Sunday, November 15, 2009

SPORTS: Trade Me

No, I do not seek exit from this blog to some other. They (the new blog people) might want me to work more regularly. Can't have that. But I AM blogging today about that most putrid of all trends in pro sports these days, the trade demand.

You already know how I feel about that particularly odious stunt. I hope (vainly) Dany Heatley isn't named to Canada's men's hockey team for the Olympics. Won't watch a game with him wearing MY flag. I've hoped Baron Davis would break a leg and my feelings about Vince Carter border on the grounds for arresting on threatening charges. The latest cro-magnon to issue the trade request is Stephen Jackson of the Golden State Warriors, a mental midget with a fair bit of basketball talent, a big contract, a HUGE ego and an agent willing to play along for his payday.

I'm sick and tired of it. I hate when the muddy tip of the tail of the dog wags the dog. Jackson is a bad boy, history tells us. His antics were one of the reasons the Indiana Pacers fell apart, becoming the JailBlazers' East. Not all the reason. Else even Don Nelson, a once-great basketball player, coach and executive, but now just a doddering old fool, wouldn't have tried acquiring him. Nelson did. And for one shining post-season, his this century's version of Run-DMC pulled off one highlight win after another in an improbable run to the Western finals. But the aforementioned Davis split for the San Diego dough and the illusion a good Spring brings popped like the zit that Jackson uses for a brain.

Here we are two years later and Jackson did all captains proud (they aren't him) by demanding a trade. He's acted like the jackass he is and his agent is worse. His teammates want him gone. And nobody is trying too hard to part Jackson and the Warriors. If they do, you can bet Golden State will be accepting 10 cents on the talent dollar to move his big talent and bozo brain.

It's time, as the new player's agreement between the NBA and it's money-makers is due for renegotiation, that this matter be addressed. There's also the matter of old vets looking for one more run at the title to go in and say ... release me. They then join a contender and hope to be able to get a ring for one of their fingers or toes. Problem is, they also want their full remaining money PLUS what they can squeeze out of the new team. The upside to the team being left in the rear-view window of the Mercedes/BMW/Lamborghini? Good will for the next vet who 'knows' they will treat him right when HE demands money for no service. Aaaaaaarrrrrrgghhhhh!

So, here's the new rule structure to govern written trade demands (as adverse trade requests). Player will be accommodated within 15 days of his trade request. If he doesn't get traded, he can ask for, and receive his release. Should he DECLINE his opportunity for release, he cannot issue a trade demand for one year from the date of his initial trade demand.

What's the catch? Thought you'd ask.

A player who demands to be traded can be released on the following payment plan: The money owed to him for the remaining games on his contract will be paid on the following percentage basis. The NUMBER of games the player played or was eligible to play (trips to the injury list and DNP-CD count as being eligible) will be divided into the number of games contracted for. That percentage of money still to be paid will represent the buyout. The morning of the date of the trade deadline represents the dividing line between games eligible to play and the rest of the contracted-for games.

Let's use Jackson and some rough numbers. He signed, I believe, a five-year deal (410 games). He was around for 82 games for year one and let's say 18 this year. That represent him making himself available for 100 of the 410 games contracted for. It's a hair under 25 per cent of the contract being fulfilled. So, he can be bought out for 25 per cent of the remaining value of his contract. That's three seasons at roughly nine million plus what's left on this year, which comes out to about seven million. Let's call it 34 million bucks outstanding. If you take a quarter of that you get eight and a half million dollars to wipe the contract off the books. Would Golden State give Jackson a golden handshake of 8.5M and forgo making a lop-sided trade. In a New York minute. Which is where Jackson would probably end up.

And just to add a kicker to the kind of shenanigans players and their agents would come up. IF you do get your release through a trade demand, the SIGNING players could only offer you a deal for the same kind of money you just passed up. The MAXIMUM any team can offer, for however many years they want, is the difference between what you made this season for the old team and the contracted for total (Bonuses included). So, if Jackson wants to ditch Golden State, then he's capped at that seven million he had left on this deal for this year.

I'd also limit the length of contract. More study would be needed, but not to exceed the length of the original contract reneged on by the player stands to reason.

So what kind of fool would then put his trade demand in writing? Well, pro sports (and I'm making this trade-me ruling a standard for ALL pro team sports) is filled with idiots who are athletic freaks and mentally-deficient dufuses. Dufii? At any rate, there'd be no problem getting some of them to make their trade demands contractually altering. The agents would pull out their hair, but some would do it.

On the other hand, some of the players would pull the Carter disappearing act. Withholding effort and saying things about people, places and institutions privately (or even sometimes publicly), all in an effort to get themselves traded. See ya in court. An arbitration panel would be set up with a player association rep, a league official and an agreed-on arbiter, would review evidence from the team and deem if a de facto trade demand had been issued. The player could NOT play during the review period, thus teams could not reasonably use it to 'punish' a player. Teams LOSING an arbitration decision would get fined a good solid million for abuse of the process. Plus costs.

Players who are INJURED cannot issue a trade demand nor be taken to trade request arbitration. Can't have bad contracts to injured players done away with through collusion. They have to be bought out the same way as always. The old-fashioned way. Through negotiation.

Which leaves one last area. The impact on the cap space. Getting back all of the money the player fleeing took under the cap doesn't make sense. Getting either the space for one year spread out over the remainder of the length of the contract OR a trade exception for his remaining cap hit seems about right. The latter rather than the former, is probably best. And, oh yes, the cap hit for any team signing him as a FREE agent, rather than acquiring him in a trade, will be for the full remainder of that exception. So, even if the Knicks sign Jackson for two million for the rest of the year, they have to take a seven mill hit. Makes it MUCH more enticing to trade for him. And, since he's a 7M hit regardless, they might as well get rid of some cap-taking contracts on the way back. But Golden State doesn't have to accept any old offer, the Warriors can pay the 8.5M walking price and be done with him.

Now, this is a situation 98 per cent of the NBA players will never find themselves in. Most of them know just how great they have it. Being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more, waaaaay more) to play a game they love and are good at, isn't the most arduous job in the world. And, like most people, they honour their contractual commitments.

But for some of these twits, rules HAVE to be emplaced to prevent the inmates from taking over the asylum.

Besides, won't it be great to see some coach asked, "Hey, we hear your star player has asked to be traded." His reply, honestly, factually, "News to me. He hasn't put it on paper. And, until he does, it's a non-issue. Not worth commenting on. Next question."

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