Masai Ujiri, in an unpredictable turn, has become the NBA’s biggest villain.
But this will pass.
Because Ujiri was operating within the NBA’s norms.
In the two weeks leading up to the trade deadline in my last year Orlando, Rob Hennigan and I had numerous conversations, and he was very honest with me and transparent, and he said, “We’re exploring option. We love you, but we’re going to do whatever’s in the best interest of the team.” The day of the deadline, he tells my agent, “We’re not going to trade J.J.” I get that news with about an hour to go before the trade deadline. We get on a bus. We go to the airport in Dallas. We get to the airport. I get traded. So, I was like, “That doesn’t mean anything.”
Then for two-and-a-half months, I have John Hammond and Herb Kohl, the owner at the time, telling me how much they love me and they covet me and they’re going to re-sign me and blah, blah, blah. And then I leave after the playoffs, and it’s crickets for two months. I literally never heard from John Hammond, not even a text or phone call.
Redick didn’t at all sound as if he were complaining. He was just pointing out the reality of the business.
It hurts when it happens to you, as DeRozan and Casey are feeling right now. But it’s something players and coaches are aware of.
These are tricky situations for executives.
What happens if they tell a player they’re considering trading him then don’t make a deal? Does the staying player brood about being shopped? That’d be no good for the team. Maybe it’s just better to keep him happy, even by lying, while he’s there.
On the other hand, if executives tell a player they’re not considering trading him then deal him, the unhappy player immediately becomes someone else’s problem.
It’s a cold logic, but logical all the same.
For what it’s worth, I’m not willing to give executives a pass for lying. They deserve to be criticized for doing so. They should treat their employees with enough respect to be honest with them.
But executives have generally concluded potential backlash for lying is – like lying itself – just the cost of doing business.