Chris Paul’s Bright Future With Clippers Doesn’t Excuse David Stern’s Problematic Trade Veto


Chris Paul's Bright Future With Clippers Doesn't Excuse David Stern's Problematic Trade VetoChris Paul is in Los Angeles now. It's official. The ink has finally dried and the NBA is happy to move on to celebrate the latest, greatest 1-2 punch of Paul and human dunk machine Blake Griffin.

But quickly moving on to the excitement of "Lob City" misses the point. Chris Paul should be a Los Angeles Laker.

The NBA owners and David Stern were embarrassed by Paul and the Lakers, but didn't know how to deal with it. So, they panicked and cancelled the trade for "basketball reasons."

"I felt Chris Paul in New Orleans was more valuable than the trade being discussed," Stern said when explaining his veto.

He might as well have added, "But not because it's a big market. It's just until we can negotiate a better deal with a team other than the Lakers."

Where did all that outrage about Paul ditching a small market for the bright lights of Hollywood go?

What's the difference between having Chris Paul on the Lakers or on the Clippers? The Lakers and Clippers play in the same arena. They didn't magically turn Los Angeles into a smaller market by putting Paul on the Clippers instead of the Lakers.

But since the name on the front of the jersey changed, all of a sudden the owners are OK with Paul moving from TV market No. 53 to No. 2. Why isn't Dan Gilbert screaming in comic sans that the rest of the teams are still the Washington Generals?

One of the main reasons the owners locked out the players was because they didn't like players dictating where they would go and felt like a lockout would be the only way to remind them who was in charge. When Paul made it obvious that they had failed to do that — on the day that the players signed the new CBA, no less — the owners panicked and tattled to Principal Stern.

Give some credit where credit is due, though. The Clippers ended up giving up a better package for Paul.

Eric Gordon,  Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and whoever comes from Minnesota's 2012 unprotected first-round pick will give the Hornets a chance to rebuild and compete for the future much better than the be-competitive-now group New Orleans would have gotten in the original three-team trade.

Unfortunately, the credit should stop there. Even though the original Hornets-Lakers-Rockets trade was cancelled, its fallout may end up having a bigger impact than the Hornets-Clippers trade that took place.

The Knicks traded for Tyson Chandler because they assumed Chris Paul would be off the market next season. If they had kept their cap space, Paul might not have agreed to an extension with the Clips, and that trade might not have ever happened.

The Lakers, for their part, were forced to dump an unhappy Lamar Odom on the Dallas Mavericks for a measly first-round pick and a trade exception. The Rockets will still be stuck in no-man's land without a big-time center. The Celtics may even have to worry about Rajon Rondo's play after his name was floated in trade talks.

So enjoy life in Los Angeles with Blake Griffin, Chris Paul. Basketball fans will be sure to delight in the many alley-oops in the Clippers' future.

But all is not well that ends well, because David Stern gamed the system and left the rest of the league with a few problems. And he can't veto those problems away.

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