The trouble with trading
People love trades, except when they involve the Lakers being gift-wrapped big men in their primes. For most teams, though, it’s not so easy. There is a lot of work that goes into a trade before a deal can be consummated. We as fans rarely see it that way, though. It’s something I hammered on last season in one of our postgame shows, but I think it’s important to re-visit as we go into the upcoming season with the Spurs carrying a similar roster to last year and a trade-flexible one at that. It’s damn difficult to make a trade in the NBA. It’s even harder to make a good one for your team.
“You have to make decisions based on what your program needs, and how it’s doing, and what opportunities there are. Doing a trade is … you talk about 200 before you can do one that everyone is comfortable with.”
That quote is from Danny Ferry, current GM of the Hawks and former VP of Basketball Ops for the Spurs, in a Q&A yesterday with Grantland. His quote was in reference to the Hawks exploring trade talks with the Magic for Dwight Howard. He shines a little light on the behind the scenes nature that we as fans rarely see. Most of us see the finalized deals announced on SportsCenter, or even the framework of one tweeted by national sportswriters. What we don’t see are all the failed proposals that came before it.
We don’t get just how hard it is to get a trade done, in large part due to things like fantasy basketball, the ESPN Trade Machine and NBA 2K12. There’s a sense that it’s as simple as putting together a trade package that you think is fair, while still benefitting your team, and — BOOM — it’s accepted. Chances are, if your trade proposal gets OK’d on the first try in the NBA, you’re doing something wrong.
In fact, it’s extremely difficult. One man’s fair is another guy’s joke of an offer. Once you get through the framework of a deal — having waded through the salary restrictions, no-trade clauses and the like, and hopefully received some players who will actually improve your team — the deal still has to be cleared with the head coach, who has to deal with losing players and integrating new ones, and the owner, who signs the checks and takes into account things like ticket sales and media exposure. And if you’re a team like the Spurs, you want to get the blessing of a Tim Duncan before proceeding as well.
All of this is important to keep in mind as the season starts and the Spurs’ flaws are exposed and highlighted. While a trade is simple on paper, they are rarely that in execution. As simple as it is for me to hope for and be frustrated by a way for San Antonio to pry Anderson Varejao away from Cleveland, it’s not as simple as matching salaries and hitting “submit.”
But seriously, Stephen Jackson and DeJuan Blair for Varejao totally works.