The NBA’s decision to void Chris Paul’s trade to the Los Angeles Lakers is wrong on so many levels that deciding where to begin is difficult.
There’s the inherent conflict of interest with the league — i.e., the NBA’s other franchises — owning the New Orleans Hornets, leading the ludicrous Dan Gilbert to write that “this trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.” As if they wouldn’t put their own team’s interests ahead of the Hornets’ well-being.
There’s the undermining of Hornets General Manager Dell Demps, who supposedly had full authority and autonomy to run the franchise as he saw fit. Working with officials from the Lakers and Houston Rockets, Demps orchestrated one of the best deals possible for an impending free agent, but the league essentially punked him in the end.
There’s the unwelcome precedent of picking and choosing which trades to approve, a process that’s totally subjective and belongs in the hands of individual teams, not the league office. Having squashed Paul-to-the-Lakers, the NBA will be guilty of favoritism (and hating on the Lakers) if he’s allowed to go to another team.
There’s the fact that New Orleans stands to get squat for Paul at season’s end, instead of receiving four solid players and a first-round pick in 2012. If David Stern were really interested in the Hornets’ long-term success, he’d admit the obvious: The haul from the Lakers and Rockets is much more valuable than Paul playing 66 games with the Hornets and walking away.
There’s the sense of utter chaos and confusion unleashed upon the involved players, their teams and the rest of the league. Paul reportedly is “fuming” and considering legal action. Lamar Odom, who was crushed by the prospect of leaving Los Angeles (and the reality show with his Kardashian wife) for New Orleans, was a no-show for the Lakers’ first practice.
The Lakers and Rockets have to smooth out relationships with the players they attempted to trade. The Hornets have to deal with discontent from Paul, who looked forward to leaving.
Teams that went in another direction are upset because they believed that Paul would never reach free agency. Teams that are interested in trading for Paul or other Hornets players don’t know what’s acceptable or who’s in charge.
We should be celebrating the start of training camp and free agency right now. Instead we’re watching the NBA operate like a poorly run semipro outfit.