Kleeman's Jump Hook: Why I Hate the NBA Trade Deadline
For many NBA observers, Feb. 18 is a holy grail of sorts—a date worthy of endless speculation and praise.
So many readers flock to pieces that discuss this event, in fact, that Bleacher Report 's Hoops Community Leader asked, in an e-mail, that we writers ramp up the trade deadline coverage.
I will not be worshiping at that trade talk altar and hope my reasoning will convince some of you to shut your yappers.
Without delay, here are five reasons I hate the annual deadline chatter:
1) Countless Rumors, Minimal Deals
Hundreds of trade proposals and rumors flood the internet in the months leading up to the deadline. How many of those trades materialize?
Maybe two or three.
I blame it on 2008. Then, Pau Gasol, Jason Kidd, Shaquille O'Neal, Mike Bibby, Kurt Thomas, and others swapped uniforms in one of the busiest deadlines in recent memory.
When one blockbuster trade succeeds, it leaves some fans hungering for more of the same wheeling and dealing.
The Los Angeles Lakers have not lost three games in a row or failed to reach the NBA Finals since they acquired Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 1, 2008.
Even moribund Memphis has benefited from the donation of its former franchise star.
Marc Gasol, whose draft rights were included in the deal, is a rugged center with a nose for the ball and a budding low-post game. GM Chris Wallace used the cap space from the salary dump with the Lakers to snatch up All-Star Zach Randolph.
The odds of another transaction working similar wonders are slim to nil.
Trade talk, to me, is often no better than ghost-busting. As much as I love those movies, I have better things to concern myself with than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or a river of slime.
Writers spend so many hours dreaming up garbage trades, that they convince themselves such claptrap is possible.
That thought provides a nice transition to my next peeve.
2) Stop Being a Homer
As a devout Houston Rockets fan, I am aware the expiration of Tracy McGrady's contract could provide GM Daryl Morey with a few million to spend on a free agent next summer.
With no state income tax, world-class health care, some of the best restaurants in the world, a relatively low cost of living, and the fourth largest population in the U.S., Houston will be an attractive destination for at least one baller seeking an address change.
I do not harbor delusions that Dwyane Wade or LeBron James will call the 713 or 218 area codes home. Chris Bosh isn't likely to fly here any time soon.
Nothing irritates me more than brainless trade proposals cooked up by brainwashed fans. You know them better as homers.
A friend of mine still thinks Pat Riley might want to trade for Erick Dampier's expiring contract and another Dallas Maverick if he thinks Wade will walk in a few months.
"It makes sense," he says. "Miami doesn't want to lose Wade for nothing."
My friend could use a dose of reality and a whack on the forehead. If you have any old 2x4s in your garage, I'm taking donations.
The Heat will have more money to spend than any of the other 29 franchises thanks to Riley's shrewd work in the bargaining room.
In case you have not heard, Miami would like to keep Wade and build another championship team around him.
I wrote this summer that he could bolt for the Bulls because common sense makes that possible. Wade grew up in Chicago, and Derrick Rose is a way better point guard than Mario Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo, or Rafer Alston.
Wade and James do not have any notable Texas connections, and the three teams in the state already employ franchise players.
Miami and Cleveland can pay Wade and James $30 million more than anyone else over the life of a max contract.
Half-baked trade suggestions are not limited, however, to the crown jewels of the 2010 free agent class.
Some dopey fans want their teams' GMs to ship out dead-weight and aging bit-role players for Monta Ellis. How about Kobe Bryant and Chris Kaman for Keith Van Horn's always expiring contract and a bag of chips?
If the Lakers and Clippers also throw in Shannon Brown and DeAndre Jordan, I'll upgrade those chips to sour cream and onion.
That trade sounds good to me. I might be the one getting robbed.
3. Cheap Way to Get Reads
I do not want this piece to be seen as an attack on those devoted to trade speculation. If you love transaction talk, try not to take this personally.
Any piece published on this site with the word "rumor" and "trade" in the title usually gets read by hundreds, sometimes thousands of folks.
There are enough writers eager to bum off CBS 's, ESPN 's, SI 's, Fox 's, or Yahoo! 's reports. I could probably write 20 articles per week if all I did was reword Marc Stein and Peter Vescey's trade speculations.
