Yes, we know. Paul met with the Hornets brass and came out saying that he was staying put. Maybe that's because he didn't feel like paying the hefty fine that comes with publicly announcing your intention to force the trade. Or maybe dude just had a mighty change of heart. Regardless, the fact remains that Chris Paul gets to decide what happens in this situation.
Wait, how is this possible? Isn't he under contract? Doesn't he make millions, and thus would be an unforgivable ingrate if he walks out now? He wouldn't dare sit out, would he? No, because there's all types of precedent for this.
Chris Paul is not the first player to consider forcing a trade. It's like he's being punished for being one of the best to do it -- and one from a small market who has bonded so much with his adopted city. Again, though, what little memory we have. Paul's situation will not destroy the NBA. It's the way business has always been done. And last I checked, the NBA was only mildly demolished by each of these brazen, and illegal, transactions.
If this is a question of sabotaging the public trust by using phantom leverage and turning heel, well, they should outlaw the mini-max deal that Paul (like James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Deron Williams) signed. Otherwise, there's always the possibility that a player can leave after three seasons of the deal like James, and the implication that -- gasp -- he might decide sooner that things just aren't working out.
There's a contract there, sure, but trading disgruntled stars is part of the rhythm of the league. Major upheavals, no doubt, but all were eventually absorbed and assimilated by the larger organic organism. Like dumping tons of oil into the ocean. It's not supposed to happen but eventually, we'll all get over it.
Briefly, here are nine other times when superstars have made a mockery of order, stability, and hanging tough with the troops till the bitter end, and how much permanent damage they did to the NBA.
Of course this guy lands on this list. He once scored 100 points in one game, which is like saying, "I can do this all by myself." Now that's an insult to the sport. In 1968, Wilt asked to be traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Los Angeles Lakers. It should be said that, in those days, there was no such thing as free agency, so engineering a trade was really the only way for a player to extricate himself.
Wilt's reasons were especially crass. He wanted a bigger, glitzier market, and liked the idea of playing with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor -- a super team before 2010. Chamberlain's primary motivation? He had worked out a deal with late co-owner Ike Richman, whereby Wilt would assume a stake in the team once he retired. Richman passed away in 1966, and his partners refused to honor the deal. Can you imagine that? Those fine businessmen deserve a medal!
Destruct-O-Meter: Well, the Sixers got Darrall Imhoff, Archie Clark, and Jerry Chambers. That was the end of Philly's basketball relevance until the late seventies. The Lakers weren't as ridiculous as advertised, as Wilt clashed with his new teammates and coach Bill Van Breda Koff. They would win a title in 1972, with Baylor retired, Bill Sharman -- the first modern coach, as he's known -- at the helm, and Wilt a more defense-and-rebounds oriented pivot. In the end, everyone learned a valuable lesson about flying too close to the sun and the limits of what great men can do. -- B.S.
The great Abdul-Jabbar had all this small-market loyalty nonsense sorted out all the way back in 1974. Having spent six years turning the Bucks into an NBA powerhouse, KAJ announced he was merely a solider stationed in Milwaukee, and because Wisconsin didn't fit his big city lifestyle he requested to be transferred.
The trade demand was kept quiet as the Bucks tried to coax a reasonable package from the Knicks or Lakers; eventually, Milwaukee conceded and sent KAJ to L.A., revitalizing the post-West/Baylor Lakers and eventually leading to the Lakers-Celtics duopoly of the '80s. Kareem won five championships and three MVPs after the trade; despite the success and the way in which he left Milwaukee, KAJ is probably more beloved by Bucks fans than in mainstream Lakers' circles.
Destruct-O-Meter: Abdul-Jabbar's small market flight didn't exactly cinch up competitive imbalance favoring the big cities: in the immediate aftermath to the KAJ trade, Portland, Washington and Seattle -- not your typical powerhouses -- won titles. The Bucks survived, too, turning into a perennial '80s bridesmaid (which isn't so bad, really). -- Tom Ziller
Before he was a Knick, or a Pearl, Black Jesus was a Baltimore Bullet. He lit up the league, and even got busy in the playoffs, but was too big a talent for this marginal market. Teammate Wes Unseld didn't feel that way, so maybe this is proof of evil in Earl's soul.
