Despite the appearance earlier that the deal was done, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their chance to snag star point guard Chris Paul from the Hornets late Thursday after the NBA intervened to stop the trade from occurring.
Earlier reports Thursday had said a three-team trade was all but signed off on -- with Paul to end up in Los Angeles and Lakers' power forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom being sent to Houston and New Orleans respectively. The league-owned Hornets would also have received guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic and forward Luis Scola in the deal.
But just a few hours later, the three-team trade had been taken off the table.
"The owners half-pushed this, and [Commissioner David] Stern took it the rest of the way," a league source told Yahoo! Sports. "In the end, David didn't like that the players were dictating where they wanted to go, like Carmelo [Anthony] had, and he wasn't going to let Chris Paul dictate where he wanted to go."
Yahoo! added that all of the players involved in the proposed blockbuster trade have now been told to report to their regular teams Friday for training camp.
In a brief statement issued to Sports Illustrated, however, NBA spokesman Tim Frank denied that the owners had anything to do with the NBA's decision to intervene.
It is "Not true that owners killed the (3-team) deal," Frank said. "It wasn't even discussed at the board meeting ... League office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons."
Obviously shocked by the bizarre series of events Thursday night, Paul had just one word for his Twitter followers: "WoW."
Several reports surfaced late Thursday saying Paul had contacted National Basketball Players Association director Billy Hunter to see if there was any possibility of fighting the NBA's decision to can the deal.
The free-agency period starts officially at 2:00pm Friday.
Multiple teams were said to be pursuing the 26-year-old Paul, who was eligible to opt out of his contract with New Orleans at the end of the season and become a free agent.
Since winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2006, Paul has gone on to become one of the elite players in the league -- winning Olympic gold in 2008 with Team USA and being named an All-Star four times.