The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the rumors are heating up. Each team is evaluating their roster and deciding if they want to buy, sell, or stand pat. Teams are either trying to get better to compete with the likes of Golden State and Cleveland, or are attempting to sell their veteran players to tank with the likes of Phoenix, the Lakers, and former tanking professional turned semi-competitive Philadelphia 76ers. Trying to figure out where exactly your team stands is one of the toughest things about managing an NBA team. The list of teams who actually have a legitimate shot to compete to dethrone the former Eastern and Western conference champions is a short one, while the teams who have no shot and should strongly consider selling what assets they have to get younger and set themselves up for as high of a pick as they can get in this loaded 2017 draft class is quite a bit longer.
Whichever way your team decides to go these next few days, just hope that they go all in. Too often teams will half-way commit to tanking, or competing, and will put their teams in a bad spot for years to come, and more often than not this only leads to disaster.
If you do not feel like you can win the championship with the team you have, or at least have some young, talented players to build around then you have to strongly consider tanking. Once you decide to tank you must go all in: embrace the tank. Sell everything you have. Unless they have only been in the league for a few years and you see some potential in that player in the future, then sell them. Get what you can while you can. I’m looking at you Phoenix, LA Lakers, Orlando, Dallas, New York Miami and Brooklyn. Well, best of luck Brooklyn. Unless they get a King’s ransom for Brook Lopez, which it appears they are asking for, then they will continue to be horrendous for the foreseeable future. Some of these teams you may be surprised to see on my list of potential tankees; a couple of these teams actually have a somewhat realistic chance to make the playoffs, but once you really look at these teams, what is their future? For teams like Phoenix and LA who have potential stars they need to get rid of the veterans who are helping them win: Lou Williams, Luol Deng, Tyson Chandler, and even Eric Bledsoe are all proven veterans who could help a contender. These teams do not need to win right now. They need to win the lottery. Teams like Orlando, Miami, and Dallas all have good players and came into the season with playoff hopes but where are they really going after this season? All three of these teams have a mix of veterans and young players with no real player to build around outside of maybe Harrison Barnes and Hassan Whiteside. So maybe Dallas and Miami hang on to those players, but outside of that they have no real future. Unless these teams all of a sudden become a hot destination in free agency over night then their best option is to tank. And embrace the tank. New York is in one of the more interesting positions of anyone in the league, especially amidst the ongoing Phil Jackson Carmelo drama, but New York has a future in Kristaps and have patched their roster with former all-stars, spare parts, and players far past their prime in a last ditch effort to win in the Melo era. Eventually Phil Jackson is going to have to wake up and realize that they cannot win with this team and move on and build around the Latvian Univorn.
While the list of teams who can compete for a championship is a short one, there are a few teams who have legitimate All-Star talent and enough help to make a run come playoff time. Toronto has already taken a major step in acquiring Serge Ibaka, and I am fully expecting more teams to follow suit in the upcoming days. Much like if you are going to tank it is important to fully commit, if you want to win now you must be equally as committed, if not more so. Brooklyn has put themselves in the absolute worst position of anyone in the NBA, but their audacity to make major moves should be applauded. It obviously did not pan out how they anticipated, but they did what they thought was necessary to win a championship. Teams like Boston, San Antonio, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Houston are not that far off from making a real run. But in order to do so they will have to make some bold moves to acquire some players to take them to the next level. If that means risking the next few years in order to win a championship then that is what you must do. If winning a championship is the ultimate goal then risking a few draft packs in order to reach that goal is a small price to pay.
At the end of the day some teams will make great moves and some teams will continue to put their hopes in washed up players who are clearly past their prime and just wait until their “veterans” can literally no longer walk until they realize they must move on. We can only hope our teams come out on top of the deals that are made this week, and if you are a fan of one of the two teams residing in New York, well… good luck.