« A fresh look at Bobcats' D.J. Augustin | Main | Derrick Brown headed back to Bobcats »

December 08, 2011

The NBA bought this Paul mess

            This was even too hypocritical and laughable for the NBA to spin.

            The New Orleans Hornets -- the team that George Shinn sold to the league office to get out from under -- was going to gift its greatest (only?) asset to the Los Angeles Lakers Thurday night on the eve of the post-lockout start of the 2011-12 season. Chris Paul was set to team with Kobe Bryant, and somewhere every Laker Girl was singing in homage to the Gods (or Jerry Buss, same thing, right?)

            Problem: The league (i.e, David Stern) had been selling this whole patter for most of the year that the lockout really wasn’t just about killing losses. It was about restoring competitive balance, NFL-like, so that we could have an NBA Final someday that resembles that Green Bay-Pittsburgh Super Bowl. (You know: Bobcats-Kings. Bring your cow bells. Not that ABC wants anything to do with that).

            Here’s what happened. The Hornets (beggars) and the Lakers (choosers) found the Rockets (money-changer) to facilitate a deal. Everything was hunky-doory in a Prohibition way (molasses to rum to greenbacks) until them Feds got involved and broke up this tidy scam.

            Owners (you know, each 1/29th stake in the Hornets) started complaining that maybe sending Paul to the team with all the money and all the sex appeal and all the trophies shouldn’t be a knee-jerk way to start a season that was delayed by...well, you know... a fight over whether anyone cares about the Bobcats, Bucks, Hornets, Pacers and Kings.

            Don’t worry. A billion-dollar cable deal counts for something sooner or later. I’m sure eventually this will all be worked out and the Hornets will get a fair price -- three magic beans, the original score from Hello Dolly and that beached whale off Wilmington’s coast.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 8, 2011 at 09:55 PM | Permalink


Part of the reason of the lockout was the owners being mad about Lebron choosing where he went. Now this isn't as drastic as that, its close. What is the NBA going.to do when it.offers Orlando Bynum along with Odom for Howard? Veto that too? They made this mess by not stepping in when players like Carmelo were forcing their way out of Denver and letting the organization know where they want to play. Ridiculous.

Posted by: Jason Warren | Dec 8, 2011 10:24:22 PM

So what are the Hornets going to do now? Keep him on the roster and let him become a UFA next year and lose him for nothing? I thought the Hornets made out alright in the deal given the circumstances. Kleiza, Martin, Dragic and a first rounder. Completely baffled.

Posted by: Jason Warren | Dec 8, 2011 10:51:17 PM

The league office wants this because it is great for TV.....The small markets will never prosper....ESPN, TNT, TBS, none of them want competitive balance really....just great TV games.....

Posted by: Dave | Dec 8, 2011 11:23:43 PM

Totally agree Rick. Let's face it. The NBA has been about 5-7 teams every year chasing the title while the other small market franchises try and find enough suckers, er, fans to fill the seats in the bottom half of the league. The lockout was supposed to change all this. Give everyone a shot at the Larry O'Brien.
Hope it works out but this was not a promising start.

Posted by: ASChin | Dec 9, 2011 2:24:20 AM

Does this really surprise anyone? Maybe they could trade him to Golden State for Nancy Pelosi and a few insider stock tips.

Posted by: Claydog | Dec 9, 2011 5:42:12 AM

Trade may seem 1 sided, but what happens when you make an unwanted Chris Paul stay for 4 months, he becomes a free agent and the Hornets end up with NOTHING!! Players will always have say if the honor their contracts and become free agents ala Lebron James.

Posted by: IceBurg Slim | Dec 9, 2011 6:59:38 AM


Posted by: David Stern has to go!! | Dec 9, 2011 8:04:47 AM

Rick, did regular drug testing make it into the NBA agreement?

Posted by: Clyde the Glide | Dec 9, 2011 8:06:19 AM

I hate they nixed this trade. I hate to break it to you guys that disagree but odom, scola, martin, goric and a 1st is insane value for both paul and gasol.

And paul is not on the level of williams or carmello as the go to guy for a winning team. People are heavily underrating scola and martin in this deal. Its insane. Deal should have gone through.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 9, 2011 8:27:01 AM

Rick, you are wrong. I agree with Charlottean. As a result of the trade, the Hornets would have a re-vamped roster for one (1) player that no longer wants to play in NOLA. Now they are 3/4 of a season away from getting nothing.

