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David Stern still defensive about nix, Chris Paul

Updated: March 27, 2012 8:29AM

ORLANDO, Fla. — Commissioner David Stern was involved in his own version of a skills competition Saturday night, and he excelled in the art of ducking questions.

Stern took some heat at the start of the season for nixing the Chris Paul trade from the NBA-owned Hornets to the Lakers, only to allow Paul to go to the Clippers.

With all the Dwight Howard trade talk, Stern was reminded of that by reporters.

“There’s no superstar that gets traded in this league unless the owner says, Go ahead with it,’’ Stern said. “And in the case of [the Hornets], the representative of the owner said, ‘That’s not a trade we’re going to make.’’’

When reminded that he was that “representative,’’ then asked if he thought the trade was fair, Stern said, “You know, buy a ticket and see. We’ll see how it works out.’’

But Stern stressed that he would not have any say in all the Howard trade talk or look to compensate the Magic if it’s forced to move Howard.

Good plan

How will Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau handle the minutes for the East team Sunday in the All-Star Game? Simple.

“I’ll make sure that LeBron [ James ] , [ Dwyane ] Wade and [ Chris ] Bosh play at least 40 minutes each,’’ Thibodeau said with a laugh.

If you can’t beat’ em, tire them out.

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