Chris Paul

Another Bad “Decision”: The Chris Paul Trade Veto

Good news! David Stern just agreed to veto my last 3 gambling bets, ill-advised stock market investments, and sexually transmitted diseases that I’m pretty sure I caught back in 2002. The funny thing is that I was perfectly content hiding in my hole that I had been rotting in these past 5 months, with my interest waning in the NBA as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been inspired to produce a whopping total of one article since the lockout began.

And then David Stern came along and yanked me right back into reality.

Just when I thought I was out….

In what has to be one of the most bizarre events in NBA history, David Stern vetoed a trade that would have sent Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers, and instead of CP3 becoming the Lakers’ second greatest point guard ever, he became the equivalent of a repossessed Oldsmobile. The NBA then tried to justify the absurdity of this action by citing “basketball decision”, which now officially ranks right up there with Lebron’s “I’m only televising this spectacle to help the Boys and Girls Club of America” Decision…… and that’s when our collective bull shit meters went off the scale.

Look, I am not a Laker fan. But even the most ardent Celtic fan has to admit that lady luck bounced the wrong direction for the Lakers on this one, and I can’t blame their fans one bit for being irate.

Before I elaborate, understand that the NBA and their owners had every right to make this decision. Since the New Orleans Hornets are without an ownership group, they become technically owned by the NBA and it’s Board of Governors. As such, they have every right to veto any trade that comes their way, just as Jerry Buss or Mark Cuban would have the right to veto trades for players on their own team.  Ironically, even though the owners were well within their rights to vote and veto the recent CP3 trade, it never actually even came to that: Stern, who represents the owners, did the dirty work himself.

The problem of course rests with the expectations, or lack thereof that the NBA has set with Hornets’ management. If the NBA and their owners were really going to act like owners, then act like owners, and get involved in the day-to-day activities of the Hornets such as competing for free agent signings, and working to construct trades that would be in the best interest of the team. Engage just as you would for your own organization.

But do you really think that happened?

The Hornets should have been able to continue conducting business as usual without having the rug suddenly pulled out from under them. More disturbing however, is that had David Stern done his job back in 1999, and ousted George Shin after he embarrassed the city of Charlotte, or even sold the team to a new ownership group once he finally wrestled the team away from Shin in 2010, we would have never been in this mess. The Hornets would have had a legitimate ownership group and thereby the freedom to make their own decisions.

The so-called “basketball decision” however, is of course the collective vengeance being exerted by  disgruntled small market owners around the league who are hell bent on ensuring competitive balance by limiting choice in player movement. After all, if the lockout taught us fans anything, it is that we’re REALLY clamoring for that nationally televised NBA Finals between the Sacramento Kings and the Charlotte Bobcats. Who knew?

The Lakers were positioned to acquire Chris Paul because they are well managed, have a desirable destination, and have collected the right assets over time to make a deal. Was this an even trade? No. Would the Hornets have made out with close-to-even value? Somewhat. But then again, I did not receive my asking price of $15,000 for my 1987 Honda last year. Such is life when you fail to have leverage and Dale Demps did the best with what little he had.

However, don’t despair Laker fans, I’m here to tell you that you should be rejoicing in the fact that this deal never happened. While the long-term prospects for fielding a competitive Laker team with CP3 would have been strong, the short term championship prospects were not nearly as appealing. I know that basketball fans believe that throwing a bunch of superstars in a pot and stirring them up equates to championships, but chemistry is of utmost importance, and a backcourt of CP3 and Kobe Bryant would not have yielded the same level of chemistry that their current squad has today. The biggest issue? Both CP3 and Bryant are at their best when the ball is in their hands, facilitating the half-court offense, continually breaking down defenses, and creating opportunities for their teammates. The problem though is that there is only one basketball, and only one facilitator on any given possession. In sum, putting the ball in one players’ hands marginalizes the other since neither Kobe nor CP3 are accustomed to playing off the ball. It is not where they are most effective.

There are also concerns surrounding CP3’s knee. While Paul showed signs of brilliance during last years’ playoffs, he still has yet to sustain this brilliance in long stretches. Moreover, recovery for his injury typically takes anywhere from 1.5 -2 years, and there are no guarantees that CP3 would regain the same explosiveness that he showed in 2008.

