Thursday, December 15, 2011

Death Of A Conspiracy

Now that Chris Paul has indeed been traded to the LA Clippers (for Eric Gordon, Aminu, Chris Kaman, and a first-round draft pick), we see there was no grand scheme or conspiracy to keep him languishing in New Orleans. No block of owners yanking David Stern by the marionet strings to prove that small markets could keep their stars, or that the lockout wasn't all for naught (yes, Bill Simmons, you can kindly go face the corner and be quiet now). No grand hatred of the Lakers or collusion to keep them from gaining another star player. No lawsuit to be filed over rejected trades (yes, Mitch Lawrence of the NY Daily News, you can ever so kindly shut up now).

After nearly a week of weeping and wailing and gnashing of keyboards over the supposedly-horrible supposed-precedent supposedly set by killing the original Laker-Rocket deal, suddenly writers and commenters are coming out of the woodwork to actually credit Stern for making the right deal. Huh? Where were they all before? It's as if we just returned from the other side of the looking glass.

I said it before -- repeatedly for a week now -- this was strictly about the long-term health of the Hornets franchise. Setting yourself up to barely make the playoffs for the next two years, and then inevitably go into rebuilding mode because Lamar Odom and Luis Scola hit 35-years old would've been sheer and utter stupidity. The Laker-Rocket trade would've forced the Hornets to increase salary to bring in players on the downsides of their careers. There are still people arguing for this trade. What do they teach you Earthlings down there that you can't see past one move ahead of yourselves? Perhaps Chess should be mandatory for all grade-school children.

The person who truly deserves blame in this public-relations mess is the Hornets GM. He should've taken one look at the principles they were getting in the first deal, turned it down himself and not waste Stern's or anyone else's time. Was he not properly briefed on his role, on the state of the franchise and their mission going forward? Shouldn't he have had enough sense to figure that out for himself? You'd think he would be infinitely more privy to the relevant financials and statistics to realize the silliness of a deal that looks dumb even from all the way out here on Mars. To paraphrase Tom Haberstroh of "When Kevin Martin is 'The Young Guy' in a deal, umm Houston, that's gonna be a problem."

Negotiating For Dummies
One last tidbit on the Paul trade: the hyper-reactive crying that was heard from all corners over the Hornets (the NBA) asking the Clippers for all of Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Aminu, Kaman and the first-round pick. Was that too much for the Clips to give up? Absolutely. So does that mean the Hornets were wrong to ask for all that? No! Does anyone on Earth understand how a negotiation works? You don't start off by making fair offers. That is a guaranteed path to ending up with less than your fair shake. That is not how you broker a trade. One side is supposed to offer too little; the other requests too much. You go thru a round or more of trying to meet in the middle, then stare each other down until one side relents. We just went thru this dance with the labor agreement, and still no one gets it. The trade was never dead or even on hold. We were simply in the stare-down stage, and the Clippers held their steely glare until the Hornets blinked and relented on Bledsoe. While most people were crying foul over the league supposedly blocking another trade (have you ever heard a more gross mis-characterization?), I was saying that the trade will go thru when (note: not if; when) the Hornets lose the stare-down and give up on either Gordon, Bledsoe, or the Minnesota pick. Well, as it turns out, Bledsoe remains a Clipper, and the deal goes thru. Simple. I had absolutely no insider sources to lead me to this prophetic prediction. Just the plain common sense God gave me...that, and I'm not saddled with the type of petulant emotional state that cripples common sense and renders it null and void.

Don't hold your breath expecting the same of the bulk of these sportswriters.

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