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Volume 24 No. 159

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Hornets G Chris Paul is "moving closer to taking legal action" against the NBA over the league's rejection of a trade that would have sent him to the Lakers, according to sources cited by Mitch Lawrence of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. A source said that Paul "could file a lawsuit 'in the next couple of days' charging the NBA, which owns and runs the Hornets, with collusion and violating the league’s collective bargaining agreement." The NBA’s labor deal "has an anti-collusion clause that prohibits teams from conspiring with the league to influence contracts, signings or transactions." If he proceeds, Paul "would likely seek doubled monetary damages, along with injunctive relief, meaning he would ask the court to stop the collusion immediately and allow a trade to go through to the Lakers or Clippers." Legal experts said that Paul "likely wouldn’t win a collusion case since the teams agreed to allow the NBA to take over when it bought the financially troubled Hornets last winter." But he "could have a case of the league interfering with him getting to the Lakers or Clippers, and hampering his ability to earn a living." Lawrence notes the Paul "affair has become a mess for the NBA" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/14).'s Stein & Broussard cite sources as saying that league officials representing the Hornets and the Clippers "continued discussions into Tuesday night on a trade." But the sources said that the sides "have yet to find a framework that satisfies both." Sources said that the Lakers "continue to loom as a potential destination ... despite their apparent exit from the Paul sweepstakes on Saturday" (, 12/14). In L.A., Broderick Turner cites a source as saying that the NBA "initiated phone conversations with the Clippers" yesterday. The source added that the league "refused to move off its position of wanting Eric Gordon and the Clippers' No. 1 unprotected draft pick" they got from the T'Wolves. The Clippers again "told the NBA that they wouldn't trade Gordon" (L.A. TIMES, 12/14).

DISCONTENT IN NEW ORLEANS: YAHOO SPORTS' Wojnarowski & Spears cited NBA sources as saying that while there has been "no official transition of power, Hornets general manager Dell Demps has been completely pushed to the side in deal-making decisions for the team." NBA Commissioner David Stern has President of NBA League Operations Joel Litvin and NBA Exec VP/Basketball Operations Stu Jackson "conducting negotiations with teams interested in Paul." Demps is "still making calls, but rival front offices and agents involved in possible deals with New Orleans say he’s no longer authorized to decide on any transaction." Sources said that teams interested in Paul "have to send formal 'bids' to the league office" (, 12/13). In New Orleans, John DeShazier writes regardless of what league officials' "mouths say, their actions say they don’t trust that duty to Hornets general manager Dell Demps, who these days must feel like he’s working for late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the 1970s and ‘80s." DeShazier: "Show us you can be better general managers than you’ve shown yourselves to be, when you apparently worked out a deal with the Clippers, or essentially forced Demps to work out a deal, for the center the Clippers don’t want (Chris Kaman) and three unproven talents (Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and a first-round pick), and were rebuffed when you reportedly insisted that Eric Gordon be included in the deal" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 12/14). N.Y. Daily News columnist Tim Smith said, “How in the world do you expect that GM to be able to do anything down there? His word doesn't mean anything because no one's going to trust him. He can put together a deal that is going to holdup because they're going to say, ‘Well, has Stern signed off on this?’” ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 12/13).

: In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel wrote under the header, "NBA Should Get Out Of The Team-Owning Business." The "facade of league ownership of a team makes the NBA mickey mouse, and we're seeing that played out in the CP3 saga." Tramel: "The NBA didn't want the Hornets to die and didn't want the Hornets to sell low. So instead, the NBA has sold out" (, 12/13).'s Michael Rosenberg wrote, "Nobody knows what will happen next, but as far as Stern's credibility is concerned, it hardly matters." Every "conspiracy theorist in NBA history, including many who work in the league, now has his snapshot of Stern on a grassy knoll" (, 12/13). In Boston, Zuri Berry writes, "In the weird, twisted world of the NBA, negotiations can appear disheveled and even aimless in approach." But "make no mistake about it, with Stern on board as a direct stakeholder in the Hornets' future, the confusion and comatose nature of the franchise will only heighten with the NBA as its owner" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/14). In N.Y., Howard Beck writes the "outcry might have been twice as loud had the league approved the deal, with conspiracy-minded critics howling about Stern giving Paul to the Lakers, the NBA’s most glamorous franchise." The league "invited this disaster the moment it bought the Hornets." Beck notes the NBA "seems to be taking the same approach to the Paul negotiations as it did in its labor talks: all or nothing" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/14).

