In The Best Interests of the League

"Hey...you trust me, right?

 

The Lakers almost hit the jackpot. Almost.

Thursday night, rumors flew about a 3 team trade that would bring Chris Paul to the Lakers to join Kobe Bryant, send Pau Gasol to Houston, and net the Hornets Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic (as well as draft picks).

But about 45 minutes after the trade was announced, David Stern stepped in and nixed the deal. Apparently the trade wasn’t in the “best interests of the League”.

To void a mutually-agreed upon deal is extremely shady to begin with, but to do so for a team owned by the league is even shadier. Unfortunately for all of us, the Commissioner gets a ton of leeway to decide what is in the “best interest of the league”.

So why did Stern intervene?

His stated reason is that the Hornets are more valuable with Chris Paul than without.

Was he referring to value in basketball terms or financial terms?

Better yet, should Stern be the one to decide basketball operations for one team over another? Should Stern be making basketball related decisions based on dollar value?

The New Orleans Hornets are owned by the NBA, shared evenly by the other 29 owners. That means 29 owners with different ideas of what is in the League’s best interest, and something tells me that’s usually what’s best for their actual team.

Some owners argued that the proposed trade unfairly benefited Los Angeles. The Lakers would get a superstar point guard to pair with Kobe, shave $40 mil off salary and Luxury taxes, and not give up any future draft picks.

With some value left to work with, the Lake-show would have an easier time bringing in Dwight Howard. Such a monster 3some completely contradicts one of the major themes the Owners fought for during the recent lockout: competitive balance.

The Lakers would be too good after the trade, so this is basically the “boo-hoo” argument.

Star-crossed lovers Â

Others felt that the trade reeked of impropriety and that the League would be seen as gutting its own team to benefit one of its flagship franchises. This is actually a legitimate complaint, especially considering years of rumors of Stern and the Association favoring big market teams over the rest.

The problem with this argument, and Stern’s decision, is that the Hornets weren’t gutted. They actually made out pretty damn well from the deal. New Orleans would only lose their star player (who will leave after this season anyway), but would get 3 quality players in return, as well as draft picks.

But to veto the deal at all sets a horrible precedent.

For starters, the veto makes it appear that the League picks and chooses which team is lucky enough to land a superstar.

Second, Easy Dave vetoed the deal but left the door open if the Hornets were to get more “value”. To me, this a blatant example of the League abusing its collective power to strong-arm teams into better deals. This is an unfair advantage that no other team in the league is privy too, which renders the “competitive balance” argument basically moot.

I initially thought nixing the trade was a good idea, but not because I bought into Stern’s BS excuses about “the best interests of league”.

It was “right” in so far as League-owned teams need to be held to a significantly higher standard to avoid any sense of impropriety. It might be “unfair”, but it’s an unfortunate side effect of getting “saved” by the League to begin with. Fair would have been to let the team die and not make the other owners pick up the tab.

Now I realize the veto actually suggests more impropriety than letting it go through, especially when the stated reason is so damn subjective.

How can David Stern possibly rule in the “best interests of the League” when he has to placate Owners with their own competing individual interests?

How can such a decision ever appear to be impartial?

How can the League let the Hornets make any trade after this? Wouldn’t it just be seen as favoring the team that actually gets him?

Why were the Hornets even allowed to talk trade if there wasn’t a guarantee that they could pull the trigger?

How was such a conundrum not prepared for when the team was taken over by the collective?

This is a David Stern dictatorial blunder of the highest order, one that could have been avoided with a Commissioner who spent more time caring about the actual interests of the game, the fans and the players, not the interests of the Owners themselves.

David Stern is no longer in the “best interest of the league”.

I’m gonna have to check, but I bet Chris Paul feels the same way.

NOLA or No L.A.?

 

Read:  When Chris Paul let us know that David Stern had stayed too long — Grantland.com

Read: League nixes deal to send Paul to Lakers — NYTimes

 

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