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Rockets, Hornets stunned by Lakers dropping out of CP3 race

Dec 11, 2011, 11:13 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul Getty Images

After weeks of work that had a trade to send Chris Paul to the Lakers — a deal that was consummated once only to have David Stern crush it — the Lakers unexpectedly walked away from the deal Saturday.

Why? We’ll take a stab at that in a second.

But first, the Lakers move left the Rockets and Hornets shocked and with their plans for the future blown up, reports Ken Berger at

The Rockets, who were supposed to get Gasol in the various versions of the ill-fated, three-team Paul trade, were said to be disconsolate over the breakdown in the talks. League sources said Houston’s plan had been to acquire Gasol and follow it up by acquiring free-agent big man Nene with a four-year, $60-$64 million offer.

As disappointed as the Rockets and Lakers were, the Hornets’ coaching staff and front office were said to be in “collective shock,” according to a person in touch with key members of the team. The breakdown of the Paul trade sent the Hornets scrambling for another suitor for the All-Star point guard, who has made it clear he wants to be traded or will leave New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent after the season.

For the Rockets, it’s unclear if that bid would have been enough to land Nene, who reportedly has a $70 million offer from the Nets (although some sources dispute that figure). The Rockets would have been in the bidding and would have had an imposing front like of Gasol and Nene. But now, they have Luis Scola and Kevin Martin still.

For the Hornets, there are still suitors for CP3 but will they get a package as good as Odom, Scola and Martin (plus Goran Dragic and a pick)? The league said David Stern wanted younger players to rebuild, but those quality players could have been flipped for good young players in secondary trades. Just getting good young players is hard, teams don’t like to give them up. Besides, Chris Paul would re-sign with the Lakers so they would make that trade, but that may not be the case with the Clippers, Warriors or Celtics.

As for the Lakers and why they backed out? Here’s my guess.

Jim Buss, the guy running the team now and son of long time owner Jerry Buss, wants to make a splash and put his stamp on the franchise. That’s why the sharp move away from the triangle offense to Mike Brown in the coaching search. That’s why long-time staff perceived to be “Jackson people” were removed from the organization last summer.

Buss wanted Paul and Dwight Howard. He was greedy. And despite what Lakers fans (and L.A. sports talk radio hosts) think, that was never going to happen. If the original Chris Paul trade went through, the Lakers would not have had the pieces to get Howard in a trade. The price for Howard has always been to take on Hedo Turkoglu’s disastrous contract (without D-12 the Magic go into rebuilding mode and Turkoblu is an anchor on that). The Lakers would have had Chris Paul and could have offered Andrew Bynum, but they had no way to take back Turkoglu, too. They would have already surrendered Odom and Gasol.

With Howard pushing his way out in Orlando now, Buss got a picture of the true price of Howard, realized he needed Gasol to get him, and it came down to choosing Howard or Paul. He couldn’t have the dream of both. And the choice there is always Howard — great bigs are harder to come by. Howard is your bridge to the post-Kobe Bryant era.

So he pulled out. And left the Rockets and Hornets in limbo.

  1. 973yenots - Dec 11, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    The Lakers are slowly but surely killing themselves. I think it’s dumb to pull out after causing animosity among the players Odom who is gone,Gasol and Bydum. You better some how land Howard or its going to be an unpleasant season. You’ll be 7 or 8 seed and knocked out in the first round. Thats the best I can give you

  2. hail2tharedskins - Dec 11, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    The Lakers would be fools to give up Bynum & Gasol to get Howard!!! And to take on Turkuglu as well??? The Lakers better keep Gasol and use the trade exception and draft pick they picked up from Odom to secure Howard (and they add other minor pieces as needed). You do not give up an All-Star big and a very good young likely future all-star big in exchange for one all-star big. There is no doubt that Howard is better than either Gasol or Bynum, but you don’t trade two bigs for one big! That would be stupid for the Lakers! The Magic are willingly to trade Howard because they know he is leaving at the end of the season as a FA so the Magic do not have leverage, they will not equal quality for Howard – so they will be content with Bynum, 1st rd draft pick (or two), and the ability to dump Turhoglu’s contract. There won’t be any better options out there and the Lakers would be stupid to overpay – worse case scenario for the Lakers they can wait until after season and get Howard for even less.

