It’s been a rough year for David Stern’s PR team. As the NBA commissioner, much of the blame of the lockout fell on his shoulders. The refusal of the owners, which he represented, to concede to the demands of the Players Union elongated the process and resulted in missed games and a truncated regular season.
Then came the Chris Paul debacle. Shortly after the league-owned New Orleans Hornets agreed to trade their superstar point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers, the league announced that Stern had shot down the deal for “basketball reasons.”
This set a pack of rabid Laker fans on Stern, and their complaints made some sense.
It seemed to be a conflict of interest that NBA commissioner was the owner of a franchise that was controlling the fate of two other franchises (the Houston Rockets would have gotten Pau Gasol in the trade).
Matters only grew worse when Paul was instead traded to LA’s other team, the Clippers, to team up with the NBA’s newest superstar in Blake Griffin. While the trade with the Clippers did land the Hornets some younger pieces to build around than the Lakers/Houston deal, things just smelt a tad fishy.
Fast forward five months and Stern and the Hornets are in the news again. New Orleans won tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery, or better known as the Unibrow Sweepstakes as the Hornets will undoubtedly select Kentucky’s Anthony David first overall.
The league recently sold the Hornets to New Orleans Saints’ owner Tom Benson, and I’m sure Stern wishes the deal wasn’t struck until after tonight’s results, as the addition of Davis will significantly boost the team’s value. But Stern and the league technically are still the team’s owners while the deal with Benson is finalized and approved by the other NBA owners.
After last year’s lottery went to Cleveland, allowing them to replace their lost superstar with
a new one in Kyrie Irving, it just so happens that this year’s lottery winner also lost their former franchise player. Conspiracy? Who knows, but if these types of “coincidences” keep happening, Vince McMahon might need to take Stern’s job.
Other story lines from the Draft Lottery:
- The Bobcats fell to No. 2 in the draft, continuing to hold onto the unlucky claim to be one of just two teams (the other being the Phoenix Suns) to never have won the draft lottery. This news will be especially hard to swallow this year, coming off the worst season in NBA history based on winning percentage and drafting second in a draft with just one elite player.
- The Brooklyn Nets did not move into the top three, meaning their pick at No. 6 will go to the Portland Trailblazers as part of the Gerald Wallace deal. Again, a tough break for a team that could have used extra help with the return of Deron Williams in doubt and the chances of acquiring Dwight Howard having disappeared. You can’t sympathize too much, though, because this was just a poor trade. The trade for Wallace could have been completed for a much lower pick, so even if the Nets only liked the draft’s top three players (their reasoning for only placing top-3 protection on the pick) they could have traded the No. 6 pick for a useful player to entice Williams to stay.
- The Warriors, on the other hand, were able to keep their pick, which was top-7 protected, thanks to a terrific tanking job to end their season (they went 5-22 to finish the season, moving from the 10th worst team to the 7th over that span and securing the No. 7 pick). There have been rumblings in Golden State that trading the pick is a possibility, with Andre Iguodala’s name popping up frequently, but given Philadelphia’s admirable performance getting deep into the second round of the playoffs, it seems unlikely they would trade away a key player for a chance to draft an unproven rookie. Golden State will have four picks in the draft, though, so it is likely at least one of those will be traded away.