There's an old saying in Hollywood: "If there's a 99 percent chance of something happening, there's a 100 percent chance that it won't happen."
The same can be applied to the NBA's trade market, though most (if not all) general managers would likely agree that the odds of anything ever happening are far lower than that. Proposals and possibilities are tossed around like hotcakes, if not mistaken for one another—especially in the lead-up to the annual February deadline.
This year's edition was no different. The league's de facto rumor mill churned out Trade Machine fodder involving All-Stars like Kevin Love, Pau Gasol and Rajon Rondo. But, for reasons ranging from the peculiarities of the current collective bargaining agreement to a "generation gap" among the NBA's deal makers, pretty much all of the juiciest swap gossip went begging.
All told, 11 trades involving 26 players and six second-round picks were consummated in the 48 hours leading up the Feb. 20 cut-off. Not a single first-rounder changed hands, and only two of the players (Danny Granger and Antawn Jamison) had ever so much as set foot in an All-Star Game.
And neither of those two is anywhere close to doing so again.
It's easy to see why so little of consequence went down on deadline day when looking at the particulars of five of the supposed deals that fell flat, none of which so much as sniffed a likelihood of 99 percent to begin with.
Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge never wavered from his stance that he didn't want to trade Rajon Rondo during the season—in public, that is.
Behind closed doors, rumors swirled about the All-Star point guard being available, mere weeks after returning from ACL surgery. Chicago Bulls scribe Sam Smith was among the first to drop hints that Rondo could be had for the price of two unprotected first-round picks, though with so few of those in circulation, a deal based on those parameters made "pie in the sky" look realistic by comparison. Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher subsequently suggested that the C's would settle for "an up-and-coming player and a first-round pick for starters."
That high barrier to entry didn't stop a slew of interested suitors from kicking the proverbial tires on Rondo, though. Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears reported that the Sacramento Kings and C's had discussed a deal that would send Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a first-rounder to Boston. ESPN's Chris Broussard had the Toronto Raptors chiming in on the matter, as well.
Neither team went through with it, in large part because both feared for their ability to retain Rondo beyond the expiration of his current contract in 2015.
The Houston Rockets, on the other hand, seemed like serious players once ESPN's Marc Stein tossed them into the mix. The Rockets seemed to possess the right mix of draft picks, young players and money-matching contracts to properly grease the skids, along with a cozy relationship between Ainge and his former protege, Houston GM Daryl Morey, to bring this blockbuster to fruition.
But the Rockets reportedly balked at Boston's insistence that Chandler Parsons be included in the deal. For what it's worth, Dwight Howard wasn't too thrilled about the idea of joining forces with Rondo, per longtime NBA maven Peter Vecsey.
And, well, if USA Today's Sam Amick was right, the Rockets and Celtics never spoke to begin with.
Rondo wasn't the only presumed star of the free-agent class of 2015 to be bandied about in trade talk this year. He was reportedly joined in that regard by Kevin Love, albeit to no actual action.
According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks both tried cobbling together offers for the All-Star power forward. The Minnesota Timberwolves, though, appeared none too interested in moving the face of their franchise.
And for good reason. Love won't be able to leave Minny of his own volition for another 16 months, assuming he declines his player option for 2015-16. In the meantime, the T-Wolves would likely prefer to keep their best player around in an effort to end their decade-long playoff drought.
(Which, by the way, seems all but bound to continue past this season, given the six-and-a-half games currently separating Minny from eighth place out West).
The relationship between star player and franchise has long been a tenuous one, but the origins of Love's discontent predate David Kahn's ouster and Flip Saunders' front-office return.
For his part, Love made it clear that he's not, in fact, angling for a way out.
"People think it's so far-fetched that I would stay in Minnesota,” Love recently told GQ's Steve Marsh. “And I'm not s****ing on the Lakers, but we have the better team, the better foundation. I'm having fun.”
Any deal between the Lakers and T-Wolves for Kevin Love, had it come anywhere close to consummation, would've probably ended with Pau Gasol joining forces with fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio in Minneapolis.
Realistically, though, Gasol was a better bet to wind up with the Phoenix Suns. For weeks, there'd been word that the Lakers would send the scruffy 7-footer to Phoenix in exchange for Emeka Okafor's expiring—and largely insured—contract and, perhaps, another asset of some sort. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, L.A. wasn't willing to simply "dump" Gasol's salary.
The Suns, though, were reluctant to give up anything of value for Gasol, and for good reason. Gasol's age (33) and injury history (33 games missed in 2012-13, 10 this season) didn't exactly make him a good fit for Phoenix's fast-paced style of play now or their plans for the franchise going forward. And with Gasol due for free agency in July, the Suns would've essentially given up a juicy draft pick and/or a young talent for a two-to-three-month rental of a player who's already past his prime.
As such, Suns GM Ryan McDonough stood pat, choosing instead to hang onto the four 2014 first-rounders his team owns and let his surprising roster ride out the rest of the season as is.
The Lakers' reluctance to swap "something for nothing" probably cost them whatever savings they might've otherwise accrued in a Jordan Hill salary dump.
Sporting News' Sean Deveney reported that L.A. had spoken to a number of teams—including the New Orleans Pelicans, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Suns and the Mavericks—about taking on the 26-year-old super sub and his expiring contract. According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets, with their thin front line and $5.25 million disabled player exception (for Brook Lopez), were the leaders in the clubhouse for Hill's services.
But the Lakers' refusal to lose Hill without recouping a second-round pick, along with the tax implications of Hill's contract bonuses, killed the trade, per Bleacher Report's Howard Beck.
Then again, if those details didn't do this deal in, others certainly would have. For one, Hill's $3.56 million salary would've cost the Nets upwards of $17 million in additional luxury tax penalties, thereby ballooning the team's overall bill for 2013-14 to around $210 million (per Woj).
Moreover, Brooklyn didn't exactly have a second-rounder to offer L.A. The Nets already owe their second-round picks in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Their 2016 second-rounder remains at the mercy of a pick swap with the Los Angeles Clippers.
And, really, why would the Nets move heaven and earth to rent Hill when they could fill their roster on the cheap—and make history—by signing Jason Collins to a 10-day contract?
For months, the New York Knicks had been weirdly determined to move Iman Shumpert. Meanwhile, the Clippers were on the market for an upgrade in athleticism on the wing, even more so with Jared Dudley struggling with his outside shot and J.J. Redick knocked out of action once again with a variety of injuries.
Surely, these two teams could work something out...right? The Clips could've all but stolen Shump, a talented but misused 23-year-old, from the Knicks, whose desperate search for an upgrade at point guard drew their attention to Darren Collison.
That is, if the Knicks hadn't tried to tilt the table so firmly in their favor. According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, L.A. was turned off by New York's desire to both send out Raymond Felton's contract, which runs through 2015-16, and take back rookie wing Reggie Bullock.
If the talks between the two teams weren't already dead at that point, Shumpert's latest knee injury would've just as easily doubled as the final nail in that particular coffin.
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