How Chris Paul and Dwight Howard proved the NBA lockout resolved absolutely nothing

It was bound to happen. 

As the ink was drying on the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, we knew it was only a matter of time before some big name player on a small-market team would demand a trade to a contender in a larger market.

It’s the NBA way and no revamped, labor proposal can convince us otherwise.

This week, not only did Chris Paul ask for New Orleans to trade him, but the biggest big man in the game, Dwight Howard, also allegedly asked to be shipped out of Orlando.

In response to Paul’s demands, the Hornets, Rockets and Lakers pulled off a deal that sent him to Tinseltown, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom to New Orleans.

On paper, the move seemed reasonable.  The Lakers were trading away two key players from their championship run in return for just one.  It could even be considered a gamble, swapping two near seven-footers for a guy who stands 6’1”, yet owners complained and Commissioner Stern vetoed the deal.  Most vocal was Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert, who’s still obviously suffering from LeBronlessness.  Gilbert called the Paul trade a “travesty.”   Apparently he doesn’t remember the deal that brought Pau Gasol to Los Angeles in the first place.

So for the time being, Paul remains a Hornet and is considering suing the league.  The deal has since been resubmitted… and we all know what that means.

It’ll pass.

It has to.

And the winner of this power play will once again be the player.

Regardless of whether a handful of owners feel players using their leverage is unfair (likely because they’re the ones who wish they had Paul), regardless of whether Commissioner Stern realizes he has no power whatsoever, even after a summer-long, labor dispute that attempted to give him some, regardless of whether the league will eventually contract causing teams that cannot draw fans to relocate or disband entirely, regardless of where Paul ends up, vetoing the trade was nothing more than a feeble attempt to show that the owners have some sort of authority, which they don’t.

Even though the NBA ‘resolved’ its labor dispute, it is still a player-driven league.  There’s nothing a boardroom filled with stuffy suits and billionaire owners can do about it.

If Paul wants out, he’ll get it, whether it’s Los Angeles or elsewhere.  The Hornets are worse off if they get nothing in return.  At least in the proposed trade, they were getting a Kardashian.  Real Housewives of New Orleans, anyone?

The delicious irony of this situation is that this is the league that Stern himself created, by relentlessly promoting the individual athlete over the team, by turning players like Michael Jordan into worldwide icons, in essence allowing them to become larger than the league itself.

Think about it.  Does LeBron James need the NBA more than it needs him?

And therein lies the rub.

If Dwight wants to use his leverage to wear another uniform, it’ll happen, or he’ll just sit out the remainder of his contract and the Magic get squat when he eventually signs somewhere else.   It’s bad enough Orlando’s on the verge of losing the most dominant player in the league… again.  They have to get something in return other than pie in the face.

So how do we stop the inmates from running the asylum?  As fans, we just have to grin and bear it, and decide whether to root for, or against, the Super-teams as they arise.

We’re mature enough to understand that’s the way the NBA works.  Whether we like it or not, we accept the league for what it is.

It’s about time the owners, and the commissioner, do the same.

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30 Replies to “How Chris Paul and Dwight Howard proved the NBA lockout resolved absolutely nothing”

  1. I hate to play the same old tune, but you can lay most of the blame at the feet of the commissioner, Reichsführer Stern. The Chris Paul fiasco was just that. Now it looks like he’ll end up with the Clippers and play out the year and then most likely sign with the Lakers next year. Meanwhile, CP3 gets to showoff his brand in LA, no matter who he’s playing for. Stern has got to go and the handful of small market owners should just shut their pie holes. No billionaire buys a team to make money. Its just for ego. As for Dan Gilbert, I never thought I’d say this, but Lebron James did the right thing getting away from that crybaby.

  2. Snake…

    First of all, did I ever send you this article… or did you send it to me?

    Malcolm Gladwell wrote it about owning an NBA team and why people don’t do it for financial, but rather person, gain.

    The whole veto was bogus and unfortunately Paul is the one getting screwed. Am I the only one here who thinks the Lakers were taking a big gamble, despite Paul’s talent. Unless they already had Dwight wrapped in the bag, which they couldn’t have, right?

    I mean, that’d be tampering.

    Paul suing the league, and winning, would pretty much have to mean the end of Stern’s reign.

    And how about Deron Williams coming out and calling Stern a bully. How sweet is that?

    Can’t wait for that fine to be handed down.

  3. Good article. This is the first time I’ve read it. Thanks. A Chris Paul lawsuit against the NBA would be sweet. Even though the aspects of the suit would be different, it brings back memories of the Curt Flood lawsuit in 1970 challenging the reserve clause in MLB.

  4. Snake…

    We both know Stern is a pretty good attorney is his own right.

    It’s how he got the gig in the first place.

    Now if they could only find a young, hot-shot attorney, to be played by either Matthew McConaughey or Tom Cruise in the movie, we might have something.

    Who would we get to play Stern though?

  5. The one person to play Stern, unfortunately is dead. One could say that Stern learned everything he knows from this guy. None other than the original Reichsführer, Heinrich Himmler. Seriously, there aren’t any actors who could play “bad” that effectively.

