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Chris Mannix on D&C: Chris Paul to Celtics an ‘extreme longshot’

12.09.11 at 11:06 am ET
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Chris Paul's future is uncertain after Thursday's trade to the Lakers was blocked by the league. (AP)

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to discuss the NBA blocking a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers.

On Thursday, the Hornets, Rockets and Lakers reached an agreement to send Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola to New Orleans. But according to multiple reports, commissioner David Stern intervened and blocked the trade because league owners were irate that the trade was being allowed to go through.

The Celtics have been reportedly interested in acquiring Paul ever since the lockout unofficially ended, but Mannix does not expect that Boston will be able to trade for Paul after the Lakers deal was blocked.

“Do you know what [Lakers owner] Jerry Buss would do if the NBA approved [Paul to the Celtics]? He would make Mark Cuban look like a guy on Xanax because he would go absolutely ballistic over something like that,” Mannix said. “You can’t veto a trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers and all of a sudden trade him to your arch rival.”

Added Mannix: “I would say right now it’s an extreme longshot that Chris Paul would wind up with the Celtics.”

Mannix explained that Stern and the NBA rejected the trade for a number of reasons.

“I think he did for a few reasons. No. 1, the small-market owners certainly had an influence. I’m sure by now you’ve seen Dan Gilbert‘s letter. … I’m sure Dan Gilbert and some of the other small-market owners, like Robert Sarver, maybe Michael Heisley in Memphis, put some pressure on Stern,” Mannix said. “But guys I’ve been saying for two weeks right now the biggest road block to Chris Paul getting traded is the commissioner’s office. Because No. 1, they’ve spent five months trying to legislate against players doing exactly what Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are trying to do right now. They don’t have a problem with super teams. … They have a problem with how these super teams are formed. They don’t want players independently going out there and saying, ‘I want to play in such-and-such market, if you don’t trade me there, I’m going to walk at the end of the season.’”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On what happens with Chris Paul now: “I’d be surprised if Chris showed up to training camp today. I know in the last 12 hours he and his lawyers and the NBAPA lawyers have been pursuing legal options. I can tell you this right now, I don’t think he has legal options because the NBA owns the team, and like any owner, they have the right to reject the deal. Now, we may not like the reasons that they did it and it might be unsavory, but I don’t think legally they did anything wrong. But Chris Paul could hold out. He could not show up to that Hornets camp and he could have a lot of rights, a lot of reasons not to do it. I think one thing that’s going to be explored is some kind of revamped deal where maybe they throw in another salary cap filler that hurts the Lakers’ salary cap. Maybe somewhere along the line there is a second first-round pick thrown into the mix. Something that would help the NBA save face in the long term.”

On if Stern rejected the deal as commissioner or as overseer of the Hornets: “Personally, I think he rejected this as the caretaker of the NBA. It really sticks with the NBA that all those months they weren’t able to legislate against this. They couldn’t stop this kind of thing from happening. And the ink is barely dry on that new CBA. And this is the kind of thing that is happening now and could certainly happen a few years down the road. Look at the guys like John Wall. What if John Wall does this in a couple of years and says he wants to leave Washington and play in New York or Miami or some place like that? This just the pinkie in the dam right now. The floodgates could open on this over the next few years. And this is the kind of thing that infuriates the NBA.”

On if the Celtics’ trade proposal for Paul made sense: “I think it made a lot of sense once the Knicks cashed out. Because the Knicks giving Tyson Chandler the money that they did, there was no way they were going to sign him. It’s simply impossible. Chris Paul’s not playing for anyone for $4 [million] to $5 million per year. I think the Knicks, it surprised me that they gave Tyson all that money and eliminated themselves from the equation.

So, with the Knicks out of the picture, Boston getting him, I think Danny [Ainge] and Doc [Rivers] were right, I think they could have convinced Chris Paul to stay. Nobody’s saying this is Kevin Garnett‘s last year in Boston. Nobody’s saying this is Ray Allen‘s last year in Boston. They’re not long-term solutions for the Celtics, but if you get Chris Paul in the fold and you start playing in Boston, an incredible sports town, a city with great passion for the Celtics, you start to play in a sold out building every night with a super competitive team and professional teammates. I think he could have been convinced to sign up for the long term. And once you have a Chris Paul in place, you suddenly become extraordinarily attractive to other marquee players that want to play there for the long term. So I think you could have squeezed out another two, maybe three years with this Big Three. And then found some other marquee player in their prime whether through a draft or through a trade or somewhere to play alongside Chris Paul long term.

Read More: Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
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