Posted by: Sambo | Dec 9, 2011 8:39:36 AM

The issue isn't just what's good for the Hornets and Lakers. The issue -- and this is where it's so fun -- is that the league bought all this trouble when the other 29 owners collectively bought the Hornets. Of course then it becomes a political mess.

Posted by: rick bonnell | Dec 9, 2011 9:09:13 AM

ESPN, TNT, TBS, NBC will get make MORE money if the league gets more balanced. When there is a chance that a Milwaukee could slaughter a LA team, you wouldn't watch that. I didn't watch that many Miami games last year because I was sick of the prima donnas. I rooted for every team that had to play them. I wanted them to LOOSE. Because Lebron could have stayed where he was. Bosh could have stayed where he was. What happened? A good that dominated the league with three A listers that couldn't get the job done over guys with heart.

Paul needs to go to a Bobcats, Bucks, Hornets, Pacers and Kings. He would really work well in either case if he wanted out of NOLA. The problem is that it would be good for the league long term. Who wants that? Oh the fans... Who cares about them....

Posted by: Marked Man | Dec 9, 2011 9:23:07 AM

What's the point of even having more than 6 teams in the NBA. All the "stars" just want to go form their own litte all-star teams so they can win a championship the easy way. Wouldn't the NBA be better off like that anyways. Then you wouldn't even have to worry about all the "small market" teams. I'm a casual Bobcats fan, because I live here. If I didn't live in a city that had a team, I don't know if I'd even watch the NBA because unless you're a fan of a handful of teams, what's the point?

Posted by: Mike P | Dec 9, 2011 9:27:41 AM

Contract to 20 teams. Only solution. The CBA ink isn't dry yet and we have already players telling teams where they want to be traded to. And those teams just get stronger and stronger while all us have-nots battle for the 8th playoff spot and a 1st round sweep.

It is time for Stern to go. They had their chance to get this right and just to save their season he gave in. The NHL came back much stronger after they took a year off. Fans will come back if their team is competitive.

Posted by: bdubb | Dec 9, 2011 9:36:58 AM

Rick, it didn't get to the owners for it to become a "political" issue. Stern unilaterally rejected the deal.

"The league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

Do you really think an email from Dan Gilbert killed the deal? Seriously?

Posted by: Sambo | Dec 9, 2011 11:21:17 AM

Chris Paul please take the NBA to court so we can watch Stern squirm!

Posted by: joe cool | Dec 9, 2011 11:22:02 AM

This all started with the Cleveland Cavs ownership sending a letter to Stern complaining that other teams keep getting better and they continue to stink. I am sorry that you have some front office execs that are proactive in their moves. (e.g. the Lakers) They have proved this over time.

Cleveland - Get over it and move on. I am sorry that you thought you would be able to hold onto James. You gambled and lost. Lost time I checked, Vegas doesn't give you your money back if you double down on 12 and catch a 10.

In the end, the 29 owners of the Hornets (if they are the real concerned body here) have screwed themselves. At the end of the season, Paul will be an UFA and will join the Lakers if they are buying and he wants to go there. The Hornets get zero in that deal. This was a good trade for NO as a franchise. Probably would given them leverage to get better and compete better. Instead, with Stern's help, have put them on the path of the Washington General again.

Part of what makes the NBA experience fun is the free market nature of the trades. Some teams are better at it than others. Sorry that is how free markets work. Get better front office guys. If we want everyone to have a chance to be first, let's just rotate the trophy through each city and cancel all the NBA games. We all will save a bunch of money and have more time for college ball.

Posted by: Nexus | Dec 9, 2011 12:20:54 PM

It's not about the Lakers front office being proactive or the Hornets getting value for CP3. Its about small market teams keeping their stars which is the only real way teams can be competitive in a star driven league. You think the Hornets would rather trade Chris Paul or keep him?
You think the Bucks front office could be as "proactive" as theLakers? No, Chris Paul would never re-sign with the Bucks. The system is still screwed up. They need to go back to the drawing board.

