When David Stern and the NBA vetoed the Chris Paul trade last Friday–you know the one that would have sent Paul to the Lakers–I thought that the NBA had overstepped their bounds and created a unnecessary controversy that hurt not just the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets, but the entire league.
I thought David Stern was bending to the wills of the owners and not the league, the simple twist that lends to the loss of touch. But there was a salient point in the mishmash of excuses: the NBA didn’t want the Hornets to take on that much salary.
Sure, the Hornets would have been a better team, but probably just a middling one. And the new credo around the league is to either be great or be terrible and rebuild. I understood the league’s reasoning, sort of. The good news was that the Clippers and the Warriors were the two best trade options for the Hornets, and with Chris Paul only offering to exercise his player option with the Clippers, they became the only viable team to meet the Hornets trade demands.
Forget trading Kaman, Aminu, Bledsoe, Gordon and the unprotected Minnesota pick. Where were the Hornets going to get a better deal than Kaman, Aminu and Bledsoe? $12.7 million gone, two promising youngsters? It’s not equal value, but it’s better than anything else they could have gotten. The Minnesota pick should have been the sweetener, that irresistible morsel that would have any owner salivating to the point that they’d accept the trade. High draft picks are not just huge potential, but they don’t cost anything until they’re actually drafted and on the team. That’s great for an new owner buying the team. And next year, when the Hornets would have Bledsoe, Aminu, NOH high pick player and the Minnesota high pick player, they should have been in great shape.
Instead, the Hornets seem to be haggling over Gordon (or Bledsoe, I can’t tell, but for the sake of this article, I’m sticking with Gordon). The talks have died, risen from the dead, died and risen again, based on the demands that the Clippers include all 5 of their young trade assets. Even though they’re are no other bidders, even though the acquisition of Chauncey Billups gave the Clippers even more reason to stand pat, even though Eric Gordon is in almost the same position as Chris Paul and can walk at the end of the year (or the year after, depending on his Restricted Free Agency). While I would normally agree with Arnovitz that the Clippers would be smart to give up all that for Paul (CP3 truly is an amazing talent), I’m reticent to give Stern any more.
After all, hasn’t Stern failed with this hardline approach before? Didn’t he use desperate lies of an ultimatum against the Players Association to no avail?
It was a disgusting form of bullying, but Stern eventually relented enough to work things out in the CBA’s case. Yes, the owners got almost everything they wanted in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the hard cap that could have led to non-guaranteed contracts never wasn’t included. Neither was the removal of the Mid-Level Exception. In the end, there was no nuclear winter. There was just winter.
With the Clippers receiving those similar desperate threats as the NBA players did during CBA negotiations, why should the Clippers give in now? The players kept their deal breaker a deal breaker and the season is starting. So why should the Clippers unload their entire, tradable cadre of young talent? Because the Lakers are back in talks?
Please. That’s just David Stern’s last grasp at leverage.