Friday, December 9, 2011

Chris Paul Trade Happened, then Didn't Happen.

Last night we, as NBA fans, received an early Christmas present, only to see it taken away by Scrooge himself, David Stern.  We heard the news break, "Chris Paul traded to the Lakers."  Then a mere hour later, "The NBA says, 'NO.'"  We were left scratching our heads.  Why did this happen?  As we have been hearing a lot this morning, the Hornets are owned by the NBA, but this trade veto has to run much deeper than that.  It has to.

A little timeline--
Last week, Chris Paul says he wants out of New Orleans this year, preferably a trade to the Knicks.  It seemed as though any other big market team would suffice.
New Orleans obliges, knowing he can freely leave after this year, and they would like to avoid a Carmelo situation.
The phones are ringing, as they have for the past five months--this situation seemed inevitable even in June.
The Lakers strike a deal, one in which they come away in a much worse situation than they had been before the trade.
The Hornets, who want to get some trade value out of Chris Paul, end up winning the deal by a landslide for a player they would basically be leasing for the next six months.
The NBA nixes the deal, namely David Stern, saying Chris Paul must finish the season in New Orleans.

For those of us who haven't seen the trade logistics already, The Rockets, Lakers, and Hornets involved themselves in a three-way deal sending Gasol to the Rockets and Paul to the Lakers.  The Hornets would receive Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, and a first-round pick in 2012.  How is that not fair?

The reasons this trade was vetoed must be speculated, as the NBA isn't capable of giving a straight answer to the basketball-watching public.  But David Stern cited that Chris Paul has to finish out the season in New Orleans, and it might be a strong effort to keep one of the NBA's struggling franchises afloat.  After all, the NBA, along with fellow owners, had to buy out the Hornets a few years ago, but clearly stated they would have no say in personnel decisions.  Well, they are having their say.  David Stern felt pressured--pressured by owners, pressured by New Orleans, and pressured by money.  The Lakers don't need Chris Paul, financially speaking, because 1111 S Figueroa Street will sell out as is.  But New Orleans?  They have been losing money for the past three years, even with Chris Paul, and the NBA can't let them lose their only star player.  David Stern had to come in and say, "Not if I have anything to say about it."

But is this decision strictly financial?  If the Lakers acquired Chris Paul, and then, hypothetically, were able to deal for Dwight Howard, it would make the regular season meaningless.  The Heat and Lakers would be in the NBA Finals every year, and the Lakers' big three would be head-and-shoulders above the Heat's.  Lebron James is the so-called poster child of the NBA, although most everyone hates him outside of South Beach, where he so notoriously took his talents last offseason.  The NBA wants him to win a title, although we are not sure why, and Paul and Howard in Los Angeles would directly hinder that.

But let's not, even for a second, compare this Chris Paul situation to Lebron's.  Paul has gone about this all the right ways--he doesn't want to be lost in obscurity in a small NBA market, so he simply requested a trade to a bigger one.  Lebron put on a show for his decision, trying to make himself bigger than the sport, eventually being brought down to earth by the general reception of "The Decision."  If Paul can't lobby for his trade, after being as gracious as one can in a moment like this, then who can?

Eventually, in the next week, I expect Stern and the NBA executives to reverse this decision, as it is a complete injustice to all the teams involved, especially the Hornets.  Stern isn't thinking long-term, and in his effort to save this Hornets franchise, he is actually killing them.  Rather than receiving four good players and a draft pick for Paul, they would be left with nothing at season's end.

If Scrooge doesn't reverse his decision, then I have lost what little interest I have left in the NBA.


  1. As much as I hate LA (and I really hate LA), I would have LOVED to see this happen. Thanks, Stern!

  2. It's incredible. The trade was BEYOND fair. The Hornets got a ton of GREAT pieces for a guy that is leaving next year for sure.