Monday, 5 September 2011


Trading places.


OK picture the scene, you've just been paid and its the weekend. Last night you could have hit the club but you decided to stay in and save that money for something more. Maybe you pulled an extra shift, worked a double, put in a request for overtime. Maybe this week for a little change you did some jobs for the neighbours, cut a lawn here, washed a car there. You may have even borrowed a little bit, or not taken that girl on that date yet. So your at the store with your hard earned cash and your face to face with your idols jersey, stomach rumbling, no lunch out today. Look to your right there’s the new Air Jordan’s...maybe for your birthday, Right now its about your teams all-star. You carefully count out your $179.99 because you want to be authentic with this purchase, for this player a swingman jersey just isn't enough. You go to the register and even the shop assistants jealous, you make the purchase, flash her a wink and leave the store.

Walking down the block you want to break it out the bag and rock it now… but wait, be patient. So you race home and then you run up stairs and in your room carefully take the jersey out the bag like it was the most fragile thing you’ve ever touched. You try it on, look in the mirror, its a perfect fit. The digital camera comes out because the Facebook profile pictures come next. Your real proud right about now that you almost forget its game time. You flip on the TV to check out the pre-game stats, and your faced with the big NBA news story of the week. You can't believe it… your mans been traded. Oh well that'll make a nice throwback in a couple of years buddy.

”This player make em' scream and scheme/my closet look like I keep getting traded from team to team”. Fabolous-Right Now & Later On

I love this game and you do too. You may just love to watch basketball in any form whether it be the L, European ball or the shirts versus the skins of the streets. Still, however you probably also love a team in the NBA, whether its your hometown ballclub or if you live thousands of miles away from the team you ride with. Your checking the scores and stats everyday, you bleed the teams colours and you treat the roster like extended family members. So even when an underused role player is traded or waived you feel the loss. This is because with you its deeper than just the game, however for the majority of owners and bigwigs alike this game of basketball goes rarely deeper than business. This is why in today’s league there are more trades and player movement then we can keep up with when ‘NBA Daily’ hits our inbox. From the Carmelo's to the Deron's big deals, become big trades and big news, but no matter how great some moves are, where does it all end? When does it stop?

The thing is that trades and player movement aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but when they are done to excess it doesn’t leave much room for long term planning. Some trades are smart, for example if a trade brings in a player that’s younger than the player shipped out and/or will result in some salary cap relief in the future than this is a smart trade. If a veteran player is bought in too stabilize a young unit, or on the flipside if young players are bought in to give an ageing roster fresh legs than this also can also be seen as a smart move. With that being said however, if a player is bought in on a temporary basis, (maybe he’s good for one last playoff run or maybe he’s got an expiring contract) the trade is only smart for limited reasons. Lets look at it this way, good NBA teams that make a lot of moves like the Golden State Warriors may have one or two buzz worthy seasons, great NBA teams that stick with one solid nucleus like the San Antonio Spurs last for years.

Trades may bring headlines, buzz and a new energy to a team but trades can also effect chemistry, continuity and the flow of a team. More and more star players are being shipped around the league like journeymen and role players are and expected to fit in and make an impact straight away and in some cases accept reduced roles. Sometimes it works like in the case of Pau Gasol and the Lakers and Chauncey Billups and the Nuggets and then other times it doesn’t like with Allen Iverson and the Pistons. The thing that makes it worse that in a league where player movement is second only to the coaching carousel (in terms of being in a constant state of flux) instead of trying to take the time to work in harmony with each other, a player gets disgruntled and a team gets impatient. This results in so much player movement that the gamers of the world have to reorder their rosters on ‘NBA Live’ almost daily.

This has made certain star players without a permanent team to call their own and an uncertainty on where they’ll be playing by the end of the season let alone the month. In 2009 for example, former All-Stars became all-business moves as Shawn Marion had barely been in the heat of Miami’s South Beach for one season when he woke up one morning and needed to buy a winter coat for Toronto. The guy he was traded for Jermaine O’Neal has moved so much over the last season that he’s struggling to find his feet, just like the time he threw his infamous punch at the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills. They are other victim of the business side of the league, even if they have now settled in Dallas and Boston respectively (again different teams).

