David Stern's decision to block the three-way trade that would send Chris Paul to the Lakers has been met with so much outrage from the media, fans and even people who are not associated with the NBA. It almost feels like Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert is the only human being who's happy Stern blocked this trade (Actually, scratch that. Gilbert is probably still finding something to complain about).
Stern is being condemned for exploiting his power as commissioner and for caving under many of the owners' complaints about the unfairness of CP3 going to the Los Angeles Lakers. These criticisms are totally deserved, but what's most frustrating about this story is that the trade would have been extremely fair for all three teams involved.
It seems that Stern and the owners saw Paul going to the Lakers and were afraid this would eventually lead to the clustering of a few competitive teams in large markets like LA, leaving no chance for small-market teams like the New Orleans Hornets to contend for a championship. These league higher-ups failed to see just how negative vetoing this trade actually is on the futures of the Hornets and other small market teams.
Let's examine the Houston Rockets' side of the deal first. Houston would have given up Luis Scola (over 18 points and eight rebounds per game), Kevin Martin (over 23 ppg), Goran Dragic (a young, underrated guard) and a 2012 first-round draft pick for the 31-year-old Pau Gasol.
So, their side of the trade wasn't ideal, but it wouldn't have been as bad as it looks.
Scola and Martin are very good offensively, but they are below-average defenders, and Houston isn't going to win a title with those two unless they add a superstar, which is nearly impossible because of how much money they have invested in Scola and Martin (almost $20 million per year combined). Gasol wouldn't have turned the Rockets into a contender, but the team wouldn't have been much better if they had kept Scola and Martin (which they were forced them to do, anyway).
The part of the trade that was the most riveting obviously involved Chris Paul going to the Lakers. His arrival in LA would have given that team two top-10 players in the backcourt (Paul and Kobe Bryant) and a young center (Andrew Bynum) who has the potential to be one of the best at his position. Add a few valuable role players and the Lakers would have been one of the title favorites, but would the trade have actually made them that much better?
It's impossible to know the answer to a hypothetical question like that but look at the some of the factors. The Lakers would have lost one of the best offensive big men in the NBA (Gasol) and one of the league's most versatile players (Odom). LA probably would have replaced Gasol and Odom with some quality big men, including MAYBE trading for Dwight Howard, but their front-court depth most likely would have been weaker had this trade gone through. Bynum has also had an injury-riddled career thus-far, so if he were to miss a lot of playing time, the Lakers would have gotten killed inside.
Some say CP3 and Kobe might have had a hard time gelling because both of them need the ball in their hands to be effective, especially in crunch time. While it would have been possible, this seems a little overblown. People were saying the same thing about the Miami Heat last year, and they had three players who were used to being the focal points of their offenses. Miami did lose the title, but they could have easily won it all if they could've finished a couple Finals games.
Still, there's no guarantee that Kobe and CP3 would have jibed. Kobe has had issues with star teammates before (Shaq will tell you), and Chris Paul might have caused similar problems. That, and unsurprising injuries to Bynum, might have derailed this season and future seasons for the Lakers, and the trade could have been viewed as a disaster.
Meanwhile, the Hornets would have gotten three very good players in Odom, Scola and Martin, along with a quality role player in Dragic and a first-round pick. The pick was via the New York Knicks, so it probably would have been a late first-rounder, but not every good player in the NBA was drafted in the lottery.
Serge Ibaka, Arron Afflalo, Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo, David Lee, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin (he sounds familiar...), Zach Randolf and Tony Parker have all been drafted in the late first round in the past decade. There are many gems to be found after the first half of the first round.
With the four players New Orleans would have gotten in the Paul trade, they easily could have been a playoff team this season. If the NBA doesn't allow the resubmitted trade to go through, the Hornets will be stuck with a disgruntled Chris Paul who will leave for another team (quite possibly the Lakers) after the season, and the Hornets will get nothing back for him.
The NBA should reconsider their decision to veto the trade and allow this resubmitted trade to happen. New Orleans is much better off if this trade goes through, and LA could very possibly be worse off. If Stern wants his league to be more exciting and better off in the future, he will let New Orleans, LA and Houston make this proposed trade.
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