On December 8, 2011, the NBA league office—acting in its role as de facto owner of the New Orleans Hornets—vetoed the agreed-upon trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers, for “basketball reasons.” That phrase quickly became a punchline and an internet meme, even generating its own Tumblr account and Urban Dictionary entry, and gaining in notoriety as the league conspicuously provided no further explanation despite the widespread opinion that in terms of talent it was a fair deal or, at least, no less fair than a typical disgruntled-superstar-nearing-free-agency trade.
So why did the league office reject the trade? The reasons, as I understand them, are as follows:
(1) The league is a collection of teams, and the majority of those teams opposed the deal. They had just staged a lockout for the express purpose of promoting the financial and competitive interests of small-market teams, which would be undercut by enabling one of the league’s truly elite players to force his way from a small market to a marquee franchise as the deal was constructed. Not only were the Lakers adding Paul, but they were cutting their projected luxury tax payments substantially in the process and, reportedly, were on the verge of completing a subsequent trade for Paul’s close friend Dwight Howard, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and 1st Team All-NBA Center.
A season after LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh joined forces and Carmelo Anthony maneuvered his way from Denver to the Knicks, some owners found the idea of a league-owned team propping up the Lakers, catering to the desires of its star player, and facilitating the creation of a new superteam unpalatable.
(2) The league office may have perceived that the trade would lessen the value of the New Orleans franchise to prospective buyers. Under the terms of the vetoed trade, New Orleans would obtain Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and a first-round pick in exchange for Paul. While that deal would have allowed New Orleans to compete for a playoff spot rather than sliding toward the bottom of the standings, it also would have added considerable long-term contract obligations without delivering a marketable star player. In the absence of a title contender or a superstar, most buyers would prefer a team with minimal long-term liabilities.
In keeping with the above, the objective of this site is to explain decision-making processes and outcomes in the NBA. Why are players and teams successful or unsuccessful? How can they improve? Why did a particular trade or free agent signing occur? Why was it structured as it was? How can one team gain an advantage over other teams? These are the types of questions that this site will address. I’m not a reporter, so I won’t be breaking any news here. Rather, my aim is to analyze those newsworthy events, project future trends, and in some instances, reflect on earlier work that I may have posted elsewhere. Most of the analysis on the site will focus on the following four areas, which I see as most essential to Basketball Operations: (1) player evaluation, (2) player development, (3) salary cap management, and (4) scheme, i.e. on-court tactics and strategy.
As for why “roundball” instead of “basketball,” well, it gives me an excuse to post this: