UPDATE: Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert emailed David Stern and told him the league needed to block the trade. So much for the NBA claiming that the trade was rejected for “basketball reasons.”
For those who haven’t heard, the NBA’s owners reportedly pressured commissioner David Stern to block the trade of New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night. The publicly stated reason behind the trade being nixed was that the league currently owns the Hornets and the trade may not have been in the league’s best interests, and didn’t make good basketball sense. And that’s complete crap.
It’s not like the Lakers sent nothing in return for Paul. In the deal – which was actually a three-team trade that included the Houston Rockets – Los Angeles would have shipped All-Star power forward Pau Gasol and the NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, away and only netted Paul in return.
Gasol would have landed in Houston, while the Hornets would have received Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a 2012 first-round pick. So in exchange for Paul the Lakers would have given up their second and third leading scorers, while the Hornets would have gotten three quality NBA players and a first-round pick. Uh, that actually sounds pretty dang reasonable.
The fact that the league stepped in and stopped the deal is completely inexplicable. There is no good reason why the NBA should have blocked this trade.
Hell, I grew up a huge Lakers fan and I hated this deal for Los Angeles when I read about it. I am actually happy that the league saved the Lakers from sending Odom and Gasol in exchange for Paul, because I think the team should focus its attention on acquiring Dwight Howard, who is a far more valuable commodity.
Still, the fact that Stern decided to block this deal makes the league look ridiculous. As if the protracted lockout didn’t already make everyone involved with the NBA seem idiotic, this just further solidifies it.
If three teams make a deal, all parties agree that it is fair and it’s all set, should the league really be able to step in after the fact and veto it because owners complain to the commissioner? That just makes no sense and makes the league look like a joke.
Years from now when the NBA is once again failing to reel in viewers and has been left in the dust by the other major sports leagues, we will probably look back to the events of December 8, 2011 and realize that was the night the NBA officially jumped the shark.