Commissioner Stern puts kibosh on Chris Paul trade at last minute
A flurry of rumors regarding player movement took place on Thursday, Dec. 8 — the day when the NBA and Players Association voted to approve the new collective-bargaining agreement. While none of it can become official until Dec. 9, which did not stop the rumors during a wild and wooly day. And no news tidbit was more wild or wooly than the proposed three-team trade involving Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and a host of other players.
According to reports, the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Houston Rockets agreed to a trade that would have sent Pau Gasol to Houston, Chris Paul to Los Angeles, and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and a 2012 first-round pick to New Orleans.
All the rumors surrounding Paul’s imminent departure from the Big Easy appeared to be coming true. And then, as quickly as it had come, the deal was gone.
According to yet more reports, several NBA owners appealed to Commissioner Stern to block the deal from going through. Apparently the owners were unhappy that, after months of a lockout and lip service about improving competitive balance across the league, the Hornets were about to ship another big-name player to a glamour market.
Under normal circumstances, the league would not be able to outright kill a deal the way they did here. However, the Hornets are owned by the NBA, making Stern the de facto owner of the team.
The NBA would not mind seeing Paul go to the Lakers, and by all accounts, the deal was pretty fair for all involved — much fairer than some of the other deals made involving disgruntled stars. Yet the NBA did not want to face the public-relations backlash that would have accompanied such a trade and would much rather find a buyer for the franchise and then allow the new owner to move Paul if they so choose.
But while the NBA avoided one disaster, it created one for the three teams involved in the trade. Specifically, now each team needs to find a way to welcome the principles of the deal back into the fold and convince them that they are still valued by their respective teams. However, that will not be an easy task.
Odom sounded particularly hurt by nearly being traded and did not sound very enthusiastic about returning to the club. “Maybe I’ll see you there tomorrow [at practice],” Odom said in a phone interview with the LA Times. “But I doubt it. You don’t want to go to no place you’re not wanted.
“I’m just in total disbelief about all of this. They don’t want my services, for whatever reason. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
Houston will have the same issues with Martin and Scola, trying to convince those key pieces that the team has a place for them.
As for the Hornets, the issue gets stickier now. Paul still wants out of town, but the list of teams they can ship him to is dwindling. New York has all but given up on trading for Paul and are hoping he chooses them as a free agent in 2012, Paul has never been too keen on Boston despite the fervent pursuit by the Celtics, and Golden State refuses to part ways with Stephen Curry. But if the Hornets do not trade him, they risk letting him walk away as a free agent and getting nothing in return.
If the league had just instructed GM Dell Demps not to field offers for Paul, this mess never would have happened. But it’s too late now; it did happen. Now the only thing left to do is figure out where to go from here.
By: Eric Lorenz
> Read all of the pro basketball articles online from ProBasketball-fans.com.