View Full Version : ESPN INSIDER _ 2/18 Trade Talk

02-18-2003, 12:55 PM
Trade deadline theories
by Chad Ford

I have a question about trade deadline talk. I've asked numerous GMs, a couple of NBA owners and bunch of fellow writers. No one has the answer. I'm throwing this out there with a hope that maybe you do.Why does everyone wait until the day before or the day of the trading deadline to actually pull the trigger on deals? I understand the theories, but none make much sense upon closer examination.

Theory #1: Teams wait because the real offers don't come in until the deadline. This is the most common answer, but it's mostly just double talk and circular reasoning. If a team really wants to trade for, say, Mike Miller of Orlando, why wait until Feb. 19th to make a real offer for him? Wouldn't they be better off trading for him in say, January, and using him to help propel the team to more wins?

Theory #2: You've got to give a team time to work out its problems on the court. The trade deadline is like marriage counseling. No one wants to break up if they don't have to. Much of the season is spent trying to figure out what attracted a team to the player in the first place. This is a classic coaches line when a team is mediocre. They all just need a little more time. Of course, GMs use this ruse as well. Jerry Krause has been trying to fall back in love with Jamal Crawford for three years now. When Krause talks to other teams about Crawford, he's the homecoming queen. Unfortunately he can't convince his date, Bill Cartwright, to go to first base with him. Of course, when the team is really bad, this hang-up miraculously disappears.

Theory #3: "We won't make a trade for the sake of making a trade."
Every GM, owner and coach is required to repeat this at least five times before the deadline. It's in the collective bargaining agreement. Seriously.

Theory #4: The ripple effect. The trade deadline is like a junior high school dance. For the first hour, all the girls are out on the dance floor dancing with each other. One courageous guy must make the leap of faith for all of the other poor goofballs standing on the sidelines picking their nose. Teams need some sort of catalyst to get the ball rolling. Once a big trade goes down, other teams feel the need to respond with a big move of their own.

Theory #5: Last call The trade deadline is like last call at the bar. After six weeks of rumors, GMs are drunk, the inhibitions are down, the lighting is low, and after dancing all night, you're ready to leave with whomever. Heat coach Pat Riley subscribes to this theory. "Usually it goes right down to the last day, and then somebody will say, 'Yes. Let's go,' " Riley said. "Forget about the consequences and ramifications, it's just, 'Let's do it now.' It's instant gratification."

Speaking of deprivation, things look awfully dire for those teams desperately looking to make a deal. Nothing new surfaced Monday, forcing some bored writers to attack other bored writers' hypotheticals. That's what we've come to. In the spirit of the season, it's probably time to tackle all the ridiculous trade rumors that can't or won't happen. You know what they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Separating the fiction from the fiction

There have been some trade rumor whoppers out there the past few weeks that simply cannot happen.

Remember the Vince Carter-for-Zydrunas Ilgauskas-and-Darius Miles rumor? Or the Wally Szczerbiak-for-Gary Payton talk that refuses to die on Minnesota talk radio? Or what about the peristent insistence by the media that Mark Cuban is using Raef LaFrentz as trade bait to lure a tough big man to Dallas? I'm not going to patronize you with the now infamous "I'm here to separate the fact from the fiction" line. It seems like every time a writer does that, he then goes out and adds a lot more fiction than fact. But . . . I'm very confident that these trades cannot go down.

1. Any trade involving the Clippers' Michael Olowokandi or the T-Wolves' Rasho Nesterovic. They signed one-year tender offers last summer, which makes them untradeable. Not virtually untradeable folks. Untradeable. Olowokandi and Nesterovic will become unrestricted free agents this summer. There's nothing the Clippers or T'Wolves can do about.

2. Any trade involving Raef LaFrentz, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Rashard Lewis and Bonzi Wells. These players are base-year compensation players. They, either by way of an extension or free agency, re-signed with their teams and now make more than 150 percent of last year's salary.

What that means, in a nutshell, is that if say, Dallas, wanted to trade LaFrentz, it could take back only half of his salary in return. Since Dallas is over the cap, it makes a trade virtually impossible. LaFrentz is making $7,270,000 this season. The Mavs would be able to accept only $3,635,000 of salary in return. Because the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that for trade purposes salaries must be within 15 percent of each other, it becomes extremely difficult for teams to make up the difference in salary. The only way to do it is to create a huge deal, usually involving a third team, with multiple players who can eventually make up the salary disparities. In other words, it isn't going to happen.