Lastly, do not overlook the underrated Secret Sauce that made the Lakers successful over the past 4 years – their front court size, length, and versatility. While Kobe Bryant deservedly earns top billing as the source for the Lakers’ success since 2008, their interior defense and front court rebounding solidified by their trio of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom, served as a key foundation for their success. By removing two of those pieces from the picture, the Lakers suddenly lose their coveted advantage since it is unlikely that they would have been able to backfill this talent through free agency. While they are improving in one area (PG), they are sacraficing in two others (PF and Depth).

Regardless, this saga is not over. The Lakers will now set their sights on Dwight Howard and anyone who has followed the NBA during the past 30 years knows that Laker magic happens once every 5-7 years. Howard remains the Lakers’ real prize and they should be well positioned to make a strong run.

Until then, stay tuned.


28 Responses to “Another Bad “Decision”: The Chris Paul Trade Veto”

  1. Stern just did more damage to the league than anything that could happen to the New Orleans franchise. The credibility, which was already suspect and falling rapidly as compared to the other two national professional sports leagues, is gone. The NBA owns a team and they’re going to use that ownership, not to make New Orleans a contender, but to ensure that the Lakers don’t win six more championships this decade.

    Posted by Sports Scatter | December 9, 2011, 11:29 am
    • Sports Scatter – I agree with you. This one reaks all the way through. The only way that Stern redeems himself is by allowing N.O. to get an even better deal from the exact same trade partners.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | December 9, 2011, 4:01 pm
    • Spots Scatter… Let me start by saying that I am a Laker fan, I disagree with the trade being blocked and I agree that it was a horrible decision. However, I respectfully disagree with everything else. Why would the commissioner of the NBA NOT want the Lakers, it’s most marketable franchise, to win “6 more championships this decade”? What you are implying doesn’t make sense. You know what I read on blogs and forums everywhere once the trade was initially made? People were saying “Now you know the league is fixed, the NBA owned Hornets are sending Chris Paul to The Lakers.” Then on top of that owners were complaining. This was nothing more than ill-advised damage control. Stern tried to prevent talks of collusion by blocking this trade and caused it to grow worse. Stern was trying to protect the image if the league, thinking it looks bad for him to be involved in sending Paul to LA. So he stopped it. It was not a conspiracy to stop LA from winning. And as far as the NBAs credibility in comparison to MLB and NFL, have you heard of something called “The steroid era”?. Have you heard of “spygate” AKA 3 time superbowl cheaters? The NBAs credibility, even in the middle of all of this, has still not dipped to those lows. Paul will still end up in LA and this whole thing will blow over. Its just the hot topic of the month.

      Posted by basketballer | December 10, 2011, 10:11 am
  2. Sports Scatter — agreed. No real justifiable reason to block the Lakers from making this trade. I mean the Lakers gave up the 6th man of the year and (at least before the 2010 playoffs), the “most talented big in the NBA”. What other team is going to part with more? The Clippers and Eric Gordon? The Warriors and Stephen Curry?

    What a joke.

    Posted by Brown Mamba | December 9, 2011, 11:47 am
  3. Look at what NO was going to get: Scola, Odom, Martin, Dragic, and a good draft pick. That’s 3 near AS and a draft pick. This was the best offer NO has so far been offered, they weren’t getting shafted at all. If they were getting shafted, then yea, that’s one thing, but they weren’t. And Paul is certainly gone after this season, you have to trade him eventually, or seriously handicap your franchise for a long time. And highly unlikely for NO to get a better trade than this one, if they’re allowed to trade Paul later on, which is another issue. No way should any other team be allowed to trade for Paul if LA can’t have him. This is pathetic, at best.

    But, really, the lakers may have lucked out here. They still a PG, desperately, but if they get Paul, but fail to get Howard later this year, not good for them. But, now there are tampering reports of houston and new jersey talking with howard. Both of those teams likely won’t be allowed to have Howard, which makes LA the best chance to get Howard, which it might have already been. Time will tell. Oh what a start to this crazy season.

