Sources Say Chris Paul May Pursue Legal Action Against NBA Over Rejected Trade
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). ESPN.com'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" (ESPN.com, 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" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 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).
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS: 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" (NEWSOK.com, 12/13). SI.com'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" (SI.com, 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" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/13).