If you aren’t aware by now, there was an agreement earlier today that the Lakers, Rockets and Hornets had agreed to a 3 way trade. The Lakers would get Chris Paul (and I suspect Jarrett Jack and Trevor Ariza to make the financial end work), the Rockets were getting Pau Gasol, and the Hornets were getting Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and the Knicks unprotected 2012 1st round pick (from the Rockets).
Now, if you haven’t read this piece by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, you probably should.
Hornets general manager Dell Demps is “disconsolate” over the heavy-handed move from the commissioner’s office, a source told Y! Sports. Demps considered resigning his job on Thursday, league sources said, and had to be talked out of it. The Hornets had scored a terrific deal for Paul, a trade that was lauded by some of Demps’ peers throughout the league. Officials involved in the trade talks said the league office was consulted throughout the negotiations, and there was never an indication Demps didn’t have the power to make a deal. In fact, several teams negotiating with New Orleans to get Paul asked the league office, and were told Demps had full authority to execute a trade.
The last set of points to quote:
“We were all told by the league he was a trade-able player, and now they’re saying that Dell doesn’t have the authority to make the trade?” said an NBA executive who had periodic talks with New Orleans throughout the process. “Now, they’re saying that Dell is an idiot, that he can’t do it his job. [Expletive] this whole thing. David’s drunk on power, and he doesn’t give a [expletive] about the players, and he doesn’t give a [expletive] about the hundreds of hours the teams put into make that deal.
“How do the Lakers explain this to Odom? How does Houston deal with the guys it just tried to trade? Scola and Martin are going to be pissed at them, and who knows how long that takes to get over? Explain to me how the league kills this Pau Gasol deal, but allows Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol?
“To me, this makes the league feel like it’s rigged, that Stern just does whatever Stern wants to do. He’s messed up the competitive balance of this league a lot worse by killing the deal, because you’ve completely destroyed the planning that New Orleans, Houston did and left them in shambles over this. I’ve never been so discouraged about this league, never so down.
“I mean, come on: Chris Paul is leaving New Orleans in 66 games. He’s gone. And what’s Dell Demps, and that franchise, going to have to show for it?”
I got lots of problems with killing this deal. Lots of problems.
Let’s start with the fact that the Lakers took 2 of their 3 best players to make this deal. How about Houston gave up 2 of their 3 best players AND a notable asset (not necessarily their best asset) to make this trade?
Dell Demps has made trades with the NBA approval. Teams checked to make sure Paul was a player they could trade for. Now, what? Are the Hornets just supposed to patch things up with a roster that is decimated by this move? By a roster that is a 1st round playoff team at best even with a “top 5” player on it?
The Hornets needed a chance to move away from all their problems (and there is many) starting by making a trade for Chris Paul. There is a chance, I believe, that Paul’s career could be over due to his knee problems. Small G’s tend to get debilitating injuries and it hurts them for the rest of their career. Kevin Johnson would have been in the Hall of Fame had it not been for his knee injuries about halfway through his career.
Ignoring all of that however, the reality is that David Stern unilaterally abused his power because a big name player didn’t want to play for the Clippers and didn’t want to play for a number of other teams either. That’s life. Are the Lakers now a championship team?
The elephant in the room, the obvious elephant in the room, is that other owners were worried that the Magic would trade Dwight Howard to the Lakers giving them their transition from Kobe Bryant to Dwight Howard. Many owners are jealous of the Lakers success and will do silly shit to keep a trade like this from going through.
The way I see it is this screws the Hornets, the sale of the franchise, and the entire way the NBA is viewed. All because owners can’t see the larger picture.
From JA Adande of ESPN.com:
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.
Now let’s get to the perspective that I think is really the most important here: Hornets fans.
I’m infuriated. How can I have any faith in my team’s ability to make changes and move forward now? My team’s General Manager cannot make a deal unless all of his opponents agree it is the right trade! If they carry through with blocking this trade, the NBA has shattered the Hornets ability to get a decent deal for Paul. The good teams like the Celtics (and Lakers) now can’t be sure that whatever they do offer for Paul won’t be nixed by some coterie of owners with their panties in a bunch – so why should they risk alienating their own players for a deal they have no control over? The lesser teams can now sit back and sneer at the Hornets offers because the one major bit of leverage the Hornets had – good offers on the table by the Celtics and Lakers – has been wrecked.
Dell Demps has been completely screwed.
Rohan Cruyff (he writes a Hornets blog called At the Hive) had a lot of similar sentiments over Twitter that I linked at the Sactown Royalty thread.
