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It has been a few days, but fans, players, and executives alike still cannot believe what took place Thursday night. Chris Paul was finally dealt by New Orleans, and the Commissioner simply blocked the trade for what he referred to as “basketball reasons.” Let’s be honest – this move was absolutely mind-blowing and completely unfair to all three teams involved.
The majority of the outrage comes from Laker fans who thought for just a few hours that they were receiving possibly the best point guard the league has to offer. Along with the aid of the Rockets, Los Angeles gave up the necessary quality pieces in order to obtain a superstar like Paul.
Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol are two of the most versatile big men in the game today. At seven feet, Gasol is extremely athletic in the low post with the ability to shoot from the outside. Meanwhile, Odom is capable of much of the same at six foot ten, but can also take opponents off the dribble from anywhere on the floor and consistently knocks down three pointers.
The Rockets threw in some nice talent as well. Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and Goran Dragic are viewed as players with good experience who still have room to grow into even better players. Houston was also prepared to give New Orleans a first-round pick in this trade, which is something that every team would love to have. Yet somehow David Stern did not believe this deal benefited the Hornets enough.
That notion is beyond comprehension. The teams have now modified the deal and resubmitted it for approval, according to ESPN. If this is successful, it will not be due to the fact that it is now substantial to the Hornets’ needs, however. On the contrary, it will have resulted from Stern’s inability to handle even more pressure and heat that most of the observing parties will put upon him.
The small market owners who originally complained to him after this deal was initially reported will still be upset regardless. That has to be what all of this really boils down to in the end. The idea of all-stars joining forces to create ‘super teams’ is exciting for fans in those cities, but saddening for the rest of the league when the competition realistically includes just a handful of franchises.
Stern understands that, but it should not give him the right to cancel a trade that general managers worked vigorously to complete in a just manner, even if the league does own the team like they do the Hornets. There is a certain amount of control that the league has over players, but when negotiations are executed in a proper fashion they should not prohibit them from walking. Paul has done nothing wrong and does not deserve to be punished by being forced to stay with a team that he clearly wants to leave.
What Stern does not realize is that Paul is actually making the morally correct decision in this situation. He has openly admitted that he will opt out of his contract this summer and sign elsewhere. The popular belief is that, if this were to happen, he would then sign with the Knicks. By doing this, he at least gives the Hornets the opportunity to trade him in his contract year and get something for him.
The biggest risk that Stern takes in blocking this trade is held in the hands of the Lakers and Knicks. These are the only two teams that Paul states he would sign extensions with if traded. What happens if the Lakers suddenly get a better deal with the Magic in exchange for Dwight Howard and decide that Paul is not worth it or realize they do not have enough for him?
The Knicks do not have the necessary assets, unlike the Lakers, and this could lead to a nightmare scenario where Paul does not get traded at all this year. That would then allow him the option to sign with either team over the off-season, leaving the Hornets with nothing in return.
Unfortunately, Stern made the assumption that something like this could never occur. However, one of the only things we know in life is that we can never be too sure. To put it bluntly, he made an atrociously risky decision with false reasoning as support. This is inexcusable, even if the new deal is approved.