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League Stops Paul Trade, Knicks Go with Plan B and other Notes

By now, you're probably aware that Chris Paul was signed, sealed and delivered to the Lakers before the NBA stepped in and rejected the deal in Dikembe Mutombo-esque fashion. But on the off chance that you missed David Stern's biggest PR disaster in... well, actually, it hasn't been that long since the NBA's last PR disaster... here's a quick recap.
  • The Warriors and Clippers seemed to be leading contenders to acquire Paul, but both apparently cooled on the deal, worried that Paul wouldn't be willing to sign long-term.
  • The Lakers and Rockets stepped in with a three-way deal that would land Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic in New Orleans, Pau Gasol in Houston and Paul in Los Angeles. As of about 7:30 last night, this was being reported as a done deal.
  • As of about 10pm, the deal was dead,
I broke down the trade, background and potential repercussions in detail on my About.com site... long story short, I think the league handled this very poorly, but I don't think the move is precedent-setting. This situation is unique, mostly because the NBA has been running the Hornets since last December. Yeah, they shouldn't have let New Orleans' caretaker general manager to start trade discussions if there was any possibility they'd step in like this... but flip the script. If this trade went through, today's narrative would be, "Oh my god, the NBA is biased towards the big markets!"

(So enough of the "why didn't Stern block the Kwame Brown/Pau Gasol trade" jokes.)

There have been several reports that the union will appeal the deal, and that Stern may relent and allow it to go through. I wouldn't hold my breath... though that would be a good way for the league to save face.

Interesting side-note via ESPN's Chris Broussard... if the trade did go through as reported, Derrick Caracter would have been atop the Lakers' depth chart at power forward. Seems reasonable to suspect that Mitch Kupchak has another move in mind.

In other news:
  • With Chris Paul no longer an option, the Knicks will reportedly sign Tyson Chandler to a free-agent contract. In order to clear space, New York will waive Chauncey Billups and deal Ronny Turiaf, maybe Renaldo Balkman as well. That'll give New York arguably the best frontcourt in the NBA... and the best we've seen in Knick uniforms since Ewing/Oakley/Mason. But if Billups is cut loose, who runs the point? Look for New York to actively pursue any veteran point guards that are cut loose via amnesty - Baron Davis, anyone? In the meantime, Toney Douglas becomes a much more interesting play, as he's the closest thing to a starting point on the Knicks' projected roster, and Mike D'Antoni point guards always have fantasy value. (Even Chris Duhon.)
  • Another interesting revelation is that the new CBA does allow players to renegotiate their deals, which raises the possibility that Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and even Chandler (combined salaries: roughly $48 million) could give back a little to allow the team to add another player next summer. (Steve Nash?)
  • Billups is expected to generate a lot of attention as a free agent as well, but it's hard to say where he'll land. Players waived via the amnesty clause will be subject to a waiver process; he won't necessarily be able to sign wherever he likes. (And yes, I'm hoping that prevents him from landing with Miami on a veteran's minimum deal.)
  • Grant Hill will return to the Suns. Phoenix has also signed Shannon Brown away from the Lakers. Both should have decent fantasy value this season, but I'm guessing this means Jared Dudley won't get the starting job I was hoping he'd land.
  • Dwight Howard was expected to ask the Magic for a trade, with the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets as his preferred destination. But that could be complicated by reports that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King met with Howard already - without first securing permission from the Magic. That's the textbook definition of tampering and could inspire a major smack-down from the league. (On a related note, a second team, believed to be the Houston Rockets, also stands accused of having improper contact with Howard.

Teams can start making actual deals as of 2pm ET today - about an hour from now. More surprises could follow.

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