“Trading Deadline-Don’t Walk Away”
It’s supposed to be the quiet time in sports. The Super Bowl is over. Pitchers and Catchers have yet to report. But it is not going to be a quiet time.
The NBA and NHL are in full swing, and teams are round the corner getting ready to make their push to get to the basketball and hockey playoffs.
That means making deals at the upcoming trading deadlines. In some cases, it’s acquiring a player that puts you over the top. In other cases, it’s moving players headed to free agency, you don’t think you can sign. Sometimes it’s dumping contracts to clear salary space for deals you might want to make when off season free agency arrives.
In hockey, the first shot was fired yesterday, when the arch-enemy Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, who don’t like each other, a ‘Battle of Ontario’ thing, pulled off a wild 10-player trade.
The Leafs shipped out their captain, defenseman Dion Phaneuf, highly paid at 7M per year, to Ottawa, for their young defenseman Jared Cowan, a big disappointment, young prospects and a second round draft pick.
Phaneuf was highly regarded as a young blue liner in Calgary. He went from the Flames to the Leafs in a mega-deal, since Calgary could not afford him. Now he’s moved again, because the Leafs are in total rebuild mode. Toronto has off-loaded 22M in contracts in just 9-months, including leading scorer Phil Kessel this past summer to Pittsburgh.
Dealing at the trade deadline has become the new norm in hockey. Toronto and Ottawa just jumped the gun a bit, before the deadline stares us in the face on February 29th. In the past couple of years, the NHL has become what baseball at become in late July, a swap meet. 47-hockey deals last year, 35 the year before. Days when Patrick Roy was dealt from Montreal to Colorado, or Lanny McDonald was jettisoned out of Toronto.
In basketball, we’re a week out from their February 18th deadline, and though the history of tons of trades is not there, there have been deals that could happen. Never say never, because history on deadline day brought Pao Gasol from Memphis to the Lakers, Kevin Garnett left Minnesota for Boston, and Detroit wound up with a ring and trophy after they picked up Rasheed Wallace.
Oklahoma City has had a tremendous run with the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But Durant is a walk free agent in July, and Westbrook can be one in 2017. If one goes, maybe the other does too.
The Clippers have an issue. Good team, but dealing with a bad situation in the aftermath of the Blake Griffin punch-out of a team employee, the broken hand, the suspension and loss of 850,000 in salary. Being in LA, might it be possible a Griffin for Durant deal makes sense?
Durant could make mega endorsement money in Los Angeles. Griffin played at Oklahoma, so it is going home to a degree.
Cleveland’s Kevin Love, who played at UCLA, may also be on the block, and could you imagine Griffin going to the Cavs to team with LeBron James?
And there will be some other pretty good names on the open market, guys who can, and will likely walk this summer. Pao Gasol of the Bulls, Al Horford of Atlanta amongst others. Is Dwight Howard of Houston about to be moved again?
And of course there are GMs with a history of doing deals, like Pat Riley-Miami, Danny Ainge, loaded with draft picks in Boston and the Knicks-Phil Jackson amongst others..
A quiet time for the NFL and MLB, but be prepared for explosions and aftershocks, because the NBA and NHL are about to open the trade window.