Trade rumors rile up readers. The average fan also cares more about Bryant and James comparisons than the upcoming collective bargaining agreement or the game's nuances.
I choose to tackle tougher, less popular topics. As I watched Drew Brees hoist the MVP trophy last night, I thought immediately of Chris Paul. Will he ever get the chance to fill that savior role in the Big Easy? The New Orleans Hornets were a feel good story before the Saints, but cost-cutting and revamped competition in the West has silenced the buzz.
A quick scan of my favorite writers on this site and elsewhere—Charley Rosen, Fran Blinebury, Erick Blasco, Andrew Ungvari—should explain my aversion to cheap thrills.
Every time a columnist for a major newspaper writes that a free agent could or should head to that city, at least one Bleacher Creature accepts the opinion as gospel.
The minute I read Richard Justice's column about Chris Bosh in the Houston Chronicle , I felt sorry for Rockets' beat reporter Jonathan Feigen.
I don't have access to his email box, but I can guess the contents of a few inquiries that populated it that day.
"John (spelled wrong, of course), when is Kris Bosh (spelled wrong again) coming here?"
"Dude, when's the press conference?"
"Bosh in Houston = Rockets 2010 champions!"
I just puked.
4. Fans Play Reporters
One Bleacher Creature who no longer publishes here authored at least 30 trade rumors, none of which turned out to be true. He claimed to know " someone in the front office" for every team.
I have written at length about the Tracy McGrady situation in Houston because I watch every Rockets game and boast an informed opinion about the team.
I have never claimed a friendship with Morey or any other executive in the organization. I base my opinion that Morey might not trade McGrady on quotes from the GM and Feigen's stories in the Chronicle .
The MIT grad says he wants a young star or expiring contracts back in any deal involving T-Mac. He told Feigen he does not want stop-gap players or to take on needless, bad contracts.
From there, I evaluate a player's performance relative to his contract, a team's willingness to part with him, and the benefits and drawbacks of a potential deal.
It does not take a Rockets' insider or a MENSA member to deduce that Morey does not want Jared Jefferies or Eddy Curry.
If all trade talk was rational, or at least well thought out, I might be more into it.
5. Cretinous Chatter
The Washingston Wizards need a face lift and a roster overhaul. I do not doubt that at least one player who wears a Wizard uniform will head to another zip code in the next few weeks. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are popular names, and it would not surprise me to see GM Ernie Grunfield hand over one or both stars.
I also do not doubt that Morey may try to swing a deal for Butler before the deadline hits.
The standard response to trade questions, though, is true. Any competent executive is always on the phone trying to improve his roster, in June and in February.
Hornets GM and coach Jeff Bower has undoubtedly received calls about Chris Paul. That does not mean the Wake Forest product is on the trade block or that a deal is imminent.
Too many hoops fans, and perhaps some scribes, do not understand the difference.
Vescey reported in the New York Post that Lakers' GM Mitch Kupchak had talked to Raptors' GM Bryan Colangelo about an Andrew Bynum-Chris Bosh swap. Did he report or fabricate?
More likely, some pissant in one of those organizations threw out those names, and Vescey published a story about it to attract attention. On one level, that proposed deal makes sense for both parties. Then again, the streaking Raptors would be giving up their best player prematurely, and the Lakers would be surrendering a potential franchise center with a bright future.
Think about the various blockbuster trades in the last decade. How many of them started as rumors?
The San Antonio Spurs dealt for Richard Jefferson, not Vince Carter. Gasol went to the Lakers, not the Bulls.
When Shaquille O'Neal began to flounder in Miami, no one speculated he would head for the desert.
I am often skeptical when I read rumors, because agents and GMs alike can use them to create leverage.
I would bet my life savings that Lamar Odom's people told Yahoo! 's Adrian Wojnarowski that he was "close" to signing with the Heat to get Lakers' owner Jerry Buss to up his offer.
Buss pulled his initial proposal off the table in a sure-fire negotiating ploy.
Odom was never going to leave the defending champions to play in a city where he spent one year of his life. Uh-uh.
Remember when Corey Maggette signed with the Spurs for the mid-level exception?
Turns out, the Spurs benefited from his last-minute spurn.
You can talk trades all you want. Feel free to leave me out of the conversation.
Plus, the more time I spend speculating where a player might go, the less time I have to enjoy this great game.
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