Again, I quote Chris Paul. "WoW."
"The Los Angeles Lakers have pulled out of the three-team deal with New Orleans and Houston that would have landed Chris Paul in L.A., according to sources close to the talks. The reason for the Lakers' withdrawal was not immediately known... One source close to the process said that the Lakers will instead trade Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks."
The deal would net the Lakers "unspecified draft considerations" (likely modest) and an $8.9 million trade exception from Dallas, essentially allowing them to trade for a player making $8.9 million without sending a player with comparable salary in return. Obviously things are only beginning to play out, but here are some in-the-moment thoughts:
1. The Lakers are clearly moving to another option, in terms of acquiring a high profile player. Despite reports today he's asking to be traded to New Jersey, in flashing neon lights it seems to signal Dwight Howard.
2. I find it near impossible to believe the Lakers would make this move-- shipping out such a valuable player, however disgruntled, for such a small return-- without having the dominoes lined up. Or at least without having purchased a package of dominoes, with a really, really good idea of how they'd like to line them up. Remember, they're handing Odom to the team eliminating them from last season's playoffs. It strengthens the Mavericks, a team that just lost Tyson Chandler and will soon lose J.J. Barea.
The only way the Lakers throw Mark Cuban a life preserver is if they believe the payoff is worth it.
3. The Lakers would have acquired the same exception in the original deal for Paul, so it's likely an important component in whatever they'd like to do next, whether aimed at Howard or any of the other multiple holes they currently have across the roster, independent of any desire to add another star.
4. The trade exception can't be offered to Orlando in an effort to absorb their toxic Hedo Turkoglu contract. It's worth only $8.9 million, while Hedo makes couch cushion money over $11 mil. But it can be used to acquire a player who might be flipped to Orlando as part of a Howard deal, for other players on the Magic's roster (Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick would fit), or in an entirely different trade for another piece.
5. Or-- and this is pure speculation (pure, pure, pure speculation)-- the Lakers could offer Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to Orlando for Howard and Hedo (Trade Machine approves!), and then use that exception to fill one of the many roster holes they'd have left once that was done. Would this make them a better team? Impossible to say without knowing how they plug those gaps.
That said, keeping in mind the quality of the team they could be blowing up, creating something better is a very difficult task. Kobe Bryant+Howard+spare parts is not better than Kobe+Gasol+Bynum+Odom.
Meaning for Lakers fans, this is simultaneously exciting and frightening. In a week or two, Jim Buss is likely either going to look brilliant, or there will be many a torch and pitchfork outside the facility in El Segundo.