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Within a few hours of a blockbuster deal was approved to send all-star guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, David Stern and NBA league office blocked the trade.
The purposed deal was a three team trade between the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Houston Rockets. The deal would have landed Paul with the Lakers, sent Pau Gasol to the Rockets, and given the Hornets Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, and a 2012 first-round pick from Houston.
NBA analysts across the nation are confused by the trade being blocked by the league office, as this seemed like the best way to solve Paul’s contract situation. The popular thinking is that if the deal was approved, the Hornets would at least be able to replace Paul with quality pieces instead of getting nothing in return.
Paul can opt out of his contract at the end of the season becoming a free agent, which allows him to sign to any team that is willing to make him an offer. Paul is on record stating that he would not sign a contract extension with the Hornets, and would like to test the free agent waters which have shown to be very lucrative; Amare Stoudemire received 100 million over 5 years during last year’s free agent frenzy.
With so many lingering questions as to why the trade was blocked, the league has yet to make a detailed statement on the issue. This hesitation has brought about speculation that the deal was killed due to overwhelming pressure from small market owners. That theory is gaining traction as Yahoo.com acquired an e-mail sent from Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to David Stern.
In the e-mail Gilbert states,”It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed. This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.”
This issue is further muddied by the fact that the NBA owns the New Orleans Hornets. It is believe that the NBA league abused its power as an owner to negate this deal. The league’s stance on owning the Hornets has been that all basketball operations would be handled by the Hornet’s managerial staff without intrusion.
Paul is hoping that the seemingly obvious intrusion can be deemed illegal as he is looking to pursue legal action, with the help of NBPA director Billy Hunter, against the NBA. The NBA has just gotten over one of the worst PR nightmares in the form of the 2011 lockout just to jump in the middle of another one. To make matters worse, there are reports that both Paul and Odom will not attend training camp which is scheduled to open on December 9th.
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