The reason for the Lakers’ withdrawal was not immediately known.
The Hornets, Rockets and Lakers had been working for the past 48 hours to complete a reconfigured version of the trade that the teams struck Thursday that had been vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern.
The Hornets, according to sources, will now redouble their efforts to trade Paul elsewhere. Paul can become a free agent at season’s end.
Immediately afterwards, it was reported that the Lakers would move Lamar Odom to Dallas, which slots him into the trade exception created in the Tyson Chandler deal. The Lakers will now turn their attention eastwards and battle the Nets for Orlando GM Otis Smith’s affections and his starting center Dwight Howard.
The Celtics will likely get back in on Paul now, but their bid is weakened — if not outright crippled — for a couple of reasons:
1) With Jeff Green signed to a one-year contract, he is ineligible to be traded until March 1st so the deal would almost certainly have to be a three-way affair to get Dell Demps interested. Boston has a number of assets on its roster, but few that fit the kind Demps has to acquire to get a deal through the league office. In addition, he’s been reportedly cool on Rondo the whole process.
2) The L.A. Clippers immediately emerged as the leading contender for Paul. They previously bowed out when New Orleans insisted upon the inclusion of Eric Gordon, who was off-limits as recently as Thursday. That may have changed. If so, the Celtics are likely done as a legitimate contender.
What’s more, even if the Celtics were able to put together a deal for Paul, there’s no guarantee the league would approve it.
As a rival league executive told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday night about the possibility of getting involved in the derby for Paul now: “My initial reaction is, ‘Who wants to go through that headache with the NBA playing God?’ You want to do a deal. New Orleans’ front office wants to do a deal. And the third party – the NBA – says you can do it? Should I call Stern and see if they’re going to waive Patrick Ewing Jr., since he’s only partially guaranteed? ”
The Hornets had delivered a reconstructed framework of the three-team blockbuster trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers into the NBA office for approval Saturday, but the NBA still refused to approve it.
Beyond all this, the rumored David West deal may or may not be affected by this chaos.
Earlier Saturday, it was reported that the deal was being held up until the conclusion of the Chris Paul saga. Now that Paul will be headed elsewhere, it’s unclear whether the deal is still feasible, or even desirable to New Orleans. Or if there’s a larger deal with New Orleans that might include both Paul and West.
Or, as Wojnarowski reports, if Larry Bird might steal West from Danny Ainge’s grasp:
The Celtics have been discussing a four-year deal with West, sources said. Still, Boston is limited under sign-and-trade rules with how high it can go with an offer. The Celtics can offer the first three years in the $24 million to $25 million range, but the fourth year would likely not be fully guaranteed.
Several sources believed there would be a resolution Sunday.
Indiana has been discussing a two-year deal with West but with a higher annual salary, sources said. The Pacers have cap space to sign West outright, while Boston, which is over the salary cap, needs the sign-and-trade scenario to acquire him. With the Chris Paul to the Lakers deal falling apart again late Saturday night, the Hornets still hadn’t made any calls to pursue re-signing West, sources said.
So, that’s a lot to process.
And here’s a final sobering thought. Or an amusing one.
The Celtics open up their exhibition schedule one week from today in Toronto.