What the Hornets were getting back was crap. The league is a superstar league and the players it was getting back were merely good players on good teams, but only average players on a bad teams like the Hornets.
What does Paul do now? Are you kidding me? How about play out his contract and enter free agency at the end of the season, and either re-sign with the Hornets or go to a team with cap room. The attitude that is being spouted that this is such a bad day for the league is absurd, unless you believe that the league is best served by having superstars make up their own teams. The CBA was specifically written to try to avoid that, and that is what Paul (and the Lakers) tried to circumvent. I applaud Stern for doing what he did, although talking heads with their own agendas disagree.
I don't feel bad for Paul. He's going to make a dumptruck load of money playing a game. But it *is* a bad thing for the league to step in and nix this trade. Look, here are the relevant facts (as far as I understand them):
- Chris Paul has made it clear that he will *NOT* be re-signing with the Hornets.
- The Hornets, therefore, had two options: (1) Trade him and try to maximize the return for him (either trade him now or at the trade deadline or after the season in a sign-and-trade); or (2) let him go as a free agent and get nothing for him.
- Option (2) is perfectly valid - forcing Paul to play out his contract and let him leave as a FA and ultimately make less money (only NO could give him the absolute max contract). But that doesn't really help the Hornets, does it? Only by trading him could they assure themselves of getting as good a return as possible for him.
- After shopping Paul around a lot, they deemed (rightly or wrongly) that this deal with the Lakers and Rockets was the best deal they had available. I think the deal is totally defensible for them, given the first premise above. So they pulled the trigger.
Now, why is the league saying no to this? They are stating that it's in the best interest of the.......HORNETS!?? Seriously? Either they trade Paul or they go to option 2, which sinks them as a franchise, really. What this really is is a bunch of owners not wanting the Lakers to get Paul and (presumably) Dwight Howard. They don't care about what's in the best interest of the Hornets. They care about the Lakers building a megapower out West.
So they used their power to nix a legitimate trade because they didn't want LA to get too good. Talk about a conflict of interest. This has nothing to do with the Hornets, but everything to do with the other teams protecting themselves from the big, bad, Lakers.