    Posted by boyer | December 9, 2011, 12:21 pm
    • Yes, you can definitely say New Orleans got fair return for CP3. As a matter of fact, the Hornets fetched more for Chris Paul than the Nuggets received for Carmelo Anthony. However, I don’t think that the Hornets’ return was the issue at hand.
      First, the Hornets have failed to generate interest in the New Orleans market. Despite having arguably the best point guard in the league, basketball and New Orleans seem to mix like oil and water. As such, what happens when New Orleans loses the only thing possibly drawing fans? Let’s face it – Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, and Goran Dragic are not players that attract fans. The only one with name value of the group is Lamar Odom, which is not for basketball reason whatsoever. Yes, New Orleans may have been able to compete for the 8th seed in the West. However, fans did not care about their quest last season with Chris Paul. What gives them reason to become interested in a playoff bound team without Chris Paul?

      Posted by Nick | December 12, 2011, 2:36 am
  4. Let’s talk about the trade and not the reprehensible, indefensible actions by the NBA’s dictator, errr….I mean commissioner.

    Evaluating the Lakers’ roster immediately after this trade misses the point of the trade. This trade, from the Lakers’ perspective, puts them in position to avoid another transition period. Of course the Lakers are immediately worse after this trade since they effectively eliminate their primary strength: their size and depth in the front court. However, that supposed advantage that size and depth provide did nothing to prevent them from getting swept by Dallas last year.

    While it may be true that the Lakers can get to the Finals this year because Dallas let Chandler go, and the Lakers have a decent shot to get by it and Okl with Gasol and Odom in tow, there is no way they are beating the Heat. They got swept by the Heat last year and the Heat are even better this year. As a Laker fan, I will concede this season to the Heat. They’re going to win it, that’s fine. But this trade was about 2 years from now, not now. The continued success of the Lakers is based upon proactively getting better and not simply hoping things fall in place and resting on its laurels. With CP3 in hand, the Lakers get the best point guard in the game, who is only 26 to boot. With CP3, and the lure of LA, the Lakers become a fantasy destination. Not only do prospective free agents get to play in LA, they get to receive passes from the best PG in the game. Also, what people are not acknowledging about this trade, it also gives them an $8-9 mil trade exception. They also had a $5mil trade exception from the Sasha trade. Those trade exceptions would have yielded depth to add to CP3 (I personally couldn’t see how they get D12 without Odom, so I’m basing this argument on not getting D12). Also, while chemistry could be an issue for Kobe and CP3, I remember Kobe begging for Jason Kidd. I think Kobe is intelligent enough to realize what CP3 can do for him: make things easier for him and his knee and prolong his career. Anyways, with all that said, this trade might still happen. But, If the Lakers can’t get CP3, then they better hope D12 is more attracted to the lure of LA than the lure of Russian prostitutes in NJ. Now, that’s a tough one.

    Posted by Stern's Bitch | December 9, 2011, 12:43 pm
    • The lakers haven’t been a deep team in years. They’ve been a talented team in recent years, but not deep. When shannon brown isn’t even 11th or 12th man in clev., and then is hardly part of the rotation in char., and then becomes 6th or 7th man for the lakers, that should tell you all about the depth of the lakers. The lakers struggled in last year’s playoffs for 2 primary reasons: kobe was seriously hurt(he wasn’t able to shake off his injuries this time), and Pau played like a backup PF, not to mention the common lackluster efforts by most of the rest of the team. You just won’t win with that happening.

      You have a pretty high opinion of the heat. We can debate their chances of winning all day long, but the fact is, last year was a rather easy year to win a title, and they couldn’t get it done.

      The lakers have mostly made smart business decisions in the past, something very few teams can say. Having Kobe is a huge plus, but they made the deal in 1996, so they get the benefits from it. The fact is, Chris Paul is great, but he’s a tiny PG, injury prone, and his wilted away in his 2 biggest games of his career. If the lakers can get howard for bynum/odom, they’ll be in much better shape.

      Posted by boyer | December 9, 2011, 12:55 pm
      • From simply a Vegas point of view, the Heat are likely win. They barely had time to gel last year and almost won it all. I also have no idea why last year was easier than any other.

