By Chris Lehman
After one of the most bizarre off seasons in recent history, it’s finally time for basketball to resume.
It all started last year when the Dallas Mavericks shocked the world. All the talk going into the 2010-2011 NBA season revolved around the Miami Heat and their Big Three and whether or not they were good enough to bring down the Los Angeles Lakers. Then the New York Knicks tried to form their own all-star team by bringing in Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Not to forget about the Oklahoma City Thunder who many people predicted to sneak through the playoffs and come out with the trophy. Other teams like Boston and San Antonio were thrown around as they are every year. But practically nobody (other than the 1.2 million Dallas residents) thought Dirk would lead the Mavericks all the way.
Then we were faced with the ultimate nightmare — A year without the NBA. Many players fled to Europe because of this fear. After many meetings and negotiations, or the lack thereof, we were finally given a season. A compressed 66-game season, but a season nonetheless — And for that we’re all grateful.
Once the lockout ended, teams frantically searched for trades in order to contend with these big market powerhouses. Names such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler were thrown around as some of the most valuable pieces on the block. Butler returned to Los Angeles, but this time he will wear red and blue as opposed to purple and gold. Chandler, an integral piece of the Dallas championship team, chose to team up with Stoudemire and Anthony in the Big Apple.
Now, with three teams (Miami, New York and Boston) having virual all-star teams, other teams decided they needed to make improvements in order to remain relevant in the league. The Lakers and Nets both expressed great interest in acquiring Dwight “Superman” Howard from the Magic. The Lakers also successfully traded for Chris Paul, that is, until commissioner, David Stern decided to “protect the smaller market teams.” He was okay, however, with sending Chris Paul to the Clippers where the Hornets would get less in return. The Clippers received Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Amini from the Clippers. In the previous trade offer with the Lakers, they would have received a great scorer in Kevin Martin, the defending sixth man of the year in Lamar Odom, one of the toughest and most tenacious players in Luis Scola and a solid backup in Gordon Dragic. But somehow, the other trade helps New Orleans more.
One of the bigger moves that went under the radar was Lamar Odom’s displacement. He was sent to Dallas in exchange for their first round pick. This is the steal of the year. The Mavericks now have the two best sixth men in the league. Depth wins championships.
Regardless of how we got where we are, the past is the past. Now the games begin.