Over the past few days, the Laker organization and its fans have been on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from sheer euphoria in learning that the team has traded for Chris Paul to utter disappointment in finding out that David Stern had vetoed it because a few power hungry owners took issue with it.
Honestly, what reasons do Dan Gilbert, Mark Cuban or any other “small-market” owner have to object with the trade that consist of three teams and a handful of All-Star caliber players besides Paul? As a matter of fact, the main reason why several owners objected to this supposed lop-sided trade is because they felt that Paul had too much input in what team he wanted to play for.
If you ask me, the owners who did protest and eventually cause Stern to veto the trade showed how they were able to force the players to bargain on their terms during the NBA lockout. I’ve questioned LeBron James’ team loyalty ever since he bailed on Cleveland for South Beach in the summer of 2010, but in light of what Gilbert said about James in the wake of his departure and the letter he wrote to Stern about the trade, it seems to me that Gilbert is drunk with power as most billionaires are.
Furthermore, it’s no secret that there is no love-loss between Cuban and the Lakers. Interestingly enough, Cuban, the residential off-the-court bad boy of the NBA, has been fined numerous times by the league for violating policies. It’s obvious that both Gilbert and Cuban would oppose the trade because one owner still feels jaded over seeing his superstar player walk away from him last year without really fighting for him while the other owner wants to keep his place at the top of the totem pole.
In other words, they didn’t speak out because of the fans or basketball reasons as they want us to believe, and if that was so, where was this sudden concern about the fans and the game of basketball a month ago when David Stern threatened to cancel the season because the owners didn’t get everything their way during the negotiations to end the lockout?
Let’s just examine the trade for a bit and see if the owners have a legitimate gripe or if they are blowing hot air up people's butts. The Lakers get Chris Paul, and in return, the New Orleans Hornets get Lamar Odom (Sixth Man Award winner last year) and Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic from the Houston Rockets, and they would get Pau Gasol.
It’s obvious that the NBA-owned Hornets would come out way ahead in the deal while the Rockets and the Lakers would lose a great deal of size and talent. The argument is that the Lakers will get the most talented player, but he isn’t head-and-shoulders above the rest to make the case that this will be an unfair trade in the Lakers’ favor.
Gilbert’s primary concern is how much money in luxury taxes the Lakers would save going into next year, but the genius failed to take into account that Paul is still under contract with the Hornets unlike James was when he signed with the Miami Heat last year. What’s even more intriguing is that Gilbert had the power to offer James a maximum contract extension, but chose to offer him less than what Miami offered him.
In addition, Gilbert failed to mention the fact that Shannon Brown is no longer under contract, and neither will Odom and Gasol be if they were to be traded, so, of course, the Lakers would save money next year with this trade.
Whether this trade gets done or not, one thing is starting to reveal itself early in the lockout-shortened season; the owners are definitely trying to show the players who actually run things. However, they should be concentrating on running their teams like Jerry Buss, an owner who is all about winning, and not like Donald Sterling, who seems contented on potential and being in the lottery every year.
After all, the NBA is a capitalistic business. Some owners manage their teams with the notion of staying on top, other owners cry about an apparent unfairness that comes with their lack of shrewd business sense.