In the wake of David Stern taking the nearly unprecedented step of calling off a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Paul met with NBA union chief Billy Hunter to consider legal action, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
It’s unclear what any legal action might entail. But it is possible that restraint of trade and lost wages could be part of the argument and damages. Look at what one source told ESPNNewYork.com.
“If Chris Paul doesn’t get traded,” said one source close to the Paul talks, “and if he ends up losing $30 million or $40 million in free agency because he wants to sign with someone else, I think he might have the biggest lawsuit the league has ever seen.”
If Paul leaves the Hornets as a free agent next summer he can sign a deal for four years, $74 million. If he were traded before the deadline — to the Lakers or any other team — he could opt out of that deal then re-sign with the team for five years, $100 million.
There are a lot of questions to be answered. One legal question is: Was Stern acting as the commissioner of the NBA or the owner of the New Orleans Hornets? The league currently owns the Hornets and is looking for a new buyer. Most likely the answer is as commissioner of the league, but we do not know.
The league was concerned about conflicts when it took over the league, so it brought in a caretaker — Jac Sperling, a long-time professional sports executive — and told him to run the team. Then today the league stepped in over the top of that caretaker to veto the trade. That smells of a legal conflict of interest. The league did not let the caretaker do his job.
There also are questions about Stern’s power to make such a move under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was approved by players and owners earlier on Thursday.
There are a lot more questions than answers right now.
It’s just sad to see after the lockout ending the league shoots its integrity in the foot and could end up right back in court fighting another lawsuit.