NBA Roundup – League hinders success of league-owned team, Lakers trade Odom to Dallas

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During his league’s recent lockout, NBA commissioner David Stern was criticized for having nothing but the owners’ interests in mind. In the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners were able to reach an agreement with DeMaurice Smith and the NFL Players Union to avoid the cancellation of more than just the first pre-season game. In the NBA, Stern and the owners sacrificed nearly half the season so they could guarantee themselves more money. Once the lockout ended, NBA teams started exploring their options on how to trim payroll, upgrade rosters, and prepare for the upcoming season.

Chris Paul, photo courtesy Tulane Public Relations via FlickrOne of the biggest names rumored to be on the move was New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul. Paul is a free agent after this season and the small-market Hornets are worried they’ll lose him to free agency. If that happens, they will get nothing in return. Therefore, trading away Chris Paul is almost a necessity if the Hornets hope to contend for a playoff spot long-term.

If this was any other team in any other league, the execution of a trade for a superstar would not normally face a great amount of scrutiny. Just last year the Knicks sacrificed very little for superstar Carmello Anthony. Unfortunately, the Hornets are not like most teams in most leagues. The Hornets are owned by the NBA. Therefore any trade for Chris Paul must first be orchestrated by the NBA and then approved by the NBA. They are essentially playing both judge and jury.

The same day the new collective bargaining agreement was ratified and the lockout officially ended, the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Hornets announced a massive three-team trade that included Paul landing with the Lakers, and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom leaving the Lakers. The Hornets were to receive Odom, and Luis Scola and Kevin Martin from Houston as well as a 2012 first-round draft pick. Houston was getting Gasol. All that remained was the NBA approving the deal. Why wouldn’t they; oh right, that whole “lockout” issue.

One of the biggest sticking point for NBA owners was the ability for small-market team to keep superstars from fleeing to big markets. Cleveland had already lost Lebron to Miami and Phoenix lost Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks. The uproar over one of the NBA’s biggest young stars going from small-market Hornets to the star-heavy Lakers caused David Stern to veto the trade “for basketball reasons.”

It seemed as if Paul was destined to remain in New Orleans. But wait, a couple days later the teams resubmitted the trade to the league for approval with some minor, unreported tweaks. Before anything could be finalized, the Lakers pulled out of the trade and sent Odom to Dallas. Once again, Paul was stuck in the Bayou.

This morning, it was reported that the Hornets had reached an agreement with the other Los Angeles team, the Clippers. Once again, though, the seemingly-imminent trade quickly collapsed. The reason for the collapse you ask? The Clippers thought the asking price was too high. The NBA wanted young guard Eric Bledsoe included in the deal and was seeking a second first-round draft pick. The other players that would have been sent to the Hornets included center Chris Kaman and forward Al-Farouq Aminu.Chris Paul, photo courtesy Keith Allison via Flickr

Clearly the NBA’s ownership of the Hornets is causing a conflict of interest when it comes to running the team. Instead of doing what is “best” for the Hornets, which would really have been the original trade which included three All-Stars and a first-round pick, the NBA is more focused on what is “best” for the league.

It’s no secret that the NBA is trying to sell the Hornets. The reason they bought the team in the first-place was so the team didn’t fold under previous ownership and to allow time for potential buyers to come forward. Now, the NBA is trying to ensure that whoever owns the team next has a solid foundation in place with young stars. It’s almost like the owner of a casino counting cards at his own table to ensure certain people at the table win money.

Now that two Paul trades have been nixed, it seems more likely that Paul will play out the final year of his contract and then bolt during the off-season. What the Hornets hoped to avoid might actually occur – all thanks to the NBA’s intervention.

Since Paul clearly isn’t leaving the Hornets any time soon, here is the breakdown of the two trade the NBA has approved. With the exception of these two transactions, most of the action in the NBA during the past week were the signings of last year’s draft picks, including Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams, Jimmer Fredette and No.1 overall pick Kyrie Irving with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Lamar Odom from L.A. to Dallas

The defending league-champion Mavericks get last year’s Sixth Man of the Year and a second-round pick. The Lakers get a first-round pick and an $8.9 million trade exception.

Tyson Chandler from Dallas to New York

This was the trade that created the $8.9 million trade exception for the Mavericks which allowed them to get Odom. In this three-team trade, Dallas sent Chandler and the draft rights to Ahmad Nivins and Giorgos Printezis to the Knicks and gave the Washington Wizards a 2012 second-round pick. The Knicks sent forward Ronny Turiaf, cash considerations and a 2013 second-round pick to Washington as well as sending guard Andy Routins to Dallas. Washington only gave up a conditional future second-round pick to Dallas.

Photos courtesy Tulane Public Relations and Keith Allison via Flickr.

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