Getting the OK from the commish

David Stern wouldn’t allow Chris Paul to go work for the Lakers for the 2011-12 season, the proposed trade rejected by the commissioner because it was perceived to be a “steal” for Los Angeles.

Instead, as you know, the New Orleans Hornets sent the point guard to the Clippers. That was OK’d by the league czar.

Paul had the same home arena, Staples Center, but a different cast of teammates and a franchise with a history of failure and an unbelievable amount of instability in the past few decades. The Lakers have built dynasty after dynasty, decade after decade, starting in the franchise’s Minneapolis days…

Now what makes the Lakers’ pursuit of Paul and the Clippers’ pursuit of head coach Doc Rivers an interesting comparison is the fact that the commissioner has a say in the decision. (According to the collective bargaining agreement, coaches are not permitted to be traded for players.)

But should the Clippers be able to trade a draft pick(s) to the Celtics to land Rivers? Should Stern demand that the Celtics sever ties with Rivers as step one, followed by a normal hiring process in which a proposed player trade has nothing to do with the possibility of Rivers leaving Boston to go work in L.A.?

Interesting that the Lakers and Celtics, the league’s most successful teams, both find themselves at opposite ends of the trade spectrum in back-to-back seasons.


Lofty praise … from Tim Duncan

It’s been a few days now, but here’s what San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan said about LeBron James after Game 7 of the Finals:

“He made enough shots to make us change our defense over and over again,” Duncan told reporters. “We just couldn’t find a way to stop him.”

Very revealing.

NBA defenses will go back to the drawing board next fall and try to concoct defenses to stop LeBron … and then face the same nightmare scenarios when they play the Heat.

He’s just getting started

LeBron James, 28 years old, is entering his prime.

With four NBA Finals appearances now on his resume, he’s just warming up. He experienced bitter disappointment in 2007, when the Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs in the Finals. And was part of a losing team in the Finals in 2011, when the Big Three were not as polished or cohesive as they later became.

With back-to-back championships and the raising sense of confidence that have come with them, LeBron has fully developed his all-around game.

He can play all five positions on the court, on offense or defense.

He has the speed and strength to excel in all aspects of the game.

The way he carried his team for pivotal stretches in Games 6 and 7 against the Spurs to close out the 2013 Finals proved that he will be the man to measure greatness against for the next five to 10 years in the NBA.

More championships will follow for LeBron James, in Miami or wherever he winds up.

Q&A with Bob Hill, former NBA head coach

Finding out what people think is a never-ending quest for journalists. So that prompted this short exchange last week…

Bob Hill, former head coach of the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle SuperSonics and Tokyo Apache, provided his thoughts on a few short questions via email.

What are your three favorite basketball movies of all time? Why?

(1) Hoosiers …. It’s true
(2) Coach Carter …. Great lessons
(3) Glory Road …. It’s true

What do you consider the best current NBA rivalry, and what makes it special in your mind?

Oklahoma City-San Antonio. Two quality teams. Probably won’t stay a great rivalry after this season.

Who is the most underrated head coach in the NBA today?

(Chicago’s) Tom Thibodeau. He did a tremendous job this season.

Is the current coaching carousel even bigger than you expect this offseason?

It makes no sense to me at all.

Every coach appreciates when players seek them out for pointers, I think. With that in mind, from your NBA days as a head coach and assistant, can you think of an example where you provided key advice to a player and that helped him to much greater success down the road?

I have a lot of examples of helping or teaching players. Too many to include in an email. The stories are too long. I have always believed that helping, teaching, empowering players is a large part of your job. Especially today.

Almost everyone calls Miami’s LeBron James the best player on the planet. Who do you think is the most exciting player to watch?

We Americans get totally carried away with labeling people. “Divas” and “best player on the planet” are good examples. It’s totally out of control. LeBron is clearly the best player in the NBA and is clearly the most exciting player to watch. Basketball is a team game and the best player should embrace the essence of just that. I think LeBron is learning to do that. He is evolving into a combination of Magic (Johnson) and Michael (Jordan).