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Stern’s trade veto about owners wanting their power back

Dec 9, 2011, 9:34 AM EDT

David Stern, Adam Silver AP

Why David Stern pulled the plug Thursday on a reasonable (not ideal, but reasonable) three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers is really simple:

The NBA owners want their power over star players back.

What LeBron James did scared most owners because he had the power — teams had to come to him and kiss his ring (figuratively) to get a shot at bringing him in. What Carmelo Anthony did scared the owners because he had the power and was able to dictate when and where he was traded.

So we had a five-month lockout where we listened to the owners and players fight over “system issues.” Make no mistake, the owners wanted — and got — their money out of the lockout. But even when they got enough money to cover all their reported losses (financial figures nobody really believed) the lockout still wouldn’t end because of the system. Because of “competitive balance.”

Those were code words for “the owners wanted their power back over the star players.” They wanted smaller market teams in particular to be able to keep stars, and, if they did move their stars, to control when and where moves were made. It was a power struggle.

Then no sooner does the lockout end then Chris Paul comes out and says he is not staying with the New Orleans Hornets and he’d like to go to the Knicks. Which wasn’t going to happen because the Knicks had no good trade assets left, but the Lakers ended up being a good enough second option for Paul.

Paul had the power, and owners like Cavaliers Dan Gilbert freaked out. Read his email to David Stern — he sounds like a child who wants his way and is stamping his feet at the start of a tantrum.

This time, David Stern stepped in and killed the trade. And made things worse. He gave the league a PR disaster to rival the lockout itself. He angered executives around the NBA — even ones not involved with this vetoed trade — because it was a reasonable basketball trade killed for “basketball reasons.”

The bottom line is this was about power.

Chris Paul had it. The owners wanted it back and David Stern did their dirty work.

And the NBA is worse for it.

  1. 8man - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:14 AM


    You did a pretty good job of summarizing future potential scenarios and some past situations. And of course the big market teams will never draft high, because they always win, but they don’t need to because the small market teams draft and develop the talent for them.

    You can’t let the tail wag the dog. And I don’t know if the NBA has any sort of compensation system for players that teams draft and leave, but they may need to consider something.

  2. contract - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Man I haven’t seen this much crying since Princess Diana died!

    The Lakers can still get their man … they just have to make sure that the Hornets aren’t getting screwed in the deal. It’s one thing for players to decide where they will and won’t play when they are free agents, but quite another to allow them to call the shots while still under contract.

  3. hoytdadd64 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    I hope the Lakers throw everything into getting Howard and CP3 rides it out for a year only to sign in L.A in free agency, turn it around and give a big middle finger to David Stern and all those cry baby owners sucking off his titties!!!!!

  4. fordman84 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Not sure how the owners have no power. The owners could choose not to trade the player. There is NO WAY the Lakers get Paul as a free agent, they need a sign and trade. If the Hornets just tell him they won’t trade him, he loses a lot of his power. Let him mope, just hurts his value. Then in FA he can only go to teams with salary cap room. Lakers and Knicks won’t have it. Then all of a sudden the owners have the powers again.

  5. klownboy - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    The NBA is such a rag-tag league. Dan Gilbert and company pushing the commish Stern for a veto of a trade? Really?

  6. leearmon - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Ive never really been a big fan of David Stern, but this is pathetic. Again, there will not be a better deal NOH will get for CP3 than this one. So essentially they are forcing Dell Demps and co. to watch Paul leave for L.A. for nothing anyway.

    What makes this whole thing travel past ridiculous to the point of absurdity is Dan Gilbert’s letter. First his entire rant wasn’t predicated off of “competitive balance” but the fact that the Lakers were somehow saving money for the cap. Hello! wasn’t that the whole point of the lockout? Weren’t the owners saying how they needed to make more money because they were failing to turn profit? And that there needed to be harsher penalties for teams who go over the cap??? Why would Gilbert then have a problem with what the Lakers did, considering if you listened to Stern and the owners just a few weeks ago, money was such a huge issue. What makes that whole notion even more upsetting is that his numbers are off. The Lakers wouldn’t truly be saving $40 dollars because we all know that Paul would have re-signed in L.A. to a $100 million contract. So Gilbert used the current number, not the true number in his email to Stern. What makes Stern look even more foolish for going through with the veto. If Stern didn’t take the re-signing of Paul into consideration he truly has let the game pass him by.

    This is an awful step for the NBA. Gilbert says that 25 teams will be the Washington Generals. Is he for real?? I’ll name you 10 teams right now who think they can contend: Mavs, Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Spurs, Thunder, Bulls, Knicks, Nets (once they get Dwight) and Memphis.

