David Stern Is the Owner the Hornets Deserve

Published: December 12, 2011

The following is a guest post by Jesse Blanchard from 48MinutesOfHell, part of the ESPN TrueHoop Network.

After years under owner George Shinn, the New Orleans finally has an owner it deserves. One that may have just saved the NBA in New Orleans from itself, citing basketball reasons.

Merci Beaucoup, David Stern.

While the vetoing of the proposed Lakers trade may not have been for the most benevolent of reasons, it most certainly–if inadvertently–had legitimate basketball reasons. The difference between the Los Angeles Lakers deal and the Los Angeles Clippers deal is night and day.

If you will allow this writer a moment of hyperbole, the New Orleans Hornets would have been better off amnestying Chris Paul than accepting the proposed three-team trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. Stern was absolutely right in killing that deal as interim owner of the Hornets.

I know, I know, three quasi-stars, a backup point guard, and a shoddy first round pick in a situation in which Dell Demps had no leverage is akin to squeezing water from stone.

But here’s the thing, in the NBA you want to be either 1.) really good, b.) have the opportunity to become really good, or c.) bad enough to get a draft pick that can give you the chance to be really good.

In acquiring Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Goran Dragic the Hornets roster met none of the criteria above.

For a small market team there is no hell worse than being maxed out in that 7-10th seed limbo, and with that trade the Hornets would have been competitive, but stuck in the same mediocrity that has permeated the franchise since it chased bad contract after bad contract in trying to build around Chris Paul. Only they would have lacked a superstar in Chris Paul.

ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard’s reports have the Clipper sending back prospects and a potentially prominent draft pick in exchange for Paul:

The trade as submitted would cost the Clippers guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman and forward Al-Farouq Aminu. It would also include Minnesota’s first-round draft pick in 2012.

This report conflicts with the original Los Angeles Times report which had point guard Eric Bledsoe included in the deal instead of Gordon. Either iteration is infinitely better than the original Paul trade, which brought back more salary and no prospects.

Assuming the NBA and David Stern approve of this trade, it places the Hornets simultaneously in the “have the opportunity to become really good,” AND the “bad enough to get a draft pick that can give you a chance to be really good,” categories.

For any deal involving Chris Paul, since any deal isn’t likely to bring back an equal superstar, it was important that the Hornets be left with some assets but still bad enough to tank the season.

After all, contending teams are built around elite players, and season tickets can be sold with elite and/or promising young players. For New Orleans, the only viable option for finding and retaining those pieces is through the NBA draft.

When I said the Hornets were better off amnestying Chris Paul than making the Lakers trade it was with this upcoming NBA draft in mind. There is fallacy in taking whatever package you can get for a player of Paul’s stature because it assumes that the loss of a Chris Paul leaves the Hornets with nothing.

Losing a franchise player, as the Cleveland Cavaliers can attest to, almost certainly leads to top ten, and in all probability, top five draft picks. These picks are often cheaper, and better, than any assets you could have acquired in trying to make this mess look salvageable.

In acquiring Odom, Scola, and Martin the Hornets were not just losing Chris Paul, they were devaluing their own draft pick in a very good draft.

Instead, under the management of Stern, the Hornets are set to acquire the very real possibility of two top-ten picks in a deep draft, an expiring contract in Chris Kaman, a young, cheap, and talented wing in Aminu, and either a promising young point guard in Eric Bledsoe or an established and potential top-five shooting guard in Eric Gordon.

Instead of almost assuredly being the next Houston Rockets or Atlanta Hawks over the next 3-5 years, the Hornets have a shot–no matter how slim–of being the next Oklahoma City Thunder.

Short of vetoing this deal, David Stern is owner the Hornets deserve, even if he’s not the one they need right now.


  1. LSUhornet17

    December 12, 2011 at 10:55 am


  2. nikkoewan

    December 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

    well said

  3. Nick Malone aka yankeesman77

    December 12, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I hate the prospect of us tanking a season to get some quality top 10 picks in return but if this is what it takes to make the Hornets a true, complete, Top 10 team in the entire NBA and a real and true NBA Championship contender then this is what we need to do.

    • Jo D

      December 12, 2011 at 11:58 am

      We wouldn’t be tanking. We simply won’t have a mature or talented enough team this year to contend.

  4. Ken

    December 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Totally agree. Everyone on this site who has been ripping Stern should apologize. He may have saved us from mediocrity for the next 5-10 years.

    • L_REAZY

      December 12, 2011 at 11:44 am

      Well, he needs to approve a trade 1st, right?

      We can praise him after he does that!

