NBA Rumors: The Gilbert Letter

It's a crazy new world we live in. It's midnight in LA. It's after 3 AM on the East Coast, where people like David Stern live. You know, the people who actually have some inkling of what actually happened earlier tonight when the NBA disallowed the New Orleans Hornets trade of Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet here we are, glued to our computer monitors, arguing with each other over what it all means. We're not even sure what happened, and we want to know what it means!

There is precious little by way of an official reason thus far. NBA senior vice president of basketball communications Tim Frank simply said that the "League office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons." What does that even mean? We'll no doubt get a lot more on that from David Stern tomorrow.

There's a fundamental question here: did the NBA disallow this trade, or did the owners of the Hornets? Of course we know that those two things are one and the same at the present time, but in what capacity were they acted when they made this decision? Frank was far from explicit on that subject in his statement, but he is an NBA VP and he did say it was the league office that acted. Sure sounds like it was the NBA acting as the NBA that did this. Which seems like a huge problem.

The other information we have now is an email from Dan Gilbert to David Stern. Oh Dan Gilbert. When will you ever learn? Of course Yahoo! acquired a copy of the email and posted it. Let's have some fun with that, shall we?

Commissioner,

What? No "Dear Commissioner?" Why so serious, Dan?

It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed.

Stop holding back. How do you really feel?

This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.

OK, now we're getting to an important issue. All of the 29 other franchises own the Hornets. They should all have some input on the decision. Well,then again, maybe they shouldn't, because that would be a terrible way to get anything done, but it's a least a legitimate position. Good start, you're on solid footing here.

Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.

Oops. Kind of went off the rails there, didn't ya Dan? Now you're stuck in the mud. Let me get this straight - this trade is bad for the league because the luxury tax cash cow is going to run dry? Wasn't the new punitive luxury tax contentiously instituted during the lockout designed as a means to encourage/coerce the big spenders of the NBA to stop spending so much? Isn't it a problem that the Lakers have such a massive payroll? That's what we were told, over and over and over again during the lockout. So now you're big complaint - they thing you lead with in your memo - is that this trade is bad because the Lakers' payroll will decrease. Really? REALLY?

One other small little problem here - the trade, not being finalized since, you know, trades aren't even allowed yet, may not have looked like that at all. The Lakers might very well have taken back Emeka Okafor in the deal, rendering this (feeble, lame, hypocritical) point about Lakers savings moot.

I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process. And it doesn't appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard. (They would also get a large trade exception that would help them improve their team and/or eventually trade for Howard.) When the Lakers got Pau Gasol (at the time considered an extremely lopsided trade) they took on tens of millions in additional salary and luxury tax and they gave up a number of prospects (one in Marc Gasol who may become a max-salary player).

So you can't remember lopsided trades, eh Dan? How about Randy Foye for Brandon Roy? How about Dirk Nowitzki for Tractor Traylor? How about Marko Jaric for Sam Cassell and a lottery pick? Also, you hurt Pau Gasol's feelings when you referred to Chris Paul as "by far the best player in the trade." (It's not untrue - but still it's hurtful, you know?)

I'm not sure you want to muddy the waters here with a red herring about a second potential trade. Seems like you're getting into some serious meddling at this point. Are you acting as a 1/29th owner of the Hornets now? What say does a 1/29th owner of the Hornets have in a trade between the Lakers and the Magic?

I just don't see how we can allow this trade to happen.

I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do.

When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?

And there you have it. What this rant is all about. The Lakers will be too good. Never mind that this was by FAR the best offer the Hornets had available based on reports. Never mind that this was, at the end, a pretty damn sweet deal for the Hornets, and that by disallowing it the league has almost certainly ensured that the Hornets will get far less value in return. Never mind that the end of the day, the Lakers were taking a calculated risk that this would even work - getting rid of two of the three bigs on their roster, two of the players that defined what was special about this team - THEY'RE SO DAMN LONG! Without Pau and Odom, the Lakers are fundamentally changed. Maybe they get better - but they were already really good, and maybe, just maybe, they get worse. You perceive that it will make the Lakers too good, Dan, so you think it must be stopped. But I'm not sure you're perception is correct.

Please advise....

Dan G.

We'll find out more tomorrow about why this trade was nixed. The league will no doubt put as much distance as possible between themselves and this silly missive. "Mr.Gilbert's email had absolutely no bearing on our decision." That sort of thing. And they'll try to explain themselves.

That should be fun.

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