Chris Paul Trade Unfair? the Lakers Trade for Pau Gasol Was More Lopsided

Matt Ryan@Matlanta1989Correspondent IIDecember 10, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17:  Chris Paul #3 of  the New Orleans Hornets makes a jump shot over Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Hornets won 109-100.  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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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There have been a lot of big moves made so far in this truncated NBA offseason, but what would have been the biggest transaction has been put on hold for now.

A week ago the Los Angeles Lakers chances of acquiring both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard seemed slim at best. It seemed even less likely that the Los Angeles Angels would have a chance at Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.

Only hours after Arturo Moreno's franchise was celebrating one of their biggest days in franchise history off the field, even more star power seemed to be on the way to Southern California.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and New Orleans Hornets were on the verge of completing a blockbuster trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers and Pau Gasol to the Rockets.

With this deal nearly completed, speculation grew that the Lakers would be able to use some of their remaining players such as Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest in a trade for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

Those two potential trades would have broken up the best and most versatile frontcourt in the league, but the Lakers would have a superstar trifecta of Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard that could overshadow the big three in Miami.

Only hours after Jerry Buss's franchise was about to complete their biggest transaction in years, David Stern and the NBA pulled the plug on the deal, because in their opinion (and that of disgruntled owners such as Dan Gilbert), it was not in the best interest of the league.

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 07:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Memphis Grizzlies makes a shot over Melvin Ely #33 of the New Orleans Hornets on December 7, 2007 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees th
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It seemed like Stern was trying to prevent yet another superstar from a small market team from forcing his way to a marquee franchise in large market. Others seemed upset that the Lakers were once again getting another superstar while sacrificing very little.

The Lakers may be on the verge of obtaining their best point guard since Magic Johnson, but this deal would have been far from a ripoff for all the parties involved.

Teams rarely get fair trade value for superstars, but the New Orleans would have received a quantity of good players with Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, and Gordan Dragic (in addition to a first round pick).

That's not exactly a championship core, but it's a great return for a team that could very well lose Chris Paul at the end of the season. The players acquired in that trade would compare to the equal value that the Denver Nuggets got when Carmelo Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks.

While most of this controversy is focusing on the Lakers and Hornets, this stalled trade is also negatively affecting the off-season plans of the Rockets.

Pau Gasol still has a few All-Star years left and could form a great one-two punch with free agent center Nene, who is also being pursued by the Houston Rockets. 

Gasol had spent the last three and half seasons with the Lakers and helped them win two NBA titles. He was acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade that was extremely lopsided in comparison to the current proposal that would send Chris Paul to Los Angeles—a trade so lopsided that there was no backlash from league officials or demands from David Stern to nullify it.

On February 1st, 2008, the Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol and a second-round pick to the Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights of Marc Gasol (the brother of Pau), and two first-round picks.

Marc has become a great center for Memphis, but at the time there was no assurance that a player picked 47th overall in the previous NBA Draft would ever come close to matching the production of his All-Star sibling. The other three players involved in the trade and those two eventual late first-round draft picks contributed little to the Grizzlies on the court.

There's no comparison between how lopsided and "unfair" the Lakers trade for Pau Gasol and Chris Paul are. The Lakers went from a fourth/fifth seed team to an NBA Finals favorite without giving up any significant players on their team. If the Lakers eventually acquire Chris Paul, it will be done so by giving up a four-time All-Star power forward and the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

Even if the Chris Paul blockbuster deal is eventually approved by the NBA, would David Stern try to block a trade that would send Andrew Bynum to the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard?

The NBA is entering uncharted territory by blocking a trade of this magnitude and setting a bad precedent for the future by deciding which transactions are in the best interest of the National Basketball Association.