I don’t know if Danny Ainge started the whole “super team” era or not by getting Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce in Boston three years ago, but it seems like it’s starting to become a problem for Commissioner David Stern and the NBA. Since the beginning of NBA free agency about a month ago, it has seemed like players have been able to say whatever they want to whoever they want and somehow get away with it. The league is shifting from one where GMs are responsible for constructing championship teams to a league where players decide they want to team up with their buddies and find a way to make it happen. That’s how the Miami Heat built their all-star filled roster, right?
According to an ESPN report, the NBA released a memo on Wednesday reminding teams to adhere to the tampering rules set in place by the league. What was uncharacteristic about the reminder is that they named a particular player and team, something that is rarely ever done in a situation such as this:
The memo, circulated Tuesday by the league office, states that “no team should be having communications with Chris Paul or his agent or representative about a potential trade for Paul that have not been authorized in advance by the New Orleans Hornets.”
The memo, sources said, also threatens to punish any such communications with penalties that range from “suspension of the offending person, prohibition of the offending team from hiring the person being tampered with, forfeiture of draft picks and individual and/or team fines of up to $5 million.”
What does this actually mean? Commissioner Stern is worried. Although he approved the Heat super team and ruled that the players are within their rights to convince other free agents to join their teams, the Chris Paul situation has opened up a new can of worms. It’s no secret that Paul wants out of New Orleans, as evidenced by his alleged toast at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding. Like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, CP3 wants to play alongside his buddies. The best chance he has of accomplishing that goal is to be traded to the Knicks and have Carmelo Anthony join him next off-season.
When superstars are disgruntled, they usually want to be traded to a winning team that gives them a legitimate shot at a title. Now, it’s starting to look like high-caliber players have two demands when they’re unhappy: trade me and trade me to a place where I can play with my friends. Because an agent’s job is to give his client what he wants, that desire has created a new world of tampering. Not only will agents now be seeking a trade for their client, they’ll be in contact with that client’s preferred suitors saying things like, “my client wants to play with Amare Stoudemire” rather than, “my client wants to play for a championship contender.” That’s not good news for David Stern, and my guess is he’s going to have to do something more drastic than release a memo if he wants to prevent this new fad from creating serious credibility problems for the NBA in the near future.
Reports of Paul courtship draws memo [ESPN]