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

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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.

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

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Lamar Odom is still a Laker, but he doesn't sound completely thrilled about it.

Odom admitted that he was “shocked” and “surprised” when told Thursday afternoon that the Lakers agreed to trade him to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a deal for point guard Chris Paul. But this evening when he heard that the NBA had killed the trade, Odom said he was in “total disbelief” over these new developments.

Odom and Pau Gasol had been part of a three-team deal: Paul was coming to the Lakers, Odom was going to the Hornets and Gasol was going to the Houston Rockets, who were going to send Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and draft picks to the Hornets.

PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years

But NBA commissioner David Stern, reportedly under pressure from the same owners that just ratified the new collective bargaining agreement, killed the deal. The Hornets are owned by the NBA; the league said they rejected the Paul "trade for basketball reasons."

“I guess that means I’m a Laker if the trade didn’t go through,” a somber Odom said in a phone interview with The Times. “I don’t know what to do for the Lakers. I’m even weirded out by the league doing what they did. I don’t know what to do.”

Odom said he thought it was “a lie” when he was first told about the trade to New Orleans.

“And then it doesn’t go through,” Odom said. “Oh, lord. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll pray about it.”

The Lakers open training camp Friday at their facility in El Segundo.

“Maybe I’ll see you there tomorrow [at practice],” Odom said. “But I doubt it. You don’t want to go to no place you’re not wanted. I’ll try to give them what they want as much as possible.”

Odom also felt bad for Gasol.

“Imagine how Pau feels,” Odom said. “Pau came to the Lakers and played here for four years, went to the Finals and lost, won two NBA championships and then got swept [by the Dallas Mavericks this year]. Wow! Imagine how he must feel.

“Man, I’m just in total disbelief about all of this,” Odom continued. “They don’t want my services, for whatever reason. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I was proud to be a Laker, so I’ll try to help them in the process as much as possible."

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Mike Brown's offense likely to use Kobe Bryant in multiple ways

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard would mesh well together as Lakers

 --Broderick Turner

Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom in May. Credit:  Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Lakers' trade for Chris Paul is killed by NBA [update]

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The Lakers' deal for New Orleans guard Chris Paul has been killed by the NBA, which owns the Hornets franchise.

"It is not true that owners killed the deal," said NBA spokesman Tim Frank. "It wasn't even discussed at the Board [of Governors] meeting. The league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons."

The league bought the New Orleans franchise last December and has typically left personnel decisions to the Hornets' front office.

Nobody seemed more surprised by the death of the deal than Paul.

"WoW," he wrote on Twitter at 6:11 p.m.

Lakers officials were still hunkered down in a room at the team's El Segundo headquarters Thursday night, trying to ascertain what would happen next.

The Lakers had agreed to acquire Paul from New Orleans for power forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a three-team deal also involving Houston, a move that symbolized a shift from finesse, precision and depth in the Lakers' frontcourt to speed and athleticism in their backcourt.

RELATED:

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

Good deal or bad: Chris Paul for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom?

Mike Brown's offense likely to use Kobe Bryant in multiple ways

--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Hornets point guard Chris Paul pulls down a rebound from Lakers point guard Steve Blake during a playoff game last season. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Chris Paul for Gasol and Odom, good deal or bad?

Fabforum

The Lakers agreed to acquire Chris Paul from New Orleans for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a three-team deal Thursday, which basically dismantles the team that won two consecutive NBA titles.

So is this a good deal or a bad deal?

The Lakers are expected to acquire at least one other player in the deal to play power forward. It was unclear which player, but it's possible the Lakers would also receive veteran New Orleans center-forward Emeka Okafor.

PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years

Paul, 26, would replace Derek Fisher at point guard. Paul's stats were actually down last season after he underwent surgery in Jan. 2010 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. He averaged 15.8 points, 9.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds, a dip from career averages of 18.7 points, 9.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He played 80 games last season after playing only 45 in 2009-10.

