09 December 2011

What the Aborted Chris Paul Trade Means for the NBA, Paul & Dwight Howard

The trade seemed to be a go; Chris Paul to the Lakers, Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first round pick to New Orleans, Pau Gasol to Houston. And then late last night, commissioner David Stern, seemingly under pressure from some of the league's owners, killed the deal. And so what are the ramifications of the killed trade for the NBA, Paul and New Orleans as well as for Dwight Howard?
To play devil's advocate (something I love to do because I am an a**hole), Stern's reasoning on why the trade was shut down do indeed make sense. The league does not want players force their way out of their current cities and be able to dictate where they want to go, essentially holding their teams hostage considering if was those kind of things that were one of the driving points for change during the lockout, as well as to keep stars in smaller markets as possible and try to get parity. And in an email to the commissioner (that was sent to the commish after the trade had been cancelled), Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert noted that the deal was a travesty and makes some valid points, such that the Lakers were getting the best player in the trade and saving over $40 million in the process, compared to the much derided trade by the Lakers for Pau Gasol, in which they were taking on tens of millions of dollars. Whether or not he wrote the email in Comic Sans is unclear.
But Stern is really opening a Pandora's Box by shutting down this trade, which by pretty much every account was a pretty fair one and a widely praised one of Hornets G.M. Dell Demps' behalf. This is a pretty egregious move on Stern's behalf to kill this trade which could have disastrous effects on the supposed free market of the league. There has been and will be a major backlash against Stern's decision and I doubt, as usual, that he considered the potential ramifications of this move as it could really cut the Hornets, who are owned by the NBA, at the knees if they cannot get a deal done and are forced to lose Paul to free agency.
Speaking of Paul, everyone and their drunk uncle knows he wants out of the Big Easy and will not sign an extension there. And like I said, Demps engineered a pretty solid haul to come back to New Orleans and that would not be a cap killer. So now they have to try and engineer another deal knowing the risk that the NBA seemingly could shut it down again because if Paul hit free agency and the Hornets are not able to get something back for them, that franchise will be seriously hurting for years. But Paul has indidcated, although not really publicly, that he would not sign an extension with the Golden State Warriors, who are reluctant to deal Stephen Curry, or with the Los Angeles Clippers, who spent a nice chunk of change on Caron Butler yesterday. We knew his top choice was the Knicks but they never had the prospects to orchestrate a deal, unless they were willing to deal Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire, and now don't have the money after apparently signing Tyson Chandler via amnestying or dealing Chauncey Billups (personally I think you have a much better chance of winning a title with a Paul-Stoudemire-Chandler core rather than an Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler but that's not the point...for now). And Paul has indicated strongly that he would not sign an extension with the Celtics but Danny Ainge is aggressive as always and would give New Orleans Rajon Rondo, another elite point guard. So Demps' options may be permanently hindered.
So how does that Magic center figure into all of this? Well he is going to have to be traded, it is unlikely he will re-sign in Orlando and the Magic cannot risk having another Shaq situation and get nothing in return. The top two players as of right now are the Brooklyn-bound (New Jersey) Nets and the Lakers. The Nets have been a frontrunner because they have a solid center in Brooks Lopez to offer as well as a couple of draft picks plus they are capable of taking on Hedo Turkoglu's terrible contract as well. And it was reported that Howard will request a trade to the Nets and form a power duo with point guard Deron Williams. But now the Lakers, who never were really out of the Howard sweepstakes even if the Paul trade went through because they still had Andrew Bynum to offer as well as a trade exemption plus the potential of a third team getting in the mix, now can go full-on in their pursuit of Howard with having Bynum, Gasol, Odom to offer to Orlando and potentially a third team that is not known yet because there is no trade in place yet.
Regardless of what happens, s*** is about to go down in the NBA, whether Stern or the people like it or not.

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