One more thing: There are several other base-year players out there, including Jason Williams, Michael Dickerson, Al Harrington, Eduardo Najera, Ricky Davis, Michael Redd, Pat Garrity and Malik Rose. However, because their starting salaries are much lower, it's easier for teams to make up the disparities. They aren't impossible to trade, but it's still pretty difficult.

3. Any trade involving Wally Szczerbiak, Baron Davis, Steve Francis, Shawn Marion, Ron Artest, Jonathan Bender, and Jeff Foster
All seven of these players signed significant extensions with their teams last fall. While their big contracts don't kick in until next season (along with the base-year compensation rules), they have an even nastier hurdle to overcome. They currently have what is called a "poison pill" contract. Basically, for trade purposes, a player's contract is averaged over the life of his deal. That means that Szczerbiak's salary, for example, would be $9.42 million for trade purposes. However, the T-Wolves could only take back the salary he makes this season, $2.93 million. That $6.49 million disparity is an almost impossible number to make up.

4. Any trade involving Bryant Reeves, Matt Geiger, Larry Johnson, or Luc Longley. Talk about coming back from the dead. While their huge salaries still sit on the books for Memphis, Philly and New York, they all have retired from the league and can no longer be traded. Their contracts will come off the books this summer.

5. Any trade involving Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady, Jason Kidd, Tim Duncan, Chris Webber and Yao Ming.
Do you really have to ask?

Warriors on the brink

The Warriors on the brink? Now there's a surprise. On the brink of what? Depends on who you ask. If you're coach Eric Musselman, you have to believe you're on the cusp of something the Warriors haven't had in a long time. . . respectability.

The team is currently 24-28, its best record at this point in years. The Warriors are an impressive 15-11 at home, 12-5 versus the Eastern Conference and have won three out of four on their last road trip. They've beaten the Nets, Lakers and Jazz recently. Gilbert Arenas appears to be on the verge of stardom. And Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson are progressing nicely.

What's not to be happy about? Apparently plenty. The Warriors are still dealing with the fallout from Erick Dampier's outburst Sunday night. Dampier called Musselman "Mussel-head" after he sat on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Musselman refused to comment on the situation, but Dampier is looking at a fine and possible suspension for the diatribe.

He's not the only one making waves. Arenas and Richardson skipped practice a few weeks ago after seeing limited playing time. Arenas continues to flirt with the media about his possible departure via restricted free agency this summer. Meanwhile, prized rookie Mike Dunleavy warms the bench and wonders aloud what it would've been like to finish his senior season at Duke.

You can take the losing out of the Warriors, but you can't take the loser out of the Warriors, if you know what I mean. Selfishness, petty jealousies, greed and a flaccid front office threaten to ruin what was becoming one of the better stories of the season. I recently sat down with Musselman during the All-Star break to talk about the direction of his team. He was optimistic that the Warriors could be a contender in another season or two.

He talked about the numerous goals the team had already achieved. Goal one was to start protecting its home floor. Check. Goal two was to start beating some of the more elite teams in the NBA at home. Check. Goal three was to start winning the games on the road. The Warrrios' latest road trip is evidence that they're on the right track.

Musselman gushed about his young players. He felt that Arenas has the potential to not only be the Warriors point guard of the future, but one of the elite point guards in the NBA. He pointed to Murphy's work ethic this summer and how it's made him a better player. He was happy with the way Richardson was finding a way to get to the line more. He talked about the improvement Antawn Jamison has made to his game. The unselfishness of Adonal Foyle and, yes, even Dampier.

But you have to wonder whether it's all a mirage. The individual pieces are impressive. Musselman has found ways to motivate and inspire them. But can this group take it to the next level? Will the culture of losing that has enveloped the Warriors for so long eventually doom them?
As optimistic as Musselman was last week, the Warriors look like a team on the verge of imploding. Priority No. 1 is figuring out how to get Arenas to re-sign with the team this summer. Right now he's the most important piece on the team. Losing him would set the team way back.

The Warriors aren't going to get it done with charm or a good reputation. They have to clear the cap space to make him a competitive offer. With teams like Denver set to pounce on him July 1st, the Warriors will have to pony up more than the $4.5 average salary. The only way they can do that is to get well under the cap this year. That means moving several bad contracts now, not this summer when they'll really have a gun to their head. If that means giving up Dunleavy, Foyle or even Richardson, so be it. If Arenas is the best player on the team, the Warriors can't let him get away.

Second, the front office has to start cracking down on all of the malcontents. Up until now, Musselman has had to handle it. While he's capable, it's perpetuated the image that he doesn't always get along with his players. GM Garry St. Jean, not Musselman, should be the one responding to Dampier's comments. St. Jean should be the one fining him and laying down the law. How long will the franchise look the other way?