Gasol, 31, is a four-time All-Star who slipped badly in last season's playoffs, averaging 13.1 points and shooting 42%. He is due $57 million over the next three seasons, including $18.7 million this season.

Odom, 32, was acquired by the Lakers in 2004 as part of the Shaquille O'Neal trade. He won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season after averaging 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.

So good deal or bad? Vote now and let us know.

RELATED:

Lamar Odom in 'disbelief' after nearly being traded

Lakers acquire Chris Paul for Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol

Chris Paul solves Lakers needs at point guard

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Say goodbye to Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

 

Chris Paul immediately solves Lakers' point guard needs

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As the entrance to the Lakers' practice facility opened, Pau Gasol drove slowly toward the exit, waving to reporters walking nearby.

There was nothing meant by the friendly gesture, but it surely symbolized his departure from the Lakers. Times Lakers reporter Mike Bresnahan is reporting that the New Orleans Hornets will send Chris Paul to the Lakers in a three-team trade, while the Lakers will send Gasol to the Houston Rockets and Lamar Odom to the Hornets. In turn, the Lakers are also expected to acquire another frontcourt presence, possibly veteran Emeka Okafor. Once this becomes official Friday when training camp opens, some questions suddenly become irrelevant. The ones about whether the Lakers can upgrade their point guard needs, whether Lakers Coach Mike Brown keeps Derek Fisher as his starter or how Steve Blake will compete for more playing time no longer spark concern.

Paul's arrival immediatly adds the speed and the play-making abilities the Lakers need in Brown's traditional offense. It frees up Kobe Bryant to move off the ball. And here's the more tantalizing thought: with Andrew Bynum still remaining on the roster, that leaves the Lakers still with the chance to legitimately pursue Dwight Howard. Even if that doesnt work out, the Lakers have a trusty point guard to help mitigate the Lakers' previous shortcomings.

With Paul a legitimate volume shooter, he'll bolster the Lakers' outside shooting and force defenders to play the perimeter honestly. With Paul possessing lightning quick speed, he'll immediately beat opponents off the dribble and either drive the lane or drop a dime. Whether the Lakers have Bynum or Howard as their center, the Lakers will have a trusty point guard to throw those alley-oop lobs and entry passes with pinpoint accuracy. 

Suddenly, optimism surrounding the Lakers' title chances should immediately blossom.  The scary part: the Lakers may not be done. 

RELATED:

Albert Pujols still values his March visit with Kobe Bryant

Mike Brown's offense likely to use Kobe Bryant in multiple ways

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard would mesh well together

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photos: Chris Paul tries to drive past Lakers point guard Derek Fisher during a regular-season game last spring. Credit: Gina Ferazzi /Los Angeles Times

Lakers to acquire Chris Paul for Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom

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The Lakers agreed to acquire All-Star point guard Chris Paul from New Orleans for power forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a three-team deal Thursday also involving Houston, a move that symbolizes a shift from finesse, precision and depth in the Lakers' frontcourt to speed and athleticism in their backcourt.

"It's a done deal," said a person familiar with the trade who was not authorized to talk publicly.

The Lakers are expected to acquire at least one other player in the deal to play power forward. It was unclear which player, but it's possible the Lakers would also receive veteran New Orleans center-forward Emeka Okafor.

PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years

Paul, 26, might be the best scoring-passing combo guard in the league and can even rebound well for a player listed at 6 feet, giving the Lakers their first dynamic point guard since Magic Johnson. Paul could have become a free agent next July, so the Hornets wanted to trade him before this season to avoid the distractions that befell the Denver Nuggets with Carmelo Anthony last season.

Paul’s contract calls for $16.4 million this season and a player option for $17.8 million next season. He will almost surely sign an extension with the Lakers.

Paul's stats were actually down last season after he underwent surgery in January 2010 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. He averaged 15.8 points, 9.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds a game, a dip from career averages of 18.7 points, 9.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He played 80 games last season after playing only 45 in 2009-10.

