This morning, Tom Ziller dubbed the NBA owners "cannibals." That particular holiday spirit came out during the CBA negotiations, and had much to do with conflicts of personality and just general crappiness as human beings. But let's suppose that all owners were pristine, rational human beings. Between the CBA and the axed Chris Paul trade, they have set up a situation where they are bound to claw each others' eyes out.
To wit: Ostensibly, or at least between the lines, Stern couldn't afford to see Paul land in Los Angeles because it helps the Lakers get better. Helping one of the league's most powerful franchises get better is perceived as a slight against the "overall good of basketball," which has somehow come to include the pipe dream of "competitive balance" or parity (anyone look at the NBA record books lately?) Paul to LA, presumably followed by Dwight Howard, would indeed have been an embarrasment of riches. But say we exclude the Lakers. Doesn't it just turn into teams sniping each other off, arguing that "we suck worse than you do" or "we have more disadvantages to overcome"? One could argue that, almost invariably, both of these are the responsibility of the team, not the league, to address. However, that's not the NBA we're living in right now, so let's move forward, shall we?
All teams, minus the Lakers, are united in their belief in a better league. Right. By this logic, perhaps the most slippery slope in recent sports history, almost any half-decent team that lands Paul would find themselves out in the cold—and the deal rejected, for basketball reasons. Stern's hands are tied; he can't really do otherwise at this point. The comical part of it, though, is that the owners are hiding behind "competitive balance" when really, all they care about is furthering their individual interests. No team wants to see Chris Paul end up on a contender; they want Paul for themselves. Thus, the second a team makes an effective bid, they're out of the noble "good of the league" club.
At this rate, and according to the most basic precepts of a fair and balanced NBA, the only place for Paul is the Hornets. Until next summer, at least, when presumably, the owners will try and find a new way to pressure to Stern into keeping Paul from going where he wants. And the Hornets? They will end up a shell of a team. Competitive balance, indeed.