ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy ripped the NBA Monday on a conference call to preview the season, criticizing the compressed post-lockout schedule and the cancellation of a trade that would have sent Chris Paul from the Hornets to the Lakers.

His primary complaint was that the league rushed to begin on Christmas Day, which forced it to start camps and free agency at the same time.

"I think it's a pretty dark day for the NBA so far," he said. "I think there have been a lot of poor decisions that have led to a lot of chaotic situations."

Van Gundy added, "I think this rush to play on Christmas was a huge mistake. I think when you skip steps, which this season is going to be all about skipping steps, and go for the money grab, I think when you do that, you make mistakes, and I think that's what's happened."

The former Knicks and Rockets coach also said the 66-game schedule will risk the players' health. "It's absurd," he said. "I'm thinking to myself they should have just played all 82 games and just played day-night doubleheaders."

Regarding the Paul trade, Van Gundy said the Hornets' front office knew better than the NBA what was in the team's interests.

"I wonder who these basketball people are to come up with these basketball reasons ," he said. "I thought they hit a home run with that trade. I don't think they could have done any better . . . It's really a slap in the face to that team, that city, that fan base and really all the teams involved and all the players involved.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw it. It really smacks of basketball arrogance."

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