When the three-way trade between the Rockets, Lakers and Hornets was announced yesterday, I wasn’t a big fan of the trade. The Rockets would have gotten Lakers’ center Pau Gasol, arguably the second best center in the game. The Lakers, who do not need any help in getting better, would have gotten the league’s top point guard in Chris Paul, the Hornets would have gotten Lamar Odom from the Lakers and Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic from the Houston Rockets, plus the Kinck’s 2012 first round pick.
I enthused because I think Houston gave up too much for a 31-year old center. Scola is good for 18 points and eight boards a night, while Kevin Martin scores and extremely efficient 23 points a night (though he’s definitely a defensive liability). If Gasol had been 26 rather than 31, I would be more favorably inclined to the deal. (If Rockets GM Daryl Morey had a deal for the Nuggets Nene at hand with the freed-up cap space, as many suggested, then the deal becomes a lot more palatable for Rockets fans.)
But New Orleans clearly made out like bandits, receiving three extremely solid starters and a first round pick for a guy who was going to walk in eight months anyhow. Which is why they’re the ones most screwed by NBA Commissioner nixing the deal for vague “basketball reasons.”
As many commentators pointed out, this was a solid deal with risks and rewards for all concerned. Both Paul and Kobe Bryant have experienced knee problems. If they stay healthy and the Lakers land Dwight Howard next year, yeah, that’s going to suck for everyone else in the Western Conference. But if Paul and/or Bryant go down, and they don’t land Howard, then they’re in a world of hurt from having gutted their front court.
I’m all behind screwing the Lakers, but having Stern do it in this fashion, with so little justification, screws all three teams.