- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2011

The NBA players executive committee has only one superstar player, vice president Chris Paul. The committee is mostly a group of so-called rank and file players, led by president Derek Fisher, vice president Maurice Evans, and vice president Roger Mason Jr.

Paul, a former Rookie of the Year and four-time All-Star, is currently with the New Orleans Hornets, but will be a free agent at the end of the season, and has asked to be traded. The Hornets have been seeking a trade, to prevent Paul from leaving at year’s end and receiving nothing in return. But in a stunning turn of events, NBA commissioner David Stern has vetoed one trade for Paul, and effectively sabotaged a second.

“It’s an unfortunate situation. I feel horrible for CP3 [Paul],” said Roger Mason Jr. , who was re-signed by the Wizards on Dec. 9, his second stint with the team.

Mason helped negotiate the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the league, and spent a lot of time in meeting rooms with Paul sitting next to him.

“Here’s a guy who been a complete professional. It was a little weird being on the board and in those negotiations. A lot of the points we were talking about had a direct impact on Chris,” Mason said.

Paul is in an unusual situation, since the league owns the Hornets, which makes the 29 other NBA team owners, collectively, the owners of the Hornets. Hornets general manager Dell Demps negotiated a deal that would have sent Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal would also have sent Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Paul Gasol to Houston, and Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Goran Dragic from the Rockets to the Hornets, along with a 2012 first round pick.

After Stern vetoed the trade, Demps then orchestrated a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers that would have sent Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe and a 2012 second-round unprotected pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Hornets in exchange for Paul, but the deal fell though when the league, operating on behalf of the Hornets, asked for Eric Gordon as well. The Clippers declined, not wanting to part with Gordon.

Paul’s status remains in limbo, as the league continues to seek a trade partner for Paul, and a deal to the liking of Stern, and the other 29 NBA owners.

The Paul situation is a public relations disaster for a league counting on the marquee games on Christmas Day to make fans forget about the 149-day lockout that came close to canceling the entire NBA season.

It’s a situation Mason believes the league should have been prepared for, and is now handling badly.

“You had David Stern in the room [during the negotiations]. You’ve got Chris in the room and the dynamic was just a little weird,” Mason said.

“And so now, the negotiations are over and to see this happening, it’s just strange,” Mason said. “It really shows you how much of a business this game is.”

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