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It wasn’t exactly a missed opportunity at a blockbuster trade, but by far the most talked about non-deal in the NBA from this week’s trade deadline season had to be the proposed transaction that would send New York Knick guards Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton to the Los Angeles Clippers for Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, and possibly extra add-ins like Willie Green, or Reggie Bullock.
The mere fact that we refer to players – people – like Willie Green or Reggie Bullock as “add-ins” speaks to the cold, cruel nature of asset relocation. These are people with homes and families and friends both in the locker room, and in the towns they play in. People with kids in the middle of a school year, and despite the fact that an NBA player spends half his season on the road, there is a sense of home for the actual home team.
This is why the Clippers chartered plane was a nervous mess in the hours leading up to the trade deadline on Thursday afternoon. From Arash Markazi at ESPN.com:
"The plane was a sweatbox today," said Matt Barnes, who was prominent in trade talks with the New York Knicks for Iman Shumpert. "It's just a business and it's tough. We sat on that plane for almost two hours looking around in silence, looking at Twitter.
"No one was really talking. We were looking around and the captain said [the delay was caused by] bad weather and we're like, 'Yeah, bulls---, we're waiting for that trade deadline.' I'm just glad it's over.”
Barnes was nearly traded, but in the end the Clippers pulled out of the deal, making two minor transactions instead – sending Antawn Jamison to Atlanta for the draft rights to Cenk Akoyl and Byron Mullens and a second-round pick to Philadelphia for a conditional second-round pick. Both moves were made to lop off luxury taxed salary – Mullens has a player option for next season, Jamison was making less than $900,000 but rarely playing – and again, the fact that I called the deals “minor” speaks to how used we are to wildly dealing players all over North America without much reflex. The Clippers’ team plane eventually had to rest at the airport so that Jamison and Mullens could leave for their new teams.
Barnes, though he literally sweated out the trade deadline, understands as much. From Markazi’s feature:
"I don't even look at Twitter that much, but I was on that thing refreshing constantly," Barnes said. "It's a tough situation to play so well last year and to have so many ups and downs this season, but it's a business and the team's got to do what's best for them. It leaves us in a tough predicament as players, but that's what they pay us for."
Indeed, but this week couldn’t have been easy. Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker, a player that was listed in absolutely nobody’s trade deadline column as a possible player to be moved, even was quick to assume that a missed phone call from Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was placed in order to inform him that he’d been traded. Barnes (possibly moving on to his tenth NBA team, including two stints with the Clippers and Knicks) and Collison (potentially joining his fifth NBA team in four and a half years) were listed in those trade deadline columns, so you could imagine how they felt.
Especially when you toss in the idea that they’d be leaving the Los Angeles Clippers, a championship contender, for a hapless outfit in New York.
Geez, that’s a sentence I’d never thought I’d have to type. Safe at home with the Los Angeles Clippers. Who would have thought it?
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