NBA AM: The Grinch That Stole Chris Paul
The Grinch That Stole Chris Paul: The NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets were on the verge of consummating a deal today that would have sent Chris Paul to the L.A. Lakers in exchange for a package of assets from the Lakers and Houston Rockets.
Just as everyone involved was preparing for their new situation, word emerged that the NBA – likely at the behest of some angry competing owners – nixed the deal.
Now owners nix deals all the time, so realistically this is not a huge deal, but this decision came from the league office. Not Jac Sperling, who is supposed to be running the day to day for the League, not from Hornets’ president Hugh Weber, who was assured autonomy for all things basketball, or from Hornets’ General Manager Dell Demps, who had been working this situation for the better part of two weeks.
Because the veto didn’t come from any of those three people… the decision stinks in the worst kind of way.
When the NBA made the decision to buy out former Hornets’ owner George Shinn last year, the league assured the basketball side of things that they would be hands off and allow Demps and Weber to run things as they always have. And for all of last year they did exactly that, focusing solely on improving the Hornets business and sales operations.
As the Chris Paul rumors played out in the press last week, inquiring teams reportedly checked with the league to insure that Demps indeed had the authority to trade Paul and their efforts were not being wasted.
All were assured he did.
Yesterday Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that owners gathered in New York for the Board of Governors meeting were “irate” over the league-owned Hornets being able to consummate this deal and reportedly pushed back in a major way.
Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert sent a tersely worded e-mail to Commissioner David Stern and his own ownership group voicing his displeasure over the deal:
It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed.
This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.
Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.
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 (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.
I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do.
When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?
Gilbert’s e-mail to Stern was reportedly not the only complaint filed, and the NBA late yesterday killed the deal.
A NBA spokesman denied that complaints were voiced during the Board of Governors meeting and said that the decision to nix the deal was for “basketball reasons.”
The general reactions around the league were negative with players threatening to boycott training camps that open this week.
One player who had been linked to the Hornets in recent days said he felt it was bad enough the NBA hammered through a bad labor deal, but to back it up with a move like this on the day the labor deal was approved was too much.
Pacers’ forward Danny Granger turned to Twitter to vent his frustration, tweeting out:
“Due to the sabotaging of the LA/NO trade by david stern, and following in the footsteps of my athlete brethern Metta World Peace and Chad Ochocinco, I’m changing my last name to “Stern’s Bi#&h” #effectiveimmediately”
NBA Players are expected to report to training camps by 2pm EST today, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
So What Now? League sources confirmed last night that the Lakers/Hornets deal is dead. Sources said it was possible changes could be made to the proposal to revive the talks but that all parties were stunned at the league’s stance on this and unsure how to proceed.
Hornets’ sources said there was an expected conference call today with the league to discuss next steps and to get a feel for what the team will and will not be allowed to do going forward.
Sources say Chris Paul is not likely to show up for today’s training camp, the Hornets’ first session starts later tonight.
When news that the trade was off hit, Chris Paul voiced his only comments on the subject via Twitter:
It is completely possible that such a move could be in the works. After all, Howard made it clear that he wanted to see his team add serious talent around him and named Chris Paul and Monta Ellis as two players he’d view as serious talent.
With the news yesterday that the Magic were not even in the hunt for Paul or that landing Ellis seemed unlikely, Howard may be to the breaking point with the Magic, whose biggest additions so far are the training camp invites of Larry Hughes and Gabe Pruitt.
Howard may also be upset with Magic president Otis Smith, who told reporters on Wednesday that he might not listen to Howard.
“We’re gonna continue to put the best team on the floor to win an NBA title,” Smith said on Wednesday. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to listen to everything Dwight has to say and placate to that. That doesn’t necessarily mean how our organization is ran. We want him here as long as we can have him here, and our organization is ran to win a title. We built a culture here for a reason.”
Howard’s camp made it crystal clear last week that Howard wanted to be in Orlando and finish this season with the Magic. If Howard has changed his tune, which happens frequently with him, a trade to the Nets might be logical.
The only problem with the rumor is it flies in the face of everything that’s been said this month on the subject, but it also may be a reflection of Orlando’s inability to trigger anything meaningful as other teams are stockpiling talent.
The Knicks and Tyson Chandler: Barring something crazy Tyson Chandler is expected to be a New York Knick today and Knick guard Chauncey Billups will either be an Amnesty provision cut to clear cap space or he’ll be traded.
League sources said last night that Dallas and New York were kicking the tires on Billups’ value in trade but was finding few takers on his final $14.2 million in salary. If Dallas cannot find a taker on Billups it seems unlikely they would add Chauncey to a roster that already features Jason Kidd.
If the Knicks opt to use their one-time Amnesty cut, which allows them to trim one salary off their salary cap and luxury tax number, it would open the door for teams under the Salary Cap to use some of their cap space to put in a “bid” on Billups’ contract.
Billups’ agent Andy Miller told Yahoo! Sports that teams hoping to steal Billups in the Amnesty waiver process should “beware,” hinting that Billups could simply retire rather than join a sub-par team.
If Billups clears the waiver process he would be free to join any team of his choosing as a free agent and the Knicks would be on the hook for the full value of his contract.
If a team puts in an Amnesty bid, the highest bidder would win the contract and only be responsible for the amount they bid; the Knicks would be on the hook for the balance.
The bid process only applies to teams with cap space, and teams can only bid an amount they have under the cap.
Cleveland’s Baron Davis is expected to be an Amnesty cut today as well. The difference is Davis has two years left on his deal, so any team bidding would have to agree to take Davis for two years at whatever number they bid.
It is plausible that a team under the cap that’s wants Davis could bid $1 million for Davis, and if that is the highest bid they could secure him for the next two years at $1 million per season with Cleveland on the hook for the rest of Davis’ $26.8 million contract.
League sources hint that the Knicks are more open to trading Billups to preserve their Amnesty provision, but say that signing Tyson Chandler outright could happen if no deal surfaces.
Reports out of New York suggest that the Knicks tried to insert themselves into the Chris Paul circus with an Amar’e Stoudemire offer that was promptly refused, so it’s possible the Knicks want to keep their Amnesty in the event that Stoudemire grows unhappy with the Knicks. The final two years of Stoudemire’s deal clock in at $21.6 million in 2013 and $23.4 million in 2014 so having that Amnesty option would be smart business.
The belief is that Tyson Chandler will ink a four-year deal in New York today either directly or through trade that should net him somewhere between $55 and $58 million, depending on if New York can find a trade for Ronny Turiaf and his ending $4.3 million contract.
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