  6. I totally agree with you on CP3 being a big gamble. Yes, he’s probably the best PG in the league, but with those Brandon Roy-like knees it’s a huge risk.

    Like you said the NBA is what it is, and stopping a trade to the Lakers doesn’t seem like it will really change much. Maybe the owners are pissed because CP3 was really the only star arguing during the CBA in the boardroom.

    Sounds like the Clips deal with NO is dead too. Not sure why they wouldn’t accept Gordon and call it good. He’s a stud, and they’ll get a top pick with Minnesota’s draft pick. If I’m a NO fan, I really like both deals in the sense you get solid players back…

  7. Snake….

    I was thinking we slap a grey wig on Danny Devito and let him have it. He can play a dramatic role. Remember “Jack the Bear?” He was great in that.

    Plus he’s got already got the New York accent. He could just slip on that Penguin outfit he wore in Batman II and not need much more than that.

  8. Chap…

    New Orleans was going to receive FOUR solid players in Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic in exchange for Chris Paul.

    The more I think about it, the more I can’t believe the NBA DIDN’T allow this trade to go through.

    And while I like Paul, I’m more a Deron Williams guy. He’s more durable.

    With Kobe retiring soon (we think), landing an unhealthy Chris Paul could really screw over that franchise.

  9. Want to fix most of the problems in the NBA? One word: CONTRACTION. Lose 8 teams from small markets and have a stronger league with more good players to go around. Get rid of Charlotte, Cleveland, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Sacramento, Toronto and Utah. Still have 8 teams from each conference in the playoffs but only 6 teams would be left for the lottery. Works for me.

  10. Eight teams might be a bit extreme, Snake, but I do think a few teams need to go.

    And if you got rid of that many teams, you’d HAVE to revamp the playoffs. What’s the point of having two-thirds of the league make the post-season?

    This isn’t hockey.

  11. Chris

    It never ceases to amaze me what a bunch of buttholes the league hierarchy , union and owners just happen to be when it comes to the NBA ! They’re beginning to make Selig and his cronies seem like MBA graduates of Wharton Business School or perhaps Yale or Harvard or Stanford for that matter . And that my friend is no mean feat when one considers how f_##ing dumb the vast majority of the owners are within the game of baseball !

    So RGIII takes the Heisman ? But he still has to put his pants and socks on , one leg at a time .

    I’m a gangsta unlike the players on the basketball teams of Xavier or Cincinnati !

    So Magic CEO Bob VanderWeide (owner Rich De Vos’ son-in-law) steps down and no sooner that’s done D-Howard gets his demand to be traded . Nice ! Otis Smith is a damn moron ! He couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag much less a room filled with transgendered males !

    tophatal ……..

  12. 41 reasons why I will continue to dislike the Bucs more than ever before !

    What’s Rah’s reason for this loss then ? We weren’t ” necessarily beaten by the better team ” .

    Even WDAE’s Dan Silio is imploring the Glazer’s to fire both the coach and general manager . Can’t say that I would completely disagree with him at this juncture as the Bucs are in essence a poorly coached and pi#$ poor team allround !

    tophatal …….

  13. Back in the late 50s, there were only 8 teams in the NBA and 6 made the playoffs. Hence the term, “second season.”

  14. Getting A Kardashian isn’t all that great, right? I mean, you had one for like the length fo a playoff series, right?

    By the way, you looked much taller on the cover of People.

  15. I think Al Franken or Paul Giamotti should be cast to play Commish Stern.
    See… I can talk sports 🙂 hee hee

  16. Al…

    I think any self-respecting and knowledgeable hoops fans understands that Stern’s move was nothing more than a power play, and a weak one at that.

    If you ask me, I thought Mathieu was the best player in college football this season. Among a team full of studs, he was the one that really stood out at LSU.

    I didn’t get the chance to watch much of RGIII this year but I guess winning a Big 12 Championship at Baylor has to count for something, huh?

  17. Al…

    The Bucs are just bad and what concerns fans the most is that there are a few games where this team has just given up.

    Look, we all know they overachieved last year.

    But I’m not sure Rah is the problem.

    The talent just isn’t there and it’s true what everyone’s saying. There are no leaders on that team.

    I don’t know that Rah takes the fall yet, but he ultimately will if this team doesn’t straighten out its act.

  18. Snake…

    The problem is, this isn’t the 50s. This is the 21st century and there’s infinitely more money involved now than there was then.

    Contracting ain’t easy. You lose an entire fan base and unemploy a shit-ton of people.

    I’d say the league could stand to lose two teams to start. The talent is already pretty damn watered down.

    Try that out for a while and see what happens.

    Maybe have only seven teams from each conference make the playoffs and give the top seed in each conference a bye.

    I’m open to any suggestions that makes the game more watchable.

  19. J-Dub…

    Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve watched the NBA.

    You know with Stern’s ridiculous scheduling, playoff series last way longer than your average Hollywood wedding.