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE? Paul is a member of the NBPA Exec Committee and was an active participant in some of the NBA CBA talks. Wizards G & NBPA VP Roger Mason Jr. said of Paul yesterday, "Here’s a guy who has been a complete professional, and it was a little weird being on the board and in those negotiations. A lot of the points that we were talking about had a direct impact on Chris. So you’ve got David Stern in the room, and you’ve got Chris in the room, and the dynamic, it was a little weird. Now the negotiations are over, but to see this happening, it’s just strange. It really shows you how much of a business this game is" (, 12/13).

The Celtics held their annual media day yesterday, and several members of the team "appear a bit disturbed at the residual effects of the NBA lockout, including the prospects of December training camp, vetoed trades, and last-minute amnesty decisions," according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Celtics F Paul Pierce said, "This is something that could have been avoided. Especially you see all the different trades going through, falling through; there probably should have been a period where you had a free agent signing period, then training camp. The Christmas Day (date) was something that was really pushed amongst the players as a key date and that’s why we’ve been rushed the way we’ve been rushed." Celtics F Kevin Garnett said, "We’re in a rushed league right now. I think everybody’s paying attention to the Chris Paul situation. I don’t know why everybody’s shocked. Commissioner Stern’s been pretty adamant about how he wants to do things and how he does things, and now everybody has a voice about it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/14). Heat G Dwyane Wade said, "You do wonder why stuff happened. You look at it and say, 'Why did the lockout happen? I don't see it helping right now. Maybe in a few years we'll all look back and see why this lockout happened. But right now it's not showing its face at all." ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said, "It's an arbitrary date to have to start on Christmas. There's no magical starting time. Just push it back. Let them have a normal free-agent period of a week, 10-days, then have two to three weeks of training camp with a few exhibition games." The AP's Brian Mahoney asked, "Was this really the best way?" Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "Yes and no. ... The NBA, I can't speak for them, but I think they would want in some ways things to be a little bit more positive than they have been. But at the same time, the Chris Paul and Dwight Howard situations have created a tremendous amount of interest, to the point where I don't even hear any mention of the lockout anymore -- just those situations" (AP, 12/13).

CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT? In Phoenix, Paul Coro writes Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver "squirmed as he was portrayed as a hard-liner willing to sacrifice a season in collective-bargaining-agreement negotiations." Sarver said that his "actions were quite to the contrary during 50 committee meetings over the past two years." He said, "I was consistently at the forefront of trying to get a deal done, knowing it was important for our fans to see NBA basketball again this season." Sarver "disputes how reports, some coming from anonymous players-union sources, painted him but sees how a divide could have been formed during negotiating." He said that his "approach and desires in owners meetings did not always match what he said in negotiations because he was then representing the entire ownership group and not just his viewpoint." NBA Commissioner David Stern said of Sarver, "I would want him with me on anything important, as far as anything with business, directives, integrity or creativeness" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 12/14).

IS THE TIME RIGHT FOR STERN TO LEAVE? SportsNet N.Y.’s Jonas Schwartz said the fact the NBA "had that lockout 12 years ago and they didn't get any issues fixed -- just got worse -- has people wondering about it -- is it time for David Stern to retire?” WFAN-AM’s Joe Benigno said, “For all the time they lost, what was gained in this lockout? I don't get it. It seems to be pretty much the same as it was before and it's happened with the Lakers now vetoing the Paul trade, vetoing the Paul trade to the Clippers? … I think it's time for Stern to be out.” N.Y. Daily News columnist Bob Raissman said, "If you look at his whole body of work, it far surpasses what's going on now. This guy brought a lot to the league. Now, he's easy to kick out the door at this particular time when things have gone awry. Even I said it looks like a circus, like it's rigged, but I really think you got to look at the whole picture.” N.Y. Daily News columnist Tim Smith: “You also have to consider that sometimes when someone is in a job for so long, you need someone else to come in with a fresh set of eyes" ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 12/13).

