As sluggish NBA trade market nears deadline, history has shown a player’s desired trade destination may not matter
The NBA trade market continues to hum quietly, with little chatter about substantial deals gaining development. Executives are passed around front offices and players are made available, but this pre-buzzer Feb. 9 deal landscape is desperately short of important talent on the block, in the eyes of key executives, especially for teams looking to add a true All-Star to their respective builds.
That’s why someone like Zach LaVine, the Bulls’ two-time All-Star who is in the first season of a five-year, $215 million max contract, would have no shortage of suitors if Chicago decided to move the 27 year old player. guard ahead of next Thursday’s deadline – despite some concerns over his recovery process following off-season arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The Lakers, Heat, Knicks and Mavericks have always been mentioned by league staff as having motivations to land LaVine if the time is right. Portland also showed interest in signing LaVine last offseason, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Atlanta was looming as a potential destination for LaVine before the Hawks splurged on Dejounte Murray.
For any team that holds out hope for LaVine’s availability, or that Bradley Beal will one day ask Washington, or if Trae Young is ever looking for a trade with the Hawks, it might actually be wise for the stars to steer clear of create a proverbial list of destination teams. . Recent NBA history seems to suggest that when such a player voices his preferences for his next employer, those same teams are often empty.
James Harden landed in Brooklyn after asking to leave Houston, but told reporters upon his 2022 arrival in Philadelphia that he always preferred to join the 76ers. Anthony Davis triggering his shot in 2019 — identifying the Lakers with LeBron James and then landing in Los Angeles — might be the only clear example in modern memory of an All-Star directly hitting the desired location by trade demand.
The story continues
Carmelo Anthony got his wish to join the Knicks…in 2011. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
You have to go back to 2011 to find another one, when Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York like he always wanted, yet the Nuggets almost traded him to the New Jersey Nets instead. Chris Paul landed his ticket to Houston in 2017 not by asking for a trade but by opting for the final year of his contract, which helped facilitate a seven-man package and a first-round pick to the Clippers in return.
The following fall in 2018, when Jimmy Butler requested a trade away from the Timberwolves, Butler had told Minnesota officials he wanted to be dealt to the Clippers or the Knicks, with the Nets listed as a third preference. And yet he went to Philadelphia.
Brooklyn, Los Angeles and New York, it will be recalled, were stacking their decks for 2019 free agency, focusing on freeing up cap space to add two max contract level players. News of Kawhi Leonard’s interest in traveling to Southern California that summer had permeated the league, certainly swaying Butler’s eye toward the Clippers and weighing heavily on Leonard’s 2018 trade demand in San Antonio.
At that time, teams that coveted Leonard, like Boston and Philadelphia, worried about Leonard’s impending flight risk the following summer — he indeed bolted to the Clippers during the 2019 offseason. Few suitors were therefore willing to meet the Spurs’ asking price for Leonard, and the Finals MVP, of course, was traded from San Antonio to Toronto, about as far from Los Angeles as Leonard could have hoped. Don’t forget that Paul George, Leonard’s ultimate running mate with the Clippers, was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in 2017 after also communicating his intention to flee to Los Angeles when he hit the open market.
It took years of sabbaticals in temporary locations for both George and Leonard to reach the town they wanted to call home. And the Lakers, of course, missed out on both All-Stars, despite George and Leonard’s obvious intrigue. What would have happened to James’ tenure in Hollywood if Davis had chosen to join Kyrie Irving in Boston instead?
The All-Star point guard was indeed recruiting Davis for the Celtics after Irving asked for a trade from the Cavaliers in 2017. Irving also did not have Boston on the list of favorite teams that his representation had delivered to Cleveland management. However, this omission was intentional. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, while then-Irving agent Jeffrey Wechsler advised Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert that his client would rather be dealt with the Spurs, Knicks, Timberwolves or Heat, the list excluded intentionally the Celtics – the Cleveland franchise had just been faced in the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season.
