The once-brilliant, now-embarrassing NBA Commissioner David Stern has taken a lot of flak over the last 24 hours for his nonsensical decision to veto a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. It was, of course, a move that quite clearly made sense for all three teams involved in the deal -- particularly the league-owned New Orleans Hornets -- and showcased the brilliance of Hornets GM Dell Demps above all else.
By axing the trade, Stern showed one and all that his power and sway within the NBA was slowly dwindling away, and that awful, lame jokes of owners like Dan Gilbert basically pulled his little puppet strings.
On Friday morning, Stern did his best to spin the unspinnable and justify his inexplicable thwarting of an otherwise excellent potential transaction for the league as a whole. Here was his statement on the matter:
“Since the NBA purchased the New Orleans Hornets, final responsibility for significant management decisions lies with the Commissioner’s Office in consultation with team chairman Jac Sperling. All decisions are made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the Hornets. In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”
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In that nifty babble, Stern conveniently leaves out the fact that nobody had offered anything better for Paul’s services. It’s a concept that appears lost on the minority of lost souls who actually applauded the commissioner’s ridiculous stand on Thursday.
Again: nobody was offering anything better for Paul’s services.
Paul will be a free agent this summer. He will not stay with the Hornets, no matter what. He has made this abundantly clear. New Orleans either could have gotten something for him now, or watched him walk away this summer with nothing to show for it.
The Lakers and Houston Rockets provided a better deal for them than anyone else had up to this point. This was not a scenario where the Lakers were getting a player despite the fact that the deal they offered wasn’t as good as that of other teams. They were getting Paul because they were giving up the most assets.
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Let’s be clear on this: there was no justification for vetoing Thursday’s three-team deal. None, whatsoever.
And Stern can play PR master all he wants, but the public sees right through this pathetic charade. Nobody even wants to hear from this guy anymore, really.
The love is done.
When I want David Stern’s opinion on anything from here on out, I’ll be sure to ask Dan Gilbert for it.