Friday, November 27, 2009

Friends To Know, Ways To Grow

My Thanksgiving posts are rather hasty, as I am currently family-ing it up.

Here is my question. Which of the following stars (or near-stars, or former stars) will get traded first? And to whom?

Elton Brand, Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, Chris Bosh, Kevin Martin, Stephen Jackson, Troy Murphy, Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Monta Ellis, Tyrus Thomas.

Off the top of my head: Houston could use Rip Ham or K-Mart. Phoenix could use Murphy, Ty Thomas, or McGrady. Chicago and Atlanta could use Brand or Boozer. Utah or Boston could use Prince. Cleveland, as widely noted, covets S-Jax. Denver wouldn't mind Murphy. The Cavs could also use Martin, though they probably cannot afford his price. Atlanta could use Prince or Thomas or McGrady.

The greatest prizes, potentially, are Arenas and Bosh. (Let's not forget, too, that McGrady is a two-time NBA scoring champion and former MVP vote recipient.) The Wizards and Raptors, respectively, are unlikely to trade those guys unless things are going horribly in February. There are many teams that could use Arenas and Bosh. Don't count out the Oklahoma City Thunder, which have stockpiled a ton of tradable assets.

As a side note, why do trades happen (or what makes a team inclined to trade a star player) in the first place? Several factors may underlie such transitions, including (i) overestimation of the player's ability at the time the team signed him to a contract or attempted to build around him (Baron Davis 2005); (ii) overestimation of the teammates brought in alongside that putative star (Mutombo 2001); (iii) surprising progress in basketball performance by other teams, making your own team suddenly a dinosaur; (Billups 2008); (iv) a personal dispute between the star player and other players/personnel of your team (Shaq O'Neal 2004, Jason Kidd 2001); (v) external economic factors making your team not profitable even as a winner (Ray Allen 2007, Pau Gasol 2008); (vi) stochastic disasters like a season-ending or career-altering injury to the star or a complementary teammate (Chris Webber 2005); or (vii) a simple failure by the supposed star to grab wins (Garnett '07). Many of the above factors apply in the case of Bosh and Arenas.

What do you think?

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