We’re still nine days off from free agent signings and trades being signed, sealed and official, yet the NBA world is on fire with Chris Paul trade rumors. Some are substantiated (the Celtics calling the Hornets), some just aren’t going to happen (the Knicks) and some are inevitably going to bubble up (the Clippers and Blazers).
If you’re a Hornets fan, the rumors are deafening. Maybe you tune it out and ignore them, staying off twitter and the NBA blogs (my preferred strategy, even though it’s nearly impossible). Or maybe you’re one who takes to defending the team; tweets, comments and facebook posts of The Knicks don’t have the cap room! Paul wont sign an extension with the Celtics! He loves New Orleans! I love it. I love your devotion. Please, keep sticking it to those annoying Knicks’ fans. Deep down they know they don’t have a chance at Paul. But I want to dispel one theory on why Paul isn’t going anywhere: That the NBA wont allow the team to trade him. Let’s do this…
When the NBA bought the team nearly a year ago one of my first thoughts was that this means Paul isn’t being traded. It’s logical. The NBA bought the team for $310 million and David Stern has said that the NBA wants to make a profit (I addressed this in Tuesday’s Hornets Beat over at Hornets247.com). Trading Paul certainly doesn’t increase the value of the team. The value of the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped around 125 million according to Forbes when Lebron James choose to sign with the Miami Heat. It’s simply not a good business decision to try and sell something and not include it’s best asset. You don’t see cars with bad engines being driven out of dealerships.
Let’s say the NBA wants to sell the team for $360 million (a $50 million profit), a potential owner is not going to submit a low-ball offer just because Paul is not on the team. There are 30 NBA teams; they are all highly attractive and coveted assets regardless of talent on the team. Many people would pay far more than $360 million in order to own an NBA team. Add the new CBA into the mix and the new split in BRI, and the value of the team has dramatically increased since the NBA bought out George Shinn. The NBA has no concerns over making a profit on the deal.
Furthermore, Stern has let the Hornets act almost completely autonomously. Yes, Jac Sperling is the league’s ambassador to the Hornets, but it’s still Hugh Weber, Dell Demps and Monty Williams making personnel and business decisions. Don’t forget that the Hornets added salary in the Carl Landry trade. When the NBA took over, no one thought they would be allowed to do that. Mark Cuban was vocally against the move (probably because the Mavs and Hornets play in the same division) but it still happened. Stern didn’t get on some secret, red telephone and call Weber to say he can’t make that trade. There is no way Stern would stop a Chris Paul trade with that precedent set.
Unfair trades happen all the time in the NBA. The reality is that you will never get full value if you trade a superstar. Bill Simmons refers to this all the time as getting 75 cents (or less) for a dollar. When Pau Gasol was traded the best player the Lakers gave up was Kwame Brown! No one came in and stopped that trade. This isn’t fantasy football where every team has a veto vote.
Demps is determined to get maximum value in return if he trades Paul, and the best offer may come while the NBA still owns the team. If that’s the case, Demps will have to pull the trigger on the trade. Fans will not be happy but unfortunately this is the reality of the situation.
So keep up defending the Hornets and the shooting down all of the trade rumors, just don’t use the NBA’s ownership as a reason.