Nixed Trades = Middle School Dances
It’s my belief that one of the great phenomena in sports is the nixed trade. They only happen every once in awhile, but when they do, man are they awkward.
Usually the nixed trade stems from a player failing a physical with his new team. Totally understandable. If the team finds out that you aren’t as healthy as they thought you were, obviously you’re not going to be of much use to them.
But what happened last week in the NBA threatens to dethrone the middle school dance as the most awkward situation known to man.
Chris Paul was traded to the Lakers. Pau Gasol was traded to the Rockets. Lamar Odom and a slew of Rockets that don’t really matter were traded to the Hornets. Everyone was about to score. And then commissioner David Stern put on his principal hat, reinstated the two-foot rule and sent everyone home with a broken heart.
I understand to a degree why the trade was ultimately vetoed. The Lakers would have gotten Paul, the second best point guard in the league behind Chicago’s Derrick Rose, and created extra salary cap room in the process. Rarely does a team have an opportunity to create the best backcourt in the league and save money doing it. Even though the Hornets were happy since they got a decent package of players in return for Paul, who they knew was going to walk as a free agent after the season, the league didn’t think it was a young-enough, good-enough package of players.
But enough trade analysis. I could go on, especially since I didn’t touch on the complexities that the NBA ownership of the Hornets brings to the table. What I am really fascinated by is the juicy drama of this deal, especially in Lakerdom.
Imagine you’re a player involved in this deal. Your team just tried to trade you, but it didn’t work out. There were no injuries involved, just an unprecedented flexing of league power to try and keep a slew of owners happy.
It’s not that the team thinks you’re a bad player. Certainly the Lakers don’t think that Gasol is a bad player – he’s been Robin to Kobe’s Batman in the Lakers’ two most recent championship runs. Obviously Odom isn’t one, as he just won the Sixth Man of the Year award. I am sure that the Rockets appreciate the talents of Luis Scola and Kevin Martin as well.
But sometimes there is just someone hotter at the dance, so you ditch your current “7” and make a run at the “10.” I don’t need to finish the analogy, do I?
One of the “7s” was understandably hurt when his partner struck out in that pursuit and then came groveling back, so much so that he posted the below tweet and demanded a trade when he reported the following day’s practice. His request was promptly granted.
Can you really blame Odom? His situation would be even worse if it was transferred to a normal workplace. Athletes are forced to realize that their job is a “business,” that they are liable to get traded or cut at any moment. But in corporate America, if your employer tried to fire you or “trade” you to another company only to have HR block the move, it would be almost impossible to continue to work for that company.
We’ve all been ditched at the middle school dance. Unfortunately for Odom, Gasol, Paul and everyone else involved in the trade, they had/have to experience the same degree of awkwardness all over again. Best of luck to you, bros.