The Lakers were privately fuming Wednesday, according to a person with knowledge of their front office, when Paul, the New Orleans point guard, ended up in Los Angeles six days after the NBA vetoed the Lakers' trade for him.
The reality is that, no matter how much they want to complain, they don't have a valid basis for it. At the time the trade was nixed, the commentators ubiquitously argued "Where are the Hornets going to get a better offer?"
On the surface, the Lakers trade looked fine. The Hornets landed Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic. That's three, potentially four, starters for the point guard.
Here's the rub. Two of those starters are only under contract for two more years and a third is only under contract one more year. The Hornets were taking on extra salary. Only one of the players was under 28. In two years, the Hornets could be looking at nothing more than a 33-year-old Luis Scola as their "rebuilt" team.
In the annals of NBA history, it is hard to find a more morphed, one-sided argument in the media. It is, frankly, irresponsible the way the media utterly ignored the realities of the fallout of the trade and the fact that David Stern was right. That trade was bad for the Hornets long-term. Yes, they would have been able to compete for playoff spot—maybe—for a year, but long-term, the team had no future.
Now, the team gains Eric Gordon, a potential NBA All-Star, still on his rookie contract, meaning he will be a restricted free agent. They get Minnesota's first-round pick, who could potentially be a franchise player. They get the expiring contract of Chris Kaman. They also get the young Al-Farouq Aminu, a player with potential.
So, again, long-term, which is what matters when you are rebuilding, the Clipeprs are far better off. They have more young talent. They have a better draft status. They have a better financial situation.
The Lakers can fume and the pro-Laker media can opine, but the reality is that, no matter which way you look at it, David Stern was right, and in the end, he won a better deal for the Clippers.