Update (1:10 p.m.): The Orlando Magic are considering filing tampering charges against two unnamed teams for illegal contact with center Dwight Howard.
TNT Analyst David Aldridge cited a league source who said the Magic believe at least on team has had contact with Howard regarding a trade. If they can prove one or multiple teams did contact Howard, they plan to immediately file charges.
Collusion. Competitive imbalance. Trade vetoes.
At this time of year, you’d expect those words to be associated with your fantasy football league, not the National Basketball Association.
But after NBA commissioner David Stern blocked a blockbuster trade Thursday that would have shipped Chris Paul to the Lakers, the first official day of the 2010-11 has already turned from free agent fantasy into a nightmare.
Like Paul, Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard is also looking for a change of scenery. Multiple media outlets are reporting he will request a trade to the New Jersey Nets, but with the outrage on both sides of the nixed Paul-to-L.A. deal still simmering, what’s to say Stern wouldn’t block that move, too?
According to ESPN, Howard will not attend Orlando’s first day of training camp on Friday as his representatives continue to work on a deal that would land him in New Jersey and reportedly send Brook Lopez and a pair of first-round draft picks back to the Magic.
The move would team Howard with point guard Deron Williams as the Nets load up for their move to Brooklyn next season. It would also further stifle the Lakers’ plans to bring Paul and Howard to L.A. to play alongside Kobe Bryant.
But as the Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz ponders, why shouldn’t the NBA kill this trade, too?
“The Hornets did everything outlined in the, ahem, hard-fought CBA, which was ratified only hours before the blockbuster deal. If I were Paul, I’d hire a lawyer. Talk about restraint of trade.
“Pressured by screaming owners, Stern applied his own franchise tag to Paul even though there was no franchise tag approved in the CBA.
“Now Stern needs to tag Howard, block his shot.”
If competitive balance is what you’re after, the NBA is not the league for you. Over the last 30 seasons there have been only eight different champions, and with teams like the Celtics and Heat devoting the vast majority of their budgets to three players, that’s unlikely to change in the immediate future — even with the newly-ratified CBA.
But while the ire that triggered New Orleans’ blocked trade came from owners worried that the already-talent-rich Lakers were fleecing their trade partners, there’s another side to the coin.
If the Hornets are forced to keep Paul on their roster, he will almost certainly walk at the end of the season, leaving them with nothing. And for a franchise frequently mentioned in the same breath as “contraction,” wouldn’t Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and draft picks provide more promise than one final year with a disgruntled point guard whose right foot is already out the door?
If nothing else, it’s becoming increasingly easy to understand why retiring Orlando Magic chairman Bob Vender Weide gave Howard a late night, wine-induced phone call earlier this week. It’s getting harder and harder to protect your investments in the NBA.
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