A potential deal that would have sent New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Paul to the Lakers, Lamar Odom to New Orleans and Pau Gasol to Houston was killed by the NBA after all the teams agreed to terms. As AP reported:

The NBA’s decision to reject a proposed trade involving All-Star guard Chris Paul set the stage for an awkward opening to training camps on Friday in New Orleans, Los Angeles and Houston.

The NBA-owned Hornets thought they had worked out a three-team deal to send Paul to Los Angeles in a deal that also would have sent Lamar Odom to New Orleans and four-time All-Star Pau Gasol to Houston.

The league, however, declined to approve the trade, meaning Paul was expected to report to Hornets camp, while Odom and Gasol were expected to show up when the Lakers opened practice under new head coach Mike Brown.

After deal fell through, Paul simply wrote, “WoW,” on his Twitter page.

Odom, too, took to Twitter to share his feelings: “When a team trades u and it doesn’t go down? Now what?”

The fallout from the trade that never was caused the NBA to deny reports that deal was nixed because a number of team owners complained about it to NBA commissioner David Stern.

“It’s not true that the owners killed the deal, the deal was never discussed at the Board of Governors meeting and the league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons,” league spokesman Mike Bass said.

After reports that NBA commissioner David Stern had killed the deal because of owner complaints, Dan Gilbert and Mark Cuban both let their disagreement with the proposed trade be known. As Cindy Boren explained:

One owner, the Cleveland Cavs’ Dan Gilbert, in an email obtained by Yahoo, called the trade “a travesty” and urged that it go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.

He said of the big- and small-market teams : “When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?”

Yahoo says that the timestamp indicates Gilbert sent the email after the trade had been killed. He wrote, in part:

“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.”

Criticisms of David Stern and the NBA came fast and furious after news of the blocked trade broke. As Lee Friedman wrote:

You have to have certain ethical and moral lines you won’t cross to please your superiors. NBA Commissioner David Stern apparently makes up his lines as he goes along.

On Thursday, Stern (who as Commissioner is the de facto owner of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets) vetoed a trade that would have sent All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the Hornets to the Lakers in a three-team deal. Paul, who will be a free agent after this season, has made it clear that he had no intention of re-signing with the team. Rather than lose him for nothing next summer, Hornets GM Dell Demps pulled the trigger on a deal. The players and draft picks the Hornets would have received in return were universally considered above fair, especially in light of the fact that when Paul left at the end of the season they would have received nothing. Frankly, it could be argued that the Lakers gave up too much to get him.

Throughout the league’s ownership of the Hornets, Demps was assured by Stern that he had a free hand to make trades and sign free agents (obviously within financial constraints). All three teams (the Rockets being the third) involved agreed to a deal after extensive negotiations whereupon Stern vetoed it for “basketball reasons” with no further explanation. It’s been widely reported that the owners (the 29 of them technically own the Hornets) complained to Stern about the deal and pushed him to veto it. The small market owners complained that this was yet another example of a star forcing his team to trade him to a larger market.

This whining is sort of ironic because we just lost almost 20 percent of the season because the owners were unhappy with the level of player movement under the old labor system. Rather than push for real changes in the system during the lockout, the owners chose to squeeze every last dollar out of the players in exchange for not making large systemic changes, about which they are now complaining. The larger market owners’ unhappiness was due to the fact that the Lakers were now acquiring one of the top point guards in the game. Essentially they didn’t like that one of their main competitors would be made better.

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