Stand Up For Your Rights

Yesterday we watched the social media world reach a crazy buzz level with the announcement that Chris Paul was heading to the Lakers for Pau and Odom, and then the Houston Rockets would acquire Pau in return for three formidable players in Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic. From New Orleans’ side, it was a pretty good deal considering they were dealing a superstar that wanted to leave anyways.

And then, almost as fast as it came to be it was gone. Everyone’s “sources” were telling them that the NBA blocked the trade, in an unprecented move and what many considered to be an abuse of power. But many also believed that the fact that the Lakers could make this kind of trade and get instantly and exponentially better was exactly what the lockout was supposed to prevent (and they were right).

After reading everyone’s opinion on what happened, the consensus seemed to be that the most accurate report was that the owners had pressured David Stern into blocking the trade, and then late last night, it all came out; Dan Gilbert – Cleveland Cavaliers owner/loser of King James/winner of the #1 and #4 draft picks in last year’s draft – sent Stern an email on behalf of the owners explaining why the Lakers shouldn’t trade for Chris Paul.

(Note: the the New Orleans Hornets are also owned by the NBA, so in this particular case, David Stern is making the League’s decisions while also working for the League and ultimately ruling the League; it’s the modern sports dictatorship.)

The email follows:

Commissioner,

It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed.

This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets. Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing. I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process. And it doesn’t appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard. (They would also get a large trade exception that would help them improve their team and/or eventually trade for Howard.) When the Lakers got Pau (at the time considered an extremely lopsided trade) they took on tens of millions in additional salary and luxury tax and they gave up a number of prospects (one in Marc Gasol who may become a max-salary player). I just don’t see how we can allow this trade to happen. I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do. When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals? Please advise….Dan G.

After reading the email, it makes a lot more sense; Stern couldn’t let the Lakers get everything and lose very little. They can’t be a perennial powerhouse just because of their cultural significance. The league can’t get stagnant.

My only hesitation in accepting this outright is that Hornets really would have benefitted from this trade and I don’t think they’ll receive an offer that’s anywhere near as good as this one. With that trade, they really would have been close to a championship so it’s a shame in that sense but I love seeing the Lakers get stuffed at the door.

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