One day before training camps open throughout the Association on Friday, the NBA has once again become embroiled in controversy as they stopped a three team deal that would have sent New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers and sent big men Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom to the Houston Rockets. The reason the NBA had the authority to stop the deal which had been agreed to by all three teams front offices is that the Association owns the Hornets. The NBA bought the team from former owner George Shinn last December.
The “Los Angeles Times” reports that Association spokesman Tim Frank denied rumors that other NBA Team Owners stopped the trade from being consummated. Frank told reporters “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.”
This is the first time that the Association has gotten involved in the affairs of the franchise; having allowed the team’s front office to have free reign up until this point. Paul has an option to become a Free Agent at the end of this season and the “Associated Press” reported that the Hornets Team President Hugh Webber told members of the media that the club had decided to become pro-active as far as seeking a trade. Webber said “We’ve been preparing for this moment for over a year, and it’s not like we were surprised or caught flat-footed. This is not a surprise. This is not something where we’ve been sitting around waiting to see what would happen. We’ve been managing this and taking control of the situation as best we can and we’re going to have a team that we believe achieves that objective of making this community proud.”
The deal would have sent Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first round draft pick in next June’s NBA Draft to New Orleans. The Rockets in need of a big man with the retirement of center Yao Ming would have gotten Gasol and Odom who helped the Lakers win back to back NBA Titles. Los Angeles would have gotten arguably the best point guard currently playing in the Association to team up in the back-court with former NBA MVP Kobe Bryant.