Assuming that Stern’s NBA extended some BS immunity to Lakers management as Howard’s current employer, why does the league tag Morey with a heavy fine while leaving Cuban untouched?
Other than winning the D12 free agency sweepstakes, what did Morey do that Cuban did not do? Both are members of their respective team’s management, both commented on Dwight’s free agency before and after his decision to leave LA, and since then both have tweeted hopefully about their upcoming seasons.
There’s a real problem when the NBA can arbitrarily sanction team managers without specific, bright-line rules in place. To my knowledge, there are no existing NBA guidelines that can account for why Morey was penalized and Cuban was not. And on ethical grounds, it feels wrong to punish Morey for sharing in the celebration of landing the best free agent his city has drawn since Yao Ming while Phil Jackson and his herd moo smug tweets out from Montana. But I digress.
In the spirit of conspiracy and speculation, I do believe Stern has it out for Morey for a number of reasons. It probably began when Stern vetoed the 2011 blockbuster trade that would have sent Pau Gasol to Houston and Chris Paul to LA. In 20/20 hindsight, the veto was a blessing-in-disguise for Houston, considering that Howard would have likely remained out of the team’s reach if Gasol did indeed play for space city. The veto damaged LA in equal proportion, as Lakerland would have undoubtedly become a more comfortable home for Howard with his friend CP3 playing alongside him. After the commissioner’s veto, Morey returned the favor by sounding off several times against him, and even going so far as to no-show the 2013 All Star Game at home in the Toyota Center. Perhaps levying the recent fine on Morey is Stern’s jab back, or instead an apologetic gesture to LA for dooming their 2013-14 season. Who knows..
Two final observations/conjectures. First, Morey’s sports analytic movement has profoundly influenced and shaped front offices across the league. The old school commissioner may stand opposed to all the new number-crunching, or may simply have too many gray hairs to run through an Excel spreadsheet. Second, Houston’s venture into Asian markets stands at odds with Stern’s eurocentric vision for the NBA. In light of Houston's marketing triumph of Yao Ming followed by Jeremy Lin, who’s to tell whether the NBA commissioner really approves of the city’s pioneering success outside of traditional big city markets, and accordingly, outside of his control.