NBA teams left in the dust as others throw out blueprints during crazy offseason

Dan O'Shea

This NBA offseason has been going on for less than two weeks and it’s already been the most exciting part of the year. Granted, that’s pretty achievable considering there’s more drama in a one-minute LaVar Ball rant than there was in the playoffs, but it has to do with teams wheeling and dealing like never before. With more and more teams opting to pull the trigger on personnel moves, the phrase “sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t make” has become obsolete. 

There used to be a blueprint on how teams should operate in the NBA. When you find a star through the draft, free agency, or trade, you hold on to him as tight as you can. Even if doesn’t want to play there and makes that perfectly clear by sending cryptic tweets and pouting on the court like he just found out Riley Curry has more followers than him, you make him stay. There are only 20 to 30 stars in the NBA, and if you have one you don’t let go. You just hope Stockholm Syndrome takes over them and they become complacent enough to enjoy mediocrity while you figure out how to make your team competitive.

This offseason, that is not happening. It’s a Goddamn fire sale out there. What used to be an extremely hard market to get into has now turned into teams dishing away their disgruntled superstars to anyone that has their arms open. “You get a superstar! You get a superstar! EVERYBODY GETS A SUPERSTAR!”

Just look at the Jimmy Butler trade for example.

 

A year ago, Butler would’ve commanded at least three first round picks, with possible franchise changing youth added to the deal. Now, the Bulls simply moved up 11 spots and essentially received a bag of hammers. Seriously. They received a player who had a brutal rookie season in Kris Dunn, a player who’s knee exploded mid-season and won’t be ready to kick off this year, and a draft pick that turned into Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen could be good, or he could just be another kid wearing a Dirk Nowitzki costume that will fade into irrelevancy sooner rather than later. There’s no denying how good Butler is, so why would Chicago finally make that trade?

The reason is the Warriors. This team is simply so good that teams are either A.) realizing they have no shot and want to dish off every competent player while they wait for the Warriors to fade out and die or B.) they’re ready to take the bait and jump into an arms race by adding no fewer than three stars to their team. No matter which path teams are taking, there are players up for grabs. From franchise changing players to the 21-year-old and everybody in between; nobody is safe. With more players available than ever before, the teams sitting on their hands and waiting are the real losers.

Think about it. Teams used to be hesitant to get rid of players like Butler, but players are dictating their future more than ever. We’ve seen players demand trades and better situations for whatever reasons, while teams are actually granting these wishes like a melancholy genie that knows he really has no choice. While this anomaly is occurring, teams should be emptying their pockets and throwing them at every losing team with a disgruntled star.

This isn’t something that just started happening. Look at the slew of paupers that came Sacramento’s way after they traded DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans.

 

None of those players can hold Cousins’ sneakers and they were all part of a deal that sent one of the most unique big men in the NBA to New Orleans. What are teams with assets waiting for?

For teams like the Celtics, Lakers, and any single team that wants to bring stars to their city, there’s no reason to wait. Yes, Los Angeles is heading in the right direction by trading D’Angelo Russell to free cap space for Paul George, but it isn’t enough. While teams like the Timberwolves and the Pelicans of all teams are moving forward, those waiting to pull the trigger are getting left in the dust. For God’s sake, there’s a 7’3 unicorn on the trading block. Dump those assets and figure out how to bring him in.

 

There’s a beauty in waiting for your draft picks to pan out, but let’s be realistic. Picks always don’t turn out. The idea of assets is usually better than assets themselves. Teams who aren’t unloading all their future assets to acquire players who have already proven themselves are insane. You’re either tanking or stocking up to wage war on the Warriors. Either commit to winning, or load up of the future. Stop living in between.

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