clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Here’s a radical idea — Allow 8 teams not invited to compete to trade its players for rest of season

A small olive branch to the eight teams not invited to play the remainder of the NBA season

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

All bets are off during this bizarre NBA season, so, in the immortal words of Bruce Wayne in 1989’s Batman, “Now you want to get nuts? C’mon! Let’s get nuts.”

My proposal: The NBA should abolish the NBA trade deadline this season, but only players on the eight teams not invited to compete for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, to be trade eligible.

The NBA is already allowing teams to abolish roster caps and other limitations so they can add players in the event one or more players is stricken by COVID-19 and must be quarantined or suffers a serious injury.

I say in a year of throwing out the rule book and then don’t go with a half measure and instead go aallll the way nuts.

Don’t limit replacement options to two-way player and G-League players. Remember, all these NBA players have been off the court for months. They have a limited time to get back into game shape and the risk of injuries, both mild and severe, are increased during the eight-game regular season and the playoffs.

You also have eight of 30 teams, heretofore known as the “Delete 8,” that were so bad that they were not even asked back to play additional basketball. Those teams won’t get any local revenue and their players won’t get to play the game they love in a competitive fashion for nearly a calendar year. A little something thrown their way wouldn’t hurt.

Why not just open up the trade window and allow those eight teams to make their players available to the 22 remaining competitors. There would be two trade scenarios — one that last until the end of the eight-game “regular” season, and one that last until the end of the NBA Finals.

Also, there should be an important caveat — a player from the “Delete 8” could veto any trade, so that players who are uncomfortable or uninterested going into the NBA bubble would not be forced to do so.

In that first window, any of the 22 teams could trade for any player on the eight teams for any reason. All the regular salary cap rules would apply to potential trades but roster limits would not be a factor. Teams could, therefore, try and bolster their rotation with a name player if they feel like that player could get integrated into the lineup as the teams prepare to resume play. A team could proactively trade for additional bodies (remember, salaries must still match in potential trades but not roster caps), so that players could fortify the lineup further down the roster and play immediately when called upon and not need a “call up and quarantine” delay.

If a team wanted to trade for Derrick Rose or Kevin Love or Bobby Portis, they could agree to terms with the Pistons, Cavs or Knicks, respectively, and make that deal. A franchise would obviously have to weigh the cost-benefit of introducing a new piece during the limited window already facing so many other unknowns. But if the Blazers or Nuggets or Raptors want to make a deal, I say let ’em.

The second phase would begin once the playoffs officially began. In this phase, any of the 22 competing teams could still trade for pieces among the “Delete 8” if there was an injury replacement needed. This would not be limited to coronavirus issues — if a player sprained an ankle or tweaked a hamstring, they could be replaced in the rotation via trade.

This would help protect against an arms race against some team “unfairly” trading for a superstar to put them over the top. In reality, however, it would be much more likely a team wouldn’t see much benefit in upending its rotation with a ball-dominant piece anyway.

More likely, and just as valuable to the giving and receiving team, would be an opportunity for veterans with ticking NBA clocks the ability to play meaningful basketball in a playoff situation surrounded by other veterans.

This would be the chance for the Brandon Knights and John Hensons of the world the chance to continue their careers playing competitive ball. And it’s much more likely a team would trust a player like Henson to immediately be a ninth or 10th man than any number of players on two-way contracts of straight G League call-ups.

Perhaps players among the “Delete 8” teams could proactively join a pool of players willing to be quarantined so they would be immediately eligible for a “trade and play” scenario should a playoff team experience an injury and need a replacement.

This would be a win-win-win for all involved. The “Delete 8” teams can get some modest compensation for players that do not really have a future on their teams, like Knight and Henson. The receiving franchise can get some plug-and-play asset that will fit seamlessly onto a roster and still feel like it can compete night in and night out in the playoffs. And the player gets to play meaningful ball on the biggest stage and collect some additional paychecks.

If the NBA is looking for a little bit of sweetener to those sad eight franchises who don’t get to compete while keeping the quality of the product on the floor and on everyone’s TV’s as high as possible, this approach is the best of all worlds.

What do you think? How many nuts from 1 to 100 on the “Let’s Get Nuts” scale?