Gasol, 31, is a four-time All-Star whose acquisition from Memphis in 2008 spurred the Lakers to two NBA championships in three NBA Finals appearances. However, he slipped badly in last season's playoffs, averaging 13.1 points and shooting 42%. He is due $57 million over the next three seasons, including $18.7 million this season.

Odom, 32, was acquired by the Lakers in 2004 as part of the Shaquille O'Neal trade. He won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season after averaging 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. He was due $8.9 million this season and a partly guaranteed $8.2 million next season.

RELATED:

Lakers' trade for Chris Paul is killed by NBA

Chris Paul for Gasol and Odom, good deal or bad?

Lamar Odom in 'disbelief' after nearly being traded

--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Chris Paul (3) pressures Lakers point guard Derek Fisher on a drive during a playoff game last season with the Hornets. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

Lakers' talks with Hornets for Chris Paul get more serious

FabforumSo much for cursory and unproductive discussions.

The Lakers have taken stronger steps in their talks with the Hornets for perennial All-Star guard Chris Paul, according to an individual familiar with discussions but not authorized to speak publicly about it.

The Hornets are not interested in acquiring Pau Gasol, so the Houston Rockets have been approached as a third team in discussions to help the Lakers acquire Paul, who can become a free agent after this season.

Under one proposal, Houston would send Luis Scola and Kevin Martin to New Orleans, the Lakers would send Gasol to Houston and the Lakers would get Paul. There would be peripheral players involved as well to make the salaries match up under rules of the new collective-bargaining agreement.

Over the last week, the Lakers had mostly short-lived conversations with New Orleans about Chris Paul, though Thursday marked a change in direction. Friday is the first day of training camp, as well as the first day free agents can sign with another team.

The Lakers' discussions with the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard remain slow.

RELATED:

Albert Pujols still values his March visit with Kobe Bryant

Mike Brown's offense likely to use Kobe Bryant in multiple ways

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard would mesh well together

--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Pau Gasol puts defensive pressure on Chris Paul as Derek Fisher looks on during the 2011 NBA playoffs. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

 

Lakers need to maintain focus regarding trades

Dwight Howard/Chris Paul

The trade talk surrounding Dwight Howard and Chris Paul will continue to evolve. But the Lakers' pursuit of them must remain the same.

That doesn't mean the tactics won't change. Sometimes they will have to increase their aggressiveness when it appears Howard or Paul could bolt to another team. Sometimes they will have to adopt patience when it's clear the Magic or Hornets are trying to pit the bidders against each other.

But the Lakers' interest in them shouldn't suddenly dwindle should no one immediately acquire them once training camp begins Friday. It's possible Howard and Paul could continually play for their respective teams for part of the season, much as the drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony last season unfolded. It'd be unwise, however, for the Lakers to suddenly feel OK with the current roster opening training camp.

Regardless of the players' insistence, it can't win the title with last year's team; the compressed 66-game schedule will immediately expose their basketball mileage. Addressing that through free-agency signings can only do so much, considering the Lakers are limited to the veteran's minimum ($1 million) and the mini-mid level exception (three years, $9 million). But trading some of their key parts, including Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, as center pieces toward acquiring Howard and/or Paul would immediately rectify that.

But this is where it becomes a poker game. If the Lakers show their hand too early, the Magic and Hornets will try add as much baggage as they can in the deal, including Hedo Turkoglu (three years, $35 million) or Gilbert Arenas (three years, $62.4 million).

Despite the patience such a pursuit requires, however, the Lakers have to maintain their aggressiveness. Dropping the ball on this courtship could prove more consequential than any injury or potential game-winner falling short.

RELATED:

Lakers should value Dwight Howard more than Chris Paul

Chris Paul may be the answer

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard would mesh well together

Who would you be willing to give up to get Dwight Howard?

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Dwight Howard, left, and Chris Paul can become free agents after this season, putting pressure on Orlando and New Orleans to get something in return before the perennial All-Stars walk away. Credits: Kim Klement / US Presswire, left; Bill Kostroun / Associated Press

Lakers 2012 free agent options: Chris Paul may be the answer

Chris PaulNormally, this would mark the time to reflect on all the offseason signings that took place within the last month and how they would affect the NBA landscape.

