Q: Do you think the trade for Trevor Ariza will be enough to keep Chris Paul with the Hornets, or at least make him happier?
— Mark, Lafayette, La.
A: I've seen this four-way deal summed up by numerous outlets as a win-win-win-win proposition. I'm not buying.
From the Hornets' perspective, my question would be this: Would New Orleans have made this trade if it would have been a straight-up-deal sending out Darren Collison and acquiring Ariza?
My suspicion is the Hornets would not have made such a move.
Collison has far greater upside, at a position that is far more crucial to success.
The deal appears to have been made because it also allowed the Hornets to unload the final two years on James Posey's contract, when he was due $6.5 million and $6.9 million.
To me, that makes New Orleans' end of the deal a salary dump. If you are Paul and your team is involved in salary dumps, how could that create optimism for your team's near-term outlook?
Yes, Collison and Paul play the same position. And, yes, Paul is the franchise cornerstone. But it's not as if the Hornets are playing for the championship this season. And it is quite possible that if Collison backed up his rookie play with a strong second-year effort, his value would have been even greater.
The thing is, Posey could have helped the Hornets this season. It would have been one thing if New Orleans had been unable to unload Peja Stojakovic's salary in a Collison trade.
Ariza is not a game-changer. He is a complementary piece. The Lakers learned that by winning without him; the Rockets learned that by not winning with him.
Collison showed last season he had the chance to be a game changer.
Rare are the times when a No. 21 draft pick emerges as such a contributor. Now, the Pacers instead will reap the benefits.
Combine the Collison move with management's decision that Julian Wright was, essentially, a bust, and it hardly adds up to a positive outlook for Paul, as the Hornets' clock ticks toward the 2012 trading deadline.
Q: Why would Rod Thorn resign as Nets GM and then join the 76ers in a similar position?
— Dave, Newark, N.J.
A: The sense I've long gotten from Thorn is that he is a traditionalist, albeit one with roots in the ABA.
The new Nets' regime, led by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, appears intent on reinventing the team's approach.
With the 76ers, Thorn not only can remain with a more traditional ownership structure, but also has the familiar face of Ed Stefanski in place.
When Thorn is somewhere in the NBA, the league is better because of it.
With Thorn and Doug Collins, the 76ers have reason to be encouraged about a potential turnaround.
Q: Could the Heat, like the Celtics did, win a championship in their first year with their "big three"?
— Kevin, Philippines.
A: Not only could they, but they almost have to, based on all the rhetoric coming from the recreated roster.
Heck, Jeff Van Gundy essentially said it's already a done deal.
Will they win the 2011 title? The Lakers are the proven quantity. The Celtics have the chemistry. And Stan Van Gundy consistently has driven his Magic deep into the playoffs.
This will come down to matchups in the postseason, with the Heat featuring enough question marks at center and point guard to keep it from being a sure thing.
When the Celtics won in 2008, they had Rajon Rondo at point guard and Kendrick Perkins at center. This rendition of the Heat doesn't have anything nearly as substantial at those two positions.
Q: As a Lakers fan, I like to see another three-peat. What do you think is the key for this?
— Jimmy, Diamond Bar, Calif.
A: As with the Heat, health is paramount.
I did like Jeff Van Gundy's line the other day on the radio, when he said the Heat should break its post-practice huddles by going, "One! Two! Three! Health!"
I can't see how the acquisitions of Matt Barnes and Steve Blake make the Lakers anything but a better team.
PBT: San Antonio found what worked and it’s on the Grizzlies to raise their level enough in Game 2 in San Antonio on Tuesday to get a split in the series.
PBT: Kevin Durant and other Thunder stars are sending their support to victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
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