It wasn't so much the unintentional comedy of David Stern attempting to restore "sanctity" to the business of basketball that was so galling when he kyboshed the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers deal last week. It was the NBA's incompetence in botching what was a good trade for the small-market, economy-still-affected-by-a-2005-natural-disaster league-owned Hornets.
By Monday, there had already been another deal to L.A. pulled -- this time sending Paul to the historically poor man's LaLa land squad in the Clippers. The Clip rejected it because they saw the price tag of Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a draft pick too steep (although depending on who you listened to, talks between the Clippers and the Hornets may or may not have been back on by Tuesday).
It sounds wonderful in a sound byte or on paper for the NBA to take some sort of moral stand against the formation of so-called "superteams" in major markets. Unfortunately, it's a complete crock-of-you-know-what. Stern is merely appearing beholden to the owners he was beholden to during the lockout -- owners like Clay Bennett, whom he kowtowed to in allowing the Sonics franchise to walk away from the United States' 14th-largest TV market in Seattle in favour of the 45th -largest in Oklahoma City.
See the hypocrisy here?
You do when you consider the league's, ABC/ESPN's and Turner's preference of successful teams in top-10 markets. Or the fact that most superstars want to play in one of six cities.
But if Paul ends up with the Clippers -- playing for the worst owner and best absentee landlord in professional sports in Donald Sterling -- does this satisfy whatever it is Stern envisions? I mean, if you're going to play God, play God right. Sure it's Los Angeles, but would Paul even stay with the Clippers? While teaming with Blake Griffin is highly appealing, the Clippers' track record reads like a horror story. Their fans have the same sort of fatalistic subconscious shared by many Raptors fans.
Back in the early '90s when Magic Johnson was forced into retirement, some people thought the Clippers were about to take over the L.A. market. Hanging those high hopes on names like Danny Manning and Pooh Richardson may have been a tad premature, but the reason the Clippers' franchise has been a sieve for decades is mainly because of Sterling. Sure, they caught a bad break with players like Shaun Livingston, but seriously -- they play in L.A. How this NBA team is not competitive every year is incomprehensible.
But back to Stern. The NBA has put itself in the uncomfortable position of managing the Hornets. There is no way now, given the Lakers fiasco, that Paul can be allowed to walk away from the team for nothing. By denying a trade -- a good deal for New Orleans when you consider that Paul, essentially demanding the trade, has "hand" -- that would have netted Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick, they are opening themselves up to even more scrutiny.
For the poor Hornets fan, watching this Clipper ordeal could be tough too. Eric Gordon is a great player, and you know what you're getting with Chris Kaman. In essence, it doesn't matter if the Clippers walked away from the first offer because they were hesitant to include Eric Bledsoe -- or hell, even Drew Bledsoe or Tempestt Bledsoe -- the heat is on Stern and the league. They've put themselves in a no-win situation.
And if the Hornets run out of suitors? Oh well, that'll just be Stern and the NBA alienating yet another city.
Meanwhile, down in Orlando Dwight Howard has publicly said he's willing to stay -- if the Magic can surround him with some more star-calibre talent. Why it won't happen: The NBA's suicidal system. For some reason, the image of Hedo Turkoglu eating pizza with a grin on his face is all I can think about when I consider the fact that it is his contract that will prevent Orlando from keeping Howard. The poor Magic already used their Amnesty clause on Gilbert Arenas.
Oh but what's that you say, things have changed with the new CBA? That's funny, because I could have sworn the Golden State Warriors decided to set fire to $7 million in cash Tuesday by signing Kwame Brown to a one-year-deal. Yes it's true, big men are hard to come by. But like parents often tell children, just because you have money in your pocket doesn't mean you have to spend it -- either on candy or Michael Jordan's former bullying victim.
Again, glad the lockout resolved some things.
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