Feeling a Trade
Posted Feb 23 2006 11:18AM
Hornets forward on what it's like to be traded
As the trade deadline nears, you hear all about deals that were made, deals that werenít and deals that should have been. Afterward, youíll hear jeers, cheers, grades and analysisÖand more analysis.
What you never hear is how a midseason trade can turn a playerís world upside-down for awhile, so we called on an expert. Desmond Mason was traded from Seattle to Milwaukee on February 20, 2003. He was uprooted again this past October, when the Bucks dealt him to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets just a week before the 2005-06 season.
Until then, the trade deadline just kind of stays in the back of everybodyís head. Some guys will be a little more edgy than usual, others wonít give it much thought and might get blindsided like I was three years ago.
There are always rumors out there, but those are for fans and reporters. You wonít hear too much talk about them in the lockerroom. Itís kind of a taboo subject thatís just left alone, because getting traded is something that most guys just donít want to have to go through unless theyíre in a really tough situation.
Even Ron Artestís situation, as drawn out as it was, didnít get much play in our lockerroom. We all know itís part of the business, but you try not to worry about the things you canít control.
Imagine your company telling you theyíve sent you to another company ... in another state ... and you have 24 hours to get there and start work. Itís not easy.
Both times, I was hurt because management had told me that I was part of their core. You get a guarantee that they want you, you give them everything you have on and off the floor, you build a relationship. Then it happens, and you feel double-crossed. Iíd rather owners and general managers just keep their mouths shut and not say something they arenít 100 percent sure about.
When Seattle traded me to Milwaukee, I was more worried about my wife. Her family was a couple of hours down the road, we had tons of friends in the city, and we were just getting comfortable in our house. The next day, Iím packing my bags, and sheís back with all of the responsibilities at home.
For the last two months of that season, I lived out of a hotel in Milwaukee. Youíre not in your own bed. You canít get a home-cooked meal. You go to the store, you come back, and the cleaning people are in your room. If you do it a couple months, it becomes uncomfortable.
But those were small issues compared to what we faced in October. The Bucks traded me to the Hornets less than three weeks after my daughter was born. We werenít even sure it was OK for her to fly yet, until the doctor said it was fine. We all came down to Oklahoma City together right away so my wife wouldnít have to be home by herself with the baby.
For another month, until we could rent a house, we were living out of a hotel again. Once you find room for the crib, the diapers, clothes, groceries - the room gets a lot smaller. It really starts to get under your skin, you get irritable. Also, we were at a hotel where visiting teams stay, so you come Ďhomeí and thereís an opposing team in your lobby. It wasnít comfortable.
In between selling our old house, finding a new house, getting the other car shipped from Milwaukee, getting our furniture moved and experiencing the joy and sleeplessness that comes with being a new father, now Iím in a new city, on a new team that traded an All-Star big man to get me.
I didnít feel the same pressure when I went to Milwaukee. I came with Gary Payton, who I had played with for 2-1/2 seasons, and I was playing for a team that had a lot of veteran guys.
Here with the Hornets, next to P.J. (Brown), Iím the oldest player on the team. I felt like I had to prove myself. Once I reminded myself that I donít have to prove anything to everyone, because people know that I can play, I started to relax, enjoy myself, and just play. When I did that, I started to play better.
I donít think Iím quite there yet, but it gets easier every day. Guys like P.J. and Rasual Butler made me feel welcome right away. The younger guys, they really didnít know what to say because theyíve never been through it, but Iíve built friendships with all of them in a pretty short time.
Hopefully, this is my last stop for awhile, but Iím a realist and I know it could happen again anytime. You always want to end up somewhere, solidify your role, get comfortable and feel at home with your team. Hopefully the third time is the charm, but if it isnít, at least going through it twice already has taught me how to adapt, so Iím good with that now.