Again, no free agency before 1976, but in the seventies, there was another option: the ABA. Any player not pleased with his NBA contract could always threaten to jump to the upstart competitor that printed its own money. Monroe and the Bullets couldn't come to an agreement on his salary; he considered jumping to the ABA's Pacers, a defection that would have left the Bullets empty-handed, so the Bullets sent him to the Knicks, where he was paired with rival Walt Frazier in the so-called Rolls Royce Backcourt.
The rest, as they say, is something New York talks about to this very day.
Destruct-O-Meter: How can anything that led to a Knicks title in the early seventies be a bad thing? We're only talking about the most beloved team the NBA has ever produced, people. Oh, and seeing as how Monroe was forced to tone down his fantastical game, defend, and fit into the austere, reflective Knicks style, it was probably a good thing.
Otherwise, way too many people would have been over-stimulated by his scoring explosions and never-ending spin moves. They got just enough for Monroe to live up to his star billing, which made the Knicks that much more awesome. Did I mention he played for the Knicks in the seventies? -- B.S.
Not only did Barkley successfully demand a trade in 1992, but he lobbied for help all through the late '80s. Only an embarrassing season involving heavy doses of Hersey Hawkins and Armen Gilliam gave Sir Charles the political capital needed to enact change, which came in the form of a trade to the relatively loaded (but still imperfect) Suns. Barkley is one of the few pre-millennial stars to request a trade for on-court reasons; remembered more as a surly malcontent, doesn't Barkley instead represent the ideal of the perfectly hellbent-on-winning competitor?
Destruct-O-Meter: Philadelphia's post-Barkley shrug into temporary irrelevance proved Sixers management had no clue what it was doing, something only a team of anonymous defenders built around Allen Iverson could reverse almost a decade later. Barkley never won that title, thanks primarily to Michael Jordan being a mediocre baseball player.
But the altruism of his trade demand did give Barkley the moral clearance to, as TNT's lovable hater, chide the Kings, Suns and Mavericks of the Aughts for not being tough enough to win. If nothing else, Barkley's career proved image is everything. If you show you want to win so badly you'll even move to the desert -- or, guh, Orlando, in Paul's case -- you're in the clear to demean wusses of the future. -- T.Z.
We consider Hakeem the Dream the eternal face of Houston basketball (sorry, Moochie Norris), but it almost fell apart. Olajuwon suffered a hamstring injury in 1991. When team doctors cleared him to return to the court, Hakeem didn't feel right and stayed in street clothes.
The Rockets responded by suspending their star. Olajuwon made like the Soviets and refused to back down, demanding a trade as the end of a mediocre season approached. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and Olajuwon led the Rockets to two championships, won both Finals MVP awards and added a regular season MVP trophy.
Destruct-O-Meter: That the Rockets kept Hakeem on board somehow bolstered Rudy Tomjanovich's reputation, even though Rudy T. was one of the men involved in handing down the very suspension which set the whole chain of worry off. Also, Olajuwon's hardball tactics did not set off a chain reaction of angry big man threats which destroyed the sanctity of professional basketball. It's almost as if the NBA is not a giant game of Domino Rally. How about that, huh? -- T.Z.
The waters CP3 swims through have been upset before. Davis set the bar for ungratefulness among Hornets point guard prodigies, requesting to be traded to a better team back when most post-MJ stars were pushing for more franchisal autonomy. You see, everyone complains about the siloed and boring post-MJ void, where no team but the Lakers was truly great because the league's stars were so evenly distributed among the 29 teams.
Davis, always a visionary, mixed up the malaise by seeking exit from New Orleans in an attempt to join up with better teammates, a la Barkley. Amid a dreadful season, the Hornets consented, and shipped Boom Dizzle to Golden State, where he'd become a cult favorite and, later, a hated traitor. (He was the cliché "once a cheater, always a cheater" bad boyfriend.)
