The Lakers planned to appeal to the NBA office after the Chris Paul trade was nixed, but there was a problem: The NBA considered the trade to have been blocked by New Orleans, not the league itself.
It's a sticky situation because the NBA owns the Hornets after purchasing them last December.
"This is technically a New Orleans decision," said an NBA official who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the trade.
In other words, one of the three teams involved in Thursday's trade technically got cold feet, but it's hard to deny the existence of a contributing factor to the death of the deal. Some small-market owners were irritated by the Lakers acquiring the league's top scoring-passing combo at point guard.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called the trade "a travesty" in an email sent to NBA Commissioner David Stern that was obtained by Yahoo! Sports.
"I just don't see how we can allow this trade to happen," Gilbert allegedly wrote. "I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do. When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?"
Another factor in the the stunning reversal of the trade was the Hornets' failure to get more young talent, according to a league official with knowledge of the situation.
Among other players, the Hornets would have received Lakers forward Lamar Odom, 32, and Houston forward Luis Scola, 31.
"The truth of the matter is they need to get younger if they’re going to trade one of the top 10 players in the league," said the official. "Those are 30-plus guys with miles on their odometers."
Old but effective.
Odom won the league's Sixth Man of the Year award last season after averaging 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. Scola averaged 18.3 points and 8.2 rebounds last season for the Rockets.
The Hornets also would have received Houston guard Kevin Martin, 28, who averaged 23.4 points a game last season, and Houston guard Goran Dragic, 25, who averaged 7.1 points. Houston included a first-round draft pick in the trade.
Paul, 26, can become a free agent after the season, forcing the Hornets to try to gain assets before their star guard leaves without compensation in July.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol, 31, would have been sent to Houston in the trade.
NBA blocks Chris Paul trade
Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom must channel frustration properly
Photo: Lamar Odom, left, and Pau Gasol. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.