        Re: CP3 wilting, Howard has done no better, and in fact much worse. With that said, I would get D12 over CP3 for no other reason than he’s never been injured. But, CP3 is the best pure PG in the game today, possibly ever. Throw that in and the fact that there are no dominant centers in the league (outside of D12), getting CP3 is also a great move and sets the Lakers up for the eventual future without Kobe.

        Posted by Stern's Bitch | December 9, 2011, 2:49 pm
        • Well, if you’re going by vegas, then why are we even talking. Just let vegas determine everything. Uh, if you want to talk about barely gelling together, try Pau and the lakers in 2008. They had less than 1/2 a season to gel, and bynum was hurt for most of that time, and they made it to the finals, also only 2 wins from the title. The heat had the entire training camp, and their 3 were healthy the entire year, that’s a huge difference. I’m not one for making excuses, so that gelling argument doesn’t hold much weight with me, especially when others have had it much worse and have been able to gel very well nearly immediately. That’s a huge difference between kobe and lebron. For all the talk about selfish play with kobe, he has had great chemistry with his teammates. He and Pau clicked right away. In contrast, lebron and wade still have little idea in how to correctly incooperate bosh into the offense or themselves, at times.

          Not sure about that about Howard. I don’t remember him wilting away in the 09 finals. He was just outplayed by Kobe, as everyone else is. I encourage you to rewatch the 4th of the hornets/spurs 08 series and game 6 this past year between the lakers/hornets. Paul is nowhere to be found. For all the talk about Paul being the best player in the series, I ask you, who was guarding him? Oh yea, grandpa Fisher. Wow, he must be so awesome. Now, check out game 2. Hobbled, supposedly old Kobe is guarding Paul, and completely frustrates him and the hornets entire offense is in disarray the entire game. The lakers are giving up 2 quality bigs for a tiny injury proned PG, not the greatest of moves for them. Pau’s probably top 15. Odom’s probably top 50. Paul’s in the top 10. It’s only great for the lakers if they get Howard, which is a big if.

          Posted by boyer | December 9, 2011, 8:38 pm
    • S.B – great points. It this trade is a chess setup for Howard, then it is a coup. If not, I remain skeptical. The trade exceptions are a great point, and one that I overlooked. They can be used to pry a quality #4. However, I am still not convinced tha 2 ball dominating players can coexist. I know that Wade/Lebron did it last year as Wade learned to play off the ball, but I just don’t see Kobe tailoring his game in the same way (i.e. coming off picks. slashing to the basket off the ball, etc..) at age 33 (nearly 34 come playoff time).

      Posted by The NBA Realist | December 9, 2011, 4:15 pm
      • Kobe already does this. That’s exactly how the triangle is set up. For all the supposed Kobe dominating the ball talk, compare to wade, lebron, any PG, or several other players, he really doesn’t do this. In certain situations, yea, maybe, when the game’s on the line or the team is struggling mightily offensively, he does as he should dominate the ball more in those situations. Wade, by default only, had to play off the ball more last year, but he still didn’t do a great job of it. Kobe is one of the few players ever who can dominate with or without the ball.

        Posted by boyer | December 12, 2011, 9:32 am
        • Boyer -Completely disagree. Kobe does not come off screens norplay off the ball with consistency. One or two possessions per game? Perhaps. But not with consistency.

          Moreover, Kobe oftentimes has either stopped the flow of the Triangle, or broken away from the offense in order to faciliate the offense. I am not criticizing him for this since this is the way in which he has generated points, but I am pointing out the fact that the bulk of his shots have come through isolations, post-ups or high screen rolls that fall outside of the flow of the triangle. There is only room for one ball handler and playing off the ball without the ball in his hands, with a catch and shoot style, would be an adjustment to his game.

          Posted by The NBA Realist | December 13, 2011, 3:01 pm
          • it is difficult to say that a guy that leads the league in FGA does not dominate the ball. This is especially true when, as Realist correctly points out, that Bryant is NOT a catch and shoot player.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 13, 2011, 8:28 pm
          • You must not watch Kobe much, that’s fine. Especially for a superstar, he doesn’t really have the ball that much, except in certain situations. I didn’t say he doesn’t dominate the ball, I said compared to some of these other players, he doesn’t dominate the ball, there’s a difference.

