Commentary

Leave it to NBA to undercut own team

While dubious trades abound, the Hornets would get a good return on the Paul deal

Originally Published: December 8, 2011
By J.A. Adande | ESPN.com

Keep in mind, this is the same NBA that was willing to kill the entire season and trash interest in its product to get the financial deal it wanted. So it only make senses that, with that logic as a backdrop, the league would nix a trade that represented a pretty good solution to a bad situation for the team it owns.

They just made the unappealing Chris Paul-in-New Orleans situation even worse. There's still an extension offer that Paul hasn't touched, and now one of the few viable destinations the Hornets had for him is off the table. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson at the end of the courtroom scene in "A Few Good Men," all you did was weaken a team's trade prospects today.

The New Orleans Hornets have less leverage. The Los Angeles Lakers were one of a select few teams that Paul would entertain staying for the long term, and the Hornets were just told they can't deal with them. Teams don't need to top the offer the Lakers put together with the help of the Houston Rockets. And I'm not sure anyone could.

The Hornets would have received Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Goran Dragic. That's one of the most versatile players in the league, a guy who averages 18 and 10, a proven 20-a-night scorer, and a point guard who, if nothing else, has shown he can have a 23-point fourth quarter in a playoff game against the Spurs. You can compete for the playoffs with that team. You're going to tell me that's worse than the package of Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and draft picks that the Nuggets received for Carmelo Anthony?

Perhaps the league would like it better if the Hornets got a package from the Los Angeles Clippers that included Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Minnesota's unprotected first-round pick. Except the Clippers never offered that. Now there's no pressure on them to do so without their in-house rival driving up the bid.

So many people wondered why the lockout was held in the first place if on the day it officially ended a glamour team added one of the most coveted players. They missed the point. To say the lockout was enacted for the sake of competitive balance would be as inaccurate as saying the Civil War was fought to end slavery. The purpose of the Civil War was to restore the Union, and the purpose of the lockout was for the owners to make more money.

Securing $3 billion in economic concessions from the players was enough for the owners to call it off without enacting more restrictive rules on player movement. And as I've said before, there's nothing that can stop a player from going somewhere if he's willing to take less money.

Meanwhile, the league needs to stop being so short-sighted when it comes to assembling superteams. LeBron James leaving Cleveland didn't kill the NBA, it enhanced it. As for the outward flow of players to big markets hurting the small markets ... um, have you noticed that no potential owner had stepped up to meet the asking price on the Hornets with Chris Paul? So how much worse off would they be without him?

Competitive balance is something that will be achieved in pro sports the day after world peace is declared. The NFL has the ideal system of revenue sharing and schedule-assisted parity, and yet in Week 13 the Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars have a total of seven wins. There's no magic language in any collective bargaining agreement that could transform the Minnesota Timberwolves into instant contenders.

They had a chance when they grabbed Kevin Garnett in the draft, before skipping college to enter the pros became commonplace. They couldn't cash in, doing no better than a trip to the Western Conference finals in Garnett's MVP season. Oh well, maybe they can find their next Garnett in next year's draft. Whoops, they traded the pick to the Clippers, along with Sam Cassell, for Marko Jaric. Now there's a trade the NBA should have blown up.