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Chris Paul trade rejected: Was it really to save NBA parity?

The NBA rejected a trade to send superstar Chris Paul from small-market New Orleans to the Los Angeles Lakers. In doing so, the league apparently made some small-market owners happy.

Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant (r.) talks with New Orleans Hornet Chris Paul during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles three seasons ago.

Lucy Nicholson/REUTERS/File

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When National Basketball Association owners and players salvaged a good portion of the current season with a new collective bargaining agreement, sports-labor experts were split over whether or not it would fix the main problem it set out to address: inequality between small-and large-market teams.

Now, little more than a week after that Nov. 28 announcement, NBA Commissioner David Stern has intervened dramatically to promote the let’s-level-the-playing-field idea, experts say.

Mr. Stern vetoed a three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul – a point guard who many consider the most dynamic since Magic Johnson – from the small-market New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers, a perennial contender.  

The move is being vilified by many sports analysts, who say the decision is autocratic and, in the end, not even in the Hornets' best interests. 

In the trade, the Lakers would have had to give up two top players for Paul: forwards Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. Odom would have gone to New Orleans and Gasol would have gone to the Houston Rockets, who in turn, would have sent forward Luis Scola and guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic to New Orleans, in addition to a first-round draft pick.


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