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David Stern is not as freaked out by all this player movement as you are

Mar 4, 2011, 10:16 AM EDT

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Every time — I mean every time — NBA Commissioner David Stern says publically now it is about the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. If he orders lasagna in an Italian restaurant it will somehow turn into a sharp blast at the mid-level exception.

So when Dave Krieger of the Denver Post spoke to him about a favorite topic in Denver — the migration of superstars from small markets to large — you knew where it was going to end up.

But first, Stern made a point — this is not some new issue. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pushed his way from Milwaukee to Los Angeles back in the day. There are countless other examples over time. And each time not only has the league survived, it has thrived.

So stop freaking out.

“It has been my view that a player who’s played for a team for seven or eight years has the right under our agreement to say, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be re-signing at the end of my contract and as a result do with me as you will, but I’m going to keep my options open,’ ” Stern said….

“In terms of the apocalyptic predictions for small markets, I think that the Stockton-Malone, Robinson-Duncan, Westbrook-Durant model is sitting there as well,” he said, referring to stars of this generation or the last one in Utah, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, respectively. “Or I see a Chicago, where they draft Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose and then they add Carlos Boozer. So I don’t see a pattern at all.”

The point is valid — well managed small market teams do keep their superstars and thrive. Now, you have to luck into the right superstar in the draft, but it can happen.

Now, Stern, isn’t it time you tied this into the CBA?

“If there is a problem, the problem arises from the fact that most of the teams that go deep in the playoffs are luxury tax payers, which suggests that the revenues generated and the financial ability to pay are maybe too much of a factor,” Stern said. “As a result, we should look to move away from a tax system and more to a system where all 30 teams have a better chance to compete.”

Of course, might that not be more an issue of revenue sharing among the owners rather than putting the onus on the players and their salaries by installing in a hard cap? (Or at least a less permeable cap?)

  1. sknut - Mar 4, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    The whole notion of Durant-Westbrook in OKC is a bit misnomer, I know Durant signed his extension but he will be of the same age as LeBron when that extension is up. I am not saying he won’t stay but its a bit of a stretch to use them as an arguement to small market teams staying together.

    • leearmon - Mar 4, 2011 at 10:56 AM

      Correct, but the fact is, even if he does what Lebron did he would have played with OKC for 7 years! If a team has a generational superstar and cant add the right pieces around them, you cant blame the player if he choses to leave after 7 years. I think the argument people make when bringing OKC up as a small market team succeeding is the fact that they have done it the right way thus far. They have drafted well, used their scouts correctly and havent overpaid. San Antonio is probably the best example, but when looking ahead to the future, its hard to ignore that maybe the smallest market (OKC) has the best future going forward.

      • denverhoopdreams - Mar 4, 2011 at 11:26 AM

        Right? OKC still has a lot of cap space, whether its under this CBA or the next. They have a bunch of great players to build around, and after adding Perkins they’re in an even better situation. Pending he stays healthy of course.

        They’re saving money, playing to a small market team that doesn’t get them TONS of revenue but enough, and WINNING.

        Charlie Sheen would be proud of OKC, they got the tiger blood in them.

  2. purdueman - Mar 4, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Bottom line? All that Stern really cares about are the TV ratings, because that’s the fuel that feeds the beast. That means Stern wants strong teams in LA, Chicago, Miami and New York and he’s now got that. If you don’t believe me, just look at how puppet master Stern orchestrated Memphis sending All Star Pao Gasol to the Lakers for what amounted to a bucket full of old practice balls and a couple of used sweat bands. Stern didn’t care where La Bron went, just so long as it wasn’t back to Cleveland. Mello is a lot better TV in New York than he ever was or could be in Denver. And Boozer rounded the Bulls out into a contender. No, Stern right now is one very happy man.

    • leearmon - Mar 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      Wouldn’t consider Marc Gasol “a bucket full of old practice balls and a couple of used sweat bands” and Stern wasn’t apart of Abdul-Jabbar’s trade either.

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