Most popular stories from USA TODAY

  1. HF Test950.11:12:09.1441486
NBA stops Laker deal for Chris Paul on day labor deal OK'd
Updated 12/9/2011 10:02 AM ET
On the day when the NBA and its players ratified the 10-year collective bargaining agreement that the league said will help restore competitive balance, the league stepped in to protect the franchise it owns, the New Orleans Hornets.

A three-team deal was in the works Thursday that would have sent Hornets All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers and involve the Houston Rockets, people familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity because the deal was not finalized told the Associated Press.

But the league did not let it go through, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, "for basketball reasons."

MORE: How NBA teams are setting up for free agency ANOTHER VIEW: NBA clubs look to entice fans back after lockout

Those reasons just might include trying to keep the competitive balance alive for the Hornets.

No doubt this is not the last of the deals that will be floated for Paul, who can become a free agent after the season. Hornets president Hugh Weber has said the club has been preparing for months that Paul would resist signing an extension to stay in New Orleans.

In the deal the NBA thwarted, the Lakers would have sent forward Lamar Odom to the Hornets and forward Pau Gasol to the Rockets, who would have sent forward Luis Scola, guard Kevin Martin and guard Goran Dragic to New Orleans, according to the people talking to the Associated Press.

How this will sit with the players being proposed to be dealt, particularly the Lakers' Odom and Gasol, will be a drama played out over the next few days as training camps open.

Meanwhile, the NBA Board of Governors voted 25-5 to ratify the collective bargaining agreement, while the union said 86% of the 200 players who voted electronically approved the deal.

That enables training camps and free agency to start as scheduled Friday.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said it was the last CBA he will lead, said teams and fans will see an improved league in coming years.

"It's a new beginning, in a way," he said. "It's going to take a couple of years to work its way out, but we're very excited about its prospects."

The agreement includes a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, a higher luxury tax with progressive tax rates and the soft salary cap system. The maximum length of player contracts will be five years (previously six) and maximum annual increases in salaries will be 7.5% for teams re-signing their own players and 4.5% for teams signing other teams' free agents.

The salary cap for each club is $58.044 million and a minimum salary of $46.435 million for each club.

Beginning this season, teams can assign veteran players with their consent to the NBA Development League and, effective with the 2012-13 season, there will be no limit on the number of times players with three years or less of experience can be assigned to their team's D-League affiliate.

The NBA Board of Governors also voted Thursday to approve a new revenue-sharing plan that the league says will quadruple the funds previously shared among clubs.

Free agency: Once the big names settle on their new teams — or opt to stay with their old ones — the domino effect will be felt throughout the NBA.

A person with knowledge of negotiations said the Golden State Warriors have given 7-1 center Tyson Chandler, a free agent last with the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, a multiyear offer worth about $60 million.

CBSSports.com also is reporting "robust" interest in Chandler from the New York Knicks. USA TODAY confirmed the Knicks would use the amnesty clause — waiving a player without having his salary count against the cap or luxury tax — on Chauncey Billups to help free up room for Chandler.

Chandler averaged 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds last season and was the defensive anchor as the Mavericks won their first NBA championship.

Free-agent signings can begin at 2 p.m. ET Friday.

Butler on the move: Free agent forward Caron Butler is expected to sign a three-year, $24 million deal to go to the Los Angeles Clippers. Butler was the starting small forward for the Mavericks before a Jan. 1 knee injury ended his season.

Finding a small forward was a top priority for the Clippers, and Butler gives them a legitimate starter next to power forward Blake Griffin. Last season the Clippers filled that spot by starting Ryan Gomes in 62 games.

Butler passed up the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, who could only offer the mid-level exception of $5 million a year, and the New Jersey Nets. He had visited all four teams.

One in the domino path: Free agent guard Delonte West, who played for the Boston Celtics last season, is caught in a holding pattern.

Some of the teams interested in signing West (Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Celtics) are also waiting to see what happens with Chris Paul, in his final season with the New Orleans Hornets before becoming a free agent. Paul has indicated he does not wish to return to the Hornets, who might try to deal him before the trading deadline.