Posted by: ASChin | Dec 9, 2011 2:32:31 PM

i don't get who would want to buy the team with the paul issue unresolved. and wouldn't it be the absolute worst tampering situation EVER if somehow paul stayed and talked howard or someone into joining him?

a starting 5 of jack, martin, ariza, scola, okafor with odom, dragic, maybe bellinelli etc. is a low seed playoff team out west.

what people are failing to look at is that the deal has the hornets taking back 15 million on payroll THIS year. odom is expiring with an option for next year, but scola is on the books for 4 years rising....martin for this year and next.....and new yorks pick will be in the 20's. they'd be better moving paul to minnesota for rubio or flynn and their pick next year. they would have a top 5 pick in a great draft and still have mad cap room.

nixing the deal DOES make sense. but the deal just looked like so much fun and the league has no business owning a team to even be in a position to make these decisions. and paul should hold out to force the trade.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 9, 2011 2:44:53 PM

Small markets will never keep their stars because they so often get only one star and will not build around them. So that star has to make it happen on their own. That is why CP3 is leaving. NO does not have a champion caliber squad. (NO is different b\c Shinn ran the organization and he is as cheap and sleazy as they come.)But, they are big enough and have enough things going for the area to attract the talent. The problem is that they found a diamond and decided to put granite stones around it. San Antonio built a champion. Detriot (Rip Hamilton years) build a champion. NO could do the same. They decided not to

Posted by: Nexus | Dec 9, 2011 3:56:27 PM

small markets can attract as many stars as they want......they just have to draft them. and the term "small market" has often been manipulated to refer to the teams that are horribly run and losing money.......not the actual media markets.

san antonio, okc, portland, utah, indiana all in the bottom 10 in market size and have had success and or large budget teams in the past. winning teams are more popular, popular = more money. teams that draft well and are managed smartly, win.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 9, 2011 4:38:43 PM

I can't agree with David Stern's decision. Achieving more competitive balance in the league is a good goal, and the changes brought about by the new CBA (and also, the changes in revenue sharing) contribute toward it (to some extent, within realistic limits).
But you can't achieve this goal through dictatorial steps, by denying players' freedom of movement.
If a star player wants to move to a championship caliber, big market, team, he has the right to do so. And the Hornets were going to get good value for Paul. Much better than losing him for nothing in the off-season.

If Paul doesn't want to stay with that franchise, he can't be forced to stay there.
David Stern went too far, again - just like when he started issuing ultimatums to the players, because he kind of had enough of negotiating with them, and he believed they'll take his dictates. In the end, he had no choice but to go back to negotiating, until a fair compromise was reached. Same thing here: you can't force CP3 to stay where he doesn't want to stay. However, his team may just lose him for nothing - and then, the league, as owner, will be on the losing side.

Posted by: Sandy | Dec 9, 2011 5:32:38 PM

When you start seeing headlines like:
"Lebron demands sign and trade to Timberwolves"
"Carmelo narrows short list to Indiana, Sacramento"
"CP3 tells front office he will only re-sign with Utah"

...we can have a serious discussion about how small market teams are just making excuses. Until then teams like the Lakers and Knicks play by a different set of rules. When was the last time Jerry Buss had to "rebuild"??? Kobe demanded the trade to LA along with Shaq.
Dolan runs perhaps the worst organization in the league and Carmelo/Amare still went to play there.
Agree that the small market teams need to get smarter but its not a level playing field. Just get that out of your heads completely.

Posted by: ASChin | Dec 9, 2011 5:37:26 PM

ASChin, do you want parity, total equality of chances, between franchises? It's not gonna happen, not in the real world.

I love the Bobcats because they are the local team. However, I also like certain NBA traditions, like that of the Lakers vs. Celtics rivalry, or the kind of legendary aura surrounding the Knicks. But, you see, in recent seasons poor management was able to drag the Knicks really low - despite being such a big market.

The system and revenue sharing changes are improving the chances of the small market franchises. Any of these franchises that will be capable of proving good management, and will also have the needed amount of good luck (unlike Portland, for instance...) will be able to run to the top, like the small market Oklahoma City.

Again, talking about parity or a level playing field is not serious, because it's unrealistic. From this point on, you can either go on ranting "no fair" on behalf of the poorer franchises, or enjoy what the NBA has to offer: the best basketball in the world, some great traditional rivalries, and also the occasional thrust forward by some of the smaller teams. I choose the latter way.

