David Stern continues to flex his muscle by blocking another potential deal sending Chris Paul-to-SoCal. By blue-balling both L.A. fan bases, the NBA faces questions surrounding the motive for the moves. Considering two very fair propositions for the Hornets were given the veto for “basketball reasons,” it appears that the Association prefers Paul in New Orleans, at least for the time being.
The NBA is planning to pesticide the Hornets.
Let’s look at the facts:
-Paul wants out of the Big Easy.
-New Orleans will get nothing if Paul leaves as a free agent. So…
-The Hornets would be much better off trading him before the season while they can get (considerable) value for him.
The lockout provided plenty of opportunities for owners to have conversations about what is best for the future of the league. Whispers of contraction have been discussed for years, and simply put, fewer teams mean more money for the players and owners. Also, as Magic Johnson has attested to, fewer teams would close the talent gap and improve competitive balance, making for more exciting and talented teams for every team. It is unrealistic to think this topic wasn’t discussed by the owners during the lockout.
Looking at candidates for contraction, the Hornets are a very logical choice for the first casualty.
Hornets President Hugh Weber said the team’s revenue is $4 million ahead of this time last year, having reportedly sold more than 9,000 season tickets and adding sponsors such as Chevron during the lockout. Despite these recent improvements, the NBA (aka the other 29 owners) owns the Hornets, and the league would obviously have a much easier time absorbing the team now before they find an owner.
Unless someone breaks the bank to land Paul (on a team that owners will allow), owners have tipped their hand. Paul is more valuable to every other team rotting this season in New Orleans, then leaving the team with nothing. It would be easier to sell the team with the better assets that a Paul trade would bring, so owners want to keep the lame duck Paul in N.O. so the team DOESN’T sell, ultimately giving the Association a more palatable excuse for why the Hornets are being contracted.
Let’s say a real Christmas miracle happens and owners decide to release Paul from purgatory, and then somehow get some sucker to save the Hornets from extinction. This doesn’t mean contraction is not still coming. Look for the Kings to be dethroned or the Bucks, TWolves, or Grizzlies to be hunted. Regardless, we now know that contraction is on the owners mind and the quickest and easiest way to get the ball rolling is to disband the team that doesn’t have an owner.