The NBA, which owns the New Orleans Hornets, has rejected three offers in the past five days that would’ve sent all-star point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles.
NBA Commissioner David Stern shot down the Lakers’ first attempt last Thursday, nixing a three-team deal that would brought Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Lamar Odom to New Orleans and Pau Gasol to Houston. Stern then shot down another deal that added subtle changes to the package. When those talks collapsed, the Lakers backed out and sent Odom, disgruntled and hurt after being put on the trading block, to Dallas for a trade exception and a pick.
The Clippers then got involved, hoping to pair Paul with dunking machine Blake Griffin. But a deal that would’ve sent Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and a first-round pick to New Orleans collapsed as Stern and his advisers in the league office demanded more in return for the game’s best point guard.
Stern said last week that the NBA has to make a decision “on the basis of what is in the best interests of the Hornets.” But that means Paul’s desires to leave will be put on hold.
“That’s an unfortunate situation,” Wizards guard Roger Mason Jr. said on Tuesday. “I feel horrible for CP3.”
Mason and Paul are members of the National Basketball Players Association executive committee and sat through several collective bargaining negotiations during the five-month long lockout. One of the sessions collapsed in October after Paul got into an exchange with Spurs owner Peter Holt, who asked for a 50-50 split of revenues. Now the NBA holds Paul’s future in its hands.
“Here’s a guy who has been a complete professional, and it was a little weird being on the board and in those negotiations,” Mason said. “A lot of the points that we were talking about had a direct impact on Chris. So you’ve got David Stern in the room, and you’ve got Chris in the room, and the dynamic, it was a little weird. Now the negotiations are over, but to see this happening, it’s just strange. It really shows you how much of a business this game is.”
After the latest deal collapsed, Paul reportedly told a Hornets official, “It’s crazy.”