      In contrast …. Dell Demps ‘deserves’ all the praise for his genius, and he also ‘deserves’ to be the Hornets’ GM too! Good Work Dell, even if the trade doesn’t get approved by … David Stern!


      • JDubb

        December 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        I’ve been reading this site for years now and never felt compelled to comment until now- As far as I am concerned, deal or no deal Dell Demps deserves his propers. I’d had high expectations for him when he took over, and although I honestly hoped he might be able to sway CP3 to stay, I think he’s done everything he can to make the most out of the situation for best of the franchise.

        In moving forward though, I just have to add, I’ll be really disappointed if Gordon is not part of this deal. We can talk all we want about the future, but we still have to support and watch this team now. I’m not super excited about the prospect of watching Ariza take on the scoring load every night.

  5. Jo D

    December 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Thank you Joe.
    I share the same viewpoint as you on this issue. My comments have summarized what you put into this article. We shouldn’t bash Stern. Atleast not yet. His intentions are to get back pieces that give this franchise a chance at a bright future. I’m all for watching exiting young players grow and hopefully thrive in time. I’m not a fan of steady mediocrity. Our goal shouldn’t be to stay competitive… Long-term we should want to eventually contend. I envy OKC. They saw it done the right way.

  6. JT's Hoops Blog

    December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Stern did the right things not only for the hornets, but also for the Lakers. The Lakers would have given up all of their interior scoring and presence along with a versitile doube-double machine in Lamar Odom. As a result of that botched trade, it created disent forcing Mitch Kupchak to trade Odom for next to nothing to the Mavs.

  7. Nik

    December 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    you should delete this immediately…he just lost us the clippers deal as well

    we need a sane owner asap or we will get royally screwed

    • Nick Malone aka yankeesman77

      December 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      Even without Eric Bledsoe, I think this deal will get done in the near future. If he’s the final piece to this deal, it’s inconsequential. We may get a Top 10 pick in Minnesota, an expiring chip, a Shooting guard with an injury history but a talented shooter that is much better than Belli. A freakishly young but good wing in Aminu. We may have to throw in Ariza into the deal to get Bledsoe but I still think this deal will get done soon enough.

      David Stern isn’t loosing this deal for us either, it’s on the Clippers part not wanting to give up Bledsoe.

      • Nik

        December 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

        agreed its really a small piece for the clippers to put in there and im sure they would have had they been dealing with any other owner.. but david stern seems hellbent on killing these deals and the clippers know it. They also know that the clippers maybe our only chance to get what david stern wants back from a team for chris paul.. Worst case senario for us: cp3 walks with nothing to show/worst case senario for them: they have aminu, bledsoe, aminu, gordon and a sweet pick in the next draft

      • Nik

        December 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

        “ESPNChrisPalmer chris palmer
        If Chris Paul deal doesn’t happen Clippers are still in a very good spot.” less than a minute ago..

        we are in a tough spot not the clippers stern needs to let this deal happen for NOLA

      • NOH Domination

        December 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm

        I highly doubt the Clippers would want to take back the contract of Ariza in any deal. That almost detracts from the trade in their eyes. If the Clippers are giving up Gordon, Aminu, Minnys pick, and Kaman I don’t see why Stern can’t approve it!! I defended him after the Laker deal because I thought the deal was terrible, but there is no way I can defend him for this one. He just took the risk of losing the deal for us by his insistence that Bledsoe also be included. If this deal falls through the Hornets have very few remaining destinations to trade Paul and surely they won’t get a better deal. Bledsoe will never be more than a high quality backup on a good team so why can’t we just let him stay with the clips?! C’mon Stern, you’re killing us!

  8. J

    December 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I hope Stern pull this through because preseaon starts in a few days

  9. Tonde90

    December 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Your analysis is correct if you are thinking short term as well! Do you know that Demps didn’t already have a plan to flip those above average yet not superstar talents into more draft picks/salary cap relief? He was receiving a 1st rounder already, don’t think he could’ve flipped Lamar Odom to Dallas/Indiana for another 1st rounder (then Hornets would have 3 1st rounders). Also, how valuable would Scola and Martin be at the trade deadline for teams believing they needed one last piece to make a run this year?
    What Stern showed is that he doesn’t trust Demps to have a short/long term plan! OKC did well in the draft by accumulating lots of draft picks not just one extra. Granted the Lakers/Mavericks 1st rounders don’t seem great on paper, but with veteran, i.e. old, teams and this years condensed schedule there is no guarantee their stars will make it through the season. Plus even a badly sprained ankle can mean missing 10-15 games vs. 5 -10 in a normal year. Remember Dirk missed significan time last year, well that would be compounded 2x this year. All that to say, you don’t know where a pick might end up in this very UNnormal year!