A feisty defender and smart offensive player, West played just 24 games last season after injuring his right wrist. He also missed the first 10 games of the season because of a suspension related to a gun weapons plea in Maryland's Prince George's County just before the start of the 2009-10 season.

Battier news heats up: Who broke the news 6-8 forward Shane Battier will sign with the Miami Heat? Shane Battier, on Twitter.

He even referenced South Florida resident and singer Jimmy Buffet, tweeting, "This was a exciting process and after much deliberation, I would like to quote the great poet Jimmy Buffett and take my chances 'Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season.'"

Battier helped spark the Memphis Grizzlies to their first playoff series win when they upset the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs last spring.

"Over the last week, I've played out every scenario in my head over and over," he wrote. "It always came back to one thing for me: a winning role."

Heat CEO Nick Arison, son of Heat owner Micky Arison, has a close relationship with Battier from their time together in college. Nick Arison was the team manager when Battier played at Duke, including the season when Mike Krzyzewski's team won the 2001 national title.

In Battier, the Heat acquire an outstanding perimeter defender willing to take charges. Battier, entering his 11th season, can also spread the floor with his three-point shooting and find the open man. He is a career 38.5% three-point shooter, including 38.2% last season with the Houston Rockets and Grizzlies.

• Restricted free agent guard Mario Chalmers said he would like to remain with the Heat and be there when they win the title.

"I had a taste of it last year," Chalmers said. "I want to go through it again and actually get a ring this time."

Oden back to Blazers: In a move that is not a surprise, restricted free agent center Greg Oden will sign a $8.9 million qualifying offer with the Portland Trail Blazers for the 2011-12 season, his agent, Bill Duffy, confirmed.

"Greg intends to sign the qualifying offer and play for Portland as soon as possible," Duffy said. "Of course, there is no timeline. It would be when he is fully recovered.

Oden has been injury-plagued since the Blazers drafted him No. 1 overall in 2007, after he spent one season at Ohio State. He has played just 82 NBA games.

Oden missed all of 2007-08 (right knee) and 2010-11 (left knee). He played a career-high 61 games in 2008-09, averaging 8.9 points and 7 rebounds. He averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds before his season was cut short in 2009-10.

Other deals: Free-agent forward Mike Dunleavy will sign a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. He played for the Indiana Pacers the last 4½ seasons. … Free agent forward Tayshaun Prince will sign a four-year, $28 million deal to return to the Detroit Pistons, who also will keep restricted free-agent forward Jonas Jerebko by signing him to a four-year, $16 million deal. … Free agent guard Jason Kapono is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Lakers, and free-agent guard Tracy McGrady is expected to do the same with the Atlanta Hawks. … Free agent center Jamaal Magloire is planning to sign a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors. He played the last three seasons with the Heat, but Magloire is a Toronto native. … The Washington Wizards expect to sign free agent guard Roger Mason to a one-year deal. Mason, who played for the New York Knicks last season, was born in Washington, D.C., and has a home there. He spent 2006-07 and 2007-08 with the Wizards.

More schedule fallout: According to Ticketnews.com, the NBA made sure to protect its marquee teams in scheduling the truncated 66-game season.

The Lakers, Celtics, Heat and Knicks are not among the 11 teams that have two sets of three games in three days. They each have one, and the Lakers get theirs done right away: the home opener, against the Bulls, on Christmas, at the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 26 and at home Dec. 27 against the Utah Jazz.

The Celtics have 18 sets of back-to-back games and the Heat have 13, but the Charlotte Bobcats have 28 and the Hawks 25.

Buss ailing: Lakers owner Jerry Buss was hospitalized Wednesday because of blood clots in his legs. Team spokesman John Black said Buss, 77, is expected to be released in the next couple of days. Black said the condition was the result of "excessive travel" by Buss, who had been in New York recently for the lockout negotiations.

Contributing: Wire reports

Posted 12/8/2011 2:05 PM ET
Updated 12/9/2011 10:02 AM ET
New Orleans Hornets All-Star guard Chris Paul look like he isn't on his way to the Los Angeles Lakers.
By Patrick McDermott, Getty Images
New Orleans Hornets All-Star guard Chris Paul look like he isn't on his way to the Los Angeles Lakers.