MLB's new five-year CBA contains several changes that could be implemented by next season, including "more video replay" and the "possibility of players wearing microphones during games," according to Ronald Blum of the AP. MLB "wants to expand replay to include fair-or-foul calls, 'whether a fly ball or line drive was trapped' and fan interference all around the ballpark." Umpires "still must give their approval and it's uncertain whether the extra replay will be in place by Opening Day." The new agreement also will allow teams from the same division to "meet in the playoffs before the league championship series." In addition, there is a "ban on players getting tattoos with corporate logos," and "quick uniform number switches will be a thing of the past." Players "must tell the commissioner's office by July 31 of the preceding year if they want a new jersey." The CBA states that is unless "the player (or someone on his behalf) purchases the existing finished goods inventory of apparel containing the player's jersey number." Meanwhile, the All-Star break "will be expanded to four days, rather than the traditional three-day gap." The CBA states starting in '13, MLB "shall have the right to elect to switch the All-Star game from Tuesday to Wednesday and the Home Run Derby from Monday to Tuesday." There also are "several provisions regarding players' conduct." New language in the deal allows MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to "discipline players for violating federal, state or local law or for conduct 'materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball.'" Players also can be "disciplined for violating MLB's social media policy, which still is being developed." The MLBPA has "already ratified the hundreds of pages contained in Major League Baseball's Memorandum of Understanding." Owners are "scheduled to vote Thursday" (AP, 12/13).

PROOF POSITIVE:'s Mark Kreidler wrote fans would "have to say, even grudgingly, that Major League Baseball has entered some wholly new realm in its drug-testing program when the system takes down one of its own" MVPs in Brewers LF Ryan Braun. It "suggests a test that is working." But the league had to watch one of its stars "take a massive header, with word leaked nationally of that fact." Kreidler: "Not typically your best day at the office." The Braun case "suggests very loudly that the sport may be no closer than it ever was to being drug-free" (, 12/13). In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes under the header, "Braun Saga Has No Positives." Hunt: "Braun and baseball have been embarrassed by the way the news got out before either side was prepared to deal with the bombshell. There is nothing to do now except wait on more definitive results" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/14). ESPN's Jim Rome said, "Braun’s a great talent, he’s a great guy. I hope he didn't do it, but I would not be surprised if he did. Nothing would surprise me at this point" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN2, 12/13).

Watkins Glen Int'l President Michael Printup and IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard have been “discussing the parameters of a potential reunion after a hit-and-miss relationship from 2005-10,” according to Chris Gill of the CORNING LEADER. Tracks in Michigan, Phoenix and even Pocono Raceway have “all been in contact with the country’s lone open-wheel series during a tumultuous offseason that began after the death of Dan Wheldon in the October finale in Las Vegas.” The Izod IndyCar Series is also “trying to develop a new car, which has been challenging, and recently overhauled the front office.” When IndyCar and WGI were “trying to extend" its deal in '10, there were "two main sticking points: the price of a sanctioning fee and the series’ perceived lack of promotion on the part of WGI, and other International Speedway Corp. tracks.” But now there “appears to be a willingness, from both parties, to compromise.” Printup said, “They’re definitely going to change some of it and kudos to them -- they’re willing to work on a deal. I told them it was too late for 2012, because these things take more than a year to plan, I just said, what ever we can work on. The model is up for negotiations. They would like to sit down and consider anything that’s brought to table. Before, you didn’t get that kind of reaction” (CORNING LEADER, 12/13).

RISING PHOENIX? Phoenix Int'l Raceway President Bryan Sperber on Friday said that he would “welcome conversations with IndyCar about a return to the desert.” PIR hosted IndyCar events from '96-'05, but Sperber said that it is “too late for Phoenix to be added to the 2012 IndyCar schedule.” Sperber: "I think 2013 is the earliest we could entertain anything." He added that he also “wants to make sure his track is compatible with the new IndyCar” (AP, 12/9).