The freshly-axed three-way deal between Houston, New Orleans and L.A. left a haze of awkwardness hanging over the Lakers Friday, as NBA training camps opened nationwide.
Chris Paul, the sharp-shooting, blazing fast New Orleans' Hornets guard, would've migrated to the Lakers in exchange for, among others, power forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. But, at the last second, NBA Commissioner David Stern stamped out the deal, citing "basketball reasons."
Stern said in a statement Friday that he considered "what is in the best interests of the Hornets."
"In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade," the long-time commissioner explained.
Many question whether the end of the recent lock-out and the beginning of the NBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement have given the league's owners more power to lean on- and sometimes squash- trades.
Outspoken Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban was quick to fire that "there's a reason we went through this lockout" and that reason was "to give small-market teams the ability to keep their stars and the ability to compete."
Meanwhile, in an e-mail obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called the almost-trade a “travesty,” urging Stern to put the deal to a vote of the league’s 29 owners.
"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," Gilbert said in the e-mail. "When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?"
(The Washington Generals are the team notorious for losing, repeatedly, to the Harlem Globetrotters.)
Meanwhile, the killed trade has left an obvious mark on all teams involved, including the Lakers.
Pau Gasol seemed determined to put it behind him, tweeting Friday morning: "New day my friends. On my way to El Segundo for the first day of training camp #staypositive #NBAisBack"
But Lamar Odom said he thought the trade was “a lie” when he was first told about the deal that would have shipped him to New Orleans.
“And then it doesn’t go through,” Odom told the L.A. Times. “Oh, lord. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll pray about it.”
Odom was a no-show at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo on Friday. His explanation? "You don't want to go to no place you're not wanted."
Update: L.A. Daily News reports that "Lamar Odom surprisingly showed up to the [Lakers training] facility about two hours after practice started, then left almost as soon as he arrived. Crazy, crazy scene here, to say the least."