As for the Bobcats, if the management will do better in the future, and if they'll also get luckier than they've been so far (e.g., I think that Ammo's bust was rather bad luck, due to circumstances, and NOT some kind of huge management blunder, leading to predictable failure), they sure can hope to get some time into deep playoffs. I don't know about a title, but certainly, the recent changes are improving the chances of small market teams to be successful.

Posted by: Sandy | Dec 9, 2011 8:36:26 PM

You basically furthered my point. The league is skewed. Certain fans like yourself are fine with it.
My point all along has been that the NBA throws away BILLIONS of dollars every year by staying with this mediocre business model where a few teams dominate while the majority get by. Imagine if every fan base was as fervent as LA/NYK/CHI/OKC/SA? Imagine if the league could then extend this to NBA Europe/NBA Asia? Imagine if the NBA embraced BASKETBALL instead of superstars? This could all happen with the proper retooling. The NFL does it. College basketball and football does it. The Olympics do it.
As of now the NBA sits in third place behind NFL/MLB domestically. Hardly laurels to rest on for such an accessible, entertaining and global sport.

Posted by: ASChin | Dec 9, 2011 9:45:01 PM

ASChin, I'll engage on your last post, since you make interesting points - though, I totally disagree with your point of view.

"As of now the NBA sits in third place behind NFL/MLB domestically." These are great American traditions, and as such they are hard (I mean, impossible) to beat.
That's why, comparisons with the NFL can't hold; the NBA can't expect to compare in any foreseeable future with the popularity of the NFL, and with what that entails financially. On the other hand, there is very little interest outside of USA in these two major sports (except for the love of baseball in a few Latin American countries).

The NBA, however, is very popular all over the world. The Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, even the Mavs, have fans in many countries.
Yet, about making our pro league intercontinental: you seem to share this dream with commish Stern, but to me, it just doesn't make sense. If you think of distances and the effect of jet lag on anyone - particularly on athletes who need to be in their best shape - I'd much rather do without that kind of Atlantic (or, Pacific) back and forth crossing throughout a whole season. It looks to me like a big business, rather than a sports, goal.
And comparing the NBA with the NCAA and its rules for student athletes.. c'mon now.

"Imagine if the NBA embraced BASKETBALL instead of superstars?" I tried, and I cringed. I think the NBA embraces a superstar-driven superior kind of basketball. I think a lot of kids are attracted to this sport precisely by the excitement of watching their heroes, the superstars. Then, the love of this game stays with you for life (it's certainly how things happened for me, beginning with the Lakers' Showtime of the '80s).
The superstars are what totally separates the NBA from other basketball leagues. If not for them, you can watch basketball played at a really high level in the Euroleague. I know I do, I like it, but, it's just not the same thing without the superstars.

Posted by: Sandy | Dec 9, 2011 10:33:14 PM


We'll agree to disagree.
The type of international business product I'm talking about hasn't been attempted before and like Henry Ford's "Faster Horse" quote, it's difficult for the public to understand just how much money is being left on the table.
After all, I am typing this on an iPad -- a product with ZERO market share (tablets) just three short years ago and now is the hottest piece of tech around. The league office will need to be visionary and innovative yes but the model of non-stars will work.
Look at what's happening in Hollywood -- people care about good movies first, superstars second (Mad Men, District 9, Paranormal Activity, etc, etc, etc). The "superstars" model died in the '90s. The "product" model is the future.
In fact, you just gave me a great idea for a blog post: "FutureBall: The Apple-fication of a Global NBA".

Posted by: ASChin | Dec 10, 2011 12:15:05 AM

That is all life though. You don't hear of movie stars or hedge fund managers or tv personalities flocking to indiana either. Its life. Some places just beat out other places. Players are allowed to do what they want at the end of the day. But owners DON'T have to trade. They could spite them.

The bengals waited till they definitely had his replacement to trade palmer.

Owners COULD play hardball about it and it would become less common. But they usually take what they can. If baseball free agent rules were applied somehow where class A free agents like lebron garnered multiple first round picks as compensation, it would be the obvious way to try and even the dealing out. Teams wouldn't be so scared to be left with nothing. Same as nfl franchise tag. This is what is missing from the equation.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 10, 2011 9:22:30 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.