Finally, at some point, the team is going to have to bring in a battle-tested veteran or two to police the team from the inside. The few veterans the Warriors do have, with the exception of Foyle, aren't known for their leadership skills. Their young players need an example of what it takes to win in the this league. The coach can't be the lone voice in the wilderness on this. Once they bring in a respected player or two, preferably one with plenty of playoff experience, the Warriors will be on the brink of something we didn't think possible . . . the playoffs.

Peep Show

New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers: It looks like the Knicks and Sixers are still trying to work out a Latrell Sprewell for Keith Van Horn swap. The latest permutation of the deal, according to the Newark Star Ledger, has the Sixers throwing in Greg Buckner and the the Knicks adding Othella Harrington.

Denver Nuggets: Is Marcus Camby back on the trading block? The New York Daily News reported today the Nuggets are still trying to shop him. But with just four games under his belt this season, is anyone interested? "He's missed most of the season with injuries and I'd like to see him play a little," GM Kiki Vandeweghe said.

Toronto Raptors: GM Glen Grunwald can't find anyone interested in Hakeem Olajuwon and his potential expiring contract. According to the Toronto Star, that may mean the Olajuwon will be waived and sent off into official retirement after the trade deadline passes.

Seattle SuperSonics: Nate McMillan is unhappy with his team's attitude, but he doesn't expect any trades before the deadline. "I'll be happy when the trading deadline passes," McMillan told the Seattle Post Intelligencer. "Most of the time, nothing happens. I expect that this is the crew of guys we'll have for the rest of the season."

Los Angeles Lakers: It looks like the Shaq-Yao rematch isn't going to happen. "I tried to suck it up and be out there with the guys, but when [San Antonio Spur center] Kevin Willis was dusting my ... up the court the other day, then I knew something was wrong," Shaq told the L.A. Times. "[My knee] has always bothered me. But, the other day, I thought, 'He's 40 years old and he's killing me up the court.' I only get five rebounds. I'm slow to the ball. I just looked bad. Real bad."

Houston Rockets: Glen Rice will be activated from the injured list today. "It's just having a guy who's been out there in the wars," coach Rudy Tomjanovich told the Houston Chronicle. "Who can we turn to? When we're out there, I love what our guys are doing, but nobody's been there yet. We've got Steve [Francis], Cuttino [Mobley], Yao [Ming], Eddie [Griffin] and [James] Posey -- they're athletic, and they can do the skills and all that stuff, but [they don't have] the knowledge of, 'Well, we've been through this before.' "

sturm und drang
02-18-2003, 01:35 PM
Thanks, OP.

I love the Insider scoop. It will be interesting to see how much of this speculation, if any, comes off in the next few days.

02-18-2003, 02:09 PM
You're welcome Sturm...unfortunately, very little of what's published actually comes to pass. Witness the mavs moves the past two deadlines...nary a word, then boom. But at least, it's an insight into who's being talked about...

Things are hittin the fan in GS and the Hawks are in deep trouble.

Just wonder if someone's going to panic and give up the goodies ?

02-18-2003, 05:10 PM
Thanks again OP, it's weird how this year there hasnt been many articles about the trade rumors. Last year there were tons of them everywhere and also there wasnt many mavs rumors either. But this year it has gotten smaller and more quite then last year. Two more days..........

02-18-2003, 05:56 PM
Thanks for the article OP.

<< very little of what's published actually comes to pass >>

I have one theory about that. The GM's just float this trade talk as a smoke screen to cover up what is really happening. After all they don't want their fellow GM's to know what they're up to if it can be helped. And lots of times, they don't want the players to know either in case it doesn't work out.

02-18-2003, 06:05 PM
Another theory is that maybe sports reporters are not exactly the cream of the crop to begin with. Kinda like in the old days when westpoint bottom dwellers were given infantry commisions.

Most of the reporters out there are probably a little lazy and a little slow to the punch. With few exceptions this seams to be the case. Watch an episode of around the horn if u don't agree with me.

02-18-2003, 07:41 PM
There WAS a VERY interesting little article in the DMN today...but I can't find it anywhere in the online version. It basically goes back 10 years and shows the # of deadline trades, the # of players involved and the # of teams involved. Some years a lot of activity; others next to none.

I'll try to find a copy of the printed version and post those stats if I can. All in all, it was pretty interesting.

If you have the DMN at hand, you may want to take a look.

02-19-2003, 04:35 PM
Hey outlet,

Are you going to post todays.