"Big money in this b**** if you didn't knew/ big business, minus the business suit" Lil' Wayne (Rick Ross-Luxury Tax)

So even with the plague of the recession, in the sports world its still business as usual. In today’s league as well you aren't just vulnerable to trades if your a journeyman or about to approach free agency. Even a legend like Shaquille O'Neal was still bouncing around the league-despite his solid play-right until his retirement. In Shaq’s career he played for six teams. If Shaq was a role player or your run of the mill everyday star player six teams in 20 seasons would be normal, but this guys a legend one of the greatest, most dominant players to every play the game and still in retirement a real force. Players of this calibre should be identifiable with one team like Magic, Larry and Mike. Think of it like this which team is going to retire O’Neal’s jersey? The smart money would be on the Lakers where Shaq spent the bulk eight years of his career and prime in. Shaq clinched a three-peat and an NBA MVP award in 2000. Then again we all know how is tenure in L.A. ended, it was no storybook. There’s still love there but is that the franchise he’s going to be identified with when people look over his Hall of Fame career? There is no doubt that it was the most eventful time of his career however Shaquille's career sandwiches his time in Hollywood with two four year slices of time in Florida.

He started his number one draft choice, rookie of the year career with the Orlando Magic and became one of the youngest, most exciting, up and coming players in the league. He took his team to the playoffs and formed a great one-two punch duo with Penny Hardaway while it lasted. His second visit to Florida featured four years on South Beach with another great sidekick in D-Wade. The diesel got his Kurt Russell on and ‘Escaped From LA’ and got another championship ring to boot too. Shaquille's story in Miami was one of redemption. With all these different stories to his career its hard to identify which team Shaq had the biggest impact on and vice versa. One things for certain though the business side of the NBA has certainly had its impact on his career. Yes its not always the owners and the managers faults. A lot of players demand to be released or traded and Shaquille has. Still, however in this business driven league some owners and managers when presented with a disgruntled member of their team would rather think what they could get for the player as opposed to what they could do for the player.

You know the purists out there will want some statistics but there’s only one figure you need to really consider to see how big the trading machine has got. Less than half of the teams in the NBA as of right now have the same franchise player that they had five years ago. So where has this trend of constant player movement come from? Lets look back to 2003 where the Lakers grabbed Utah’s and Seattle’s franchise players Karl Malone and Gary Payton to join them when they already had two of their own franchise players in Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. These big moves inspired the rest of the league to follow suit and forced them to keep up. In that’s same year Alonzo Mouring went to Miami, Rasheed Wallace went to Detroit and before he needed to feed his family Latrell Sprewell went to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with Sam Cassell.

The league hadn’t seen this much movement of franchise all-star players in this short space of time before. Of course big trades have always been a part of the NBA, legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Clyde Drexler spent their careers with more than one team. Still, it's a different ballgame today. These days players movement is at a higher frequency and top tier ball clubs in the league aren’t shy in stocking their rosters with all-star players who would be the main, go to guy on lesser teams. Although this makes the top teams that greater it makes the lesser teams more and more raw. This can reduce competitiveness in the league. Also think how better top draft picks on lottery teams would fare if they had more strong veteran or all-star influences to mentor them. The stars of the league may be willing to play with the Kobe’s and the Lebron’s (let's not get started on other decisions) for less pay but the possibility of a ring, but with that the Cavaliers and the Sacramento's (or Anaheim, Orange County, or wherever they're going to play) of the league are being left depleted.

One things for sure though the number of trades in the NBA is rising. Whether in the season or the off season and whether it be due to a team wanting immediate results or if there protecting themselves from losing a player to free agency. It can’t be argued that its interesting and at many a time exciting when a three team, seven player, blockbuster deal is done an hour before the trade deadline. Then again you can’t argue that when a All-Star player or a group of players spend the majority, if not all their careers for one team it gives them and the team of their generation a much deeper, richer legacy. Disagree? Think of Tim Duncan and the Spurs, Paul Pierce and the Celtics and Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. That’s when camaraderie is bigger than business. That’s when re-grouping is better than re-tooling. That’s were trades aren’t always necessary and that’s were amazing truly happens.

“And when it comes down to this recording/I must be Lebron James if you Jordan/No I want rings for my performance/I’m a Kobe Bryant of an artist/Same game, same coach, been starting/Same triangle offence.” Lil’ Wayne- Show Me What You Got (Freestyle)

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