Are NBA trades as much about relationships as players?

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Last month you pulled up the old trade machine and found a way for your team to finally move that bloated contract that’s an anchor on your rebuilding efforts and move him a team that could actually use him. A win-win. It’s brilliant. Why isn’t your GM talking about this deal with the other team’s GM?

Because they may not be talking.

The NBA, like many businesses, is about relationships. It’s a pretty tight community. And as Ben Golliver points out at Hoopshype from his time at the MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, those relationships influence trades.

“The first misunderstanding about trades is that the NBA is an efficient market for trades,” (Mavericks owner Mark) Cuban said. “It’s not. Not all teams talk equally to each other. It’s not like the stock market… Different teams have different relationships, more of a trust factor.”

Just as relationships can help deals get done, they can prevent deals from happening….

“Because some teams are more into analytics, [some GMs] may be less willing to deal with you because they may think you’re taking advantage of them. If you go back through history, there are teams that have not only not done trades, they don’t even talk to each other.”

Shortly thereafter, the panel kidded (Rockets GM Daryl) Morey for trading with the Memphis Grizzlies “every February.” Surveying some of the moves made during the trade season, Cuban’s comments cast them in a new light. Who could forget the New York Knicks hired former Denver Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien as a consultant just weeks before trading for Carmelo Anthony? Was it simply a coincidence that the best deal available for the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats were with each other, given that the president of the Blazers, Larry Miller, is the former president of Jordan Brand and keeps a picture of himself with Bobcats owner Michael Jordan in his Rose Quarter office? Who knows, but relationships can’t hurt and they certainly don’t play a role when fans or writers fire up the ESPN Trade Machine.

You would think the GM that can put the relationships aside and just do business with anyone would have an advantage. It’s never that clean or simple, but the more doors you can keep open the more options you would have.

Just a reminder, Anthony Davis is very good at basketball, dropped 43 on Knicks

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Anthony Davis went into this season wanting to be seen as the best player in basketball.

Part of that perception is team success, and while the Pelicans are a good-not-great 8-7 to start the season it’s not because of Anthony isn’t doing all he can. He dropped 43 points and 17 rebounds on the Knicks, helping spark the Pelicans comeback against the Knicks. Check out the video above.

Davis is averaging 26.5 points with a quality 56.4 true shooting percentage, plus 17.1 rebounds a game. His PER of 26.8 is sixth best in the NBA. When Davis gets some help, and the Pelicans play a little defense, this is the kind of team AD might want to stick with.

Allen Iverson: “No way Melo should retire… he got a lot left in the tank, man”

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Carmelo Anthony is in limbo now. He’s not with the Rockets, not suiting up for games or playing, but he’s still on the roster. Houston has yet to waive him because they and his agent have not yet found a landing spot for him — other teams don’t want to get into the Carmelo Anthony business right now. Maybe that changes as injuries come and rosters shift, but right now there are no takers.

It has led Tracy McGrady and others to suggest Anthony retire.

Allen Iverson disagrees, speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Iverson is right, Anthony needs to be in the right situation. I’m just not sure what that is.

Anthony, like all great athletes, wants to leave the game on his own terms. The challenge is he is no longer a top two or three player on a good team, yet he feels entitled to be put in that role (or, at least, be treated like one of those guys). ‘Melo came off the bench in Houston but didn’t like it. The problem is that’s where his game is at that point — he’s a bench role player who can get some buckets but hurts the team defensively. That limits when he can be put on the court, especially in the playoffs. Can he accept that spot on a team?

Eventually, a team is going to give Anthony a chance, and I hope that works out. I would like ‘Melo to leave the game with us remembering him as the Hall of Fame player and elite scorer that he was, not like this.

 

Jimmy Butler: “So much more fun to play with these guys”

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Jimmy Butler is in Philadelphia now, but he is not done throwing shade at his former teammates in Minnesota.

Butler had 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting, including the game-clinching layup, as the 76ers beat the Jazz 113-107 Friday night. After the game, he got the walk-off interview with Serena Winters and took a dig at his former Minnesota teammates.

“It’s so fun to win. So much more fun to play with these guys… Everybody wants to win, and when somebody messes up, you talk to them and they do their job.”

Part of Butler’s issues with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins was he felt they didn’t want to win badly enough, that they didn’t measure up to his level of passion. Butler is still in the honeymoon phase with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Sixers, but so far he likes the intensity so far and is happy to make a note of the difference.

By the way, they’re happy in Minnesota without him — the Timberwolves are 3-0 since the trade, Karl-Anthony Towns is back to playing like his All-NBA self, and he says the communication is better now and guys are taking responsibility.

 

Pelicans Elfrid Payton returns, starts, injured again

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) —The New Orleans Pelicans say point guard Elfrid Payton has a fractured finger on his left hand.

Payton injured his finger in the first quarter of his first game back on Friday night after he’d missed New Orleans’ nine previous games with a right ankle sprain.

Soon after, Payton was ruled out for the remainder of the game against the New York Knicks.

Acquired as a free agent this past offseason, Payton has played in six games for New Orleans. He entered Friday night’s games with averages 11.6 points and 6.4 assists through his first five games, but did not have a point or assist in eight minutes against New York before his latest injury.