To ease the emotional strain of losing Yao, I have spend some time looking at the overall picture and the future of the NBA that led me to uncover a possible scenario unfolding right before our eyes.
Disclaimer: This is not directly related to the Rockets and, as any other conspiracy theory, is filled with "what if?"s and speculation about the unknown. But in the end, it sounds so crazy it might just be true. Read at your own risk.
This all began as I recalled all the trade rumors from this past summer, the most notorious was Chris Paul's discontent with the state of the Hornets franchise and him having "requested" to be traded to New York to form the new axis of evil with his bffs Melo and Amare. Those rumors died down after they got Ariza and started their season 10-1. However, we all know that in the past few weeks the NBA purchased the franchise from George Shinn with the sole intend "to keep the Hornets in New Orleans" (you see where I'm going, but allow me to be your tour guide)
So the first thought I entertained was, "What if we traded for Chris Paul?"
What would it take? If we put our entire roster on the line, would we have a chance? or would we get turned down anyway? The first answer is obvious, if they "want to keep the franchise in NO", they need to keep their franchise player so we'd be turned down.
So then I thought, "What if David Stern doesn't want to keep the franchise in NO?"
The facts are that the Hornets can opt out of their lease if they don't average 14,735 in attendance thru January 31st 2011 (currently 13,654), New Orleans is the second smallest TV market and the third smallest city in the NBA, there are far better NBA-ready stadiums in other cities compared to New Orleans Arena. St Louis would definitely be a better location for an NBA franchise. They could easily pull the "Thunder Card" and demand the state to build a new stadium or the team gets moved. While there are desperate attempts to keep the team, all Stern has to do is raise ticket prices and his goal would be reached.
But is it worth the trouble? The NBA would get tons of bad publicity, don't they have enough things to worry about? like the new CBA?
So then I thought, "What if David Stern favors contraction?"
Think about it. Stern can force the hand of the Players Association by threatening to eliminate the Hornets and one team from the East, which could be voted on by the owners. I could see an NBA with 28 teams, 2 divisions with 7 teams each per conference, playing an 80 game season with 40 home and 40 away games. Also, I would pick the Nets (always easier to screw over the new guy) or the Raptors (never understood why a team from Canada was part of the NATIONAL Basketball Association) as the top teams to get contracted. Stern could even go ahead with the contraction, only to have an expansion draft as soon as the CBA is signed, relocating the Hornets in another city.
But what about the players? I went back to my original question and found another reason why we would get rejected in a trade. "Why would WE get CP3? David Stern doesn't like us"
So then I thought, who does David Stern like? and then it hit me
David Stern likes drama, if the Knicks got Melo he would give them CP3 to make things interesting. The Trade Deadline is not til a couple of weeks after the Hornets play their (potentially) final home game on Jan 24th following which we would know the attendance average and the fate of the organization. If contraction was to happen, Stern could order all players with long-term contracts to be traded for expiring ones. Who wouldn't jump on the opportunity to trade Jared Jeffries for Trevor Ariza?
Obviously, those trades would anger the fans in NO and eventually lead to riots or boycotts of Hornets games for the rest of the season, in which case, I see the Hornets becoming The Malcontent All-Stars (copyrighted by Xiane) for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season. Like a traveling circus, any team playing on the road against the Hornets would actually play in their own arena while the Hornets come to them, only to get blown out, just for entertainment purposes.
See the chain of events that can unravel after January 24th, 2011?
Finally, I leave you with this