Why trades are tough to make

“One must be very naïve or dishonest to imagine that men choose their beliefs independently of their situation.” – Claude Lévi-Strauss

Trades

The trading deadline in the NBA is Thursday, so I’m sure we’ll see teams making moves, trying to prepare for next season or trying to help themselves now. There’s a clear agenda for some teams – either now or next year. Of course, the team I root for (76ers) will not make a move. They’ll stand pat with a team that can’t make the playoffs – or even come close to competing for a title. Status quo is fine for a team that’s close but not for a team that can’t compete. My frustration with this roster would compel me to want to make changes. How can they improve if they don’t make a move? Is there a magic wand out there?

Donnie Walsh, the president of the Knicks, once said he never wants to trade unless he knows what he is trading. That’s a fairly simple strategy but harder to implement in the NFL. Most teams are trading draft picks for players, so they’re not sure what they’re actually trading when they part with a pick. This uncertainty makes teams very reluctant to part with draft picks. The “player for player” trade in the NFL is not easy to pull off, especially when an organization has too many people involved in personnel. For example, you might want to trade a backup linebacker for a wide receiver who can help the team, but if you ask the linebackers coach, he’ll make the linebacker seem like Lawrence Taylor, virtually untradeable. So the player swap in the NFL is hard for many teams to execute.

One of the reasons Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf left the game was his frustration with many teams for their inability to make trades. Wolf was never afraid to make a deal. He was always looking for different ways to improve his team and would never take the 76ers’ approach of standing pat with an inept team. Wolf would not just change for the sake of change. He knew what he had, knew what he was trading and was confident in his evaluations. He wasn’t scared to trade a pick because he knew he had to give up something to improve his team. He worked every day to improve his team, something many people in the NFL don’t do.

But all that might have to change this offseason – although not for the 76ers. I am so depressed.

Will Stallworth help the Ravens?

As an NFL player, Donte’ Stallworth(notes) has never had an ability problem but rather a durability problem. He has played 16 games only twice in his seven-year career, always suffering from hamstring pulls that have prevented him from running full speed. But when healthy, he can help the Ravens as a situational receiver in the third wide receiver role.

The Ravens must find ways to improve their receiving corps and know they can’t depend on the draft as the sole solution.

They must not view Stallworth as “the answer” but rather as a playmaker, someone who can score or set up touchdowns. For the Stallworth signing to be viewed as successful, it will not be judged in playing time but in the plays he makes on his own.

When evaluating wide receivers, an evaluator must first ask two very important questions (Joe “The Tipper” Fortenbaugh had a good explanation of what to look for in wide receivers beyond these two):

1. Did they get open by themselves?

2 Did the scheme (the play) get them open?

Stallworth has the talent to get open by himself and not rely on the scheme to make a play, so it’s not important for him to play all the time but instead to play effectively.

No surprise, Browns cut Jamal Lewis(notes)

This comes as no surprise since Jamal Lewis was on the roster last season only because of the large roster bonus he received in March. Lewis had a great career, but as we’ve often seen, the end of a running back’s career is never pretty to watch. This is why drafting running backs at the top of the draft is not always a long-term solution. Backs rarely get more than one contract in the league, and when they do get a second deal, they are never the same by the time it ends.

Lewis was at the end of his career when he joined the Browns, but he had one great year and then was just a glimmer of his old self. In four of his last five years, he failed to average over 3.6 yards per attempt. Counting on an older back to come back is not a good strategy, and the lesson learned from Lewis will affect LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) when he starts to look for work.

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Updated Thursday, Feb 18, 2010