The NBA has taken complete control of the Hornets front office and left general manager Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams without a deal that they wanted to make for Paul. The Hornets have been left in an impossible predicament by commissioner David Stern, who has positioned himself as basketball czar of the Hornets.
In his desire to keep the All-Star point guard on the roster to maximize the league's selling price of the team to potential owners, Stern has shot down two deals to send Paul to the Lakers. Now, teams are leery of entering into trade talks for Paul with the Hornets basketball executives, and this could collectively cripple the franchise's ability to get maximum value for Paul.
The Hornets front office and coaching staff is beyond devastated over this deal falling apart on Saturday night. They're three days into training camp, and they don't have a legitimate NBA team to put on the floor.
As a rival league executive told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday night about the possibility of getting involved in the derby for Paul now: "My initial reaction is, 'Who wants to go through that headache with the NBA playing God?' You want to do a deal. New Orleans' front office wants to do a deal. And the third party – the NBA – says you can do it? Should I call Stern and see if they're going to waive Patrick Ewing Jr., since he's only partially guaranteed? "
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The Hornets had delivered a reconstructed framework of the three-team blockbuster trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers into the NBA office for approval Saturday, but the NBA still refused to approve it.
There was a framework discussed where New Orleans would send Paul to the Lakers, and possibly two Hornets free agents – center Jason Smith and Marcus Banks – would be sent to the Lakers in sign-and-trade agreements.
The Lakers would send 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.
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"It's in David Stern's hands now," one source said Saturday. "He'll decide on the trade."
The NBA was clearly dictating terms of the possible trade of Paul to the Lakers. The league office is running the Hornets, while it waits to sell them to an ownership group. The NBA took over the Hornets in December, buying them from George Shinn.
After the NBA furnished GM 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 early Friday afternoon that carried deep into the evening, sources said.
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