The Chris Paul saga keeps getting weirder and weirder. It is being reported this morning that Paul, previously the centerpiece of the mega-trade to the Lakers that suddenly wasn't, is now the centerpiece of a potential trade that would send him to the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to ESPN, a source that has knowledge of the situation said that Paul, who was quite despondent after the league effectively killed the trade that would have sent him to the Lakers, decided to keep pushing forward to find a new home. The Clippers emerged as front runners.
The proposed trade was submitted to the league yesterday (Sunday), and is set for review today. In this proposal, the Clippers would get Chris Paul, and in return the Hornets would receive Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and Al-Farouq Aminu. Interestingly though, there is a hang-up:
But the trade as submitted has one hitch: The league, which owns the Hornets, wanted Eric Bledsoe, while the Clippers want to keep their point guard, the source said.
The deal would be done if the league hadn't asked for Bledsoe, according to the source.
The trade as submitted would cost the Clippers guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman and forward Al-Farouq Aminu. It would also include Minnesota's first-round draft pick in 2012.
The Los Angeles Times, citing two sources familiar with the discussions, reported late Sunday the deal included Bledsoe, but the source told ESPN that is not so.
Emphasis is mine above, because I want to underscore the situation in which the NBA has painted itself. Their quashing of the Hornets-Lakers-Rockets trade (despite the technicality of how it was accomplished) effectively undermined any sense of team autonomy the Hornets franchise had. It is obvious now if it wasn't before - the league and the Hornets' 29 other owners are controlling the Hornets' fate, and it is going to keep getting messier and messier until they sell the team.
Consider it this way - the league killed a deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, the Hornets would have gotten Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Goran Dragic, and a #1 draft pick, and the Rockets would have acquired Pau Gasol. While you could argue three different ways which team made out the absolute best, I think the fact that you could make an argument three different ways proves that each team potentially got what it wanted. The Hornets lost a franchise player, but at least they acquired two potential all-stars, a solid backup PG, and a #1 pick. In this current proposal, do they even make it that far? How is this trade demonstrably better for "basketball reasons" for the Hornets? Alternatively, when it comes to Hornets franchise value, Is Chris Kaman or Eric Gordon somehow more marketable than any of the players the Hornets would have received in the killed trade? How does the league kill deal #1 but let deal #2 go through, for either "basketball reasons" OR valuation purposes?
This is the problem that results when the issue of self-dealing makes its way to the surface. The 29 owners could not possibly act in the best interest of the Hornets while simultaneously act in the best interest for themselves. As a result, the league's reputability continues to deteriorate.