Tale of Two Cities: The Business Side of the NBA vs The Players Side of the NBA!!! Do we really give players a say so in their career as we should?

By Ronald Williams
Jun. 23, 2018

There is a business side of things and then there is the employee side of things. Please answer my question: why is it justifiable when the business side of things occurs: an employee to get laid off, fired, traded verses when the employee comes requesting something acceptable?

Let's chime in on Dame's view prior to reading:

Please visit the below URL as Dame Lillard discusses the Business side of the NBA in correlation to trades:

In retrospect to basketball, there is a huge gap and bias pertaining to this topic. For instance, here we have, Kwahi stating he is not feeling the support from the most professional organization that we have in sports. To a lot of us it's shocking to even hear this as the Spurs have been the golden standard organization since Pop came, back in 1996. To this date the Spurs organization has done the most superb job at keeping the issue(s) between the family amongst the family. We live in a state now, where players have more freedom to move and go as they please. It caught me off guard as well for Kwahi to state that he wanted out. He has every right to want to leave if that is what he wants. The last thing is to keep him unhappy and miserable to the point he thinks early retirement. I think the NBA owners can be selfish at times and extremely one sided. Then the media comes in and point more fingers at the players for doing what their heart is telling them to do. When you get injured and are no longer performing, you have a high chance of getting traded, Derrick Rose. That isn’t always the case. What about the players that have gotten traded without having injuries in which put them in a bad place. There are all types of reasons why GM’s say players get traded. Why is it that a player cannot demand a trade or sign wherever they please as a free agent without the backlash then?

Look at it this way! When players that don’t have no intentions or intent on wanting to get traded end up getting traded, they just had to pack their bags and families bags and move to the next team and state. All they say is, “it’s the NBA, and I understand the business side of it.” Next, management gets on television, and they say something along the lines of: “we had to do the best thing for the team, while we hated to depart from John Doe, we are happy with the pieces we got in return and we can now focus on the future.” So what is wrong with an athlete going to management saying, “I want to be traded, and this is my preferred destination,” without getting their brand and reputation tarnished? I think we need to stop being so one sided with the athlete if we give the owners a pass with certain things. Wrong is wrong, despite where it comes from. However, how is it wrong for a player to practice free will and choice!?

When a player demands a trade, and when your GM gets on TV and says: team's first option is keeping their star 'for a long time' as Spurs GM R.C Buford stated, tickles me. Here is why! You have to think: what if Kwahi was under-performing, would they have kept him for this long? What if he wasn’t a good defender and offensive player? Would they have informed him that he was on the block? Or would he just have gotten traded? When players are involved in talks, players hear rumors of their names being mentioned in trade talks. It is very seldom that a team will tell a player directly that they are getting traded. When you just up and get traded it is hard to adjust and plan for that and that puts players in a bind. Players have their families, school for kids, etc. they have to just pick up and take to the next state. You would think that all players getting traded would like to map out what to do with their families before it happens so they can, plan. But, we don’t all think like that, do we? What typically happens due to the fact that the kids may still be in school for the year is the player(s) end up moving their families with them after the end of the season to allow the kids to finish that school year; so they end up missing time around their families. No wife, no kids, no nothing. Just a new place, new team. Kids have to find new friends, new schools, and figure out how to fit in with a bunch of kids they know nothing about. Mid-season trades are always hard on families.

Let’s take a look: Non-requested trades vs Requested trades and see how they transpired over the years!

Non-requested trades:

Think back to 2004 when the Lakers traded Shaq to the Heat. Shaq was outraged and pushed to the point where he wanted to go there with the Lakers executives. Yeah, we knew about the Lakers, Shaq and Kobe beef. However, to say that we knew either one of them would get traded, is not true. Speculations, is not the same as knowing 100%; until it happens. Shaq himself acknowledge being caught off-guard by the move. This brings me to my next example. Back in 2017, Demarcus Cousins traded to the Pelicans. Vlade Divac was on camera saying the team won’t trade Cousins and in fact they want him long term. He has been making progress and being a great locker room presence. Soon as the all-star break came, we saw Cousins and AD in New Orleans, not Sacramento, together. Cousins was definitely not ready or expecting this. Mix signals were thrown all across the media and nobody once went at the Kings organization for playing mind tricks over Cousins. What about the lone journeyman, Gerald Green? I don’t think he has ever gone to management, demanding a trade. Yet he has been traded, unknowingly, about 5 times. What about Baron Davis? There is a long list of players that have been traded more than once. Imagine how they felt. Now, what did the media do with these players to defend them over the trades? Nothing! They just talked about the pros and cons of each trade in reference to who were the winners and losers of the deal. Not once, did anybody acknowledge how the player(s) were affected or how wrong management was, as they do players for making changes. Blake Griffin definitely didn’t see himself getting traded to Detroit! For that matter, none of the media was. Clippers and Detroit completed that transaction like some thieves of the night. Recall Luke Ridnour being traded not one, not two, not three, but four times in a week?

