Hornets stung as Paul trade gets nixed
On the same day that the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement was ratified, Commissioner David Stern has already overstepped the authority that the document allowed. Harmony between the league and the players’ association was expected, but that harmony didn’t even last 24 hours.
In a move yesterday, the Charlotte Hornets agreed to trade point guard Chris Paul in a three-team deal. The move seemingly would alleviate the risk of loosing Paul for nothing next summer; and would also avoid the cloud of drama that we saw engulf the Denver Nuggets last year with Carmelo Anthony.
In the trade, the return was fair for all sides. The Los Angeles Lakers would get Paul, a point guard that would take pressure of the aging Kobe Bryant. In return they would be giving up both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, who would go to Houston and New Orleans respectively. Houston would give up Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and the 2012 first-round pick that Houston had acquired from the Knicks, to the Hornets. So Houston would receive a big man in Gasol, that they need to replace Yao Ming; as well as the salary cap relief that they covet to make other signings. The Hornets would receive three more than capable starters, a playoff-tested young guard and a draft pick. They would avoid the drama, and be set up to still compete. Now all the teams are left with is alienated players and unnecessary drama.
Even though the Knicks were believed to be his first choice, Paul was believed to be willing to agree to an extension with the Lakers. He wanted to compete for a championship and the Lakers would provide that opportunity. For now, this appears not to be in the cards. David Stern has rejected the move, citing “basketball reasons.”
The vague explanation from Stern does nothing but increase the anger and speculation surrounding the move. As for now, all three teams are appealing and Paul and the NBAPA are considering legal action.
There are many reasons Stern may have rejected the trade. The first is pressure from the league’s other owners. As evidenced by the Stern received from Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert, the owners did not support the move. They felt it would disrupt the competitive balance in the league, shows large-market bias, and continues to give the players too much power.
The fact of the matter is, trades happen all the time. They may effect balance within the league, but isn’t that the point? The fact of the matter is: all three teams may be better served with this trade. New Orleans receives two players who each average more points than Paul. They also receive the balance needed to make them a more complete team and a veteran champion and leader in Odom.
In regards to the players still having too much power, it was the owners that gave that power to them. The owners could have demanded more restrictions to player movement in the new CBA, but they didn’t. This trade falls completely within the guidelines set forth by the league, and as such, they had no right to reject it.
Some other rationale is that the league owns the Hornets and as such, David Stern has the responsibility to act as general manager. He didn’t feel the move was what was best for the team, so he prevented it. The league is trying to sell the team, and it is more appealing with Chris Paul on it.
The league actually appointed Jac Sperling to run the Hornets. Now with this move, they are preventing him from doing the task he was assigned. Because Stern is responsible for overseeing the entire league, it is a conflict of interest for him to focus on the interests of a single club. He can’t possibly cater to the interests of the league and the Hornets,a s the aren’t always the same. Thus an outside presence is needed, and should be allowed the authority to do what he feels is best. This is the what the league has asked of Sperling, they now need to allow him to operate.
As for the effect on the appeal of the team to potential suitors, it has to be considered that the team has been available for several years. During that time, Paul has been on the roster. Also during that time, the league has not found a suitable buyer. Therefore, if they cannot sell the team with Paul, why not try without? The fact of the matter is, Paul is going to be gone after the season regardless. If he is not traded, then the Hornets run the risk of trying to sell the team, still without Paul, and with an even more depleted roster. By not allowing this trade, Stern may be making the Hornets even less appealing to potential buyers.
It the past, I have spoken about the selfishness of NBA players and that the league still needs to take some of the power back. That being said, I feel that the NBA is crossing the line. The CBA should dictate what is allowed in the league, and it is being ignored. David Stern has no right to block the move, and by so doing, he is only further straining an already tenuous relationship with the players’ union. He now may face legal ramifications, and increased bad publicity for the league.
Although Stern can still reverse his decision, he has given no indication that he will. We can only hope that this issue is resolved soon, and we can finally get back to what is really important in the NBA: playing basketball.
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