David Stern did a rare interview with Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated that was released on Wednesday, and the former longtime NBA commissioner had plenty of interesting things to say.
However, the comments that got the most play were about his role in vetoing the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade when the NBA was running the Pelicans (then the Hornets). Stern explained why he shut down that trade in favor of the package they got from the Clippers, but in the process called out general manager Dell Demps, who is still there, for being “lousy” at his job.
“[Demps] had agreed to [trade Paul to the Lakers for] Kevin Martin and Luis Scola or something, and I said we can do better than that…. And the next trade was [to the Clippers for] Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu and what we thought was a really great draft pick, the 10th pick, which turned out to be Austin Rivers. At least those three and someone else [center Chris Kaman]. But Dell Demps is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis.”
That comment sparked quite the response from those around the league, and the Pelicans even took offense to the point of releasing a statement that defended Demps and offered some tremendous and not-so-subtle jabs at Stern.
“Finally, our organization is excited and proud to be part of the NBA with the progressive and innovative leadership of NBA commissioner Adam Silver.”
That’s about as sassy as you can get while remaining extremely professional in a team statement. Demps has long been criticized and for many years was seemingly on the hot seat as each offseason approached, but there’s no doubt that, right now, the team he’s assembled in New Orleans looks fantastic in this early season.
The jab about losing Anthony Davis is the part that most Pelicans fans took offense at, as his future is a popular topic of discussion around the league, but a sore spot, understandably, in New Orleans.