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NBA PM: The Trade Deadline Guide
Posted By Alex Kennedy On February 15, 2013 @ 5:02 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The NBA’s trade deadline is less than one week away and rumors are starting to surface left and right. The first domino fell two weeks ago, when the Memphis Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, and now everyone is waiting to see what happens next. The days leading up to Feb. 21 will be fun, but there are a few things to keep in mind as the deadline approaches. Consider this an NBA trade deadline guide.
Don’t expect a lot of big trades
Every year, there are countless rumors, but only a handful of trades. While most of the rumors leading up the trade deadline involve star players, the majority of deals that actually go down involve role players.
Take last year’s deadline, for example. While players like Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Ray Allen and Pau Gasol were involved in trade rumors, most of the deals that were completed at the deadline involved lesser pieces.
Jordan Hill for Derek Fisher and a draft pick. Marcus Camby for Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn and a draft pick. Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga for Luke Walton and a draft pick. Leandro Barbosa for a draft pick.
The most notable players dealt at last year’s deadline were Monta Ellis, Andrew Bogut, Nene, Gerald Wallace and JaVale McGee. Blockbuster trade rumors may be fun to discuss, but they rarely come to fruition.
This year’s trade deadline may feature even fewer big moves than usual, when you consider how many trades were completed last offseason. There were 31 deals involving 96 players over the summer. Dwight Howard, James Harden, Andrew Bynum, Steve Nash, Andre Iguodala, Joe Johnson, Kyle Lowry, Ryan Anderson, Kevin Martin, Arron Afflalo, Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, Darren Collison, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Raymond Felton, Lamar Odom, Devin Harris, Ben Gordon, Corey Maggette, Courtney Lee and Jason Richardson were all traded. After a busy offseason that featured so many moves, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a ton of big trades before the deadline.
Players often know the least about trade discussions
When a player is mentioned in a trade rumor, the media always swarms for a quote. Do they expect to be traded? Have they heard from management? What’s their reaction?
While reporters have to get a comment, the truth is that players are usually the least knowledgeable when it comes to what their team’s front office is going to do. Most players don’t have inside information. Sometimes players will ask a media member what their sources are saying or ask their agent to contact rival executives to see if they’re being offered in trade talks, but players hardly ever get information from their own team.
Executives rarely include players in the process because, again, most trade talks or rumors don’t amount to anything. If that player is still on the team’s roster come Feb. 22, the front office doesn’t want that player to be upset that the team shopped him or considered an upgrade.
Don’t believe assurances that a player won’t be traded
Executives assure players that they won’t be traded for the exact same reason. Telling a player he’s safe allows for them to ignore rumors and focus on games. If the player doesn’t get dealt, the executive kept his word and the player is happy. If the player does get dealt, it’s no longer the executive’s problem.
In recent years, there are plenty of examples of players who were assured by an executive that they wouldn’t be traded, only to be informed of a deal by the exact same person shortly after. I shared the following story a few weeks ago on Twitter:
A few years ago, I helped an NBA player manage his blog. I was basically a ghostwriter for the player. We’d talk on the phone, he’d tell me what he wanted to cover in each post and then I’d write it. On the morning of the trade deadline, this player’s name was surfacing in several trade rumors. The team’s front office sat him down and told him not to worry about the rumors because he wasn’t going to be dealt. He called me and wanted me to start working on a blog post about how he was excited to put the trade deadline behind him and thrilled to be staying put. However, shortly before the deadline, the player was traded. He was blindsided by the move and furious with the team. Needless to say, my blog post didn’t get published.
The moral of the story: Just because a player receives assurances that he won’t be traded, doesn’t always mean that he’s 100 percent safe. Teams act in their best interests, which can sometimes mean lying to a player and then dealing them at the trade deadline.
Draft picks are more valuable than you think
When a deal seems lopsided, one of the most common suggestions from fans is to throw in a draft pick. While this sometimes works, draft picks are very valuable and teams are hesitant to part ways with them. While the value of draft picks tends to fluctuate from year to year, depending on how good the upcoming draft class looks, they are never easy to pry away from general managers.
Veteran teams want draft picks so that they can get younger and remain competitive in the future. Younger teams want draft picks so that they can rebuild and compete with the veteran teams.
Some organizations have banked their future on stockpiling draft picks. The Oklahoma City Thunder turned three years of futility into Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The Cleveland Cavaliers have made a habit of taking back contracts in exchange for first-round picks, which has worked out pretty well for them – most notably when they traded Mo Williams and Jamario Moon for Baron Davis and the draft pick that became Kyrie Irving. The Portland Trail Blazers traded Gerald Wallace to the Brooklyn Nets for a top-three protected pick that became Damian Lillard. The Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard for young players, cap relief and five draft picks.
Everyone wants to copy OKC’s model of drafting multiple stars and becoming a contender. Teams will continue to stockpile picks in hopes of duplicating the Thunder’s success. Some teams are already starting to position themselves to land a potential superstar like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Draft picks are important and teams don’t like to let go of them.
The collective bargaining agreement will impact decisions
The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t afford James Harden so they traded him to the Houston Rockets. The Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t afford Rudy Gay so they traded him to the Toronto Raptors. The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement is already reshaping the league. It’s becoming harder and harder for super teams to assemble (or remain assembled), and it will only get more difficult going forward.
The luxury tax scares some teams, but the repeater tax scares all teams. While teams like Oklahoma City and Memphis can’t afford to pay $1 for every $1 they’re above the luxury tax threshold, that’s not much of a deterrent for a large-market team. However, when a team pays the luxury tax in four out of five seasons, they’ll be designated as repeat offenders and will have to pay an incremental tax that increases with every $5 million that they’re above the threshold. Rather than paying $1 for every $1 above the tax, repeaters would have to pay something like $2.50, $2.75, $3.50 or $4.25 for every $1 above the tax.
This will certainly impact the NBA’s trade market. It could also mean that current super teams, such as the Miami HEAT, may have to be broken up for financial reasons.
Multi-team deals are difficult to negotiate and pull off
When two teams can’t work out a trade, they often try to get a third team on the phone to facilitate the deal. Sometimes a third team will have players or draft picks that make the deal work. While it’s not uncommon for three-team deals to go down, they’re not easy to complete. Many deals have died because two teams couldn’t find one more team to throw in an asset or take back a contract.
Some executives have a reputation for being able to engineer large, multi-team trades. However, getting a third team involved in discussions increases the possibility that a deal will fall apart or get leaked. The larger the trade, the harder it is to complete.
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All-Star Weekend also produces plenty of trade rumors since every executive will be in Houston. HOOPSWORLD will keep you updated on all of the latest trade rumors and news. Starting next week, we’ll be rolling out our trade deadline diary, which you won’t want to miss.
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