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Are public trade demands becoming norm in NBA?

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By CATRINA FRANCIS/Acting Editor

There have been a few major changes during this year’s NBA offseason. It began with the rumors of former Indiana Pacers’ small forward Paul George saying he would use his player option and opt out of his contract with the Pacers without re-signing.

Let me first begin by saying I’m all for a player controlling
his destiny. But that happens when you are an unrestricted free agent. You can almost control your next destination when you are a restricted free agent, but your current team has an option to match that salary or let you walk away.

George wasn’t an unrestricted free agent, so that meant he was under contract to play for the Pacers for one more year. Instead of playing the wait game, he sped up the process. I’ve often wondered if that’s a positive step for the game. And I honestly don’t think that’s a good move. I totally understand not wanting to waste another year of your prime on a team that has zero chance of playing in the NBA Finals, which players say is the ultimate goal—winning an NBA championship.

I know it’s easy for me to say keep playing on your current team, but no one made George sign his current contract. But his move was calculated because he backed the Pacers into the “proverbial corner.” They basically had two choices—let George play out his contract and receive nothing in return or trade him. Indiana decided to trade him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Thunder were clearly the winners of this trade.

Even though I believe George held the Pacers hostage, he made a calculated move and won by dropping subtle hints. He rolled the dice and was traded to a team with more potential. And you can’t go wrong playing beside the league’s current MVP Russell Westbrook.

I wish I could say George was the only player who demanded a trade this summer. The player who has exhibited the most baffling behavior is Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving who has allegedly said he’s tired of playing in LeBron James’ shadow. I understand the idea of wanting to be the No. 1 option on your team, but Irving has been there and done that and didn’t even sniff the playoffs. Since James has returned to “The Land” the Cavs have played in three-consecutive NBA Finals and won the title in 2016.

The 25-year-old point guard signed a $90 million contract extension July 10, 2014, which means he’s under contract until the end of the 2019-2020 season. After that season he will become an unrestricted free agent. He’s more than two years ahead of the game and shouldn’t think about demanding a trade. I admit he’s an above average point guard but I suspect he’s all about padding his stats and not winning. I always thought winning was the goal. Since Irving has won a NBA Championship, I assumed he wanted to be known as a player with multiple championships.

I wish I could say James is a horrible teammate but I don’t think that’s true. For the past few years players have taken less money to play alongside James with hopes of winning an NBA ring.

I believe Irving is exhibiting signs of immaturity. I think most NBA players would love to be in his situation. If James were a selfish player I would say I understand, but that’s just not the case. This year’s NBA Finals showed that the Cavs struggled when James wasn’t on the floor. I know Irving scored but the team wasn’t always successful.

I hope Irving is able to take a step back and look at his current situation and withdraw his demands. If not, he could possibly be traded to a team and become the No. 1 option but I’m sure a potential trade partner will gut the team and he will be back to square one—padded stats on a nonplayoff team.

New York Knicks small/power forward Carmelo Anthony is another player who has requested a trade from his current team. Trading Anthony would be an easy feat except he has a no-trade clause. I’m sure the Knicks regret that decision. I’m actually a fan of no-trade clauses because it allows a player to have some control if the team decides a players’ services are no longer needed.

Anthony’s situation is different from Irving because he held the Denver Nuggets hostage right before the trade deadline in 2011. But after seven years I think that was a bad decision.

Even though Anthony’s stats were consistent last year, his minutes were the third lowest of his career.

Anthony is still under contract until the end of the 2018-2019 season. He has the option of becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2018-2019 season.

I’m sure Anthony’s trade demand stems from him not being successful during his prime. If he plays out his contract he won’t become an UFA until he’s 35 years old. Rumor has it that Anthony’s ideal landing spot is with the Houston Rockets. He would like to play alongside his friend Chris Paul who was traded to the Rockets during the offseason. The Rockets also have James Harden and enough role players to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

When the 2017-2018 season begins I wonder if there will be a shift in the NBA. As a fan I hope public trade demands aren’t the future of the league. If players aren’t happy with their team’s current landscape maybe they need to think about signing shorter contracts. You can’t ask the owner to show you the money and then decide I want to leave. If I were an owner I would make a decision that’s best for my team. If my player or players decide they want to be traded then they have two options—play out the remainder of your contract or walk without any compensation.