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.

  • Dorgondator

    Stephen Jackson and DeJuan Blair for K Love also

  • imwithstupid

    But seriously, Jerome Jordan is unsigned…

  • Ryan McShane

    Without Jackson, the Spurs are out of legitimate SF’s. Kawhi is a SG/SF tweener unless he’s grown an inch or two by training camp.


    Serious overture ended by classical comedic tone. So glad to have you back posting articles. Thought for a while recently the site would no longer be up with the long pass between posts.

    Yeah…one trade I would love to happen is…

  • SAJKinBigD

    I see Josh Smith in the Trade Machine offerings all the time. Why does everyone think he’d work so well here? Just an inquiry, not shooting anything down. :)

  • GoSpursGo

    Leonard is a pure SF. 6’7″ to 6’9″ are pretty prototyical SF heights, and his width and strength make him more of a SF than SG. Guys like Durant are freaks and not the norm for the SF position. But, yeah, of they traded SJax, they are definitely thin at the three.


    Without going into long detail. Smith is the epitome of what the Spurs need regarding their front court. Whether the before mentions of Smith not being happy in Atlanta are now a thing of the past because of the recent hire of Ferry…I don’t know. But IF Atlanta were looking to deal Smith…Milsap would certainly be a great replacement for a much better price in the long run if Milsap extends with Atlanta and Milsap refused Utah’s extension offer so it is highly likely they would be wanting to deal Milsap. The deal I offer allows all teams involved to get what they would possibly want. Not only would Jackson be a huge improvement for Utah…it also helps them with their so called what to do about Raja Bell situation. That plus Utah gets 2.5 mil. more at seasons end with the expirings of Blair and Jackson (if they decide not to resign either) than they would have if they keep Milsap till years end.

    Other factors could be negotiated such as picks, draft and stash players or cash.

    But I’ll leave it with the same words as Andrew…seriously…it totally works.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    Just needed a little break and took a few personal days last week. Normal posting (for August, which means spotty posting) has resumed.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    Defensively, he’s a physical freak and addresses pretty much all of the Spurs’ big man weaknesses in one player. I’m not sure how he’d handle Pop’s system offensively, as he hasn’t shown to be the most disciplined player on that side of the ball, but Danny Ferry mentions in that Grantland Q&A that he’s been impressed with Smith’s passing ability, so I’m optimistic.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    I don’t see Kawhi as a tweener at all, I think he fits right in to the SF mold. He measured at 6’7″ with a 7’3″ wingspan at the pre-draft combine last summer. Then again, a growth spurt isn’t out of the question yet. But yes, they would need some cover if they traded Stephen Jackson. Derrick Byars isn’t enough, and I don’t even think Byars will be around past training camp.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    I would cry tears of happiness if that happened. Sadly, though, I don’t think David Kahn can be had that bad.

  • DorieStreet

    @Andrew A. McNeill:
    Trades may be difficult to do, due to the details and stipulations factored in, plus the time involved (discussions, research, inquiries, negotiations), but they happen every season (and off season).
    The Spurs are a franchise (among some others) that acquire most of their players through the draft and free agent signings, and they tend to keep their players for longer stints, but other teams swap players regularly. Pull up the records of a good number of players in the league and you see they have been traded 2-3 times—and some up to 5 and 6.

  • DorieStreet

    When does Love become a restricted free agent?

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    According to Sham Sports, Love is under contract with Minnesota through 2015-16, though that final year is a player option.

  • Spurholicmumbai

    How does the Dwight trade change the Western Conference.? Will the RJ experiment mean that FO will not risk another big trade to keep Spurs relevant? What could Spurs get for a combo of Neal, Bonner ans Blair?

  • Tyler

    I don’t have an issue with the fit. The major linchpin in the deal is Smith’s contract – he would have to be willing to sign an extension before the trade is executed.

  • msb128

    What about Blair and Stack 5 for DeAndre Jordan?

  • DuncanFanMan

    Does Blair & Jackson for DeAndre Jordan make sense?

  • theghostofjh


  • theghostofjh

    Kawhi is a pure SF. Depending on who we would get in return, we probably wouldn’t need a Jax-quality SF back-up for 12-15 mpg. behind KL.

  • theghostofjh

    Yeah, right!

  • theghostofjh

    Of course, I’m on board with that deal. I think there’s some good in it for all teams. I’d even consider throwing Neal in somewhere (Utah or Atlanta, and 1st or 2nd round pick to the other team) if as Tyler mentions, Smith extends his contract period to at least three years. If we want a legitimate shot during Duncan’s window, we have to do something.

  • Jimbo

    I would weep with joy if that trade were executed. I’d make that deal even if meant renting Smith for the year. Smith is really what this team needs.

  • Ryan McShane

    DeJuan Blair is a pure center too. He’s a little short for the position.

  • DorieStreet

    If Smith can be obtained, let’s not wait until the February trade deadline (and that applies to other players being looked at too). The track record shows that the Spurs’ system is not the easiest for most guys to pick up.

