David Stern Optimistic About Future for Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James
The ongoing labor negotiations and the looming possibility of a lockout next summer were the biggest stories to come out of David Stern's annual tip-off conference call with members of the media. But the commissioner also had some interesting things to say about a few of the other issues that the league is currently facing.
One of those issues is Carmelo Anthony, and how he's the latest star player to say he wants to be traded out of his current situation. It would seem at first glance that this isn't something that the league would want to see happening regularly, but somewhat surprisingly, Stern didn't seem to have too much of a problem with it.
"You know, the players have no obligation to sign a contract, and I remember these guys, what were their names, Kareem Abdul‑Jabbar, who actually asked to be traded; Patrick Ewing, who asked to be traded," Stern said, when asked if situations like Anthony's could be destabilizing. "Here we have a player who's keeping his options open. That's his right under the collective bargaining agreement, and I don't think it's fair to hold him to a higher standard."
Along the lines of star players choosing where they want to play when their contracts are up, Stern was asked about the situation involving LeBron James, and his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Stern's theme remained the same: essentially, that James fulfilled his obligation before taking his talents to South Beach.
"I think for the fans of Cleveland, they had that player and they had him for seven years as a result of the NBA draft and his renewed contract," Stern said. "And now, let's go, everybody on board, and let's see how the team can do without that player. And I'm kind of thinking they'll do better than most people are expecting."
The reason that Stern might not be so worried about players joining forces in a particular market is simple: the amount of interest generated by the Miami Heat after James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade this summer has been huge in terms of the attention it's brought to the league, especially in the offseason. And it will only continue to build as the season gets gets started.
"I think that in USA Today there was a big front‑page article about everybody looking forward to either seeing the Miami Heat or seeing them lose, depending upon what city you're in, or seeing them win if you're a fan," Stern said. "And I think that team has generated spectacular interest, and all in all it's been very good for the NBA."
Despite the increased interest level that the new-look Heat team has brought to the league, Stern used a portion of his opening remarks to caution against crowning them as champions just yet.
"I've been told by a number of teams that it would be premature for us to mail the trophy to Miami," Stern said.