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NBA is back - with trade fiasco

David Stern's veto of a deal sending Chris Paul to the Lakers highlights the league's divides.

NEW YORK - NBA teams went back to work Friday, which for Chris Paul meant going back to New Orleans.

And there was disbelief and anger around the league - and a commitment to try again to find him a new home.

Commissioner David Stern killed the Hornets' first attempt at moving their all-star point guard, but New Orleans general manager Dell Demps is working to put together a new deal.

"Yes. People are still calling," Demps said. "People are still calling, and we're calling people, so we're confident we can get a deal."

Paul could have been in Los Angeles on Friday, ready to pair up with Kobe Bryant as the next star in Hollywood. That fell apart Thursday when the league, which owns the Hornets, rejected a three-team trade the club had agreed to for "basketball reasons," denying the decision came about because of pressure on Stern from irate 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.

The 26-year-old Paul was seen walking into New Orleans' training facility Friday wearing a black Hornets practice jersey but did not speak to the media.

"Being a really good friend of mine, like a brother to me, I'm frustrated for him," LeBron James said after the Heat's first practice. "I wish him the best."

Though he nixed the deal, Stern has reason for wanting the same teams to work something out. If not, and another team eventually makes a trade that is approved, it will be difficult to shake the perception that the league was dictating where it wanted Paul to go.

Demps said the team has resumed talks for Paul - to any team - and that he has been given autonomy to make another trade, one he hopes will keep the Hornets competitive now and create a promising future.

"We want to build the team where they're good, they compete at the highest level, and also have an opportunity for the future," he said.

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."

"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," 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.

The package in Thursday's nixed deal is far better than the Hornets may get in another deal, since many teams may be hesitant to offer their top players in case Paul intends to only stay one season.