Destruct-O-Meter: The loss of Davis for scrap metal directly led to New Orleans landing Chris Paul in the draft, proving several tenets of nature: roses can blossom from the bleakest soil, everything comes full circle, and no one likes playing for George Shinn. -- T.Z.
Kobe's post-Shaq rage is well-documented: unsatisfied with being beaten by Raja Bell every spring, Bryant commandeered the summer of 2007 to call Andrew Bynum a scrub and, by way of Ric Bucher, request a trade to the Bulls. Kobe may also have thrown a Game 7 to make a point along the way.
The trade never happened -- Bryant was said to wield his veto power in making sure his new team wouldn't be stripped too bare in order to acquire him, famously demanding Luol Deng stay in Chicago. But the pressure Kobe put on Lakers management directly led to the Pau Gasol trade, which directly led to three straight Finals appearances (and counting) and two straight championships (and counting).
Destruct-O-Meter: Well, Kobe's trade demands did destroy the psyches of several Bulls (Deng included), and led to the eventual firing of Scott Skiles and hiring of Vinny Del Negro, so there's that. Kobe's demand really paved the way for that of Paul, though.
In the middle of a contract, when opting out is no threat, a trade request is the only palatable option a player has to get better talent around him. If LeBron is a monster and Paul a dark side acolyte, does that make Kobe basketball's Emperor Palpatine? -- T.Z.
In 2007-08, the Memphis Grizzlies were bad again, after a few years of being good, not great, in the hyper-competitive West. Pau Gasol, like Garnett after him, was a franchise player probably best suited to playing the proverbial second banana. His Grizzlies were suddenly rebuilding, and not necessarily in a way he approved.
He may or may not have asked for a trade in some Spanish-language paper; the point is, at some point, it became known that he was available, and the Lakers swept in and picked him up for what at the time seemed like odds and ends. Gregg Popovich said that all parties involved should be tried and shot, or something to that effect.
Oh, and speaking of Chris Paul and LeBron James trying to bring down the universe, Pau Gasol was in the middle of a max deal when he asked out of Memphis. He didn't even have the sense to give the team fair warning with a mini-max. Dude just went for six years of guaranteed money and then flaked. Isn't that like a zillion times worse than what Paul might do, seeing as the Hornets have Darren Collison and likely have a contingency plan for what to do in the event of CP3 disturbances?
Destruct-O-Meter: Well, the Lakers, who had picked up Gasol when Andrew Bynum went down and just generally to get more awesome, were trounced in the Finals by that oh-so-purposeful Boston Celtics. Bynum has yet to ever really pick up where he left off before that spring's injury -- it's like the Lakers are always paying for this deal. Plus, the Grizz got gobs of cap space and Marc Gasol, who proved to be a pretty darn good big man in his own right. Maybe even better than Bynum at this point.
The Lakers paid their penance with their humiliation in the 2008 Finals, and then had a chance to get their team together the way the Celtics had. And then, voila, two straight titles. Strangely, now that the Grizz don't seem so screwed, the whole thing seems a lot less offensive. -- B.S.
Then, eventually, it became known that KG was looking to move on after all those years of thumbing his nose at relocation. There was nothing more he could have done (other than not take that monstrous deal that necessitated a limit on individual contracts). He wasn't perfect, and needed a certain kind of team around him. He didn't take the big shots, and needed options he could feed the ball to. It was like a relationship where both sides realize that the thrill is gone. Plus, Garnett fetched some good parts for the future from the Celtics.
Did he jump or was he pushed? At the time, it was hard to tell.
Destruct-O-Meter: Okay, so Garnett did his time as a man of honor and righteousness, and could always plead GLEN TAYLOR AND KEVIN MCHALE when asked why he had to leave. He formed an aging, semi-super team with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, which proved to be far less flashy than expected. Just some old dudes playing hard and going for their ring while they still could determine their own destinies.
They respected coach Doc Rivers, let it stay Paul Pierce's team, and won a title with a crushing defense. Minnesota was rewarded for its generosity with David Kahn, who made such a mess of the post-KG T-Wolves that we'll never know whether this deal wrecked the team or not. -- B.S.