            It’s funny that when someone mentions playing off the ball, the only thing people think about is catch/shoot. I don’t know if you realize, but there’s a lot more to playing off the ball than just catch/shoot. And I do remember Kobe beautifully coming off a screen and catch/shoot situation against the kings for a buzzer beater a few years ago. That’s a skill, and he has it, even if he rarely has the chance to use it. The fact that the lakers have had nobody to create and kick out to open shooters other Kobe doing this, then obviously catch/shoot situations would rarely occur for Kobe. And the fact that Phil used the triange limits opportunities for such situations as compared to other teams’ offenses.

            Kobe may have deviated from the triangle sometimes, not as much as you seem to be implying.

            You might be right about multipe ball handlers not working well together. But, as much as everyone incorrectly bashes Kobe for blatant selfishness, Kobe worked beautifully with Shaq on court, whom he had major issues with off the court, and immediately meshed with Pau in feb. 2008 when Pau joined the team, something lebron/wade/bosh have yet figured out, even with a full training camp and a full season. You seem to think lebron/wade worked well together, which I don’t. Their halfcourt offense was a mess last year, even though they had great talent. It’s ugly to watch often. But, they still made the finals. So, I’d have to disagree with the notion of 2 ball dominated players going far. My main pt. was that Kobe knows how to effectively play with the ball and off the ball in every situation. Whatever you ask him to do, he can do, and do well. No other player can say that. Wade, by default, may have to work off the ball now since he’s playing with lebron, but that doesn’t mean he’s doing it effectively. It was mostly, here lebron, you do your thing and I’ll watch, or here wade, you do your thing and I’ll watch.

            Posted by boyer | December 14, 2011, 10:56 am
          • Actually Boyer, I watch Kobe quite a bit given that I reside locally in Southern California. I just happen to disagree with your assessment – just as I strongly disagreed with your erroneous opinion that a Game 5 (with the series tied 2-2, and at least one more opportunity for redemption) is AS important as a Game 7 (do or die elimination game with no more opportunities for redemption).

            Regardless, it is far more evident that you (not me) do not watch Kobe as much as you declare. Because if you did, you would have realized that Kobe Bryant had the HIGHEST usage percentage of any player in the NBA in 2011. Again, the highest usage percentage. In sum, he dominated the ball more than any other player in the NBA when he was on the floor. I’m not citing evidence that he was top 10, or even top 5 in Usage %. I am citing evidence that he was number one. Therefore, I am baffled by how you can state that Kobe “doesn’t really have the ball much” when all of the evidence shows the exact opposite. .

            I am certainly open to changing my stance, and welcome to hearing about any facts that you can bring to the table .But bring facts, not conjecture, not the “eye test”, and not “you must not watch Kobe much” nonsense. Consistent Evidence carries far more weight than “I am a Kobe fan, so everything ho does must be great”.

            Second, I never said that Kobe never executes catch and shoot situations. Of course he does this from time to time and has a very diverse arsenal. This is part of his talent that manifests by throwing the defense a different look from time to time. However, Kobe does not choose to do this with “consistency”, and this style for 30-35 min is not within his comfort zone, nor will it ever be. His game is at it’s best when he has the ball in his hands, can break down the defense and make decisions with either a pass or shoot – just like CP3. Asking Bryant to catch and shoot or set screens for 30-35 min per game is not playing to his strengths.

            Third, I’m not sure where I have ever accused Kobe of any “blatant selfishness”.

            Fourth, the Heat made the NBA Finals, were favored, and lost – just like the 2008 Lakers (and yes, the Lakers at the time were absolutely favored to win the series against the Celtics, both in Vegas and by the general public). I’m not sure how you can state that one team jelled more in their first year (or in the case of the Lakers, 1/2 year) than the other. Do the Heat have more work to do? Yes: they have room to improve. But so did the 2008 Lakers who became even better in 2009.

            Again…. looking forward to your facts and evidence Boyer, not conjecture.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | December 14, 2011, 3:46 pm
          • Realist,

            To clarify, I would regard someone like Glenn Rice or Ray Allen a “catch and shoot” player.

            Kobe is that rare talent that can score off the dribble as well as catch and shoot.

