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League kills Chris Paul three-team trade to Lakers

Dec 8, 2011, 9:18 PM EDT

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Within hours of all parties saying the deal was all but done, the proposed three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers is dead.

And David Stern is standing over it holding the gun.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo writes said the deal is dead because the league — which currently owns the New Orleans Hornets — told Hornets GM Dell Demps to pull the plug on the trade after complaints from other owners.

Some owners pushed Stern to demand the trade be nullified, and the Hornets be made to keep Paul on the roster for the foreseeable future, sources said. A chorus of owners were irate with the belief that the five-month lockout had happened largely to stop big-market teams from leveraging small-market teams for star players pending free agency.

League officials said it was not the owners but the league killed it for “basketball reasons.”

“It’s not true that the owners killed the deal, the deal was never discussed at the Board of Governors meeting and the league office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass says told the Associated Press.

“Basketball reasons?” Really. As we have said, this trade alone was no steal for the Lakers.

Owner backlash seems far more probable. PBT has been saying this since talk of a Paul to the Lakers deal came up — we just had five months of a lockout where I could swear I remember NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver droning on and on about the system needing to change so small market owners had a chance.

Then the league-owned team trades its superstar to the Lakers, the 800-pound gorilla of large markets? You had to know owner backlash was coming. And that killed the deal.

Whether that is fair to the Hornets and Demps — who worked hard to get the best deal he could for the franchise going forward — is another matter all together. Who can the Hornets trade Paul to? Nobody? That’s not fair to them.

Deals that are off have a way of ressurecting, so don’t think that this is totally dead. As Miracle Max would say, it’s only “mostly dead.” At the very least, the deal will not be consumated on Friday, Stein reports. But there will need to be changes. For one thing, the rebuilding Hornets would like to get rid of the contract of Emeka Okafor, but are the Lakers willing to rework the deal and take him on? Or, have the Rockets decided they do not like what they are getting in the deal and they want more? Will the league have a change of heart?

If the owners blocked a Paul trade to the Lakers, would they allow one to Boston? To the Knicks? To anywhere Paul would sign an extension? If not, the Hornets could lose Paul for nothing because of it.

The league has created a PR disaster for itself no matter what move it makes now.

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