter -- shocking -- to David Stern where he complains about the deal.

In the time it took to digest the news that Paul was heading to LA, news broke that Stern had put the kibosh on the deal citing "basketball reasons." Unbelievable. The digital ink wasn't even dry on reporters' word processors and their whole story was trashed. How does this end? The players involved with the trade are furious and I can't imagine there won't be a lawsuit coming. ESPN is reporting that Paul and Odom might skip training camp today. Just when the league would be getting ready to hold a press conference on the deal being ratified and kicking off the season officially, now this.

This will dominate the headlines now until it's resolved. And the only way I see this resolved is for the league to allow the trade to go through. Adrian Wojnarowski reported in the story above that Stern "didn't like that the players were dictating where they wanted to go, like Carmelo had, and he wasn't going to let Chris Paul dictate where he wanted to go." That was one of the driving forces behind the lockout. And so now we will have another battle.

Getting back to why I'm a little afraid for the league right now. First, the league isn't going anywhere. However, it sits on the edge of a precipice right now. Stern either has to reverse his decision and send Paul to LA or he has to get the Hornets sold quickly. That last option is near impossible. Stern used to rule this league with an iron fist yet now his legacy will be one of lost games due to a lockout and now this debacle. That's why there are rumors now that Stern may retire in the next 48 hours though of course the league has denied he will be stepping down.

Adam Silver, the current deputy commissioner, would certainly take over. He did most of the work for the league during the lockout while Stern was the figurehead. He's no doubt capable of running the league. Stern though had a way of getting owners to do what he wanted in the best interest of the league. He could silence any minor uprisings and pretty much had his way. That seems to have changed though. So what will Silver be like? While Stern technically works for the owners, it's been the other way around for a while. Will Silver get pushed around by every small faction that doesn't like something going on in the league?

I guess the question I'm asking is who's going to lead the league in the next decade or so? Who's going to be one that not only leads but takes the league and improves it rights the ship and gets things back on course? Will it be Silver? The owners? Maybe even the players? Things are a bit chaotic right now and someone needs to step up.

Oh, did you know that training camp starts today as well as free agency signings? Both will get going at noon local time. If today is half of what yesterday was, thing are about to get crazy.

The biggest story heading into camp is the apparent open battle for positions. Tyrone Corbin has stated that everything is up for grabs. The competition will be fierce for all of the spots. I'll have have an open thread today just for training camp, trade, and signing news.

moni has your refresher on the new names at camp.

For the first time in a long time though, we won't have Kyrylo Fesenko in camp. Reporters have to be a bit bummed about that given that he was a walking story. Without his injury, he would have been in someone's camp today spreading the Fess. I hope he returns to the league soon.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz are pursuing free-agent Josh Howard. After spending his entire career in Dallas, he was traded last season to the Wizards. He may be on the downside of his career but still has some value. Most notably is the fact that he gets to the line a lot. After flirting with the 40% mark early in his career, his three-point percentage has hovered in the mid-30s. The Jazz do need another wing though right now. He could be a decent pickup.

Friday open poll... When training camp breaks, who are the starters and who do you think should be the starters?