By J.A. Adande
A quick Q & A with NBA commissioner David Stern, who was in L.A. for the Lakers’ ring presentation ceremony at Staples Center.
Q: Everything we hear is about the economy. We’ve already seen teams trying to save money with smaller rosters. Will the economy affect the product on the floor?
Stern: No chance. We’ve got the same pool of players. Most of our teams, even though they want to have 30 players on their roster, some go with a 10-person rotations, some take it to nine. Of course by the playoffs some shrink it to four -- that’s a joke. But, no, it will not affect the product on the floor.
Q: What about the competitive balance, with trades?
Stern: That happens every year. Certain teams make moves for salary cap reasons and the like, but the next year they swing back, they have room under the cap. I don’t see the economy impacting the product on the floor.
Q: With Delonte West going through what he has in the preseason, we had Michael Beasley go to rehab over the summer ... Are these mental health issues something that the NBA can take responsibility for and have an impact?
Stern: Number 1, we’re looking for the union to play an active role in this. But No. 2, when it comes to issues that are like bi-polarity or what have you, these are serious medical issues that require medical expertise and understanding by the league and the teams. To me this is where you defer to the team and the doctors. But overall
I think this is a place where the players association, with us, have to step up and try to be as compassionate and helpful as can be.
Q: Does the recent collective bargaining agreement with the officials in time to get them on the court for the regular season portend anything for the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations with the players?
Stern: Nothing one way or the other. We had an expiring collective bargaining agreement. We were lucky to have a successor agreement to get our very good officials back on the floor.
Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
Stern: What I’m anticipating -- I’ve always been wrong in every one of my 26 seasons -- is despite the fact that everyone’s talking about these five teams [Lakers, Celtics, Cavaliers, Magic and Spurs], each of which has gone the extra step, I’m wondering if from the pack someone emerges and says, “Hey, what about us? Are we nothing?” Denver or Chicago or Utah or Atlanta, go down the list. I’m looking forward to, really, a season for the ages. We’ve had so many teams make one more step, either by the growth of young players or the addition of a star, they really think they can compete. It’s going to be the most competitive season I can imagine.