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Old man Morton: NBA trades are actually rare

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New series where I embrace my old school mentality in a new school world. This week, the reality of trades in the NBA despite what the ESPN Trade Machine would lead you to believe.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

"I’m not the oldest of the young guys, I’m the youngest of the old guys" - Francis Ford Coppola

2017 is the year of acceptance I feel, for a lot of different things. My part is working on accepting I’ve become more and more "old" mentally as I’ve progressed through my basketball fandom. A little more stubborn. More to a point, I have zero f**ks left to give. Behold my new series: Old Man Morton (Hat tip to Nate Timmons)

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Trades are hard.

No, seriously. They are. You are dealing with humans and in some cases multiple humans who have differing agendas, values, goals than your average fan may have. Even executives for our favorite teams may not feel the same way we do. To a fan, doing a certain deal is the epitome of logic ... to someone who works for a team that deal may be impossible.

It’s very easy for us to say, "Just deal (insert player) because he needs to be dealt to (insert team) because their value is (such and such value) and (insert GM) would be colossally stupid if they didn’t do this." Or something along those lines. Admit it, we have ALL done it. Hell, there are newspaper columnists who make their living off of second guessing. We make value judgments upon preconceived expectations and when they are not met we decide that it’s a failure.

Far be it from me to say that front office types don’t listen to yours truly or the very many talented and not so talented NBA writers out there. Everyone has the best interests of the team in mind ... it’s just that some of us don’t have to deal with the reality of deal making. So it allows us the freedom to complain about deals that aren’t made. It’s a fact of life of being a fan, and it comes with the price of a ticket, I daresay. It’s been going on since the dawn of time.

Trades, in reality, are actually very rare. Hell, in the NFL they almost never happen. In the NBA, a majority of trades are made for ancillary players who reside on the periphery of NBA teams. Star trades (like the one that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks from the Denver Nuggets) are the rarest of all. Most deals are mounted by tanking teams to contending teams and MOST of those trades are disappointing for the tanking team in the immediate.

I’d wager one of the reasons you haven’t seen any deals with Masai Ujiri recently is that he insists on winning every trade. So if you have someone who has that mentality you get teams who are like "I’m not helping you out". As a consequence is becomes harder and harder to make your team better through trades because teams lose their incentive to deal with you. Even the New York Knicks wised up with Masai after being fleeced in two deals with him. The Boston Celtics have struggled to unload their trough of picks, and I speculate that is because Danny Ainge has a similar reputation within the league.

On the flipside you have to trade at the right time (refuse to use the word "assets" because I think it’s degrading to players) and you have to maximize value. That’s more difficult than it seems because maybe your own circumstance with that player doesn’t match a team that value’s that player. Sometimes that changes in the blink of an eye and you suddenly look like an idiot when everything made perfect sense to you at that time.

There are mistakes that are made (I’m sure Tim Connelly would have preferred to move Ty Lawson before his personal issues made his trade value tank) but nine times out of ten it’s because a team doesn’t value your players the same way you think they should. There are many factors in trades and that is why they are comparatively rare to free agency transactions.

Its rare and as we get sooooooo angry at teams for maybe not pulling off a trade that seems like a no-brainer to us as outside observers we need to remember that most of the time these opportunities for trades fail for reasons we don’t even know about. And we never hear the real reasons why.

Those of you who are long time Denver Stiffs readers know how much I don’t like the ESPN Trade Machine. My feeling that it gives fans unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved is something that I’ve never been able to shake since it’s inception 5 years ago. It’s really fun for people though, so I see it’s value on purely an entertainment level ... that’s about it.

What will happen as we rapidly approach the trade deadline? Well ... trades. God I hope so because they make the site I’ve poured my soul into for 7 years so much more entertaining.

I’m not holding out hope ... but I’ll love it if I’m pleasantly surprised.