It was a crazy, roller coaster Thursday for Laker fans. First, the news that a three-team trade to acquire Chris Paul was underway came in the morning. Then, the confirmation came that the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers came to terms that would send Paul to the Lakers in the afternoon. Then, news broke that Commissioner Stern nixed the deal due to “basketball reasons” in the evening hours.
With the Chris Paul deal on hold as of now and with Paul protesting the decision by not showing up to Hornets’ training camp and working with Billy Hunter and the union to overturn Stern’s decision, news that came late night that Dwight Howard intends to ask the Orlando Magic for a trade to the New Jersey Nets was a second blow to Laker fans.
The Lakers had reached an agreement to acquire Paul in a deal that would have cost them Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom. Under terms of the deal, the Lakers would have sent Gasol to the Rockets. The Hornets would have received Odom, Rockets guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic, forward Luis Scola and a first-round draft pick from Houston.
What started out as a day where the pieces of the puzzle to build another dynasty in Los Angeles were starting to come together, ended back on square one. However, what’s maybe even more troublesome is how the NBA’s business actions and Stern are looking. After a summer and fall season of a dragged out, tiring lockout, this is not what the league or its fans needed.
According to Yahoo! Sports, “the owners half-pushed this, and Stern took it the rest of the way. In the end, David didn’t like that the players were dictating where they wanted to go, like Carmelo had, and he wasn’t going to let Chris Paul dictate where he wanted to go.”*
“As one rival executive with strong ties to the league office said, ‘Stern cared about two things: Selling that franchise for the best possible price; and showing the players that they weren’t going to dictate where teams could trade them. But now, there’s no way that the league can allow Chris Paul to be traded at all, otherwise Stern is basically deciding where one of the top players in the league is going versus having any fair process.'”*
However, it can be credibly argued that the trade was fair to all teams involved. The Lakers were happy to get Chris Paul since a solid point guard is a much needed priority. It also seemed as the first step to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando. Houston and New Orleans seemed to be pleased with the players they would be getting and who wouldn’t? Odom and Gasol are superstars in their own right and contending teams could be built around them.
At Thursday morning’s official signing and implementation of the new collective bargaining agreement, David Stern hinted at retirement saying, “I would say it’s fair to say this is my last. This is a 10-year deal, with a re-opener at six. I’m not planning to be here certainly for the 10 and probably not the six.”**
With many fans now calling for Stern to step down after intervening with a legal deal, his retirement may come sooner than later.
As for Laker fans, we must sit and wait to see what happens. One thing is for certain, Thursday night was not a good night for the NBA and David Stern’s already controversial reputation, which at this point isn’t endearing to the fans.
*Source: Yahoo! Sports | Adrian Wojnarowski
**Source: ESPN.com | Henry Abbot