  3. 973yenots - Dec 11, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Only Bydum and that contact ,idiot

  4. chadinkc30 - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    No way they trade gasol and bynum! I believe la trade exception will be used for a player nobody knows about yet. My guess is millsap. Chris paul or howard will sign with Lakers in a year, without players or pics! My prediction & would be perfect to throw t

  5. chadinkc30 - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Perfect way to

  6. chadinkc30 - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Perfect way to throw the middle finger to the league

  7. Eric - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Seems like an unfair characterization of what happened. Your source (the Berger article) specifically says the newest deal “fell apart Saturday night when the Lakers and Rockets were unable to satisfy criteria set forth by the NBA.” In fact, your block quote specifically mentions the Lakers were disappointed. The Lakers were disappointed by themselves backing out? The Berger article is referring to the NBA’s rejection…they were disappointed, like Houston, with the NBA again rejecting the deal. I don’t disagree with the reasoning that likely caused the Lakers to pull out after that (and possibly go nuts), but I think you are inaccurately reciting the facts when you say the Lakers unexpectedly pulled out, and that’s what left the Rockets and Hornets stunned. At least, that’s not what your source material says.

  8. lemfax - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    I like the idea of landing pau to rockets and also scola/Martin to neworleans. Both will give big impact to the teams. But cp3 to the lakers? I don’t think so.. That’s pretty bad for the lakers…

  9. 973yenots - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Players tend to hold grudges, even thought It’s a business. Good luck trying to get those guys to play their best. So trade Bydum and take on that contract for Howard

    • brooklynbulls - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      Spell it with me now B-Y-N-U-M! Thereks no “d” in that man’s last name

  10. dpnationlachpt - Dec 11, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Seems like the NBA is really going to look foolish after all is said and done. The Lakers are actually going to be better off long term by adding Howard. With CP3 they wouldn’t have had any power forward, no chips to deal with anyone and maxed out in the salary cap. Now they’ll have a healthy center, Pau at forward and room to sign a short-term point guard (Billups, Brooks, Davis, etc). The small market teams that the NBA was trying to protect gets hurt the most. NO will not get a better package of players and Cleveland committed suicide by black-balling themselves for years to come from any significant FA’s and the players union. Dallas, who was against the trade, salvaged the loss of their center buy using the pick they received from NY for Chandler to get Odom. Mmmm, sneaky sneaky Mr. Cuban. By the way have you heard the Dodgers are up for grabs??!!??

  11. 973yenots - Dec 11, 2011 at 1:20 PM


  12. 973yenots - Dec 11, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Bynum, ok got it. GO HEAT!,

  13. diablito0402 - Dec 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Go heat! What a joke hahaha, we’re talking about real men(howard) not guys prancing around in capri pants (lebrick) here ok!!

    • chargerdillon - Dec 11, 2011 at 3:36 PM

      Im a diehard Lakers fan, but if there’s one other team I root for, it’s the Heat. Because of people like you that love to hate, just to hate.

      You want to see the most explosive offense in basketball, go watch the Heat. Regardless if they’re your team or not, if you want to see amazing basketball, go watch the Heat.

      Lebum, Lebrick….. the dumbest putdown you could ever give somebody based on their name. I hope you’re a Cav’s fan because karma is serving you what you deserve

  14. diablito0402 - Dec 11, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Haha, the best offensive team go watch the heat?

  15. diablito0402 - Dec 11, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    The most explosive offense huh? How explosive is it in the 4th quarters? Did you see the finals my friend? Explosive is when you score 81 in a game, just sayin.

  16. diablito0402 - Dec 11, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    No cav fan, die hard laker here, and i love the chargers,

  17. davidly - Dec 12, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Well, if Jim Buss is really the guy calling the shots, and if it’s true that Drew’num is his man, then the first trade was true to form. Honestly, who would’ve expected Gasol AND Odom to be sent packing?

    All Stern did was keep CP from getting what he wanted and the LA from making a stupid trade and what did the Lakers go and do? Make an EVEN STUPIDER one.

    Will they be able to deal for Howard? Who can say? There is absolutely NO logic at play here.

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