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Small market owners make Hornets smaller by rejecting Paul trade

The NBA left Chris Paul and the Hornets scrambling after rejecting a proposed trade with the Lakers and Rockets.The NBA left Chris Paul and the Hornets scrambling after rejecting a proposed trade with the Lakers and Rockets.

The NBA apparently thinks Chris Paul remaining in New Orleans is good for business.

Paul is the main drawing card in New Orleans. After all, New Orleans announced that it had reached the coveted 10,000 season ticket sales earlier Thursday.

Later in the day, the Hornets reached agreement on a trade sending Paul to the Lakers in a three-way deal which would have netted a bounty for the Hornets, including Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic.

First and foremost, that is a good and perhaps even an outstanding deal for the Hornets. It is bad, possibly devastating to the Hornets, that the league canceled the deal Thursday evening.

Martin is the coveted scoring two-guard that the Hornets have lacked since the team came to New Orleans, with the possible exception of Marcus Thornton (whom the current regime did not like).

Martin is long at 6'7. He is in his prime at 28-years of age. He has averaged 18.5 points per game in seven NBA seasons, averaging over 20 points per game in his last five seasons. He shoots a respectable 38 percent from three-point range and 86 percent from the free throw line.

Luis Scola is a solid power forward, a slightly less talented version of David West. He averaged 18.3 points per game and 8.2 rebounds a year ago while shooting 50 percent from the field. Scola is 6'9 and 31-years old.

West is 6'9 and 31-years old. He averaged 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds a year ago while shooting 51 percent from the field. He is not coming back to New Orleans. He is coming off of a knee injury.

Dragic is a 25-year old point guard who would be a nice complement to Jarrett Jack. Dragic averaged 7.7 points and 2.5 assists last season. He made 52 percent of his three-point attempts in 22 games with the Rockets after being acquired from Phoenix.

Lamar Odom is a 6'10 player with length, shot-blocking ability and talent. He averaged 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field last season. He would have given the Hornets significant depth on the front line and made them a bigger team, something they desperately need as one of the league's smallest teams.

David Stern, in conjunction with other league owners, may be starting a dangerous precedent. Is he going to react every time other teams do not like proposed deals?

Small market teams can be successful with good management and smart personnel decisions. Memphis and Oklahoma City look pretty good to me. San Antonio has gotten it done at the highest level for nearly two decades.

The New Orleans franchise owned by the NBA. Therein lies the problem.

The Hornets need an owner and now. If the league did not own the Hornets, there is no way this deal would have been stopped.

Paul is reportedly considering filing a lawsuit against the league. Paul is a professional. He will show up and play his best for the Hornets. That is his persona.

Paul has given the Hornets and New Orleans his best, on and off the court. He has every right, under the rules of the NBA, to move on at the end of the 2011-2012 season when he becomes a free agent. Training camp starts Friday. That should be interesting, given the circumstances.

The Hornets made an outstanding deal, one that would have likely kept them competitive in the tough Western Conference. With Paul (and no West), the Hornets lost to the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs last season.

The Lakers would have gotten one of the league's best players and saved a lot of money with relation to the salary cap if the deal would have gone through.

Smaller market owners, the "have nots" of the league, are irate. Enough of them expressed this to the league and Stern intervened. Where is the Players Association on this matter? Perhaps we will hear from them shortly.

What to the "have nots" want? Would they prefer to walk at the end of the upcoming season with the Hornets getting nothing? Does Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, want Paul to leave the Hornets high and dry with no compensation as LeBron James did to his team? Would other owners prefer that the Hornets trade Paul to another small market team? He would never sign an extension with Golden State or another team of that stature (or lack thereof) and would bolt at the end of the season. Who does that benefit?

All of this stems from the current ownership situation in New Orleans. Will Gary Chouest step up, reinvest and purchase the controlling interest in the team? Sources tell SportsNola.com that the price is a bit steep in the eyes of Chouest. There are ownership groups in Florida and California who are reportedly interested in buying the team, according to Ed Daniels of WGNO-TV and sportsNOLA.com.

I understand Laker envy. I understand the angst of the likes of Sacramento, Minnesota, Milwaukee and the like. The NBA is truly a league of the haves and the have-nots. No one, other than the wealthy, big-market franchises wants to see the plurality of star players colluding to force trades to play with other stars. Miami is the most despised team in the country outside of South Beach.

The three teams involved in the trade will next appeal the decision. A reversal of a ball call here could save face for the league and even more for the Hornets.

Dell Demps and Monty Williams made a good deal, perhaps the best they could have possibly made. The little guy would have come up big, remaining competitive, keeping a growing but skittish fan base in hand, winning as many games as they did a year ago.

Instead, the owners of the other little guys hurt the Hornets in a big way, keeping a small market team small, physically and literally.