Power Rankings for the Week of February 22nd: The No Trade Clause

This past week, I was given the immense honor of being brought on as a contributor to the best Lakers blog in the world, Silver Screen and Roll.  It has already been a tremendous honor and I sincerely thank the team there, specifically Harrison Faigen and Drew Garrison.  My first post can be found here. It is because of your continued support that this happened, and I can’t thank you enough.

This year’s “dud” of a trade deadline was not out of line of the recent trend, yet still a little surprising.  Players like Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard were assumed to be on their way out while players like Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and Hassan Whiteside also gained traction in trade talks, with Carmelo Anthony’s no-trade clause also factoring into this year’s rumor mill.

Why was this the case?

A) One of the most talked about hot commodities over the past few years has been the expiring contract.  This year, an expiring contract became a liability.  Any other year, a team gladly takes Ryan Anderson’s expiring deal while also using him as a rental for a few months.  This year? Everybody has cap space, and a player like Ryan Anderson’s bird rights are a negative, not a positive.  Would you want to pay Ryan Anderson’s next contract? It makes sense that the NBA wanted salary cap smoothing, and it seems to be short sighted on the part of the NBAPA to have rejected that notion, even while the NBA was willing to pay the difference out to the players.  We are headed for another group of contracts that will immediately become salary cap poison this summer and will be pointed to as “overpriced” contracts in the next CBA discussion.  Teams will not be disciplined enough this summer to restrain themselves, especially as many teams like the Lakers and Sixers are being looked upon to make big moves this summer.

B) While I hate this being a key factor, the Warriors dominance makes it more difficult for any team to want to improve.  I hate this because it’s such a defeatist attitude to have, and you simply never know when things can break wrong for an opponent and right for you.  The counter is simple: the Warriors may go down as the greatest team of all time, and the Spurs are only a few games behind them in case something does go wrong.  Teams like the Raptors who have a lot of assets that can be used to improve their team for this season would much rather hold on to and continue to develop those assets and strike when the time is better.  This season pushing a team over the edge isn’t enough, a team lurking behind the Warriors would need to be fired from a cannon straight onto a rocket ship then pushed over the edge and these deals simply were not available.

Moving forward, while there may be the odd trade deadline here and there that get bonkers like in 2015, it appears to be that the fireworks are all saved for the summers.  Teams are simply too smart with their assets and the front offices and coaching staffs are working closer together than ever on both personnel and on-court product to shake things up in the final third of the season.  Teams around the league are trying to create a culture and cultivate that culture by giving players and coaches the time they need to grow.  Part of that is why the summer is the right time to decide which pieces fit what the organization is trying to do while the draft picks that have protections also become crystalized.  I generally agree with the notion that if your team is doing well, maintaining what you have is the better option versus trying to integrate a medium to large size piece into the rotation.

Now, if the NBA wants to have more exciting trade deadlines, I think the deadline should be happening earlier than it currently is.  At the time of the deadline, teams had already played approximately 55 games.  This should be closer to the midway point, at 41 games.  Forty-one games gives enough time to integrate new pieces, with an All Star break also available to help ease the transition.  At the 41 game mark, more teams feel like they are in the conversation for either playoff contention or title contention, and teams will be more aggressive in avoiding the “wait and see” approach that is currently taking over across the league.

Overall, I think we are headed for one of the wildest summers we have had and if you’re a fan of chaos I think you won’t be disappointed.

Power Rankings

  1. Warriors (49-5) [LW:1]
  2. Spurs (47-9) [LW:2]
  3. Cavaliers (40-14) [LW:4]
  4. Raptors (36-18) [LW:6]
  5. Thunder (40-16) [LW:3]
  6. Celtics (33-24) [LW:7]
  7. Clippers (36-19) [LW:5]
  8. Bulls (29-26) [LW:10]
  9. Heat (31-24) [LW:9]
  10. Grizzlies (32-23) [LW:8]
  11. Hawks (31-26) [LW:11]
  12. Pacers (30-25) [LW:13]
  13. Jazz (27-28) [LW:15]
  14. Trailblazers (29-27) [LW:16]
  15. Hornets (29-26) [LW:18]
  16. Pistons (27-29) [LW:14]
  17. Mavericks (30-27) [LW:12]
  18. Rockets (28-28) [LW:17]
  19. Wizards (25-29) [LW:19]
  20. Nuggets (22-34) [LW:21]
  21. Bucks (23-33) [LW:22]
  22. Knicks (24-33) [LW:20]
  23. Kings (23-31) [LW:23]
  24. Pelicans (22-33) [LW:26]
  25. Magic (24-30) [LW:24]
  26. Timberwolves (17-39) [LW:25]
  27. Nets (15-41) [LW:29]
  28. Lakers (11-46) [LW:27]
  29. 76ers (8-47) [LW:28]
  30. Suns (14-42) [LW:30]

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