David Stern Says Knicks and Nets are Just Positioning Themselves for the Future
Since it's the All-Star Weekend, NBA Commissioner David Stern is making the rounds, doing interviews (even with Simmons? Weird.), talking about the wonderful shape the league is in despite declining attendance and pending labor struggle.
The commish always has a way of sugar-coating things, and when he talked to Yahoo!'s Marc J. Spears he took that to a new level. Spears asked him whether the Nets and Knicks blatantly becoming uncompetitive to make a play for free agents in 2010 was a good thing if it alienates their fanbases:
I think the Nets are performing at a level that they didn’t expect to perform at. It’s much lower than expected. But they are sitting there with everyone from Brook Lopez to Devin Harris to Courtney Lee. They have what I think is a pretty strong group of players, but they just didn’t come together. But like many other teams you learn your lesson eventually and you don’t continue signing players that keep you perpetually over the [salary] cap and don’t really improve your team enough. We have teams that are trying to bring their payroll into line with their objectives. The same thing [with the Knicks].
"Bring their payroll in line with their objectives." That sounds so pretty. What a nice way to not answer the question: why has it been OK for two teams to become uncompetitive for the sole purpose of trying to steal good players from teams that have been fairly competitive?
To me, though, the more important question is, what happens if the Knicks or Nets don't land their superstar (particularly the Knicks)? Doesn't the franchise have to be answerable to its fanbase at that point?