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Chris Paul reportedly considering legal action against league

Dec 9, 2011, 2:19 AM EDT

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In the wake of David Stern taking the nearly unprecedented step of calling off a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Paul met with NBA union chief Billy Hunter to consider legal action, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.

It’s unclear what any legal action might entail. But it is possible that restraint of trade and lost wages could be part of the argument and damages. Look at what one source told ESPNNewYork.com.

“If Chris Paul doesn’t get traded,” said one source close to the Paul talks, “and if he ends up losing $30 million or $40 million in free agency because he wants to sign with someone else, I think he might have the biggest lawsuit the league has ever seen.”

If Paul leaves the Hornets as a free agent next summer he can sign a deal for four years, $74 million. If he were traded before the deadline — to the Lakers or any other team — he could opt out of that deal then re-sign with the team for five years, $100 million.

There are a lot of questions to be answered. One legal question is: Was Stern acting as the commissioner of the NBA or the owner of the New Orleans Hornets? The league currently owns the Hornets and is looking for a new buyer. Most likely the answer is as commissioner of the league, but we do not know.

The league was concerned about conflicts when it took over the league, so it brought in a caretaker — Jac Sperling, a long-time professional sports executive — and told him to run the team. Then today the league stepped in over the top of that caretaker to veto the trade. That smells of a legal conflict of interest. The league did not let the caretaker do his job.

There also are questions about Stern’s power to make such a move under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was approved by players and owners earlier on Thursday.

There are a lot more questions than answers right now.

It’s just sad to see after the lockout ending the league shoots its integrity in the foot and could end up right back in court fighting another lawsuit.

  1. nightrain42 - Dec 9, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    Why did we hve a hold out/lock out? The players still hve no say or rights unless Stalin ooops stern says so. They shld not report tommorrow

    • edweird0 - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:01 AM

      And this is why the NBA will always play second fiddle to the NFL.

      • dohpey28 - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:56 AM

        More like third fiddle to football & baseball

      • dohpey28 - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:57 AM

        More like third fiddle to NFL & MLB

  2. lakerade - Dec 9, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    Obviously I’m biased (see username), but do the Lakers have any legal recourse? I mean, if this was a no-go per the League to begin with, why wait until now to say so? It’s not like there weren’t hints it could happen… I don’t know, but it just sounds like Dan Gilbert is upset because the Lakers didn’t screw themselves over to get Paul, like some sort of punishment for having tradeable assets.

    • chuckj1234 - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:59 AM

      I have been thinking about the legality of this also. I just read that Paul is thinking about taking them to court. Now Lamar is not reporting to pratice on Friday because he does not want to play for a team that does not want him. What a mess!

      • davidly - Dec 9, 2011 at 8:13 AM

        Paul is thinking about taking them to court? Where did you read that?

      • goforthanddie - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        Odom needs to grow up. Paul has a legit beef.

    • florida727 - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      Biased or not, yes, you bring up a good point/question. You’d think the Lakers absolutely have a course of action, but since the league is structured as it is, whereby every team, though independently owned, is part of a larger “corporate entity”. Normal business laws that we think of that apply to the IBMs and Microsofts of the world may not apply. If they did, phrases like ‘conflict of interest’ and ‘unfair trade practices’ and ‘collusion’ and ‘right-to-work’ and ‘financial detriment’, etc., would immediately come to mind.

      BTW, screw Dan Gilbert. You’re trying to retain your franchise player and the best you can do is produce a comedy-themed video to appeal to him? You deserve what you got. Idiot.

  3. goforthanddie - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:06 AM

    Well, this is one way to get Stern sh!t-canned.

  4. david8726 - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:30 AM

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a universally negative reaction to something Stern or the owners have done.

    I wonder what the chances are that they’ll just cave as everyone continues to pile on. This is some bad, bad PR they are enduring over this.

    • stoutfiles - Dec 9, 2011 at 7:28 AM

      From who? The Laker fans that dominate this site? The players that all want to play for the big market teams?

      Gilbert – “When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?”

      Don’t try and tell me the league isn’t evolving into a few super teams and the rest are just farm teams to beat up on.

      • hoytdadd64 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:10 PM

        It’s more like a few really good GM’s and a whole lot of bad GM’s!!!!

  5. qcubed3 - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:46 AM

    If the NBA were a dog, it’d be Old Yeller. Bring a shovel…

  6. trickybastard - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:51 AM

    Awwwww boo laker fans :(

    Kurt, you sound like one

    I guess this makes up for the Pao Gasol trade, I mean robbery

  7. velascochad - Dec 9, 2011 at 4:25 AM

    stern is like a pet dog of the small market owners. HAHAHA. <<< its funny because he's fat

  8. charlutes - Dec 9, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    Stern is a joke.

    • florida727 - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      Unless Stern has a lot of relatives/close family reading this thread, I’m at a loss to explain the thumbs-downs to your post “charlutes”. One of the great mysteries of life I suppose.

  9. futured1ad - Dec 9, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    Happy Stern vetoed Deal. Would defeat the purpose of the lockout if the NBA formed another big 3. Plus as a Knicks fan it would allow them to sign him as a free agent this offseason!

    • bozosforall - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:22 AM

      The only way that not allowing another “big 3″ would be fair would be if the NBA would retroactively dissolve all of the other “big 3′s” that were formed in much the same manner (via trades or FA). All or none.

