NBA commissioner David Stern defended his decision to stop the New Orleans Hornets from trading Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-team swap on Friday as critics ripped the move.
The Hornets, who are owned by the league as they search for a buyer for the club, had agreed on Thursday to a deal involving Houston and the Lakers that would have sent Paul, an All-Star point guard, to Los Angeles.
Stern wiped out the planned trade and on Friday said that he made the move in the best interest of the Hornets.
“Since the NBA purchased the New Orleans Hornets, final responsibility for significant management decisions lies with the commissioner’s office in consultation with team chairman Jac Sperling,” Stern said in a statement.
“All decisions are made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the Hornets.”
However, critics say Stern was bowing to pressure from other club owners, notably Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who lost superstar LeBron James to Miami last year.
ESPN was among several media outlets that obtained a copy of an e-mail from Gilbert to Stern calling the Paul trade to the Lakers a “travesty” and that all 29 club owners should vote on the deal.
“I just don’t see how we can allow this trade to happen. I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do,” Gilbert wrote to Stern.
“Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes,” Gilbert wrote.
“I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process,” he wrote.
Stern said that the decision to halt the trade was not made because he was pressured by other club owners.
“In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade,” Stern said.
Paul, who had been expected to seek a move from the Hornets once free agency began, would have gone to the Lakers with the Hornets obtaining Lamar Odom from the Lakers.
The Hornets would also have obtained forward Luis Scola, guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic and a first-round NBA Draft pick from Houston, which would have obtained Spanish playmaker Pau Gasol from the Lakers.
NBA champion Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told a Dallas radio station that the just-ended lockout was undertaken to avoid such deals that pull superstar players from teams that play in smaller-revenue markets.
“One of the goals of the lockout was to say that small-market teams now have a chance to keep their players, and the rules were designed to give them that opportunity,” Cuban said.
“So to all of a sudden have a league-owned team trade their best player, particularly after having gone out and sold a ton of tickets in that market, that’s not the kind of signal you want to send,” he said.
WARRIORS WAIVE LIN
The Golden State Warriors released Taiwanese-American guard Jeremy Lin, the team said on Friday.
Media reports said Lin was waived to make room under the salary cap.
Lin played in 29 games last season, averaging 2.6 point, 1.4 assists and 1.2 rebounds a game.