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NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern: ‘Dell Demps is a lousy general manager … and he may lose Anthony Davis’

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David Stern’s blamed the Rockets and Lakers for the fallout from the vetoed Chris Paul-Lakers trade. Stern blamed former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak specifically for the deal falling through.

And now Stern is blaming Pelicans general manager Dell Demps.

A refresher on events: In 2011, Stern was serving as both NBA commissioner and owner representative of the New Orleans franchise (then called the Hornets). George Shinn had sold the Hornets back to the league, which was in the process of re-selling the franchise. Chris Paul requested a trade from New Orleans, and Demps agreed to send him to the Lakers in a three-way trade with the Rockets. The Hornets would have gotten Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. But Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, not commissioner, he says – vetoed the deal. It’s standard for owners to exercise final say on deals of that magnitude, but Stern’s dual roles opened many questions about his true agenda. The Hornets then traded Paul to the Clippers for Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and a first-round pick (eventually used on Austin Rivers).

It depends how much hindsight and supposition you want to apply, but Stern probably got New Orleans a better deal. Dragic developed into a star, and Martin and Scola remained quality contributors for a while, but Odom fell way off, and the Hornets would have likely been middling-to-bad with the initial trade. Younger players like Gordon and Aminu and Kama’s large expiring contract gave New Orleans far more flexibility. And though Gordon battled numerous injuries there, Aminu didn’t blossom until he left and Rivers was a disappointing top-10 pick (who also hit his groove after leaving), New Orleans got something else in the trade – a clear rebuilding direction. New Orleans was bad the following season and got the No. 1 pick, Anthony Davis.

Still, the episode casts a shadow over Stern’s legacy – from people who don’t understand Stern’s unique place as commissioner/owner and from people who do understand but are suspicious of Stern’s unknowable motives in keeping Paul from the Lakers.

So, Stern is still fighting perception.

Stern, via Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated:

“I didn’t do a great job of explaining it at the time. 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?”

“[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.”

This is wild! Forget for a moment whether Stern was right or wrong in his handling of the situation. He still holds a title with the league, “Commissioner Emeritus.” Though je has criticized teams before, for someone in his position to so strongly attack a sitting general manager by name like this is so extreme.

Just as Stern wasn’t wrong about the trade, he isn’t necessarily wrong here. Demps has a dismal track record, though he has upgraded his performance to questionable recently. And Davis might leave the Pelicans, a potential outcome that hangs over the franchise.

But – wow. This hell of a message from Stern, even considering his blunt and confrontational manner (which is on full display in Ballard’s excellent profile, which is worth reading in full).

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.