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Chris Paul to the Lakers Trade Dead: League-Owned Team Can't Gut Franchise

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets reacts while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Robert CotterCorrespondent IIDecember 9, 2011

Super Team version 3.0 was all but completed, until it wasn't.

After word broke earlier Thursday that a three-team deal that would send Chris Paul to the Los Angles Lakers had been all but completed, fans and analysts alike began conversation on what the newest NBA super team would look like. Would Superman be next? Is this good or bad for the league? How will Khloe and Lamar go on without him in L.A.?

But the question that everyone forgot to ask, and is now finding out the definitive answer to, is can a league-owned team be allowed to gut its roster by trading away the face and image of the franchise?

What seems so shocking now should have been known all along.

Almost exactly a year to the date that rumors broke of this supposed "completed" deal, the NBA officially took unprecedented ownership of the New Orleans Hornets. With rumors of Paul's desire to leave the Hornets already known, ESPN's Marc Stein reported sources that claimed the NBA's No. 1 priority, in taking ownership of the Hornets, was to ensure that the franchise remain as attractive as possible to all potential future buyers. Keeping Paul would certainly seem to fit in line with that.

While many will point to this league-blocked trade as an outrage, the real problem is that an NBA team is owned and controlled by the league. As the NBA stated last December, their ultimate goal in temporarily owning the Hornets is to ensure that the franchise remain as attractive as possible for when a new, permanent owner is ready to step in.

How then, can they allow the only thing that has kept this franchise from falling off a cliff financially, get away? Everyone saw what happened to the Cavs when LeBron left town. Stern couldn't allow that to happen to the Hornets.

Couple all that with the fact the league just lost almost two months of its season, in part because of a desire for "competitive balance," and then almost immediately the only league-owned team turns around and helps build another super team. Try explaining that one to millions of game-starved fans. 

There is no doubt this is a black eye for the league. It looks bad, smells bad and probably tastes bad. Having a trade blocked by the league in favor of a franchise's economic standing will never win fans over. The average NBA fan is tired of hearing about dollars and cents. They just want to get back to basketball as usual. 

Well, when you have a team owned by the NBA, nothing is business as usual.

Enjoy the craziness.  

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Follow Bobby B. on Twitter at @BobbyB_sports

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