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Brave New NBA World, Free Agency Period and Training Camp, Begin Today

Last night's Chris Paul - Lakers - Hornets trade whathaveyou (seriously don't know what else to call it yet) does not directly impact our Memphis Grizzlies. In terms of the Western Conference power balance, well, it would've taken further reflecting before I decided whether or not to complain about the would-be deal getting axed by commissioner / One Man Trade Committee David Stern in terms of general basketball dangerousness. In every other way, though, what took place last night is more than worrisome for the league as a whole (Read the damning quotes near the end of Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski's latest, coming from a league executive, and tell me if you get a warm fuzzy feeling about the state of the league, and, more importantly, its leadership).

The Lakers -- yes, we know, they're the Lakers, but still -- were prevented from improving their team in what was largely a fair deal, the Hornets were stopped from receiving basketball players and assets for a player who will leave after this season anyway for nothing in return for the New Orleans franchise because, more or less, the NBA's owners told Stern that Paul in Los Angeles alongside Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum would be TOTALLY UNFAIR, you guys, STOP IT. It's hard to see how anyone can feel good, or clean, about this mess.

Except for the fact that, yeah, the Western Conference may have totally dodged a major bullet, depending on how you felt about the trade that almost was, and especially if it was to be the eventual step towards Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, which was the truly terrifying prospect. That, of course, isn't the main takeaway here so much as the downright unfairness that this trade block was and the lasting black mark on the league's image that will be left by it. It's sad and depressing that, weeks away from the season's beginning, we still can't simply talk basketball.

Annnnnyways, we can try, right? While that story will surely get uglier, good news is out there in NBA Land. Remember that big collective bargaining deal? Yeah? Well, that's officially official. Training camps league-wide are, effective today, open for business and free agents can begin putting pen to paper on those new contracts.

For the Grizzlies, this means that addressing those top priorities and potential additions can begin in earnest. Guess who we're talking about?

We're talking about Marc Gasol, of course. Memphis is set up well otherwise to begin the shortened training camp with basically the entire squad of last year intact. If the Grizzlies do one thing between now and opening night on December 26, it has to be re-signing Gasol. Anything else, any other additions -- Josh McRoberts, anyone? -- will be icing on the cake.

The need to bring Gasol back is crucial to picking up where the Grizz left off last season. All of that launches today; the preparation of camp and the courting of their young center. For the Grizzlies, today marks the beginning of the exciting next step in their evolution to Western Conference force. It's nice to have that to focus on internally in Memphis, because in other news, it sure ain't pretty on the outside.