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NBA's veto of Chris Paul trade spurs plenty of consequences

December 8, 2011 | 10:54 pm


It's a move that's going to be more controversial than The Decision, and this time it's not only the people in Cleveland that are angry. 

The Lakers had just orchestrated a three-way deal to bring Chris Paul to L.A. while sending Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets and Lamar Odom to the New Orleans Hornets in a three-team trade. In turn, Houston would send Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and draft picks to the Hornets. But before Lakers fans could begin salivating over the purple & gold bolstering their backcourt, the NBA flexed its ownership power over the franchise and killed the deal. 

League spokesman Tim Frank might have told The Times' Mike Bresnahan that the "league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons," but there's plenty of reasons to remain skeptical for that justification, considering Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski obtaining an e-mail from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to NBA Commissioner David Stern that urged him to nix the trade.

Stern could've easily avoided this scenario through discussions with the front offices of the Lakers, Rockets and Hornets. They could've prevented such a conundrum by properly addressing this in the just-ratified collective bargaining agreement. And coincidentally, this is something former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson predicted would happen.

"When Chris says he has to be traded, how’s that going to go?" Jackson said to reporters last year. "Someone’s going to have to make a very nonjudgmental decision on that part that’s not going to irritate anyone else in the league.”

Well, it pretty much did. Paul reportedly won't report to training camp. Odom told The Times' Broderick Turner he doubts he will and expressed hurt over the situation. And Bresnahan talked to someone close to Gasol who said he was "devastated" by the original trade.

But this issue goes beyond hurt feelings and locker rooms being ripped apart. The NBA's move clearly showed it's serious about protecting small-market teams, far more than any new labor deal can show. The league absolutely can't justify Paul being traded anywhere after rejecting this one. The Hornets franchise will struggle to stay afloat and maintain credibility. The Lakers likely have less of a chance to acquire Dwight Howard. And NBA fans will feel more skeptical about the league's intentions than they did during the ugly prolonged lockout. 

Unfortunately for all parties involved, no one comes out of this with a good feeling. 


Lamar Odom in 'disbelief' after nearly being traded to Hornets

Lakers' deal for Chris Paul is killed by the NBA

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Hornets point guard Chris Paul (3) looks to pass under pressure from Lakers power forward Pau Gasol and point guard Derek Fisher on a drive during a playoff game last season. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times