The NBA has vetoed the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, and in the process, sent a message to the rest of the league. Throughout the labor situation, the owners and league executives constantly preached for competitive balance and did not want major markets to have the best chance of winning championships. Ironically, a major market team was about to become even better the day the new CBA was ratified.
Just as the Lakers were about to add Chris Paul and make a push for Dwight Howard, the league intervened and killed the deal. According to the the NBA’s spokesperson, the trade was vetoed because of basketball reasons. However, David Stern and his staff have no power over what teams trade away. The Lakers got Pau Gasol in a deal for sub-par players, but the league did not do anything that time.
Although Stern and Silver want competitive balance in the league, that situation is impossible. There can never be 30 title contenders in the NBA, there will always be bad teams and talented teams. For that reason they have no right to concern themselves in a trade between two franchises. If the Lakers and Hornets agree on a trade including Chris Paul, so be it. If Chris Paul wants to leave New Orleans for Los Angeles, so be it.
This move was clearly not made because of basketball related issues. The league cannot accept the fact that another superstar is set to leave a small market and it is trying the best it can to please the owners. Stern wants to protect the franchises and fans in cities like New Orleans, but he has no right to ruin the future of the Lakers and Paul in the process.
Chris Paul is doing all the right things right now by essentially ‘protesting’ the decision. Paul has contacted Billy Hunter and the NBPA will use its legal powers to make the trade go through. In addition, Paul will not be attending Hornets’ training camp which will begin on Friday.
The NBA took a major hit today. After happiness besieged the city and another story line was added which would have increased the league’s popularity, Stern once again killed the party. Chris Paul could have seen his dream come true by joining the Lakers, but Stern and his staff were more concerned with protecting the owners.