LOS ANGELES — David Stern defended his league’s policy to fine any team official who dares comment on this summer’s free-agent class.
Unless it involves their own pending free agent, a team owner, coach or GM will get hit in the pocket book until July 1.
The summer of LeBron and a class of potential free agents that is the deepest in NBA history have dominated the headlines.
Even on the eve of the Lakers-Celtics meeting in the NBA final, the buzz has been on LeBron James and his interview with Larry King on CNN, James’ first words since Cleveland’s elimination to the Celtics in the Eastern semifinal.
There has been talk of a free-agent summit, spearheaded by Dwyane Wade, where the game’s young elite would meet to discuss its future.
Stern said Thursday night prior to Game 1 that no summit will occur and the league would continue to enforce its tampering rules.
“I don’t want to be a spoil-sport," Stern said at his annual state of the union address at the NBA final. “It’s no fun and it’s not a productive use of our time.”
The NBA’s salary cap, which will undergo some fundamental change once a new deal gets struck, is designed for teams to keep their own free agents by offering more money at higher percentage increases.
There are about eight top-flight players poised to hit the market on July 1, including Toronto’s Chris Bosh.
As for this alleged summit, Stern had the media audience eating out of his hands.
“What are they going to do? Look at Dwyane Wade’s ring. Maybe they should be here to see how teams are constructed.”
Stern can’t help but acknowledge the attention this year’s class has brought to the league, but refused to call it a distraction.
“I don’t have a problem with that," he said. “We’re really up there now with Bill Gates, President Obama and Lady Gaga. How can you beat that trifecta.”