Assistant Sports Editor
The Chris Paul hostage situation has finally come to an end, and the transcendent point guard is going to Los Angeles after all. The NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets traded Paul to the Clippers for Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and the Timberwolves first-round pick, a pretty good haul for the now-faceless franchise.
However what is interesting is that it does not put the Hornets in any better position than the Lakers trade that the league rejected a week ago. Coincidence? I think not.
One of the big promises David Stern made that led to the end of the lockout is that he would attempt to control the trend of star players teaming up for big market teams and to try to protect the little guys a little more.
While the Clippers could be considered a “big-market team” because they play in LA, they are by no means on the same level as the Heat, Celtics, Knicks, Lakers and Bulls when it comes to media attention and fan support. By letting Paul go to the Clippers but not the Lakers, Stern sent a message that he intends to keep that promise to the best of his ability.
This whole conflict of interest issue came about because the NBA currently owns the Hornets due to the fact that New Orleans is a terrible media market and the franchise is completely hopeless. They have not found a buyer, and probably won’t now that their one saving grace is on a plane headed west; and their second-best player, David West, just signed with the Indiana Pacers.
The Lakers trade, proposed a week ago, would have helped two teams in the short-term, and one team in the long-term. The Houston Rockets would have gotten Pau Gasol and the franchise big man they’ve been yearning for since Yao Ming collapsed, the Lakers would have gotten Paul, and the Hornets would have received All-Star-caliber players Lamar Odom and Kevin Martin, along with Luis Scola and Goran Dragic.
The Lakers would have the best backcourt in the league, the Rockets would build around Gasol and the Hornets would be competitive for at least three years with that core. So why did it get shot down?
Because Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and all the other small market owners who don’t know how to run their teams cried about the rich getting richer and Stern caved under the pressure. He managed to pull a fast one on that group by still allowing Paul to go to a big market and team up with maybe the best under-25 player in the league in Blake Griffin.
Now the attention will shift to Dwight Howard, another superstar looking for a change of scenery, and whether or not he will stick with the Magic or end up in New Jersey, LA (Lakers), Chicago, Dallas, or some other title contender.
The trend that started with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joining Paul Pierce in Boston to win the 2008 championship looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future, which is good for us, but bad for Cleveland, Sacramento, New Orleans and the NBA’s have-nots.