Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Beginning of the End for David Stern

I think David Stern tonight did more damage to his career and legacy than the entire lockout did. It was the fairest trade the Hornets were going to get for Chris Paul. Yes, the Lakers can pair Chris Paul with Kobe, but the price was both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Bringing the Rockets in the deal and New Orleans gets a team that's like last year's Nuggets, in that they are deep enough to compete for a playoff spot and who knows if they can flip an asset for a better player. Hornets GM Dell Demps should be commended tonight for a great haul for a player everybody knew was out the door.

Instead, after a few owners were upset that Chris Paul was Laker-bound, David Stern takes it upon himself to kill the deal. Now to be fair, the NBA is the owner of the Hornets and in any normal case, an owner can overrule the GM if he/she doesn't want to make a trade. However, it's not normal when a league owns a team and they can't use the same rules that any other owner would. The conflict of interest is too obvious (since the 29 owners own the Hornets, we saw 2 of them approve this trade). And yet, Stern puts the kibosh on the agreement.

I actually could understand the move a little more (still not like it, but understand it) if this was about getting an owner to pay more money to buy New Orleans. Yet, the league's position is that this trade was blocked for "basketball reasons" (leading to a fun night I had on Twitter with the hashtag #basketballreasons). Read the story Adrian Wojnarowski wrote about the trade (my first link in this post) and it's apparent that Stern is trying to control where players going so that the players don't have the control in this instance. Then you find that Dan Gilbert (Cavs owner; of comic-sans fame) continues to write humorous letters to people. Oh, wait, he's serious and is nearly reaching Ted Septien-levels of head-shaking ownership. So much for labor peace; the players just signed the new collective bargaining agreement this afternoon.

So what happens now? Does Chris Paul even get traded? How about Dwight Howard? If they are force to stay with their respective teams, what happens next year when both men are free agents and want to leave and won't make the same money that they can if they sign with their own team. Seems to me that a collusion suit can and will be filed. As for David Stern, this is the last straw. I only remember two other commissioner pulling a move like this; Stern's former protege Gary Bettman putting the Devils signing of Ilya Kovalchuk on hold for circumventing the salary cap (despite many instances of other teams doing the same thing) and Bowie Kuhn blocking the A's from selling Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi in 1976 for cash. Seems to me that Stern is using the blocking in a much more irrational way. It's only a matter of time before Stern will no longer be able to be irrational in his way of dealing with the NBA.

UPDATE: I forgot the last point; this is horrible news if your a fan of the Lakers, Heat (well, they got their guys), Knicks, Bulls, Clippers, even Mavs (eventually). Now, you can't use your money to grab franchise players if you already have one. So don't be celebrating the Lakers losing a player, because you could be in the same shoes the next time.

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