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Schmeelk: Is David Stern A Good GM?

David Stern (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

David Stern (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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By John Schmeelk
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Off of the lockout, nearly everyone craved a return to normalcy in the NBA. Instead, they got the chaos surrounding the Chris Paul trade which included rescinded trades, threatened lawsuits, and commissioner David Stern once again looking like the bad guy. In the end, however, Stern got the best trade possible for the Clippers, which is the most important thing.

The mess didn’t even start this year. Rather, it began when the NBA decided that it would try to rescue one of its struggling franchises by assuming ownership of it. That decision made David Stern the defacto owner of the franchise, putting him into the position of final arbiter of any major moves. Having to trade their franchise player would certainly qualify as that. In other words, the NBA would have to negotiate trades with its other franchises. The potential trouble there is obvious.

The worst part of it is that when a team is forced to trade a franchise player, there’s really no way to get back equal value. Other teams around the league knew the Hornets had to move Chris Paul since he wouldn’t resign there, so their offers were never going to be what they could have been. Pile on top of that the fact that many of the small market owners pursued the lockout as fiercely as they did to prevent players from flocking away from their franchises to teams like the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks. It turned the Paul situation into a near impossible one for the league. No one was going to be happy.

David Stern’s veto of the initial trade was an overstep. General manager Dell Demps was supposed to have final say on all team decisions, but David Stern, acting as owner, took that away. The Lakers deal wasn’t a bad one, just not an ideal one. But the bottom line is that the Hornets are set up far better for the future now than they would have been if they completed the initial trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Lamar Odom would have given them a veteran core and a pretty decent team this season, but that core group of players was never going to win a championship together without a star to supplement them. Instead, they got an emerging young All-Star in Eric Gordon, a first round pick with tons of upside in Al-Farouq Aminu, an expiring Chris Kaman and the Timberwolves unprotected 2012 first round pick. Those are pieces that could lead to a championship down the road. In the end, it turned out that when David Stern said he vetoed the trade for “basketball reasons”, it appears to be true. He got a much better deal for the Clippers by rejecting the Lakers offer and looking elsewhere. As the defacto owner of the franchise, that was his right, and possibly duty.

Conspiracy theorists out there have only been emboldened by this mess, suggesting Stern forced the Clippers’ hand to save face. They continue that now anything the NBA rules will be viewed with suspicion that an over-aggressive commissioner’s office is controlling the entire league with invisible puppet strings. I don’t buy either one. This problem did not start with the Chris Paul trade. It started with the NBA assuming control of one of its own franchises. The moment that happened, an incident like this was inevitable.

If the NBA knows what’s best, they will make sure they free themselves from the Hornets as soon as possible, otherwise something like this is going to happen again. With all the blowback and controversy over this trade, the NBA has to they should extricate themselves from the situation immediately. Until that happens, more things like this will inevitably happen. That’s not good for anybody.

Schmeelk’s Snippets

-          The Knicks ended up losing out on both Jamal Crawford and Shawne Williams, leaving their bench thread bare. Both left for more money from other teams and should serve as an important lesson. As much as people profess to love a coach, city or franchise it is usually money that speaks the loudest. It’s another reason Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or Deron Williams would never have made it to New York. I admit, however, that Shawne Williams could have shown a little more loyalty to the team that resurrected his career. The Nets offernwas only one million more over two seasons.

-          Now the Knicks are left with their 2.5 million dollar “room exception” with few options to spend it on. A myriad of names has been thrown out there: Mo Evans, James Posey, Troy Murphy, Willie Green, to even Travis Outlaw. None of these guys are world beaters but the Knicks need to bring in as much veteran depth as possible to give Mike D’Antoni as many choices as possible off a dreadful bench. They might also need a backup power forward by the way, something they do not have.

-          Even with th eback injury, the Knicks should roll the dice on Baron Davis. I never liked him as a player, but the Knicks point guard situation is so dire, it is worth a shot. If the veteran’s minimum can’t get him, so be it.

-          Knicks fans shouldn’t get too excited about seven footer Jerome Jordan. He’s a project and I wouldn’t expect many useful minutes this year. On the other hand, I’m hearing good things about Josh Harrellson from people at practice. Jorts has even flashed a jumper.

You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants and New York sports.