    • Hornetsky

      December 13, 2011 at 3:50 am

      I’m with you on this. I think Demps is not yet done after the trade, had it happened. Scola, Martin & Odom are quality players teams chasing a playoff slot or a championship can add. They could realistically be turned into solid draft picks for us.

  10. Jesse Blanchard

    December 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Maybe I wrote this too soon. Please let Sterns recent stupidity just be a negotiating tactic that does not screw this deal up. This is a solid deal.

    • Jason Calmes

      December 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm


      I like your article here. I wrote one the other night based on the supposition that Stern is wise and benevolent to New Orleans. Let me know how this fits with what you see:


    • Nik

      December 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      yup you did.. hes just a bitter old man that is going to ruin a basketball team cuz he can

      im seething with anger

  11. saZam

    December 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I have to disagree. I think the veto takes almost all leverage away from Demps. Hornets are not going to be able to trade him, and he will walk somewhere else in next free agency. There is no way Demps is going to build a team this year around cp3 with the 5 legitimate nba players on the hornets roster right now.

  12. J

    December 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    The trade is dead again

  13. L_REAZY

    December 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I’ll quote one of our own in regards to the recent ‘dead-deal’;



  14. Pluto D

    December 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    THIS is absolutely the right trade. Thanks David Stern (wow)

  15. J

    December 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I can’t believe Stern killed the trade not once,not twice but three times.Oh well back to the old drawing board

  16. Nik

    December 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    i don’t see how we can go back to the drawing board? its not like they can restructure the deal.. it will be the same players.. maybe if they get creative and get a third team into it and flip kaman for some attractive pieces from denver or someone else that lost on the nene sweepstakes and keep bledsoe out (sidebar: why the hell are they so determined to keep bledsoe out? its probably cuz they know stern is kill-happy).. im so frustrated by the whole situation i think our best option is to find a new owner then try for trades b/c this is never going to happen. David Stern’s swansong is exacting payback for the lockout from the good city of New Orleans and Chris Paul

  17. J

    December 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Well the clippers killed the trade great one of the worst owners Dan Sterling says the Hornets are asking for too much the clippers will always be a 25 win team.As for the Hornets we’re going to suck due Stern,Cuban,Gilbert and Phil Jackson interfering.

  18. J

    December 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    @Nik i was talking the trade

  19. paradoxguy

    December 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Your column is insightful and interesting. However, especially in the aftermath of the failure of the Clippers-Hornets trade, I can’t help but suspect Stern wants to sabotage any trade involving Chris Paul, or alternatively is too greedy and doesn’t understand trade parity. I’m not surprised the Clippers rejected the trade–the NBA (aka Stern) was unreasonable asking for both the starting (Gordon) and back-up (Bledsoe) point guards AND the Clippers unprotected pick, plus Chris Kaman’s expiring contract (in addition, Kaman is still a formidable player) and a decent forward. Hopefully the Clippers and Hornets will try to work out another trade and Stern will be more reasonable. I’m curious if CP3 will sue over the 3 (and counting) botched trades–I actually hope he does!

  20. Nik

    December 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    breaking news: david stern in his free time eats babies

  21. J

    December 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    If you brought season tickets it’s refund time because as long as the chariade continue alot of fans are going to lose faith in the NBA and the Hornets.Since “the talking heads” of ESPN saying the Hornets could be contracted. Buying season tickets to save the team was a waist of time.I’m putting my focus on the Saints.

  22. Rory

    December 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I have to disagree. While you certainly have a point, the ownership backdrop cannot be ignored nor should we treat Stern as a traditional owner. If the team ends up a lottery team in the coming season (or if Paul plays out and then outright walks), then it will be that much harder to lure an owner interested in keeping the team here. Of course, SOMEONE will eventually buy the team, but that person may come with the expectation of moving the team where he/she chooses (since he/she would be buying a bad team that does not appear to be worth it’s value, that may be a clause in the deal).

  23. Oskar

    December 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    This headline of this article suddenly becomes pretty comical….

    • hewhorocks

      December 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Its hard to imagine any package that would be both “equal Value” in Stern’s eyes and in the best interest in all the teams involved at this point. If Paul walks at the end of the year it wont matter what the Hornets could have gotten to New Orleans hoop-fans…the Hornets will be elsewhere. Which might be what the NBA really wants anyway.

  24. J

    December 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I can’t stand it anymore the NBA is filled with so much parody.

  25. Hornetsky

    December 13, 2011 at 4:06 am

    A lot of sad comments in this post. I still keep my fingers crossed we can swap CP3 before the trade deadline. Or better he changes his mind once the games get going and somebody buy the hornets and stabilize our ownership.

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