But this obviously isn't one of those normal times. The NBA lockout hasn't just sapped the energy from an eventful 2010-11 season, as well as the optimism about next season’s schedule. It's also taken away the teams' ability to do anything at all this offseason, as organizations can't contact any players or their representatives or make any moves toward reshaping their rosters. Had there not been a work stoppage, it's unlikely the Lakers' roster would've been drastically different.

There would've been more clarity about whether Shannon Brown's decision to opt out of his $2.37-million contract would leave him without a roster spot. Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter would officially know their status, with the Lakers deciding whether to exercise $788,872 in team options on them. And rookies Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock would've been able to provide at least a summer-league glimpse into whether they can help the Lakers' declining backcourt. But with a $91-million payroll and long-term contracts still remaining on their core roster, the Lakers' options remain limited.

That's why next year's free agency pool appears to be more consequential for the Lakers, with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, New Orleans point guard Chris Paul and New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams becoming available, assuming they don't sign extensions with their respective teams before then. The Lakers would surely be interested in all three, but which holds the most importance? Below the jump is a look at each.

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How can the Lakers upgrade at point guard?

6a00d8341c506253ef014e89569edb970d-320wiThe consensus on how to make the Lakers better next season involves addressing the point guard spot.

Former Coach Phil Jackson suggested it in his final exit interview when he said the Lakers need to add "more speed" to their veteran-laden roster. Former Laker Robert Horry clamored for it when he acknowledged at the ESPYs that Derek Fisher's "age has caught up to him." And team General Manager Mitch Kupchak has tabbed the position as the off-season's No. 1 priority.

But as we all found out growing up, just because you put something on a holiday or birthday wish list didn't always mean our parents listened. Likewise, just because we want to buy a beach house, drive a sleek convertible or take an extended vacation around the world doesn't mean it's going to happen.

On the Lakers' end, they face plenty of constraints. No one knows what the next collective bargaining agreement will look like and how much the Lakers can draw from their mid-level exception. They are coming off a season that featured a $91-million payroll, and their core players are locked into long-term contracts. In other words, the Lakers aren't going to be able to add an All-Star point guard at the flip of a switch. But here are some options on how they can address their point guard needs.

6a00d8341c506253ef014e611163e9970c-800wiSave up for Deron Williams or Chris Paul.

As most Laker fans have noticed when consulting these various free-agent profiles, the options are pretty limited. So as much as it's necessary for the Lakers to address their point guard needs, it's  unrealistic to expect them to suddenly bolster it. Instead, the Lakers would be better off working with what they have and then gear up for when Williams and Paul become free agents after the 2011-2012 season, presuming neither sign extensions with their current teams. Both players are starved for a championship. Both show elite point-guard skills. And both have much respect for Kobe Bryant.

This approach won't solve the Lakers' problems right away and could keep the team from winning a title next season. But making a push for a trade or a free agent this year might do more harm than good. It would require the Lakers to give away some of their resources for a short-term gain at the expense of a long-term investment. Any slight upgrade at point guard this year still may not result in an NBA title, and it would give the Lakers less positioning power to go after Williams or Paul next off-season. Because of how highly coveted they are and the salary Williams ($16.4 million) and Paul ($16.359 million) would command for next season, the Lakers would have to be tight with their finances this year.

It would be shortsighted, however, for the Lakers to simply unload salaries much like the New York Knicks did in making an unsuccessful attempt at LeBron James, because it would put them in a weaker position to win a title in the future. Andrew Bynum will have a team option in 2012-2013 for $16.1 million, but I highly doubt the Lakers would let him go unless they could get Dwight Howard. Lamar Odom enters next season with two years and $17 million left on his contract, including a team option in the 2012-2013 season worth a partially guaranteed $8.2 million, giving the team some possible wiggle room there. But other than those two scenarios, the Lakers would have to make small tinkerings to ensure they're financially in a position to get either Howard or Paul.

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