  • Ryan McShane

    Unless the Howard trade makes the Lakers way better this year (I don’t think it does – Nash is aging point guard a la Derek Fisher and Howard is now an injury prone top 2 center a la Bynum and Jamison still doesn’t come close to what Odom provided), I think the Spurs’ biggest defensive weakness is at the 3 position (Durant, LeBron – the Spurs aren’t going to win a championship because KL can defend Gordon Hayward, Wilson Chandler, or Grant Hill). Considering both of these players are significantly larger than Kawhi right now (Durant can shoot right over him, and LeBron can power through him… although who can’t he power through?), Stephen Jackson provides some much needed defense against these players; I think he performed quite admirably in the OKC series.

    I guess what I meant to say was that Kawhi is not as strong defensively as Stephen Jackson, and I think the key to a successful defense (in a Center-sparse league) is multiple defensive SF types.

    On a related note, did Duncan ever try to guard Durant? That would be interesting to see. I mean, remember Perkins’ block on Ginobili?? Duncan is much more mobile than Perkins.

  • Ryan McShane

    Okay, I was wrong. Mostly. He’s a little short to guard Durant and LeBron – the two best players on the two “best teams” last year. I think, as Spurs fans, we tasted blood in the water when the Spurs went on a 20-game winning streak. I feel like a championship is a realistic goal for the Spurs, and an answer to the best player on the teams the Spurs need to beat would be nice.

  • SAJKinBigD

    I’ll agree with this whole-heartedly! Question is, can it be done? Will Danny do it? How many chickens do I have to sacrifice to Jo-Bu?

  • theghostofjh

    When considering KL’s length, he is not. When considering Blair’s length, he still is.

  • theghostofjh

    Yeah, waiting for the trade deadline is like waiting for a miracle.

  • Hlorridi

    I would love to see Varejao taking Blair’s minutes. Solves a lot of defensive problems, gives “us” more flexibility with lineups, and would be essentially nuetral offensively. I’ll keep hoping along with you on that

  • Ryan McShane

    Yeah, I was mostly wrong on Leonard (See comment to GSG). But I wasn’t wrong about Blair a few months ago!

  • Tim in Surrey

    I think he was making a point about the unlikelihood of Stijl’s trade. BTW, this one works too: Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, though.

  • Christopher Sauer

    Wow, mentioning Nash and Fisher in the same sentence is seriously disrespectful to Nash. There’s no comparison. And, dude, Durant can shoot over anyone in the league at the moment…Unfortunately, I have to agree with you though, Jackson IS a better defender than Kawhi at this stage in their careers. Let’s re-visit that in about 2-3 years, and I think your tune will have changed immensely.


    They’re all unlikely. But which out of the many would make the closest since regarding teams involved? I’m sure the “trade machine” venue at espn is one of the most utilized elements of their site. Arm chair GM’s. Too many to list. : )

  • Titletown99030507d

    Yeah that way Splitter can be put on the court anytime Pop decides in his little head to do it.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I don’t think it’s the Spurs system that players can’t pick up. To me it’s that they know if they come here they have to take a number behind Tim, Tony, and Manu if they are going to see significant scoring opportunities. Take Tiago for example who flourished in Euroball at the MVP point of his career but totally looks like a bust for some of you here. Give him more scoring opportunities and minutes while your at it and maybe you’ll see the Tiago peopled raved about when he was in Europe. Are you listening Pop? Obviously those Euro coaches know something you don’t. But again that will never happen him being in Silver and Black because 1st and foremost Tim is the focus, next comes Tony, then comes Manu. They are the ones truly that plays are drawn for. After that the 3 point chuckers are next so what is Tiago to do? Run around the court setting screens all night long while everybody else takes long range jumpers? Take a look at the high point productions he posted when he played big minutes he was getting inside using his foot work scoring and rolling to the rim. But when Timmy came back after his mini vacation and Diaw(another undersized- overweight 4/5 getting ridiculous minutes) he was relegated back to sitting the pine or running around setting screens for the other fortunate ones. And you think a good player is coming here with those three and the 3 point chuckers on the team getting offensive burn first? NO. Tiago is on the wrong team plain and simple. He being on this team is a disservice to him. I’m sure he could set some pretty good screens for Lebron or DWade.

  • Dre

    Clips are not letting go of Jordan for an expiring and a bench player with no ACLs

  • Ryan McShane

    I have no doubt that Kawhi will be a better defender in 2-3 years. It would be nice if he somehow became better by next playoffs… but time will tell.

    Mentioning Nash and Fisher in the same sentence 5-7 years ago would have been seriously disrespectful. Now… it’s not. Nash is actually 6 months OLDER than Derek Fisher and the Lakers got rid of Fish because he lost a step. If Nash hasn’t lost a step yet (he has), he’ll lose one (or an extra one) by the time the playoffs roll around.

    I think only Paul George has the height, length, and athleticism to properly contest Durant… maybe Rudy Gay. But I’m interested to see if PFs are going to start guarding him if they go to that Westbrook/G/Harden/Durant/Ibaka line-up again during the season.

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