Irving, sources told Yahoo Sports, viewed the Cavaliers as being in flux. Cleveland was in talks with former Pistons guard Chauncey Billups to become its next general manager after Gilbert and senior manager David Griffin couldn’t agree on terms for a new contract. Irving and his representation were already hearing credible rumblings around the Cleveland and James camp that he, too, was eyeing Los Angeles in free agency after that 2017-18 campaign. Additionally, the Celtics had draft capital and ready-made veteran players to send to the Cavs in return.
Once Wechsler got Gilbert’s permission to contact opposing teams, sources said, he and Celtics president Danny Ainge engaged in frequent dialogue about Irving’s trade deal. This is not to characterize Irving-to-Boston as an elaborate clandestine operation. Cleveland’s front office rated the Nets’ 2018 draft pick Boston held — through Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s legendary 2013 trade to Brooklyn — as one of the top five picks in this upcoming draft, said sources at Yahoo Sports. The Cavaliers viewed this selection as the first draft asset offered to Cleveland as part of incoming packages for Irving. The Celtics, however, wouldn’t have been so emboldened to trade for Irving, himself two years away from achieving unrestricted free agency, without first learning of his untold interest in Boston.
Lo and behold, after those two seasons in Massachusetts, Irving of course left the Celtics in favor of teaming up with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn in 2019 after the Knicks were deemed favorites to land the pair of All-Stars. New York sold Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks before that 2019 trade deadline after then-one-time All-Star Porzingis met with Knicks officials and asked to be moved. Parting ways with Porzingis then, and opening the way to a massive amount of cap space, signaled New York’s confidence that it could secure two max-level players like Irving and Durant.
Porzingis’ agent at the time, Andy Miller, also listed his client’s next favorite teams: the Nets, Raptors, Heat, Clippers and Spurs. “Dallas was top six for me,” Porzings told Yahoo Sports. It doesn’t appear that the Mavericks’ absence from his announced group of desired teams was as intentional as Irving’s with Boston. In this case, Porzingis felt unappreciated in New York and was simply looking for a fresh start, and the 7-foot-3 center then recalled carrying out instructions from Miller that he didn’t necessarily agree with. . He didn’t want to meet with Knicks executives and awkwardly demand a trade. He didn’t want to be at the center of a news cycle based in Midtown, where a draw was held for his services.
Kristaps Porzingis had an interesting experience being traded to the Mavs. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
“Just the way things got out of hand to get to this, that’s just not my style. It’s absolutely not my style,” Porzingis said. had the mind I have now. But you’re young and you trust people, and people do things for you or it seems like you do things that people tell you. You do things, but it’s someone else’s mind.
The Brooklyn front office discussed the possibility of trading for Porzingis “ad nauseam,” a Nets staffer said at the time. Toronto also held a bona fide interest in Porzingis, sources said, which lasted until the 2022 trade deadline. The Clippers were preparing for their splashy summer of 2019, and the Los Angeles front office, led by Lawrence Frank – also a longtime client and close friend of Miller’s – was also interested in Porzingis. And yet it was Dallas, with peace of mind to pair budding superstar Luka Doncic with an All-Star counterpart, that swept under the radar to land Porzingis without any preliminary fanfare. “However it was going to be done, it would probably be talked about,” Porzingis said. “But you end up with a team that nobody was talking about.”
Buyers beware. Even last summer, when the Jazz put All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell on the market, Mitchell’s known determination to join New York, coupled with the Knicks’ obvious desire for Mitchell, seemed to have somehow derailed the approaching New York to land Mitchell. Utah staff argue the Knicks’ approach for Mitchell suggested New York felt the franchise was negotiating against itself, sources told Yahoo Sports, because no rival suitor could offer more draft capital and a more favorable destination for Mitchell. Even members of the Cavaliers front office didn’t think they were really in contention for Mitchell, sources said, until Utah recomposed Cleveland and moved forward with their five-year package of Cavs draft capital. , Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton – the Cleveland player ultimately selected with the 2018 first-rounder he received for Irving.
Mitchell has thrived with the Cavaliers, having recently been named an All-Star starter. Leonard lifted the Raptors to a championship. That’s the thing about the basketball talents of the world. The best players in this game seem to thrive as long as the ball finds their hands, no matter where they are. It’s unclear which team will take the opportunity to land his serves, although it’s not the apple of this player’s eye.