The NBA, who own the New Orleans Hornets, on Thursday declined to approve a proposed three-team trade that would have sent All-Star guard Chris Paul from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“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,” league spokesperson Mike Bass said.
Reports of the proposed deal had creating a buzz in US media on Thursday as the league announced that owners and players had ratified a new collective bargaining agreement to end a lockout that had paralyzed this season’s play.
In announcing the official deal, NBA commissioner David Stern said the contract would eventually lead to greater competitive balance in a league.
The deal aimed to help small-market teams, which have been overshadowed by the big-spending clubs, hold their own against their larger competitors.
A deal to send Paul from New Orleans to the Lakers appeared to fly in the face of hopes that the league was ushering in an era in which smaller teams could hang onto their stars.
The trade would have sent Paul to Kobe Bryant’s Lakers in exchange for Lamar Odom, with the Lakers sending Spain’s Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets, according to reports by US media. The Rockets, who are rebuilding, would have given up Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a first-round selection in next year’s draft.
ESPN.com reported that some NBA owners, gathered in New York for the ratification of the new contract, voiced their discontent at the deal and persuaded the NBA’s Stern to intervene.
The NBA has owned the Hornets since December last year, when they bought the side from club founder George Shinn.
If the Hornets cannot make a trade for Paul, he will be eligible to opt out of his contract after the upcoming season. The club might still trade him, rather than wait for him to depart a free agent.
The 26-year-old averaged 15.8 points and 9.8 assists last season. A four time All-Star, he also played for the US’ gold medal-winning team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.