Last Thursday afternoon the city of Los Angeles was abuzz with news that one of its franchises had just acquired one of the games’ best players….and oh, by the way the Angels signed Albert Pujols too. Its been discussed, and bandied about and criticized all weekend long.
The trade that was, then wasn’t, then was again, then wasn’t again. The Lakers were so close to acquiring Chris Paul that apparently one source close to the situation said that Paul was just moments away from catching a flight to Los Angeles.
What a great early Christmas present for Laker fans right? You’d have arguably the best backcourt in NBA history. I mean when was the last time that the best point guard in the game and arguably the best shooting guard in the game, played together on the same basketball court in a non-exhibition matchup?
Well, before Laker fans could even envision a Laker fast break with Chris Paul leading the charge, the grins swooped in and stole that early Christmas present faster than you can say “Whoville.”
At the behest of numerous NBA owners (Dan Gilbert and Mark Cuban most notably), David Stern essentially vetoed an already agreed upon trade that would have brought Paul to Los Angeles. Citing, “basketball reasons” Stern chose not to sign off on the deal, making himself public enemy number one in Los Angeles, and surprisingly many other cities as well.
You have people in Boston, New York, Atlanta, Denver, Milwaukee, New Jersey etc. all in an uproar because the Lakers couldn’t acquire another star player? Whats the world coming to? The problem is that as many people as there are who hate the Lakers, there are just as many people who understand the system that is in place and realize (even if they don’t want to admit it), that not only the Lakers, but the Hornets and Rockets all got shafted.
Truth be told, what is the value of a player like Chris Paul?
As I mentioned above, he’s probably the best point guard in the NBA and is likely on his way to the hall of fame once he decides to stop playing. The true value of a player of his ilk, is probably the same as one would place on a Kobe Bryant, or a Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowtizki etc.
Catch the vibe?
The only true value for a superstar player is a player that is equal or close to equal in both talent and ability. But these types of trades simply do not happen, mainly because the only thing that would normally prompt a team trading its superstar player would be that player asking for a trade. That player normally asks for a trade because either a) the team around them isn’t very good and doesn’t look to have much potential to improve, or b) they want to play in a different media market for marketing/endorsement reasons.
So it is the norm that when a superstar does request a trade, the team does not get back “true value” for that player, because that would seemingly be impossible to do. But in the case of the Chris Paul trade, where the New Orleans Hornets would have acquired two good big men (Odom and Scola) a potential future all-star guard (Kevin Martin) as well as draft picks, i’d say the Hornets would have made out like bandits.
Yet according to Stern, there are not enough good young players and draft picks in the deal to satisfy the move of Paul. Did I forget to mention Houston, who would have acquired a multiple time all-star in Pau Gasol as part of the trade? The Lakers would have lost two key contributors to their back to back title runs as part of the acquisition. This may be just my opinion, but it sounds like a pretty fair price to pay for an elite-level player, no?
For David Stern to say that it would be in the leagues best interest for Chris Paul to stay in New Orleans is absolutely ludicrous. Stern can spout out this spiel about the value of the Hornets franchise in the midst of a sale all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that seven months from now, Chris Paul wont be apart of that franchise regardless. If he’s not traded by then then he’ll simply opt out and become a free agent.
That’s what has, not only Southern California, but the rest of the NBA world upset with this decision. If Paul had five years left on his contract and said that he wanted out of New Orleans, his plea would fall on deaf ears, but because he is on his way out of the door anyway, isn’t it the Hornets’ duty to try to get assets back in return?
This deal was completely legal under the terms of the new CBA, which was in the process of being agreed upon when this trade was originally reported, so under what grounds is the deal not feasible?
Dan Gilbert says that the trade isn’t fair because the Lakers would have acquired the best player in the trade AND saved $40 million. For Gilbert, the trade is less about competitive balance, and more about money that the Lakers don’t have to send to Gilbert and his franchise under the revenue sharing clause.
Yes Mr. Gilbert, God forbid that a team makes a trade taking into consideration both its financial interests and its ability to compete on the floor. You know what this is called Daniel? Smart business. Just because you decided to trade for Ben Wallace and the $40 million left on his contract doesn’t mean that everyone else has to follow suit. You can complain about being in a small market all you want, but the fact of the matter is nothing that any other team does can compete with good drafting and smart free agent investments.
I’m not saying that its easy to do, I’m just saying that its possible. If you don’t believe me then see Oklahoma City, Memphis and, up until last season, Utah.
I realize that there is a divide between big market teams and small market teams in the NBA and that the league wants there to be more of a competitive balance, and more parity. The problem is that by circumventing the system as Stern did last week, he’s done more to hurt that cause than help it.
If the league truly wanted more parity and balance then they would have implemented a hard salary cap so that teams like the Lakers simply wouldn’t be able to have payrolls that go into the $100 million range. If the owners wanted it as bad as they say they did, then we should still be in a lockout right now. The league has no one to blame for themselves that a trade like this is still able to occur. The owners were so caught up on fighting over BRI and a few million dollars (which is chump change for all of these fat cats), that they brushed issues of fiscal competitiveness to the side.
The NBA had already taken a rather sizable PR hit because of the lockout – In going to to go out on a limb and say this move definitely doesn’t help their cause any. But at least the Clippers have a shot at Chris Paul now. They certainly have a enough young players and draft picks to appease the dictator, err, commissioner right?……oh, nevermind.