News first: The NBA nixed a trade between Los Angeles, Houston and New Orleans, then nixed the appeal, according to FOX's Marc Berman. But let's talk about this -- all of it -- and what an utter disaster it is for the Rockets, the Hornets and the entire league.
Jon Barry said it best today on ESPN: This isn't a playground. This a professional league. You can't just take sides and say, "Nope, that's not fair, let's do it again."
Make no mistake: This was a great trade for Houston. In short, it brought the Rockets a franchise big man still in his prime -- in a league where those are nearly impossible to come by -- and set up Houston to make a serious run at Nene and potentially sport a premier frontcourt to pair with a young, improving backcourt.
The Rockets had turned the corner, finally. Daryl Morey, for all of the swings and misses over the years, had finally secured a star. A new era was set to begin, and not necessarily this year, but by 2012, you'd think that with Donatas Motiejunas and Sergio Llull potentially coming over from Spain and with another young draft pick in a stacked draft class -- plus a stud free agent signee -- Houston was going to be back. Playoff basketball would be a guarantee.
Now? Kiss all of that goodbye. Adios, franchise center. And according to Jonathan Feigen, adios Nene.
The Rockets had made the acquisition of Gasol central to their plans and their sale pitch to free agents, particularly Nene. The deal would have opened up cap space they needed, perhaps enough to sign Nene and bring back Chuck Hayes. And they had tried to get Nene based on the argument that pairing him with Gasol on a front line would make them a formidable combination.
Now, even with a possible amnesty cut of Hasheem Thabeet, the Rockets will fall well short of Nene's contract demands, perhaps too far to reach a deal, and would have to tell him to please never mind so much of what they had been saying all week.
I don't care what you think of Nene by himself, but if you understand basketball, you'll understand how pairing a 6'11 Nene with a 6'11 Gasol would give Houston a competitive advantage unique unto themselves. It's so much easier to find forwards and guards than it is to find interior players. Houston would have potentially had its hands on two of the league's best at its most depleted position, but now, it's back to square one. As I've written before, square one isn't awful, it's even quite good. But we jumped a few squares forward with this deal -- that's the toughest reality to face.
As for everyone else, the league put itself in turmoil. Everyone knows Chris Paul is leaving New Orleans. Hornets GM Dell Demps did the best he could to make a good trade, knowing Paul wouldn't be back. He got one hell of a haul. And now all of that work he did... it's useless. How is the guy supposed to do his job now? Should he even continue to work?
Say Chris Paul was traded to Chicago. Or New York? Or Boston? What would the league do then? What explanation can they possibly have for this? Tell me, David Stern, how this benefits the league in any way shape or form? You know that revenue sharing plan? Chris Paul to Los Angeles helps all of that. I do understand that the trade would bring New Orleans closer to the cap, but you're the LEAGUE commissioner, David! You can't stick by one team. Then again, in sticking by it, you essentially screwed it. And yourself.
The NBA has allowed bad trades before. This wasn't a bad trade. It's common sense: this was a good trade. It's insane. Absolutely insane.
Anyway, here's the latest:
1) The NBA has denied the Rockets', Lakers' and Hornets' joint appeal to the league's decision. Now, Chris Paul will likely sue the league, and if Paul doesn't do so, the union likely will.
2) Reports said Orlando was going to pursue tampering charges against the Rockets. SI's Chris Mannix says this will NOT happen.
3) ClutchFans tweeted this:
Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33) said Dell Demps and Rockets GM Daryl Morey are "thinking about quitting today." http://bit.ly/rSm0m7
4) USA Today writer J. Michael Falgoust tweeted this:
I've heard today #Rockets would like to repackage something w/younger pieces to see if they can still make that happen.
I liked that Houston kept its younger pieces. I'd rather them not get desperate and start fooling with Patterson, Morris, etc.
5) 610's Ben Nance just tweeted this:
Wojo just said on @JimRome that #Rockets officials felt that the vetoed trade "set the Rockets back three years"... Wow
6) Terrence Williams tweeted this last night, but then took it down:
It's krazy @CP3 is not waking up a laker and it's dumb I'm not able to run that pick and roll with gasol smh sad disap ...
Stay tuned, folks. This is ugly. And it's about to get uglier.