David Stern Looks Back On Why He Vetoed The Trade That Would Have Sent Chris Paul To The Lakers

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David Stern has kept a relatively low profile ever since he left his post as the NBA commissioner in 2014. He’s popped up every now and then, as he’s kept busy ever since his time in charge of the league came to its conclusion, but for the most part, Stern has kept a low profile.

But on Wednesday, Stern was back in the news, as Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated sat down with the former commissioner to discuss a number of topics. It touches on non-basketball stuff — like how Stern refuses to say he retired or his thoughts on politics in America right now. But of course, the best portions of the story have to do with his time in charge of the NBA.

For example, Stern spoke about the infamous Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers that he shot down, as the league was in control of the then-New Orleans Hornets.

“I didn’t do a great job of explaining it at the time,” Stern said. “There was a trade that [New Orleans GM] Dell Demps wanted us to approve and I said heck no, but he had told [Rockets GM] Daryl Morey and [then Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak he had authority to do it and he didn’t. I said no. We just settled a lockout and you want me to approve a basketball trade?”

Stern went on to talk about the way the trade came about, including his belief that holding up the trade was a move to protect the franchise, because “No team sells or trades a future Hall of Famer without the owner signing off, and I was the owner’s rep.” He made it abundantly clear that he’s not an especially big fan of Demps, going as far as to say that he believes Demps’ ability as a general manager could cost the franchise their current star.

“[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.”

One thing about Stern that was evident during his time at the helm of the league was that you never wondered what he was thinking, because he would always speak his mind. With regards to the Pelicans, it’s safe to say he’s convinced he made the right move with Paul … and that Demps risks losing one of the best players in the world.

(Via Sports Illustrated)