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Los Angeles Lakers fans, one wearing a shirt asking to trade NBA commissioner David Stern (R), dance during a stop in play against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles December 25, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)
Los Angeles Lakers fans, one wearing a shirt asking to trade NBA commissioner David Stern (R), dance during a stop in play against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles December 25, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

NBA Notebook

David Stern regrets the way he handled Chris Paul decision Add to ...

NBA commissioner David Stern admitted Sunday that he could have done a better job of explaining his reasons for vetoing the proposed trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Instead, Stern allowed the New Orleans Hornets -- who are owned by the NBA until they can be sold -- to trade Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for a package of players highlighted by young guard Eric Gordon.

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“I do think I could’ve done a better communications job coming out of it,” Stern said. “I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t think it was appropriate to be criticizing players who were or could’ve been included because of my role. It’s a job as the owners’ representative I was stuck with.”

Stern said his reasoning was based on the fact that the luxury tax in the new collective bargaining agreement will become more punitive in 2013-14. In light of that, many teams are opting for shorter contracts, and he didn’t like the lengthy contracts the Hornets would have been getting if they had gotten Lamar Odom from the Lakers and Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic from Houston for Paul.

“Shorter contacts will make more free agents available on the market, and the enhanced tax system will make it more difficult for teams to simply use their resources to get a competitive advantage,” he said.

Pierce out for Celtics, could play Tuesday

As the NBA finally tipped off Sunday with the Boston Celtics at the New York Knicks, Paul Pierce had to wait a little longer to take the floor.

Pierce was relegated to the sideline due to his bruised right heel and the team is hoping he can return by Tuesday, though the forward acknowledged he was uncertain of when he could go.

With the marquee matchup to the long-awaited post-lockout start to the season right in front of him, Pierce said he still had to look at the big picture, difficult as it was for him to do.

“Everyone understands how competitive I am,” Pierce told reporters. “It’s Christmas. It’s Madison Square Garden. If there was the slightest chance I could play, I’d definitely be out there. But I have to look at the long term.”

While coach Doc Rivers said Pierce could possibly play Tuesday in a reserve role, Pierce said he was day to day and wasn’t sure if he could practice Monday.

Sasha Pavlovic started for Pierce.

“We’re hoping Tuesday,” Rivers said of a possible return by Pierce. “But we don’t know.”

Knicks rookie Shumpert injured in opener

New York Knicks rookie guard Iman Shumpert suffered a sprained right MCL during the team’s season-opener vs. the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

The Georgia Tech product got tangled up with Celtics forward Chris Wilcox while going up for a rebound late in the third quarter and crashed to the court. Shumpert had to be helped off the court as he could not put any pressure on his right leg.

Shumpert had 11 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist on 3-13 shooting at the time of the injury. Shumpert is expected to be out “probably at least two weeks,” according to a report during the broadcast.

It’s a setback for the already banged up Knicks backcourt, as Mike Bibby and Baron Davis are unavailable due to back woes. Toney Douglas, Landry Fields and Bill Walker will have to fill the void for New York.

Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points to lead the Knicks to a 106-104 win.

Mavs reportedly explore acquiring free agent center Kyrylo Fesenko

As they look to defend their NBA championship the Dallas Mavericks apparently can’t have enough centers.

Despite signing Sean Williams as a third center earlier in the week, ESPN.com is reporting the Mavs have also offered a one-year to Kyrylo Fesenko.

Fesenko, 25, should be pretty fresh for a new opportunity after playing just 8.6 minutes per game in 53 tilts with the Utah Jazz in 2010-11. Both were career-highs, though the Jazz didn’t apparently consider him to be the next Mark Eaton, Utah’s shot-blocking specialist during the successful Karl Malone-John Stockton era.

He averaged two points and two rebounds per contest, and dismal free throw shooting at below 40 percent could limit Fesenko’s minutes moving forward.

The Heat, Raptors or Warriors are also said to be in the mix for Fesenko’s services, and he could make up his mind by Monday.

Fesenko, 7-foot-1, 280-pounder was a second round pick out of the 2007 NBA Draft.

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