David Stern was critical of the general manager job Dell Demps has done with the New Orleans Pelicans while also defending his decision to veto a Chris Paul trade in 2011.
"There was a trade that Dell Demps wanted us to approve, and I said heck no, but he had told Daryl Morey and Mitch Kupchak he had authority to do it, and he didn't," Stern said. "I said no. We just settled a lockout, and you want me to approve a basketball trade?"
Stern did not waver in his decision despite intense criticism.
"[Demps] had agreed to [trade Paul to the Lakers for] Kevin Martin and Luis Scola or something, and I said we can do better than that," Stern said. "... And the next trade was [to the LA Clippers for] Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu and what we thought was a really great draft pick, the 10th pick, which turned out to be Austin Rivers. At least those three and someone else [center Chris Kaman].
"But Dell Demps is a lousy general manager, and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis," Stern said.
"I did it because I was protecting the then-Hornets," Stern said of the 2011 veto. "... To this day, everyone always asks me, 'Well why did you keep Chris Paul from going to the Lakers?' I didn't keep him. I didn't approve the trade. No team sells or trades a future Hall of Famer without the owner signing off, and I was the owner's rep.
"But I wasn't going to hand up Dell Demps."
The Pelicans released a statement supporting Demps and criticized Stern's comments.
"We are very disappointed to read the inappropriate and inaccurate comments from the former NBA Commissioner regarding the New Orleans Pelicans," the club said in a statement. "Our organization has the utmost confidence in our General Manager, Dell Demps. He is a part of our family, the NBA family. We are excited about the direction of our team, the 3-0 start to the season, building on the success of the 2017/18 playoffs. Finally, our organization is excited and proud to be part of the NBA with the progressive and innovative leadership of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver."