You’ll start to notice a pattern, eventually. In the month leading up to the trade deadline, there will be a lot of talk about two possible eventualities.
A. “This trade deadline looks to be the most active in years, with several teams shopping star players!”
B. “This trade deadline looks unusually slow and I wouldn’t expect any major deals.”
This situation is always exacerbated by reporters getting quotes from GMs about how they’re definitely going to make a deal/not going to make a deal and fans who are simply unable to recognize that their team is headed for a rebuilding effort. This year’s winner is Portland, for example.
But in reality, the actual trade activity is somewhere in the middle. Mark Cuban, bastion of rational approach, talked about it with the Boston Globe:
“Relative to other years in terms of trade talk, I don’t think it’s really any different,’’ he said. “It always goes through the same process. There’s one or two early trades. We saw that with Orlando, and then everybody waits until the last possible second. And then you hit the trade deadline and they recognize it’s the last chance to save money or to do something. That’s when things happen.
“That’s one of the challenges and problems the league has is that a lot of GMs like to wait until the last second.’’
Amen, Cubes. Teams are always balking at offers, thinking their players definitely deserve to fetch more on the open market. They’re all waiting for that sweetheart of a deal that never comes (unless you’re the Lakers). Then the deadline approaches and they realize it’s their last opportunity to get a deal done. Take a look at just some of the teams with considerable reason to make a move:
Utah: Jerry Sloan’s gone, the situation is unstable, and Andrei Kirilenko remains a high-priced expiring contract for a player who can still actually produce.
Portland: Andre Miller remains on the block next to Marcus Camby, they have young pieces to add to a deal, and a strong set of reasons to go for a rebuilding project.
Phoenix: Still hovering in the playoff race, but Robert Sarver isn’t going to be okay with a high price tag on a lottery team. That’s not how he operates, upcoming CBA or no.
Charlotte: A dreadful team in need of a major makeover, a brash, impulsive owner, and a set of movable quality players like Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace.
There are enough pieces just there to leave open the possibility of a few deals before you start looking at surprise entrants like Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, and the Clippers.
Maybe it’ll be as quiet as some are expecting with the upcoming lockout looming over everyone. But the odds, and history are with Cuban. It’s just going to take some time until the teams get desperate enough.