Last season it was Carmelo Anthony. This season it’s Dwight Howard. Players who hold the threat of walking as a free agent over a team to force a trade to a destination they prefer.
Jerry West wants none of it. He says teams should call the player’s bluff — make him leave the money on the table to walk away.
The legendary player and long-time league GM of the Lakers and Grizzlies (and current Golden State minority owner and team consultant) was asked in interviews on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles how he would handle such a situation if it were his team.
“I honestly think I’d call their bluff,” West said in an interview on 710 ESPN’s Mason and Ireland show Thursday, not mentioning Howard specifically. “I really would, because I don’t think any agent or player is going to leave $30 million on the table. I just don’t believe that’s going to happen….”
“If I were an executive on a team where a player says he’s going to leave, let him leave,” West said on 710 ESPN’s Max and Marcellus show earlier Thursday. “It would be better than saddling yourself with a bunch of players that are not going to fit in to what you’re trying to do — high-salaried players, in many cases overpaid players by today’s standards, that would burden you going forward.
“I’d almost rather start over again myself. You’re not going to replace that player, but there’s an enormous penalty there and it looks like to me like the inmates are running the asylum if you let that happen.”
Jerry West just became very popular in Orlando.
West has always been a risk taker and his strategy comes with one big risk — that the player isn’t bluffing and would leave. Meaning the franchise gets nothing. Maybe West would rather just start over, but if you hold out like Denver did (and find an owner like James Dolan who caves to work with) you can get a fair amount of talent back.
But in the case of Orlando, do you think Howard is willing to leave the guaranteed year and larger raises on the table just to get out of town? Is getting Brook Lopez or Andrew Bynum back worth it for the Magic?
Or do you call Howard’s bluff?
Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:
After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:
The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.
Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.
It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.
In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.
This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.
At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.
Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.
But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.