Over the years on the blogospheres and Jazz discussion boards, "Make it happen, Kevin O'Connor has become one of my favorite catch phrases." It's not one I would ever use. In fact the phrase shows complete lack of understanding about NBA trades and how they work. It usually follows some line like, "the Jazz need scoring, Kevin Martin can score. The Jazz should get Kevin Martin...Make it Happen, KOC!" Or "I heard Danny Granger is available..." You know what comes next. GMs or team owners don't wake up and say, "I want player x on my team. I think I'll make that happen." Well, maybe some of them say that, but as you can see from the volume of trade rumors compared to trades that actually happen, most GM's aren't "making it happen."
I found this explanation on the lack of trades on the official Larry H. Miller Blog from his son Greg:.
"There are many variables that need to line up, including the amount of the contracts, the duration of the contracts, available cap room and dozens (if not hundreds) of other considerations."
While I think the dozens (if not hundreds), is a bit (if not huge) exaggeration, Greg Miller is right. Trades are harder to line up than most NBA fans realize and much much harder than those "make it happen" fans believe. Greg Miller's three variables are all part of what I would classify as money considerations. But let's look at a few of the other considerations that go into a trade.
Admittedly, there have been less of the "make it happen" fans, but those fans have just evolved, not departed. Raise your hand if you are wondering why the Jazz haven't traded for Richard Hamilton, Andre Iguodala, Gerald Wallace or Stephen Jackson. Chances are, you were one of those "make it happen" people. I mention those four players, because the Jazz have a large expiring contract in Andrei Kirilenko and they could theoretically pick up a player like one of those mentioned if they became available. The availability of a player is another one of the "considerations" Greg Miller alluded to.
ARE THE JAZZ BUYERS OR SELLERS?
Andrei Kirilenko is the most tradeable player on the Jazz. Not even the biggest AK fan would deny this. Do the Jazz even want to trade Andrei? That's debatable. Maybe the Russian forward isn't available. But even if they decide to trade AK-47, the Jazz either have to be buyers or sellers. That is one thing I don't think the average Jazz fan understands. The Jazz can't bring on a better talent AND save cash now or in the future. It isn't impossible, but highly highly unlikely and still costly. And when you lack young players and a plethora of draft picks, like the Jazz lack, it is impossible. The thing you have to remember is that if one team saves money in a trade, then the other team takes on more money. And almost without exception, if you are getting the better talent, you are taking on money in a trade. Having your cake and eating it too? Lets leave that for the French peasants. But remember that even during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette's request was unrealistic.
LETS TALK SCENARIOS
But to avoid taking too much time, lets talk about the pros and cons of trading for a certain type of player instead of specific ones. Today we will discuss the "available" star, the expiring contract, the young stud, and the go for broker. Let's start at the ones who need less discussion. Note: These trades from ESPN's trade machines are not rumored or necessarily likely, but are illustrated to demonstrate the outline of such trades.
THE GO FOR BROKER (Richard Hamilton, Stephen Jackson)
Pros: Theoretically, either of these players could help the Jazz contend for a championship. If you believe that the Jazz need an extra scoring punch, Jackson or Hamilton make some sense. They both have won championships and can play pesky defense at a position we will need defense in the playoffs.
Cons: Besides one of these trades financially strapping the Jazz for the next two seasons, they may not help the team at all. I can say this: If the Jazz make a trade that commits them to longer term money, it is going to be a slam dunk deal, not a 50-50 situation. Jackson shoots a decent 37% from the 3 point line, but he shoots a ghastly 41% overall from the field. He only scores 1.18 points per field goal attempt, which is pretty bad. He'll shoot you out of as many games as he'll win you. Hamilton only averages 1.13 points per field goal attempt and 41% from the field. His 40% shooting from 3 look good, but honestly, Hamilton has one of the 10 worst contracts in the league right now.
Likelihood: There is a 5% chance the Jazz trade AK for Stephen Jackson and a -5% chance they trade for Hamilton.
THE EXPIRING CONTRACT (Yao Ming, Kenyon Martin, Tayshaun Prince, Samuel Dalembert, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Foster)
Pros: Trading for an expiring contract is good, since you can get rid of some long term money. It's even better if you can trade for an expiring contract who is still productive.
Cons: All of the Jazz players who are committed to long term money are too good to trade. Unless you are already fed up with the Al Jefferson experiment.
Likelihood: Unless the Jazz trade AK for another expiring contract, it just isn't happening. Theoretically, Jamal Crawford could provide some extra scoring, but the Jazz aren't going to take such a risk. AK for Prince is the most likely in my mind, but it would require them to take on a bad contract as well.
THE YOUNG STUD (Omri Casspi, Anthony Randolph, Andray Blatche, OJ Mayo)
Pros: There are some very good young players rumored to be available. The Kings are rumored to be willing to deal Casspi if a team will also take Francisco Garcia off their hands. Casspi shoots better than 40% from the 3. Sacramento is the key team in helping the Jazz shave money in any trade, since they are the only team with major cap space. Anthony Randolph is rumored to be available for a first round pick. And since we don't use 1st round draft picks very well anyway...
Cons: Its never a sure thing when you trade for a young player with lots of potential. There is no imaginable trade involving OJ Mayo that makes us better. The Jazz simply aren't trading for Andray Blatche in any scenario, no matter how much talent he has. And when AK is our best trade chip, we are going to have a hard time trading him for anyone on a rookie pay scale, unless it's Sacramento.
Likelihood: If the opportunity to save some money and pick up a good young player comes along, the Jazz will go for it. But so will every other team in the league. So that leaves the Jazz with about a 3% chance, like many other teams.
THE "AVAILABLE" STAR (Gerald Wallace, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin, Carmelo Anthony)
Pros: Anytime you can pick up an all-star, especially in their prime, you have to consider it. I put available in quotation marks, because sometimes it is just rumors and even when they are available they come with a high price tag. Have you seen what the Nuggets are asking for Carmelo? Young talent, an EC and 5 first round picks. Is he really available? But guys like Gerald Wallace, Iguodala and Kevin Martin are certainly more available than Lebron James or Kevin Durant.
Cons: These players come with a high price tag and like I mentioned earlier, if you are picking up these guys, you are giving up an expiring contract, picks and/or young talent to take on long term money at high doses. And you may be taking on more money this season too. You can't save significant money AND pick up a good player. Just doesn't work that way. And like I also said, if you take on long term money, it better be a slam dunk deal. I like Iguodala more than Wallace, but even I would give pause to trading for him. There is one way to save money AND pick up Iguodala/Wallace. That involves working with Sacramento and it also involves giving up picks and young talent. Also an unlikely deal.
Unlikely Trade the Jazz Would Have to Consider
Likelihood: I think a trade for an extra piece is the second likeliest trade the Jazz will make this season. The first most likely is a salary dump trade of AK that brings back a Boris Diaw or Jason Kapono type player. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Jazz pulled out the stops and tried to acquire the extra piece. They have Deron Williams to placate and a championship to vie for. If they are within striking distance of the top seed at the trade deadline and the 76ers or Bobcats are still struggling, the likelihood goes up. With that said, this is the Jazz and the NBA we are talking about. A trade for Iguodala or Wallace is at about a 14% chance of happening.
So please don't wonder why the Jazz haven't made a trade yet. There are pros and cons to every deal. Jazz are still deciding if they are buyers or sellers and if there was a way to trade for a star player and get under the salary cap, they would have done that by now. Sacramento is the only team with significant cap space and the Jazz are jockeying with 29 other teams to make a smart deal. So lets become smarter about trade demands as fans.
MAKE IT HAPPEN!