NBA kills deal for Chris Paul

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
8:50
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Perhaps it's best to quote Chris Paul himself, via Twitter.

"WoW."

Indeed. In one of the most incredible developments I've ever seen in any sport, the NBA has blocked the trade sending Chris Paul from league-owned New Orleans to Los Angeles in exchange for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. In the process, they've potentially sent the Lakers into a state of chaos. They'll open training camp with two players who thought they were out the door and another in Andrew Bynum who must assume his day is soon coming, and reportedly no idea of what constitutes an acceptable trade for Paul and perhaps anyone else.

Reportedly, other owners pressured commissioner David Stern to squash the deal, something the league office denies. "It's not true that the owners killed the deal, the deal was never discussed at the Board of Governors meeting and the league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

And while you decide if you'd rather buy the bridge they're selling or the magic beans behind door number two, I'll say this: On a 1-10 scale of vagueness, "basketball reasons," already a mocking hashtag on Twitter, comes in at about 19. If the NBA is to regain any sense of credibility a much better explanation is required.

I started this evening with questions about a trade I thought was happening, so it seems reasonable to finish with questions about how it disappeared:

1. If Chris Paul can't be traded to the Lakers, where can he be traded?

2. Again, what exactly are the "basketball reasons" the league office say scuttled the trade? At some point, the NBA must demonstrate how blocking this particular transaction is in the best interests of either the Hornets or the league.

3. How can the Lakers proceed in an effort to try and improve their roster? Does this impact their ability to flip Odom and Bynum for Howard? Could any deal be constructed netting them CP3? Keep in mind, they just agreed to give up a four-time All Star and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, two of the most skilled big men the NBA has to offer.

4. Taking the league at its word for a moment (don't worry, I'll get over the compulsion quickly), how on earth did the process get so far? Did the NBA just get the memo Hornets (theoretical) G.M. Dell Demps might move Paul? Shouldn't whomever is actually in charge of transactions with the New Orleans Hornets have put the kabosh on all of this before potentially ruining the relationships between the Lakers and two vital players they apparently have to keep, at least for the time being?

5. Assuming the league's explanation is bunk, if the owners/Stern didn't want this sort of thing to happen, they shouldn't have ratified the deal allowing this sort of thing to happen. Not actually a question. Apologies for breaking with formula.

6. As I noted earlier this evening and John Hollinger (Insider required) points out in great detail that should grab the attention of all Lakers fans, L.A. would have been taking an enormous risk executing this trade. It would leave them with a frontcourt of Bynum and... Bynum. No backup center, no power forward, no backup power forward, and even with the trade exceptions acquired in the swap with New Orleans, limited means of filling those positions. They'd perhaps be the rare team hoping to take on the contract of Hedo Turkoglu from Orlando in a Howard deal, because they needed a guy to fill the open slot at the 4.

They weren't a better team after the trade than before it. The potential was there, but it was just that.

Even if they did get Howard, should anything with their new Big 3 go wrong-- decline for Kobe Bryant, knee issues for Paul, just to name a couple-- the Lakers would not only be severely limited in their ways to improve the team, but also paying extraordinary amounts of money not to be successful.

Doesn't any of this matter? The idea this trade turned the Lakers into perma-juggernauts is absurd. A lot had to happen before L.A. would have been secure, and some -- Hollinger for one -- believe the league unwittingly saved the Lakers from making a horrible mistake.

7. What happens at when the Lakers open up to media tomorrow in El Segundo?

As if there wasn't enough to talk about with this team already?

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
25.0 2.5 1.5 28.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 10.5
AssistsR. Price 4.0
StealsR. Price 2.0
BlocksE. Davis 2.0