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."
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 and has denied the decision came about because of pressure on commissioner David Stern from angry owners.
The Hornets would have received Lamar Odom, last year's top sixth man, from the Lakers, as well as forward Luis Scola, shooting guard Kevin Martin, point guard Goran Dragic, and a first-round draft choice from the Houston Rockets. And the Lakers' Pau Gasol would have gone to the Rockets.
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.
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson took the opposite stance, writing on Twitter on Friday that it was the "wrong decision" by Stern and the owners.
Stern responded in a statement, saying the Hornets were "better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade."
When LeBron James and Chris Bosh left their small-market teams to build a potential powerhouse with Wade in Miami, it gave owners even more motivation to seek changes that would limit the big spenders' advantages in the new collective bargaining agreement. Yet the idea of Paul in Los Angeles - on the very day the CBA was being ratified - served to make the entire work stoppage seem like a waste.
"We just had a lockout, and one of the goals of the lockout was to say that small-market teams now have a chance to keep their players, and the rules were designed to give them that opportunity," Cuban told a radio station in Dallas. "So to all of a sudden have a league-owned team trade their best player, particularly after having gone out and sold a ton of tickets in that market, that's not the kind of signal you want to send."
Though Paul has never said so, there has long been speculation he would leave New Orleans when he can become a free agent this summer. The Hornets have been working to make sure they get something for him, and the proposed deal Thursday would have netted them some talent in return.