Hornets resubmit Paul-to-Lakers deal to league
The New Orleans Hornets have delivered a reconstructed framework of the three-team blockbuster trade sending Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers into the NBA office for approval, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
In the latest details available to Yahoo! Sports, sources say that New Orleans could send the Lakers Paul, and possibly two Hornets free agents – center Jason Smith and Marcus Banks – would be sent to the Lakers in sign-and-trade agreements.
The Rockets would send Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, a 2012 first-round pick and possibly young players or additional picks to the Hornets.
The Lakers would send Lamar Odom to the Hornets, Pau Gasol to the Rockets and league sources say that Los Angeles was pursuing a first-round pick to send to the Hornets.
“It’s in David Stern’s hands now,” one source said. “He’ll decide on the trade.”
The NBA was clearly dictating terms of a possible trade of Paul to the Lakers, sources said. The league office is running the Hornets, while they wait to sell them to an ownership group. The NBA took over the Hornets in December, buying them from George Shinn.
After the NBA furnished New Orleans GM Dell Demps with fresh directives on the kind of deal it would approve on the league level, Demps re-engaged the Lakers and Rockets in talks on early Friday afternoon that carried deep into the evening, sources said.
ESPN first reported that the Hornets had resubmitted a deal back to the NBA on Saturday. The three teams are hopeful that commissioner David Stern will approve the deal.
“Everyone in the deal is waiting for guidance from the league,” one official told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday.
The resumption of talks comes less than 24 hours after the three teams agreed on a trade only to have NBA commissioner David Stern veto it. Stern released a statement on Friday saying he blocked the trade because the league-owned Hornets were “better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”
After Stern refused Friday morning to reconsider his stunning decision to nullify the trade, the Hornets were allowed to return to talks with the Rockets and Lakers. Talks were ongoing Friday afternoon, sources said.
Stern killed the Hornets’ trade of Paul after several owners complained about the league-owned team dealing the All-Star point guard to the Lakers, league sources said. A chorus of owners were irate with the belief that the five-month lockout had happened largely to stop big-market teams from leveraging small-market teams for star players pending free agency.
The NBA took control of the Hornets ownership last December, and have been working to sell the franchise to a new group that will presumably keep it in New Orleans.
The trade between the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets had been consummated late Thursday afternoon, about the same time the league’s owners and players were completing their vote to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement – an agreement that Stern had repeatedly said would help restore the NBA’s competitive balance. League owners had watched last season as some of the game’s biggest stars left for larger markets. LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat, and Carmelo Anthony forced the Denver Nuggets to trade him to the New York Knicks.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called the proposed trade a “travesty” in an email to Stern and said he didn’t know how the league could allow the deal to happen. The email, which was also sent to deputy commissioner Adam Silver and a handful of team owners and was obtained by Y! Sports, asked Stern to put the trade to a vote of the league’s 29 owners.
“The owners half-pushed this, and Stern took it the rest of the way,” a league source told Yahoo! Sports. “In the end, David didn’t like that the players were dictating where they wanted to go, like Carmelo had, and he wasn’t going to let Chris Paul dictate where he wanted to go.”
Before Stern intervened Thursday, the Lakers would have sent Gasol to the Rockets and the Hornets would have received Odom, Rockets guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic and forward Luis Scola, league sources said.
Houston had also agreed to send a 2012 first-round pick – previously obtained from the Knicks – to New Orleans as part of the package, a source said.
Hornets general manager Dell Demps had informed two of the other finalists for Paul on Thursday evening that he had a deal in place for Paul to go the Lakers, front-office sources said.
Demps was “disconsolate” over the heavy-handed move from the commissioner’s office, a source told Y! Sports. Demps considered resigning his job on Thursday, league sources said, and had to be talked out of it. The Hornets had scored a terrific deal for Paul, a trade that was lauded by some of Demps’ peers throughout the league. Officials involved in the trade talks said the league office was consulted throughout the negotiations, and there was never an indication Demps didn’t have the power to make a deal. In fact, several teams negotiating with New Orleans to get Paul asked the league office and were told Demps had full authority to execute a trade.
Stern listened to enraged owners on Thursday who insisted this trade went against the entire reason the owners pushed for the lockout, that nothing had changed, and yet it was Stern who made the extraordinary decision to cancel the deal. Demps tried to talk him out of it, league officials said, but Stern was absolute in his desire to kill the trade.
Paul had listed the Lakers as one of his preferred destinations, and it became a more clear choice for him on Thursday after the New York Knicks moved to the brink of completing a four-year, $58 million contract for free-agent center Tyson Chandler. The Knicks lost the salary-cap space they would’ve needed to sign Paul this summer, and the Lakers had been pushing hard to close a deal for Paul with Houston and New Orleans.
As one rival executive with strong ties to the league office said, “Stern cared about two things: selling that franchise for the best possible price and showing the players that they weren’t going to dictate where teams could trade them. But now, there’s no way that the league can allow Chris Paul to be traded at all; otherwise, Stern is basically deciding where one of the top players in the league is going versus having any fair process.”
Officials from New Orleans, Houston and Los Angeles were stunned Thursday night. The killed trade had ripple effects everywhere in free agency and potential trades, pushing the market into paralysis on the eve of training camps opening Friday.
“We were all told by the league he was a tradeable player, and now they’re saying that Dell doesn’t have the authority to make the trade?” said an NBA executive who had periodic talks with New Orleans throughout the process. “Now they’re saying that Dell is an idiot, that he can’t do his job. [Expletive] this whole thing. David’s drunk on power, and he doesn’t give a [expletive] about the players, and he doesn’t give a [expletive] about the hundreds of hours the teams put in to make that deal.
“How do the Lakers explain this to Odom? How does Houston deal with the guys it just tried to trade? Scola and Martin are going to be pissed at them, and who knows how long that takes to get over? Explain to me how the league kills this Pau Gasol deal, but allows Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol?
“To me, this makes the league feel like it’s rigged, that Stern just does whatever Stern wants to do. He’s messed up the competitive balance of this league a lot worse by killing the deal because you’ve completely destroyed the planning that New Orleans and Houston did and left them in shambles over this. I’ve never been so discouraged about this league, never so down.
“I mean, come on: Chris Paul is leaving New Orleans in 66 games. He’s gone. And what’s Dell Demps, and that franchise, going to have to show for it?”
Also, the Hornets are working with the Boston Celtics to finalize a sign-and-trade to send free agent forward David West to Boston, sources said. West and the Celtics are working on a three-year deal worth between $27 million and $29 million, sources said. The Hornets are likely to take back Jermaine O’Neal and another small contract player in the deal. The Hornets won’t keep those players, but have deals in place to move them elsehwere. The sign and trade is the way for New Orleans to get some return on a player who was already planning to leave.
The Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers are expected to also be aggressive bidders for Dwight Howard.
Boston and New Orleans were discussing the inclusion of Celtics rookie guard E’Twaun Moore and forward JaJuan Johnson, both rookies out of Purdue, sources said.
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