Last night, it was like Twitter had a stroke. Tens of thousands of sports writers, bloggers, fans and general morons were going bananas over the reports that Chris Paul had been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. The first report, which could have caused riots if true, described the trade as a straight-up deal between the Lakers – giving up Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol – and New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul. Had that been true, David Stern and Hornets GM Dell Demps would probably be in hiding right now.
Then the correction came in – Andrew Bynum and Odom for Chris Paul. A little better, but still nonsense in the eyes of most middle market fans. That couldn’t be the best deal the Hornets could get, and thankfully it wasn’t. The final, actual deal came in – Paul to the Lakers, Gasol to the Houston Rockets, and Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola to the Hornets. Even then, nobody was pleased, and it turns out the league owners were the least pleased of all, because they said, “F*ck a bunch of that” and within two hours this blockbuster was squashed.
Why, you ask? Well, it’s complicated.
Some owners pushed Stern to nullify the trade and that the Hornets be made to keep Paul on the roster for the foreseeable future, sources said. A chorus of owners were irate with the belief that the five-month lockout had happened largely to stop big-market teams from leveraging small-market teams for star players pending free agency.
(Via Yahoo! Sports)
The owners were definitely irate, because this seemed like Stern’s business-as-usual, “I’ll do whatever the hell I want” sort of deal. When it came across the tickers, I asked where the owner outrage was. But I also didn’t actually expect anyone to speak up, because the whole point of taking 9% of the income away from the players was to reward the owners of the 22 teams that lost money by kissing their boo-boos and covering them with green Band-Aids.
But the most delightful thing about this trade being squashed is that Stern is taking all the credit for killing it, as he declared that it was voided for “basketball reasons.” Of course, that means nothing to Lakers fans, who now have to wonder if this is going to happen to them during every deal. And no, it won’t. It’s only going to happen to the Lakers every time they try to bully a small market team into forking over a superstar. Especially when that small market team is owned and operated by the league.
If Lakers fans want to flash their anger at anyone, it should be the Miami Heat and Carmelo Anthony. They’re not the reasons the lockout happened, but they’re certainly the reason that it dragged out. Gone are the players with hearts of steel, brave enough to take on the world and the league with a cast of supporting characters. Here today are the spoiled brats, the hired guns mentalities and a bunch of BFFs that want to win together. There’s not anything wrong with the last two, but there aren’t enough guns to go around.
Ultimately, this is mostly Anthony’s fault, because he showed the rest of the stars that they can dictate their destinations before their free agency time even arrives. The Golden State Warriors could offer a deal centered around Stephen Curry for Paul and it would be meaningless because Paul won’t sign an extension there. He’ll only sign the extension in New York, L.A or possibly Orlando. How is that fair to anyone? Better yet, how does that solve the entire point of the lockout – competitive balance?
You can say that the Hornets’ return on this trade was fair, that they were receiving a quality veteran with three capable components to build around. You could say that Houston was getting the big man the Rockets so desperately need, and then I’d argue they should have just tried to sign Nene, but if you’re really that upset that this trade didn’t happen, don’t be. Because it’s going to happen soon enough. Stern will make sure of it.