David Stern thinks you can get off his back now for the Chris Paul trade

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The NBA held a conference call Wednesday night to discuss the trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and a first-round pick. The call was as much for the league to try and spin the damage control caused by the league’s rejection of the initial Lakers-Rockets-Hornets trade as it was to introduce why this trade went through. The commissioner bantered with reporters wondering how this all went down and why.

Instead of running you through some dry narrative, let’s play a game called “What He Said/What He Meant” in which I take quotes from the most powerful man in the NBA and interpret them. Shall we?

What he said: “I knew we were doing the best thing for New Orleans and that was my job.”

What he meant: “It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that two guys over 30 and a mid-20’s pick doesn’t help a team rebuild, but apparently it does. Took me about fifteen seconds.”

What he said: “You have to stick with what you think was right. I must confess it wasn’t a lot of fun, but I don’t get paid to have fun.”

What he meant: “I get paid to make other people not have fun. Specifically Dell Demps, Mitch Kupchak and Daryl Morey, apparently. Also, I did think this was right. If you don’t believe me, check your web traffic tomorrow.”

What he said: “Our sole focus was and will remain, until we sell this team, hopefully which will be in first half of 2012, how best to maintain the Hornets, make them as attractive and a competitive as we can and ensure we have a buyer who can keep them in New Orleans.”

What he meant: “Have you seen this draft class? Do you realize how much we’re going to drive this price up when they get two top-ten picks? We’ve already started printing unibrow signs for Anthony Davis. I have to keep them in New Orleans. The lockout, blocking the trade, that’s two strikes. I’m down to my last pitch, here.”

What he said: “I would recommend only to the most hearty with the thickest of skins that they do this.”

What he meant: “Don’t get it twisted, no one is iller than the commish. Tell Prokhorov I said ‘hi.'”

 

The commissioner is never going to get this off his resume, never going to erase what some consider a black stain on his legacy. But here’s the end result of Stern’s decisions. The Clippers are better, and a premier team in the league. The Hornets have a better shot at rebuilding and starting over. Both sides won.

The Lakers lost, but that’s another story.

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.

PBT Extra: What does Kyrie Irving trade mean for LeBron James?

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In the end, the entire Kyrie Irving blockbuster trade was about LeBron James. It started because Kyrie Irving wanted out of LeBron’s enormous shadow. Cleveland went with this trade because Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder help them win now, and whatever LeBron decides to do next summer the Brooklyn pick (and maybe Ante Zizic) helps them build for the future.

But what does this trade mean to LeBron James?

Honestly, it doesn’t change much. That’s what I get into in this latest PBT Extra. LeBron is leaving his options open, but maybe this deal could help Cleveland keep him if it makes them more competitive with the Warriors.

Rumor: Young Bulls ‘can’t stand’ Dwyane Wade

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After a loss last January, Dwyane Wade (in conjunction with since-traded Jimmy Butler) lashed out at his Bulls teammates for not caring enough. Those younger players didn’t receive the message gratefully, questioning why Wade didn’t practice more.

The simple answer: Wade is 35, and he and his team are better served if he saves himself for games. But Wade also should have known his schedule left him ill-suited to criticize harder-working teammates.

The whole saga exposed the inherent tension that occurs when an accomplished veteran with declining skills is thrust into a leadership position on a mediocre team.

Consider that backdrop as Wade and Chicago dance around a buyout.

Nick Friedell on ESPN discussing Wade getting bought out:

This is inevitable. It’s coming. It’s a matter of when, not if.

But right now, guys, it’s just kind of a staring contest. Everybody’s looking at each other saying, “OK, how much money are you willing to give up?”

And Gar Forman, the Bulls’ GM, at summer league, said, “Oh, we’re not having conversations.” I don’t think that’s the case. I think Dwyane’s agents and the Bulls are wanting to get this thing done.

But I’d really be surprised if it happened before the season. I still think it’s more likely that it’ll happen probably somewhere in December or January.

But this is a divorce that’s going to happen. It’s just going to take some time.

The young players on the Bulls really can’t stand Dwyane, and it’s the little secret in Chicago. They have had enough.

Wade’s January criticism was reportedly particularly directed at Nikola Mirotic and Michael Carter-Williams, neither of whom are on the roster. (Mirotic, a restricted free agent, will likely return.) Even if Wade’s comments cast a wider net, Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser, Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio are the only young players still on the team from that time. None of those players deserve much influence in how the franchise operates.

Still, no matter what the young players want, it’s clear Wade no longer fits on a rebuilding Chicago. They might get their wish.

Wade is set to earn $23.8 million in the final season of an expiring contract. That salary could prove useful in a bigger trade.

If bought out, Wade would count as dead money against Chicago’s cap at his buyout amount. They Bulls should obviously be amenable if he sacrifices enough, but a small discount doesn’t justify locking into that money rather than having a trade chip available.

If Chicago is deep into the cellar as expected after the trade deadline, a buyout would be completely logical then. Maybe the Bulls even assess the trade market sooner and conclude Wade’s huge expiring contract won’t facilitate a trade.

It’s easy to see a buyout happening eventually. In the meantime, Wade and his younger teammates will just have to get along. I trust Wade’s professionalism to make this situation at least tenable, but Fred Hoiberg might have his hands full building cooperation with all the people involved.