            I am pretty certain you were able to intuit this, but I just wanted to be clear what my definition was.

            Again, it is really hard to have NOT dominated the ball when you lead the league in FGA.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 14, 2011, 9:51 pm
  5. this was the highest level of BS in a trade, it has disgruntled Odom, Gasol, K-Mart, Luis Scola, Rondo and left an unhappy and demotivated Chris Paul in NO. This is a disaster and i really hope that the bozo stern out of the league offices as soon as possible this time he has really overstayed his welcome.

    Posted by alex | December 9, 2011, 2:18 pm
  6. I believe this whole thing is just a big set up for the Lakers to get D. Howard. They really want Howard and the whole NBA is going to cry foul once they get him, so they set up a plan where the Commish vetos the CP3 trade and everyone is going crazy for a few days and once they announce the D.Howard trade they wont be denied anymore and the small market owners wont be able to ask the commish to veto this one as well because than they all would look silly.

    Posted by Kevin | December 9, 2011, 2:46 pm
    • Why would the NBA want to set this up and prolong the “Where will Chris Paul go” saga? I don’t understand your logic. This constant rumor mill is affecting both the Hornets and the several rumored teams involved. Once Golden State became a contender for the CP3 Sweepstakes, Larry Riley immediately assured Steph Curry that he was not involved in any type of trade scenario. There’s no doubt, however, that L.A. is in hot pursuit of Dwight.

      Posted by Nick | December 12, 2011, 2:46 am
  7. the angle people keep forgetting is that the value of the hornets as an organization for the next 3-6 months is all the league as an ownership team cares about. lets, for a second assume this was the right trade for NO for the long term. if the league is trying to sell the team for near the $300M they paid for it, they need a marketable superstar and seasonticket holders who want to come watch. if they ship cp3 out now, no one in their right mind would pay $200M for the team and the “owners” would be pretty pissed.
    if this was a movie i would love to see how collusion theories and back door deals play out, but the reality is this: the league needs to sell the team, they need an owner committed to NO and then need fans showing up…all that means CP3 stays until the march trade deadline and then the new owner gets to make the call.

    Posted by Anti-Bill Simmons | December 9, 2011, 3:11 pm
    • So then after this season, then what? Any potential buyer will know Paul is gone after this season. Your theory doesn’t make sense, and they’ve been trying to find a buyer for a year now with no such luck. Gilbert’s letter said it all. He mentioned Howard in it. This wasn’t just about Paul, it was also about Howard, and the league is completely wrong here. The hornets/rockets/lakers are playing within the rules and nobody is getting shafted. The hornets have built in advantages for keeping Paul, but Paul is still free to play wherever he wants to.

      Posted by boyer | December 9, 2011, 8:27 pm
      • The new owner is the one who should be making long term decisions. IF they find an owner in the next few months it will be that persons fault or their success if they can sign paul to a long term deal…if the league ships him out then value of the team drops significantly.
        For those who think this league and each team is anything more than a business whose value is based on marketability first and winning second you are sadly mistaken.
        Players may be their own brands and try to enhance that value, but a mega stars $100M endorsement is nothing compared to what the owners make if they can produce a profitable team….and here’s the scary part…the clippers, are profitable and they dont win.

        Posted by Anti-Bill Simmons | December 12, 2011, 6:54 pm
    • You’ve hit the nail on the head. People forget the underlying facts – what kind of casual fan can associate with Odom, Martin, Scola, and Dragic? Chris Paul is a business in and of himself.

      Posted by Nick | December 12, 2011, 2:47 am
  8. Breaking News: Brandon Roy’s retirement has been vetoed by David Stern because it’s not in the best interest of small market teams in the league that want the Portland Trail-Blazers to continue to be plagued by injuries.

    Posted by Scalabrine 1 Lebron 0 | December 9, 2011, 3:19 pm
  9. obviously this trade is not going to happen but hypothetically with pau gasol out of the lineup, kobe can definitely operate in the post with only one other post option there. we saw how he dominated right out the gates in the beginning of the 09/10 season and how his efficiency scored. but to say he doesn’t dominate the ball is ridiculous, he had the highest usage rate last year.

    Posted by stillshining | December 15, 2011, 5:56 pm


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