NBA Hall of Fame player and former Lakers’ general manager Jerry West thinks that NBA teams should call the bluffs of star players demanding trades in the final year of their contracts. During an interview Thursday morning with the Mason and Ireland show on ESPN’s 710 station in Los Angeles, “The Logo” supported his claim by stating that he didn’t believe players would really leave $30 million on the table just to play for another team in a more desirable location. He went on to say that he felt that the team would be better of letting the player leave and rebuilding under their own system rather than being forced to take back players that may not fit their system.
West record as a GM is impeccable, so far be it for me to question his judgment, but I see a couple of problems with his theory.
First, there are very few players in the NBA at any given time that actually have enough leverage to force the types of deals that West has in mind, and those that do have massive shoe deals and other endorsement agreements that would actually be more valuable in major markets. With that in mind, the idea that a player would be “leaving $30 million on the table” is not quite accurate.
As the Carmelo Anthony trade most recently proved, the team forced to trade the superstar is not necessarily going to be worse off when the deal is done. There is a long standing belief that the team that get’s the best player, wins the deal, but this has most certainly not been the case with this trade, and also may not be true in a hypothetical Dwight Howard for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum deal either.
West also seems to be forgetting the fact that, while players may have demands, their desired teams may not have the trade pieces to get a deal done, so it isn’t as if the superstars hold all the leverage.
I find West’s credibility on this subject to be a little lacking since his Lakers were perhaps the biggest beneficiary of what happens when a superstar player wants out. Has West already forgotten that he acquired Shaquille O’Neal via free agency when he wanted out of Orlando? Sure the CBA wasn’t as favorable to the Magic as it would be today with Dwight Howard, but there’s no question that playing in Los Angeles provided off the court opportunities for Shaq that would have been much more difficult for him to take advantage of had he stayed in Orlando.
If I ran an NBA team, I’d hire Jerry West to be my consultant too, but I’m definitely not letting him talk me into a game of free agent chicken!