The Downbeat: We Don't Talk About Trade Club Edition

Stephen Dunn

First rule about trade club: We Don't Talk About Trade Club. Second rule about trade club: We Don't EVER Talk About Trade Club.

So evidently Mike D'Antoni, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, is STILL interested in Raja Bell. As we all know, if someone calls you offering a washed up veteran who was paid by their own team to just stay away in order to restore team chemistry, you gotta make that deal.

Check our editor and chief's analysis here..

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As you can tell the trade deadline is underway. You might not have heard about my close to 300 tweets about him the last few days but I'm a bit of a Bledsoe fan.

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It seems I'm not the only one who feels Bledsoe is a good fit for the Utah Jazz. Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus and ESPN.com believes the Paul Millsap for Eric Bledsoe swap is the only hypothetical trade out there on the table that actually makes sense.

Meanwhile, the contracts of Millsap and fellow big man Al Jefferson expire after the season. With the frontcourt of the future in place in center Enes Kanter and power forward Derrick Favors, and energetic reserve Jeremy Evans on hand, someone's got to go. Because of Millsap's superior versatility, you'd think the preference would be to keep him over Jefferson, unless the Jazz plan to move on from both players. However, if the return is a lead guard the caliber of Bledsoe, you do what you have to do to make that work.

The Jazz could be looking at a young lineup of Bledsoe,Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Favors and Kanter, with Evans off the bench. All of those players are on rookie contracts or, in the case of Evans, a cheap second-round pact. Other than that, you're obligated only to Butler and Marvin Williams, who has a player option for next season. The Jazz could have more room under the cap than any other team in the league while still featuring a full lineup of promising young players.

On top of all that, the Jazz will likely have two first-round picks in the coming draft, its own and Golden State's. For years, the Jazz have been accused of being willing to settle for a place in the league's upper middle class with winning records and playoff berths ensured but championships out of the realm of possibility. This is Utah's chance to escape that cycle.

There have been and will be other trade whispers about Utah, involving Millsap, Jefferson or both. However, no team can offer the Jazz an asset more exciting and more fitting than Bledsoe. With or without a Bledsoe trade, the Jazz can complete the makeover former general manager Kevin O'Conner started by dealing Deron Williams to the Nets two years ago. There is virtually no way they can make a bad trade, especially since no trade at all is a viable option. There is no downside to acquiring Bledsoe.

via ESPN.com

I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment. It has been something I have been preaching since the Deron Williams' trade. The Bledsoe trade could be the capstone of the Deron Williams' trade. Instead of trading Millsap right after Deron Williams was traded the Jazz will have waited 2 years in order to find the right final asset to add to the young core. The Jazz have a young core all on rookie deals. Kevin O'Connor has also drafted best player available in every draft with the attitude that talent and assets trump position. If Kevin O'Connor and Dennis Lindsey land Eric Bledsoe employing this technique one could expect a lot of teams to mimic the Jazz's strategy. As Doolittle points out this is a move made with championship aspirations in mind. This could be a special time for Jazz fans.

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Now with all those rumors put out there it is a quiet time on the Jazz rumor mill other than the Raja news. If you're worried that the rumor mill has hushed on the Utah Jazz, don't be. That means the Jazz have coupled a trade partner and are doing work.

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Oh, did you hear? There's actually a basketball game being played tonight! The Utah Jazz face the Golden State Warriors at home tonight. This is a chance for the Jazz to improve their draft position and send the Warriors deeper into the chaotic tailspin of destruction. The Warriors have lost 5 straight and went from being a 4 to 5 seed to a 6 seed. If the Jazz beat them tonight the Jazz will actually overtake them at the 6 seed and the Warriors will drop to the 7 seed.

Adding to the complete lunacy is the Warriors who previously had a 90% chance of making the playoffs in Hollinger's Playoff Odds are down to an 85% chance. If the Jazz beat them and the Lakers continue to improve the Warriors' odds will significantly drop. What does this all mean for Utah?

The Jazz hold the rights to the Warriors' draft pick as long as it doesn't finish top 7. It would be most fulfilling Karma if the Warriors trying to win end up tanking just enough to miss the playoffs and surrender a lottery pick to the Utah Jazz. I'm sure there's a Bible verse about that. I'll have to check Mark Jackson's twitter feed just to make sure.

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I've been watching all the coverage for Dr. Jerry Buss of the Lakers. It made me really think back to Larry Miller. Honestly, Jerry Buss and Larry Miller were cut from the same cloth. Hard workers, had to start from the bottom to get to the top of business, and made huge risky investments in franchises that would have been considered bad investments at the time of purchase. But each turned their franchises around. Not because they were innately basketball minds, but because they were basketball lovers. Sure each of them had their own governing style but both of them had the jive of an everyman's man. With so many owners nowadays coming into the NBA who are rich and always have been and haven't been part of the people these type of men will sorely be missed.

They saved basketball for their towns. Jerry Buss helped saved the NBA during a crisis of identity with his emphasis on Showtime. I can appreciate that. He recognized he wasn't in the sporting business. He was in the entertainment business. He made it a show. His Showtime Lakers brought in millions of new NBA fans. He made the game exciting. He opened the door for other opportunities and for teams like the Run n Gun Phoenix Suns to be well embraced. Good on you, Jerry Buss. You will be missed. Even by Jazz fans. And that's saying something.

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