NBA commissioner David Stern hasn't always been the most popular figure in sports. His decision to block a potential trade involving Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers should ensure that he remains a villain to most NBA fans.
According to CBS Sports, Stern took to ESPN Radio New York to say that the Clippers and Boston Celtics would not be allowed to complete a deal involving Doc Rivers because the trade would violate the current collective bargaining agreement that stipulates that only player contracts, draft picks and cash.
The teams are aware that the collective bargaining agreement doesn't authorize trades involving coaches' contracts...The teams know that...It has been confirmed to them... It can't be gotten around by breaking it up into two transactions.
On one hand, the commissioner is to be commended for sticking to his guns as far as the CBA goes. The league and teams went into a memorable lockout in 2011 to reach that agreement, so it's perfectly reasonable that Stern would want to protect it.
However, it's the second part of Stern's comments that make it troubling for his legacy and the league that he is charged with running.
According to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, the two teams had come up with a solution to circumvent the league's ruling. Instead of making it one deal involving all of the assets, the teams could break the transaction into two separate parts—the first being a deal that would send DeAndre Jordan to the Celtics in exchange for Kevin Garnett and another that would indirectly involve Rivers with picks and cash considerations involved.
Is David Stern doing the right thing?
While it's obvious that the trade would break the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement, the letter of the law would be upheld. That should be enough to convince the commissioner to look the other way.
This is a good trade for both teams that would add extra intrigue to his league next season. The Celtics, who are clearly in an era of transition after being eliminated in the first round by the New York Knicks, would get first round picks and a young center in DeAndre Jordan to help rebuild the roster.
The Clippers, one of the league's most marketable teams with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, would be getting a world-class coach and a future hall of famer in Kevin Garnett.
This isn't like the time that Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers because the NBA-owned Hornets had to make the best decision for the future owner of the team, although that was another questionable decision.
This is a case of the commissioner making his league less interesting by micromanaging.