DECEMBER 9, 2011 - Just before the lockout was officially lifted and the proverbial floodgates were about to open, the trade rumors flowed like fine wine at a millionaire’s wedding. Instead, the deal ended up in the gutter, like a drunkard on Bourbon Street and the wine turned sour, into whines. Free agent NBA All-Star guard Chris Paul was reportedly headed to the big market LA Lakers in a deal that allegedly tagged Lamar Odom with a ticket to New Orleans while Pau Gasol was nearly sent packing to the Houston Rockets. Instead, it all came tumblin’ down.
Multiple media reports, all originating after an extensive story broke from Yahoo Sports, claimed the trade was nullified after a number of NBA teams complained to the NBA league office about the bevy of deals, all seemingly benefitting the big market teams like Los Angeles, New York and Miami. The ink on the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement with its players was barely dry after ratification by the NBA Players Association and the league’s Board of Governors when the reports of a blockbuster three-way trade between the Lakers, the Rockets and (league owned and operated) Hornets had the other 29 team owners in an uproar.
The tenor of uproar stemmed from the newfound trend of players attempting to influence, maybe even dictate their destinations while they outwardly bucked NBA regulations for an fair and open trading season. The dissatisfaction with the trend and the inability for the league’s labor relations committee to get more stringent rules in place to govern player movement was very much apparent as the league was ready to open for business.
The NBA did not comment on the record, according to Yahoo Sports.
While earlier reports had the Boston Celtics vying for the services of Paul and attempting to trade everybody plus the kitchen sink for the high-scoring guard, more recent missives reported that Paul was keen on a trip to Los Angeles to team with Kobe Bryant. Paul made it certain that he was not seeking a long-term deal to remain in New Orleans, a city that has had its ups & downs after Hurricane Katrina struck the city and fan support for the NBA dwindled to the point where the NBA stepped in to purchase the franchise and hire an operating group that included San Antonio Spurs front office protege Dell Demps as GM.
Demps, together with Houston GM Daryl Morey and the LA Lakers Mitch Kupchak hatched the blockbuster which would’ve leveled the Lakers’ massive frontline trio of seven-footers by subtracting Gasol and Odom and inevitably trading bigman Andrew Bynum, possibly in a deal that would land free-agent-to-be Dwight Howard. Theoretically, the Lakers would eventually start Paul and point guard Derek Fisher, along with superstar swingman Kobe Bryant, alongside the artist formerly known as Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) and the highly coveted Howard at center. The defensive abilities of Bryant, Artest and Howard would certainly make up for the defensive deficiencies of Paul and Fisher and the Lakers could build a long-term plan around a young, solid core.
Meanwhile, reports from the twitter-verse have free agent swingman Shane Battier headed to Miami to complement the trio of Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh. Battier, known for his hard work and chemistry-inducing team play, will reportedly sign with the Heat as early as today, the first day the NBA returns to normal operating procedures, if anything in the NBA can be considered normal in this decisively abnormal offseason.
The free agent frenzy, official team work-outs, rookie signings and the return of a legion of NBA players returning to their clubs from short-term deals in foreign lands will all crash together in a perfect storm as the league attempts to jump-start its engines after a 150-day lockout nearly cancelled the 2011-12 stanza. The signing and training camp period, December 9 to 24, will be amongst the most turbulent times in NBA history as teams figure out the new rules, consider which players they might dump via an “amnesty” clause all while they maneuver for position, salary cap space and financial planning for the summer of 2012, a time when multiple free agent talents will become available after their existing contracts expire.
From the Digital Sports Desk: www.digitalsportsdesk.com