Stern vetoes Paul deal, creates uneasiness around NBA

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Stern vetoes Paul deal, creates uneasiness around NBA

It looks like Chris Paul isn't going to the Los Angeles Lakers at all or Boston or any major market - at least not anytime soon.

Shortly after the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets engineered a three-team blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, the deal was called off by NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The deal would have netted the Lakers Paul, one of the top players in the NBA.

Timing, more than anything else, is why Paul will be in the Hornet's training camp on Friday.

One of the many issues that league officials talked about during the 149-day lockout, was trying to limit big-market teams from running roughshod over mid-sized and small-market clubs for the game's superstars.

Killing the Paul trade?

Mission accomplished.

But here in Boston, you have to wonder what would have happened if the Celtics' offer for Paul of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, along with two first-round picks, would have been accepted by the Hornets?

Would that deal have been killed too?

While there are certainly some owners who feel good about the deal being killed, there are just as many bothered by the move.

Here's what the league had to say on rejecting the Paul trade:

"Not true that owners killed the deal," read a statement from the NBA. "It wasn't even discussed at the Board meeting. League office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons."

Uh, OK.

So what's to stop them from killing any trade for "basketball reasons."

This decision by the league really stinks on so many levels. It creates the allusion that the league, at least when it comes to trades, will play favorites.

In addition, you can bet that Paul will consider taking this thing to court.

By forcing him to stay in New Orleans - a team he has no intention of playing with beyond this season - the return may cost him several millions in his next deal, money that he may never recoup.

One more thing.

The idea of forcing a player back to a team in this manner, won't sit well with the NBA's fan base or the players - the two most important components to the league's success.

So as much as folks outside of L.A. probably did a quiet little double-fist pump when they heard Stern had killed the deal, be careful.

Because the next time a trade comes around that the league doesn't like for "basketball reasons," it just might be your team - and not the Lakers - getting screwed.

Horford, Johnson wasting no time in developing chemistry

Horford, Johnson wasting no time in developing chemistry

WALTHAM, Mass. – When the news came out that Al Horford was going to be a Boston Celtic, Amir Johnson couldn’t wait to meet his new teammate.

He didn’t have to.

Johnson soon found himself on plane headed to Atlanta to not only work out with Horford, but also try and work out some of the kinks that tend to come up among new teammates in those early days of training camp.

“I took it upon myself when I saw Al was part of the team, I automatically wanted to go down to Atlanta and work,” said Johnson who added that he brought his daughter along for the trip and they went to dinner with Horford’s family during the visit. “I thought it was great just to get that chemistry going. I just wanted to get to known him, make him feel comfortable.”

It’s still early in training camp, but Johnson and Horford seem to be meshing quite well on the floor. 

“The chemistry’s definitely coming along,” Johnson said. “I know when Al wants to roll or pop, and just working my way around it. Al’s more of a popper and eventually he’ll roll. It’s up to me to read whether I stay up or work the baseline.”

Johnson has been in the NBA long enough to know that often the keys to success are subtle nuances that may be overlooked by fans and spectators, but players know are essential to them being successful.

Being able to not only understand a player’s game but figure out how to play well with them, are critical to teammates being successful.

Last season, Johnson was Boston’s primary rim-protecting big man which is a role the 29-year-old Johnson has been cast in the last few years he was in Toronto. Horford brings a similar set of defensive skills to the table which gives Boston a true 1-2 defensive punch along the frontline.

“It’s big time,” Johnson said. “We communicate to each other. It’s all about communication out there; just knowing he can hold it down and he trusts me to hold it down. It’s key.”

GREEN INJURY UPDATE

Gerald Green is expected to get a few more days to rest his hip flexor injury which he said on Thursday was feeling better.

The injury should keep the 6-6 wing from participating in the team’s Green-White scrimmage on Friday, but it isn’t considered serious.

Still, Green is eager to get back and return to full contact work which is why he is getting a steady diet of treatments during the day and returning in the evening for more treatments from the Celtics’ medical staff.

“It’s almost like a precautionary thing; make sure it doesn’t get worst,” Green said.

The injury occurred earlier this week but Green could not pinpoint exactly what he did to suffer the injury.

“I don’t think I stretched properly,” Green said. “I’m not 25 no more. Just try to come out there and go at full speed. Those are things I’ve got to learn now I’m in my 30s.”
Indeed, one of the many benefits of being older now is that Green sees the big picture of things better now, which is why he isn’t trying to rush back to the floor too quickly.

As a veteran, it’s a long season,” Green said. “You’re not trying to do too much to make it worst. Training camp is important, but being healthy at the beginning of the season is even more important.”

RUN, YOUNGSTERS, RUN

Near the end of Thursday’s practice, the Celtics had a full court game of 3-on-3 involving some of the team’s rookies and end-of-the-bench training camp invitees like Jalen Jones of Texas A&M. The 6-7 undrafted rookie had a dunk over Jordan Mickey, a 3-pointer and another strong, uncontested flush at the rim in a matter of minutes. He’s likely to wind up with Boston’s Developmental League team, the Maine Red Claws.

With Thursday morning’s session being the team’s fifth practice this season, head coach Brad Stevens thought it was a good idea to get some of the team’s younger players on the court.

“It was good to play some 3-on-3,” said Stevens who added that it was good for their conditioning since a lot of the running at this point involves trying to get the starters and the likely rotation players as acclimated and familiar with one another as possible. “We try to do that occasionally even through the season just to get everybody up and down.”

TURNOVERS? WHAT TURNOVERS?

Five practices in the books and there’s only one thing that really has stood out to the eyes of Isaiah Thomas.

It’s turnovers.

Apparently the Celtics haven’t committed too many thus far.

“We haven’t turned the ball over as much as teams usually do the first couple of days,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to learn the system, trying to get everybody familiar with what we do. But we’ve been playing well together. Guys are playing hard. Guys have gotten better, worked on their game.”

Ball-handling will be one of the areas to watch during the preseason as the Celtics look to find a replacement for Evan Turner (Portland) who has been one of the team’s best ball-handlers the past couple of seasons.

The Celtics were middle-of-the-pack last season with 13.5 turnovers per game which ranked 14th in the NBA.

Low turnovers often serve as a common trait among playoff teams. Just last season, eight of the top-nine teams in fewest turnovers committed, were in the playoffs.