Then you have the “letter” from Dan Gilbert to David Stern:
It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed.
This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.
Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.
I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process. And it doesn’t appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard. (They would also get a large trade exception that would help them improve their team and/or eventually trade for Howard.) When the Lakers got Pau Gasol (at the time considered an extremely lopsided trade) they took on tens of millions in additional salary and luxury tax and they gave up a number of prospects (one in Marc Gasol who may become a max-salary player).
I just don’t see how we can allow this trade to happen.
I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do.
When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?
Now, I find this problematic for the Kings long term. Especially if the Paul trade ends up happening against the objections of owners and David Stern. It would be the best thing for the NBA, even though it won’t be seen that way, and we could move on from this nonsense.
So instead of training camp opening up, signings being official (like the Chuckwagon!), and so forth, we gotta deal with this keystone cop horseshit because billionaires see themselves as not controlling every aspect of the NBA universe.
Ridiculous arrogant stupidity is what this is. Chris Paul going to the Lakers does not change the balance of power in the NBA. It just doesn’t for lots of reasons. One is that part of what made the Lakers so difficult was their front line and a major star like Kobe Bryant. Now you have to balance Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant, an aging Kobe Bryant no less, in the same backcourt. That is easier said than done.
Now, as a Kings fan I care about the treatment of small markets. Enabling small market owners to kill a deal like Chris Paul is one thing. If Dwight Howard gets traded from the Magic, that’s another issue. That’s just what it is. Orlando, on the other hand, has a better chance to move on from previous problems with Dwight Howard. Unlike New Orleans which has struggled to make the playoffs with Paul, Orlando has been in the playoffs consistently and a championship contender until last season’s significant drop. Orlando can keep Dwight Howard long term anyway, and do so the old fashioned way: By enticing D12 to stay.
Sometimes that’s what these things are about: We don’t have power! We have power in every other facet of our lives but not in this one! Give it back.
If the Kings can’t convince their players, stars or otherwise, why any player playing in Arco II could be successful, the Kings as a franchise is not doing their jobs appropriately.
When meddling becomes the appropriate reaction, it’s a problem. The NBA is well beyond that point and we are seeing the ugliness of a group of people, who expect to get their way in everything, are set with the reality of what happens when they don’t get their way all the time. They act churlish, they act hurt, and they act is if some fundamental damage is being done. It’s all horseshit from A to Z. None of this is new.
I hope when it comes down to it, the Kings can contend for a long period of time. This is where the issue’s with the Maloofs come into play: Paying players. Will they do it? This off-season has gotten murkier, in part because it’s not clear the Kings are actually in play for any of the big names, and because it’s not clear if the Kings are willing to pay that price.
Telling a small market that it can’t trade a star because other owners don’t like the team the star is going to is a bad precedent. It undercuts the tenets of teams trying to make things work for themselves. Dell Demps got screwed today so Dan Gilbert and Robert Sarver can feel powerful. With all due respect to Gilbert and Sarver, Dell Demps has significantly more power because he is a GM and creates a significantly important connection with ownership and players alike. That’s why Demps is a GM. Demps has the background (he came out of the Spurs front office) to improve the Hornets if allowed.
As a Kings fan, I want a small market team (the Hornets qualify yes?) to be run within reason. The Hornets are owned by the other 29 teams, and thus the conflict of interest comes up. As a fan, of a team with poor ownership that is eerily similar to the Hornets, this bothers me to no end.
I want small markets to have a chance, but blaming large markets isn’t the way. A unilateral ban of star players moving to a larger market isn’t the way to improve the plight of small markets. Hornets fans think this was stupid. Small market fans think this was stupid. Large market fans this this was stupid. Laker fans are gaining sympathy which is probably the greatest tragedy in all of this. And at the end of the day since when do the Hornets, whom you’d think they want to keep players they want to keep and trade away players they do not want to keep, not do things in their own best interest? Keeping Chris Paul in New Orleans isn’t about helping the Hornets.
If you actually want to help a small market, here’s a novel concept: Try asking that particular market and working with that market to achieve goals based on mutual agreement. The NBA allowed teams and the Hornets to believe that Chris Paul was a player who could be traded. Then a few egotistical clowns had their say and the trade is off.
If you want to really allow teams to be truly competitive, you enhance your revenue sharing so small market teams can successfully rebuild without losing ridiculous gobs of money. That makes sense. Cock-Blocking Chris Paul to the Lakers does not.