    Stern has let the inmates run the asylum, but its not the players who are ruining the league. Its these new owners who have no idea how to run a successful franchise, so they continue to make a joke out of the league we all once loved.

  7. orlowk - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Hey, when Angie made the deal to get KG and company, they had the power and management worked a deal to merge those passions to win with the option to play the “trading game”. If you’re a “free agent”, you should be able to go play for whomever you like and if that team wants you and are willing to make the trades, purchase, drafts to do it, who the hell cares. Chris Paul with the Lakers would be great showtime fun, Kobe would probably whine and threaten to not play, and the lack of an inside big man would make the Lakers seem formitable, but really just have a lot of flash and no serious half court, play-off winning team. New Orleans would have a team. Maybe not a great one, but it would be a team and teams win play-offs not persons.

  8. ahemahem - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    As a Laker fan, I didn’t even think this was a good trade. They were going to rely on Bynum?

    Seems like Stern said, “Gesundheit” when it was only a sniff.

  9. cubalakeshow - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Okay seriously I feel like there’s just an awful lot of comparisons b/w the NBA and the NFL and how the NFL has it right okay yes a franchise tag and the such would help immensely to make this league “competitive” since superstars won’t make crazy moves to screw over teams but it is ridiculous to compare the NFL and the NBA. They are first off entirely DIFFERENT sports basketball CAN be dominated by a few players on any given night because there are only 5 players for one team on the court at any given time and they don’t require assistance to score whereas for the NFL you NEED the QB to throw to a receiver or to hand off the ball to a running back you also need an offensive line or else your QB will get smashed every play there are numerous positions that contribute as a whole to the process of a game much more so than with the NBA so a few standout players in the NFL can’t make as much of an impact as on the basketball court leading to more “competitive balance”. This mirage you NFL fans keep boasting of competitive balance and that any team can win any given sunday is first off just b/c there’s a movie called any given sunday and 2) b/c it’s the nature of the game more or less the SAME teams are consistently in the playoffs in the NFL and why can any team win the trophy at the end? B/c its a ELIMINATION TYPE OF PLAYOFF if the NBA was down to 1 game you would not see the same teams winning it every year. The NFL also plays once a week you prepare for a team for an ENTIRE week of course its going to be more competitive you don’t think if teams could prep for a week have LESS games that the NBA would seem more competitive? 82 games and 16 games are much different. If the NBA season consisted of 16 games you are going to see “competitive balance.” I am a huge NFL fan and a slightly bigger NBA fan but seriously stop comparing the 2.

    And Stern is a (insert insult).

  10. yournuts - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    As the defacto owner of the New Orleans Hornet franchise, David Stern has a right to veto the trade as any owner has the right to veto any trade.

  11. lltony - Dec 9, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Are you guys kidding me..You think this is about small market and competitive balance…WRONG..It simply about letting player knows we the MASSA controls you and will continue to show exert that power.
    Here where its all wrong..Small markets have their opportunity to get great player in the draft, especially if their teams did poorly in the season. They also have the opportunity to build great teams and compete. i.e Spurs ( 4 RINGS all from building and a few good trades..Great managed team),Oklahoma( starting to become one of the most dangerous teams in the west all from building in the draft and trades), Cleveland (best record 2 of the last Lebron years, but fail to bring the ring. Not a fan of LB but it is his choice after 7yrs to move on to a better opportunity if he thought he have done all he can with what he had). But if you have poorly run teams and hastily GM no doubt that those team will falters.
    There always will be a super star coming out of the draft, owners and GMs just have to do a better job at managing their teams,(no fault of the “big market teams”) and we will have competitive balance.
    Mr. Stern (MASSA) don’t continue to ruin what’s left of that legacy..Trade will always happen some team will do well and will do poorly..Owner got their money and now wants to hog tied players. Leave it alone.
    FACT: It was a good trade,. Guys who want and will commit to the teams is important. You keep a player who is destine to leave you will end up with nothing..(Cleveland, Toronto). Do the Denver thing, get something now. He (CP3) will eventually leave, you will get nothing in return and that thought Mr. Stern of CP3 bring value to the teams price will be through the window..and with nothing in return you get little, and again the league looses…
    Be a man about your mistakes MASSA (D.Stern) and you would be remembered by those who truly matter..The FANS..

  12. sportsfaninoc - Dec 9, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    It would be nice to have a complete list of the owners that complained (aka: cried like babies) to Stern (aka: P_ssyboy) so that the top tier players know which teams they should avoid signing with when they become free agents. So far we know of:


    Who’s next?

    • hoytdadd64 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:05 PM

      It would be a safe bet to add the falling god #23 and his bad gambling habbits to that list…

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