On the eve of 2011/2012 NBA season (training camp, free agency and allowing of trades), I was really looking forward to writing about some really good and positive things with the upcoming season. Especially since the last 24 hours have been filled with rumours and “potential” signings (NBA rules prohibit team officials to actually make any formal announcements).
To the surprise of many fans a “potential” three team deal was in place that would’ve seen All Star point guard Chris Paul head to the Los Angeles Lakers, All Star Pau Gasol head to the Houston Rockets and to the New Orleans Hornets, All Star (and raining sixth man of the year) Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a 2012 First Round draft pick.
Now in most basketball circles this trade would seem pretty decent. The Lakers get another super star to play alongside the best player in the world. The Rockets receive a center/power forward they so desperately need since Yao Ming has been injured over the last couple of years, which resulted in early retirement. The Hornets receive a great and diverse forward in Odom, a very good shooting guard in Kevin Martin, another diverse and scrappy player in Scola, a decent guard in Dragic and they also add another draft pick in this year’s draft, which by all accounts will be a great draft year.
Now it’s hard to believe that the “Owners” of the Hornets (who by the way are owned by the League) would turn such a deal down. Of course they expect better, but better might not be out there. No matter what team tries to trade for Paul, the Owners will probably shut them down no matter what comes across their desk, or Blackberry.
This is where the Owners should take a step back and realize they cannot afford to let Paul play the season out which will result in him signing with whomever he wants next summer. This franchise cannot afford to have a LeBron situation on its hands (where all the Cleveland Cavaliers received was a trade exemption and future draft picks). Even worse, they can’t have history repeat itself with what happened when Shaquille O’neal left as a free agent to play with the Lakers, and the Orlando Magic received nothing. The Owners just can’t afford to do this, especially to an already struggling Hornets franchise.
On the other hand, if the issue does not get resolved, I can see Paul playing the season out, because he is professional and doing what I said before, and just wait until the summer when he can opt out of the final year of his current contract, resulting in him become a unrestricted free agent. I’m sure this is not his ideal situation, however it may be his best. As professional as he is, this could also be the best way to stick it to the Owners without having to say a word. No matter what happens, he will get paid and get what he deserves.
The Owners went through a lock out to prevent certain situations from happening and wanting to help franchises that are struggling, yet when they’re faced with pretty much a do or die situation, they can’t come to their senses to help the league out as a whole.
If you really think about it, this is not about Chris Paul, but it’s about making all the teams and the league stronger overall. Just put the love in the game.