Byron Scott attempted to put on a brave face when one of his key players was traded to cut payroll, just as Mike D'Antoni did two years ago.
That's what coaches know they're supposed to do, even when losing salary might cause them to lose games.
The New Orleans Hornets dealt center Tyson Chandler to Oklahoma City this week, a trade that was rescinded after Chandler failed his physical. Though Chandler's numbers are down during an injury-plagued season, the deal seemed financially motivated, since he's due to make $12.2 million next season and $13.2 million in 2010-11.
Scott tried to explain otherwise after the Hornets were to get Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox.
``I think it frustrates you to a certain extent. As a coach, you want to win no matter what. That's the bottom line. Your job kind of depends on that obviously,'' he said.
two guys in Chris and Joe that are very, very good quality basketball players.''
The cost-conscious Phoenix Suns made a one-sided deal in July 2007 when they sent forward Kurt Thomas, plus two first-round picks, to Seattle for a conditional second-rounder, a trade that was all about saving money. Thomas was a reliable veteran defensive presence on a team with title hopes, yet D'Antoni did his best to defend the move at the time.
``I think it's hard for everybody. It's hard for even the owners to do it, but I don't think anybody's in the business to get financially ruined and you have to do what you do and the coach has to make the best of what's available and not whine about it,'' D'Antoni, now the Knicks coach, said this week of salary-dump trades.
``I'm sure if any one of us had been in that position where you say, 'I'll go financially broke or I need to make a trade,' I think you'd make a trade and then you just deal with it and then do the best you can do and you go forward.''
Not every coach has mastered the technique. George Karl struggled to deal with Denver's offseason trade that sent Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Trades to save money could become more common over the next couple of years as team attempt to survive the financial crisis. The best policy, according to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, is just to watch your money from the start.
... and if you're forced to dump salary, it means that something must have been happening in the past that got you in that position,'' Popovich said. ``So what goes around comes around. Eventually you pay for it, so you've got to just try not to get in those situations.''
BETTER WITHOUT BYNUM?: Pau Gasol started to say ``better,'' before quickly correcting himself and saying ``different.''
When it comes to analyzing the Los Angeles Lakers offensively without Andrew Bynum, both answers could be correct. The Western Conference champions have kept rolling since losing their starting center last month.
``I wouldn't say that we're a better offensive team, we're a different team,'' assistant coach Brian Shaw said. ``I think we become more versatile and the floor opens up a little bit more, because when he's there playing alongside Pau, teams tend to clog up the middle a little bit more. Andrew's a low post player and he's always down around the basket. Now with him being out of there, it opens it up a little bit more and it allows for us to have more driving lanes and what have you.''
nt shooting through the first eight games in February - and that includes games against top defensive teams in Boston and Cleveland.
Odom was having a disappointing season before Bynum's injury, but was averaging 16.9 points and 13.4 rebounds since Bynum was lost, creating matchup problems for Lakers opponents.
``It's kind of like you pick your poison,'' Shaw said. ``We can pound teams inside when we Pau and Andrew are out there, and when Andrew's not out there, it allows Lamar to have the advantage in a lot of situations. Because at the power forward, all the things that he can do in terms of rebounding, pushing the ball, playing outside on the floor, a lot of power forwards can't match up on the outside.''
Gasol has been even better. His averages of 17.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 55.1 percent shooting through January earned him an All-Star spot, but those numbers have grown to 22.3, 12.3 and 61.9 in February. He was Western Conference player of the week for the first week of the month.
Bynum is expected to return for the playoffs, and the Lakers know how much they'd need him against the powerful front lines of the Celtics or Cavaliers. In the meantime, they'll score enough to win plenty of games without him.
offensively and defensively, so if he's able to be at that level, I think we're a much better team when it comes to that. But with Lamar and myself, like I said we're a different look, we attack the defense a little different and we are probably a little more offensive minded.''
TOO CLOSE TO CALL?: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul both could make MVP cases for themselves and will likely finish in the top five when the voting is done.
Yet like most observers, they know the discussion has to start with one name.
``Right now, I would say the midseason MVP would have to go to LeBron,'' Howard said during All-Star weekend. ``I think they have only lost one game at home, one game. They could take the home court and the big reason is because of him. He has everybody playing defense and has got everybody involved in the offense. He is putting up big numbers.''
James might have the best case, but it's definitely not a one-horse race. Paul was runner-up last season, and he thinks the player that won has a good chance to repeat.
``Kobe and LeBron are neck-and-neck,'' the Hornets point guard said. ``You can't go wrong with picking either of them.''
ames' Cavaliers this season.
That sets up a race that seems too close to call.
``Every time everyone is conceding the MVP this year, rightfully so to LeBron James, who is having a fabulous year, Kobe comes out with a performance like this that makes everyone say, 'Let's hold off a little bit and let the season play out and take a look at both guys' stats the whole year,''' TNT analyst Reggie Miller said after Bryant's 61-point performance at Madison Square Garden.
SHOT AT SPRINGFIELD: Phil Jackson could always be counted on to spice up a postseason with a jab at some NBA city like Sacramento.
He took a dig at a new target last weekend: the birthplace of basketball.
The occasion was the announcement that Michael Jordan was a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame. Jackson, who coached Jordan to six titles in Chicago, asked if there could possibly be a dissenting vote.
Then he wondered how the Hall's home could host an event worthy of Jordan.
``The interesting thing will be are they able to use the Hall of Fame as the format for this guy, or will they have to do it in another place or another city?'' Jackson said.
He went on to compare its home in Massachusetts with the Baseball Hall of Fame's in upstate New York.
. It is a little bit different.''
The enshrinement of the 2009 class is scheduled for Sept. 11. And yes, it's scheduled for Springfield.

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