      • vanmorrissey - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        Agree, agree, agree. Let them all effing sue. You’re under contract you idiots, which I think, just thinking here, does not say you GET TO PLAY YOUR LITTLE GAMES WHERE AND WITH WHOM YOU WANT TO. So take your ball go home, then don’t get paid for the year you sit out, dumb ass, then let’s see what you have to say.

  10. dbestpro - Dec 9, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    The reason the trade was nullified had nothing to do with Paul and everything to do with the cap relief to the Lakers and subsequent lost revenue to small market teams from the luxury taxes.

  11. nazraq - Dec 9, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    I heard reports that it was not just small market teams bit¢#ing but owners of knicks and mavs too… I hope paul does take them to court. Basketball decision my ass, it’s as good a deal as your going to get for someone whos leaving for sure.
    On another topic if some of these teams can’t survive financially in a free market maybe they should fold like any other business.

  12. lucky5934 - Dec 9, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    This is the problem with having a league “own” one of the teams in the league. It is a conflict of interest.

    • bozosforall - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      Just like MLB’s delay in selling the Expos and approving a move for them set back the Nationals for several years as Omar Minaya traded away gobs of young talent to other teams in a vain attempt to stay competitive in a city that didn’t really support the team. Where were all of the MLB owners to complain about all those lopsided deals? Oh yeah, they were too busy raping the Expos of talent to care.

  13. cosmicatomic - Dec 9, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Oh BOO HOO, Chris Paul. It’s a bitch move to use willingness to extend as a power play, anyway, in my opinion. I wish there was a rule in the CBA about this, e.g. no extension talks whatsoever can take place until a trade has been complete. That way it would be a gamble for ALL teams trading for a superstar, and not just the teams with the big market or right situation.

    • hoytdadd64 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:21 PM

      That’s just what we need, more gambling situations for the owners get bailed out from….isn’t their bad gambling habits why we just had a lock out? I wish I had the power to regain the money I’ve lost to the casino the way these owners were able to regain their money from these bad contracts!!!!

  14. harrcwwh - Dec 9, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Hey CP3,

    Trying to sue the NBA would be a fool’s errand. Commissioner Stern was clearly acting in his capacity as Commissioner invoking his “best interests” power and not the owner of the NO Hornets. If the new CBA is at all similar to the old CBA, then your sole course of action , which you agreed to via the CBA and the UPC that you signed, for an action that has a financial impact upon a player of more than $50,000 (which you clearly have here) is to appeal to a Grievance Arbitrator who will apply an “arbitrary and capricious” standard, meaning the Grievance Arbitrator would have to find that Commissioner Stern had no rational basis for blocking the trade. Simply put, you cannot get outside the scope of the CBA/UPC and seek antitrust litigation; however, feel free to spend an exorbitant amount on legal costs to come to this realization.

    You should also thank your BFF and LRMR employer LeBron James for singlehandedly ruining the NBA and being responsible for the predicament you find yourself in. Enjoy a season of complaining because you did not get your way even though you were not even a free agent yet.

    Stay classy

    • hoytdadd64 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:17 PM

      the pau gasol for kwame brown trade going through and this one being killed makes your argument irrelevant, N.O getting nothing in return when CP3 leaves after the season to sign where he wants makes your argument irrelevant. This clearly wasn’t a decision based on anything but a power play by Stern..

  15. bparmalee - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    This deal goes through before Monday. No need to get bent out of shape. Players will go to their owners and the owners will go to Stern. Stern is stubborn but he wont be able to hold this one off.

  16. heat256 - Dec 9, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    I don’t think he can claim lost wages, since he can re-sign with NO for more money, correct? But the restraint of trade charge probably has some vailidity. I fear it is unfortunately coming to where the NBA is only gonna have 5,6 marquee teams and players drafted high elsewhere will just play with the teams for a few years, then demand to go to NY, BOS or LA. Doesn’t make for a fun league really. As a Heat fan I am glad for the excitement the the Big 3 created here for casual fans, but I do worry about the long term viability of the league. I liked watching up and coming teams go toe to toe against the big boys and let them know that there is more out there than 3 or 4 elite teams that have nothing to fear. Stern made this bed, now he’s gonna have to deal with the consequences. And they aren’t gonna be good.

  17. suhnum1fan - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    How can Paul sue when technically the league runs the New Orleans franchise? Worst case scenario would be all the owners would have to vote with the majority allowing granting approval on the deal. A law suite by Paul is laughable

    • goforthanddie - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      Conflict of interest. Why should 29 owners of the opposing teams have any say in how the 30th is run? Stern appointed people to run the team, now everybody BUT those people are running things.

    • kinggw - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:50 PM

      Totally agree. I understand Paul’s feelings are hurt, I dont know how that translates into legal recourse. The biggest mistake in this fiasco was that news of the trade went public. Once the Hornets came to terms with the other teams, Stern should have had the owners vote on the validity of the trade. That way if it was rejected their wouldnt be public outcry and if it was accepted it wouldnt look like impropiety on the part of the league. This trade was handled badly from all angles not just Stern.

  18. drewwwdc - Dec 9, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    I thought Miami, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Orlando are all considered small market teams, aren’t they successful? The Knicks, the Nets and the Clippers are all in big markets, but have lottery teams. So, what’s this argument Stern is making about superstars all going to big markets?
    Stern is an idiot, great teams make the NBA more exciting, the Lakers and Celtics of the 80′s and the Bull’s of the 90′s made the NBA a much more popular sport.
    Why is this guy still in office? If all the owners dislike him so much, why don’t they vote him out.

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