Requested trades:

Kyrie recently did the same with the Cavs. He demanded a trade and then threaten to sit out the season and opt for surgery had the Cavs opted not to trade him. Did the Cavs want to? Hell no! They rather traded him as it might have made the locker room divided. We saw Kyrie shipped to Boston. Kevin Garnett, played damn near his entire career on a struggling Minnesota team that couldn’t get to the playoffs or was inconsistent when making the playoffs. We saw him go to the front office and ask for a trade to Boston when he saw that Ray Allen had just gotten traded there. He soon waived his no trade clause and he too alongside Pierce and Allen formed the newest Big 3 in the NBA. Media crucified Kyrie about leaving LeBron and Cavs in disarray. Garnett got a pass and the same people said that he probably should have left a long time ago in pursuit of a title.

Now we have Kwahi. While he came out demanding a trade and preferably to the Lakers (which is the Spurs nemesis, which is why they haven’t traded him yet) his wombs came from within. I understand he has upset the Basketball world with this request, however, he does have a say so in his career as well. He became disgruntle due to the fact that his head coach and point guard were not being supportive in his decision, regardless of the timetable he was sitting out, for his quad injury. By it being the Spurs organization as opposed to an organization like the Clippers, you wouldn’t expect for a player to come out and speak about the lack of love from the Spurs organization. How do we not know he wanted to get traded from the Spurs prior to the last year’s deadline but didn’t mention it cause he knew the Spurs would try to keep him from doing what he wants. I love Pop as a coach and man. I also think that it is time for the Spurs to rebuild, top to bottom, which is something they have not had to do since the 90s.

Not all relationships end on a sour note like the Garnett trade occurred. Kyrie wanted to be his own man, so he wanted to go on another team. What is wrong with that? What if the Cavs had traded Kyrie for Paul George? What would we be saying then? Nothing! As a matter of fact, when Cleveland got rid of the 4 players they did before the trade deadline, everybody praised that trade as the Cavs got rid of locker room egos. Garnett, given his heart and soul to Minny, needed a change so he could become a champ. He left after 12 seasons when he should have left after 8 seasons.

Free Agency:

KD took the league by storm when he decided as a free agent to join the Golden State Warriors. Albeit, OKC did lose to them the previous year, however, his choice is his choice. That is what matters! What would have been different had, let’s say, OKC traded KD to Golden State or any other team they wanted? It is free agency. Players are able to go anywhere they chose to go, even if it causes the ground to shake. There is a thing as free will, you know. Players have the right to exercise it for their personal sake if management can do it for the sake of business. Teams shouldn’t expect for their star to return. I feel like that is selfish, regardless of you giving them a chance and drafting them. I will tell you all this: Harrison Barnes is a good player. However, to have him, Steph, Klay and Draymond vs LeBron, Kyrie, and Love in 2017, I believe the Cavs would have beaten them.

We put so much time on the setbacks a player causes an organization if they flee via free agency or request a trade. Never do we sit back and think about the player’s interest. Yet, that same player can get placed on the trading block and hear it from: hoopshype, bleacherreport, ESPN, NBATV, Yahoo Sports, etc, or in some cases when the trade actually happens, before being approached by the organization about their intentions. If we allow organizations to make trades (with or without informing players) then we should be able to have players requesting trades and leaving via free agency with no issue or backlash from the media. We expect the utmost loyalty from the players yet we don’t demand the same loyalty from upper management. Where is the love??? Players definitely shouldn't be looked at as villains for wanting to put their best interest at heart especially when we don't get ticked off about the business side of transactions. At the end of the day it's a business. Don't take it personally! We tell the players not to!

There you have it! There is always two sides to every story. I think it was my duty to bring the athletes side to the table!!!

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