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Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011

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On the block: New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul drives on teammate Quincy Pondexter on the opening day of training camp in Westwego, Louisiana, on Friday. AP

Veto of big trade for Paul causing major fallout around NBA


NEW YORK — Even with a flurry of moves around the NBA, the focus remained on the deal that didn't get done.

Chris Paul is still in New Orleans, and there's anger throughout the league about it.

Instead of the immediate boost the league craved coming out the lockout with free agency and training camps opening, it found itself with another public relations disaster.

"That's the first thing I thought. We just got done arguing for four or five months and everyone just wants to see basketball and now this. Huge controversy, again with NBA owners," said Minnesota forward Anthony Tolliver, the Timberwolves' player representative. "I just hope it doesn't damage everybody and hope it doesn't affect everybody in the whole league, which I think it possibly could. This is a really big deal because it's everywhere, all over ESPN, all over every website, CNN, everything. It's a really big deal."

The Hornets, owned by the league, had agreed to a three-team trade Thursday that would have sent their All-Star point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers. But the league killed the deal for "basketball reasons" and has denied the decision came about because of pressure on commissioner David Stern from angry owners.

The 26-year-old Paul was seen walking into New Orleans' training facility Friday wearing a black Hornets practice jersey.

"Being a really good friend of mine, like a brother to me, I'm frustrated for him," LeBron James said after the Heat's first practice. "I wish him the best. I know where his heart is and what he wants to do with his career. I support him and hopefully things get resolved, fast, for him and his family."

The Houston players who would have been on the move also were at practice Friday with new coach Kevin McHale.

"I've got nothing to share. These guys are here today, we talked about it today. In the NBA, lots of stuff happens," McHale said. "A lot happens that's really good, a lot happens sometimes that's bad. I felt bad for those guys. I felt terrible, seeing their names all over the place, they're traded, they're not traded.

"That's very hard. I know sometimes, we all get into that, that they're athletes and all of that. They're human beings, and that's a big change. I felt bad for them, but hey, we discussed it."

And it might be up for discussion again.

New Orleans general manager Dell Demps said the team has resumed talks for Paul — to any team — and that he has been given autonomy to make another trade.

Maybe the other owners will like the next trade more.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told a radio station Friday that the league went through the lockout to prevent this very type of deal in which small-market teams lose their superstars. And a letter from Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to Stern clearly showed he, too, objected to the deal.

"I just don't see how we can allow this trade to happen," Gilbert wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Yahoo Sports and The New York Times.

He added: "I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do."

Utah Jazz president Randy Rigby said owners had no say in vetoing the trade, but applauded the move.

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