  20. Chris

    The real problem on concerning the Bucs is that their draft picks haven’t at all panned out over the last five years beyond Mike Williams and Freeman . But even that may well be a little too generous given the poor play of the team this season !

    With regard to the NBA how is depleting one team’s roster ensure its survival when it’s hard enough for them to compete from a competitive and financial standpoint . That’s something that obviously a fu_#ing dumb ass like Steve Kerr simply doesn’t understand much less most so called knowledgeable NBA fan !

    Sparano out ! Haley out ! Any other coaches now said to be still ” on the hot seat “ ? Norv Turner do come on down !

    tophatal …….

  21. Chris

    The most succinct answer I have heard as it relates to the Bucs concerns the Glazers and the very fact that they will continue their penny pinching ways because the ongoing issues concerning Man Utd . It hasn’t helped that the soccer team has been knocked out of Europe’s premiere club competition and will now have to compete in a second tier event .

    If the Bucs were lose the rest of their regular season schedule both Dominik and Morris would still be retained . Malcolm Glazer is not going to go out and pay $5 million for a coach when he’s getting one at present for half the price !

    They will continue to build through the draft and pick up free agents on the cheap as and when is possible . That’s the template that’s now been set by the ownership and things are not about to change anytime soon . And that’s even in light of declining attendance and blacked out home games .

    Bucs team salaries and free agents . Contractual obligations to team personnel

    Carpe` Diem Seize The Day

    Bucs are averaging 48,000 per home game and 58,000 overall this season . Last season it was 49,000 at home and 56,000 overall . Cause for concern don’t you think ? Especially when compared to teams in their comparative sized market .


  22. Al…

    If the draft picks aren’t panning out, then that obviously has to fall back on Rah and Dominik.

    I’m just wondering whether you’re including Josh Freeman as one of those failed draft picks.

  23. Al…

    You mean the house that Dwight built, or played in for a bit before he left town?

    I’ve stopped listening to what these guys say, partially because it’s probably the media making some of that shit up.

    It’s no secret that Dwight has wanted out of Orlando. It’s the Magic’s job to get him to want to stay.

    How difficult can that be?

  24. Re: Contraction, Al, I’d have to take a closer look before rattling off teams to disband.

    If the league is sustainable, then there’s no need for it.

    If it continues not to be, then that’s something they’ll have to take a look at.

  25. Chris

    For me what I find disappointing about the Bucs this season is the mere fact that the likes of Ronde Barber and Kellen Winslow have essentially showed that they’re not leaders ! Neither has stepped up to the plate and called out the young players on the roster . Instead it’s been the rather idiotic sound bytes proffered up for the public’s consumption .

    Morris himself is at a loss for words and it’s best if he keeps his mouth shut rather than trying to make sense of the mess ! He has repeatedly said some really asinine things over the course of the season . Inexperience or not he needs to get a grip on reality .

    Freeman has been his own worse enemy this season in terms of play and not letting the coaches know that he was playing injured . But then again how much of an ass must he be to get his finger caught while firing a weapon at a gun range ?

    In terms of the NBA , teams that one would want to contract . First one has to consider the demands of the owners in question . Remember how things worked out for Jeffrey Loria in the aftermath of the Expos’ debacle and its subsequent sale to the league and all of the backroom deals that took place before he then assumed control of the Marlins
    ? What makes anyone think that Stern and his posse are not just as conniving as Selig was and sill is as it could concern the likes Ted Leonsis (Wizards) , Robert Sarver (Suns) , Herb Kohl (Bucks) , Herb Simon (Pacers) , Joe Maloof (Kings) and Michael Jordan (Bobcats) ? All of these guys are independently wealthy in their own right but their organizations have hemorrhaged red ink repeatedly over the last few years .

    Maloof and the Kings essentially haven’t a pot to p##s in or a window to throw it out of but yet the city’s mayor Kevin Johnson (former NBA player) is still willing to use public funds to subsidize a money losing and completely uncompetitive NBA franchise .

    Arison as owner of the Heat has subsidized the team’s operational losses to the tune of some $175 million over the last four years before the Big Three came together last season in Miami .

    If Stern and the hierarchy are to look at contraction then he and the owners will have to realize that they all have to share in that burden because it’s going to cost them severely from a financial standpoint . Remember it cost Clay Bennett and Stern $25 million just to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City . It would cost well in excess of that in terms of that in contracting perhaps 5 or six teams . Less we forget the owners in question not only will want to recoup their investment but also come out with a profit . And what of the municipalities where teams reside and the venues are owned by those cities in question . You have the leasing issues to deal with there and the breaking of those contracts .

    Let me know what you think ?

    Carpe`-Diem Seize The Day …

    tophatal ….

  26. Al…

    The Bucs are looking for homegrown leaders and they’re not getting them.

    Ronde’s not that guy and neither is Winslow.

    It needs to be Freeman on the offensive end and maybe McCoy on defense when he comes back healthy next season.

    Otherwise, things won’t get any better any time soon.

    I turned on ESPN last night to find college women’s hoops.

    Even though the league is a total mess, I sure am looking forward to some NBA already.

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