#IMHO: Trade Deadline Madness
Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.
From: Lang Whitaker Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2019 9:25 AM To: Michael Wallace Subject: #IMHO
It never fails: As soon as you publish an article, everything goes haywire. Last week, just moments after we got IMHO posted on the interwebs, word broke that maybe Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t all that happy in New York. Within what seemed like an hour, all of a sudden Porzingis had been traded to the Mavericks.
I was living in New York when the Knicks drafted Porzingis, and while Knicks fans had their doubts about him at the time, he met everyone’s highest hopes. It was fun watching him grow and embrace the city, and getting to see the city embrace him back.
What I don’t understand is why the Knicks didn’t fully embrace him back. I get it that Porzingis suffered an injury and his future looks to be, at worst, maybe a touch cloudy, but shipping him off to Dallas for what will essentially be cap space seems like a rash move, especially when free agency is still months away.
Over the last two decades, we’ve watched the Knicks over and over again not have the patience to fully commit to building something from the ground up. Is this another example of that? Or is this the Knicks clearing the decks to bring in a couple of big catches in free agency?
From: Michael Wallace Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 10:41 AM To: Lang Whitaker Subject: RE: #IMHO
The Knicks haven’t built anything from the ground up in seemingly forever. They played the cap space game in the summer of 2010, when they targeted LeBron James – and missed. They’re doubling down this time by creating a record amount of cap space to sign two free agents to major max deals, this time targeting Kevin Durant with Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker.
Porzingis never seemed to buy into this current Knicks front office or coaching staff as he rehabbed from the torn ACL that’s kept him out the past year. When he blew off the exit interviews last year, that much was starting to become clear. At worst, the Knicks will have swapped Porzingis for Dennis Smith Jr., one lottery pick for another, and also gained enough cap space to fill out the roster with decent pieces. At best, New York may end up hitting the NBA lottery (landing potential No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, plus two max free agents – and Dennis Smith Jr.).
But Lang, here’s the larger issue. We’ve got teams now tearing down potential playoff squads today to punt on the postseason, essentially, in favor of chasing salary cap space for the summer pursuit of top free agents. That’s basically what the Clippers just did by dealing their best player, Tobias Harris, to Philly while in playoff position. I get why the struggling Knicks did what they did. They’re going nowhere this season. But are the Clippers making a bit of a mistake doing this now, especially with Harris becoming a free agent this summer anyway? Or do the future draft picks for a player on an expiring contract make the Clippers look brilliant?
From: Lang Whitaker Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 2:15 PM To: Michael Wallace Subject: RE: #IMHO
Well Mike, seems to me that the Clippers made a lot of...*RECORD SCRATCH SOUND*
THE GRIZZ TRADED MARC GASOL!
The NBA trade deadline passed about 15 minutes before I sent this to you, and after sitting out last season's trade deadline market, this season the Grizz were hyperactive, moving out several rotation players (including Shelvin Mack, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green) in a group headlined by Marc Gasol, one of the franchise cornerstones and a guy who had only ever played in the NBA with the Grizzlies.
Now Marc is gone. What does that mean for this city and, more importantly, the Grizzlies franchise?
From: Michael Wallace Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 4:04 PM To: Lang Whitaker Subject: #IMHO
Either the room or my head is still spinning as I try to process what the final hour leading into the trade deadline was like for the Grizzlies. It never feels right to trade the best player in franchise history. But the Grizzlies and Marc Gasol had grown apart and needed a split. Make no mistake about it, Gasol will still call Memphis home and will forever have a place in the organization. And the Grizzlies will soon hang Marc’s No. 33 to the FedExForum rafters as soon as he’s done playing.
But it was time both moved in new directions. The Grizzlies landed some pieces in Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright who could be rotation players moving forward. And C.J. Miles is a 3-point shooting veteran who can help in the interim. But Marc’s legacy will always loom large over this franchise. Counting Pau, a Gasol has been on the Grizzlies’ roster every seasons since they arrived from Vancouver.
Lang, now that the NBA trade deadline is behind us, what was the best move made among them all? I say Tobias Harris to the Sixers, because it stands to be the most impactful of them all THIS season. Harris was a borderline All-Star, and he now gives the Sixers one of the best starting groups in the East. The arms race will be fun to watch down the stretch as we head to the playoffs.
From: Lang Whitaker Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 4:19 PM To: Michael Wallace Subject: #IMHO
As much as I dislike losing Marc, I love the trade that the Raptors made, and while I know Milwaukee also got better by adding Mirotic, I think adding Marc makes Toronto the favorite in the Eastern Conference this season.
And as sad as it is to see Marc leave, I’m glad he’ll be on a team that will have the chance to compete for a title. Marc will always be beloved here in Memphis. He was such a part of this community, and it feels like everyone has a Marc Gasol story, of running into him at the supermarket or seeing him grabbing dinner with his family. Here’s one of my Marc stories:
Last week at the end of the Grizzlies win over the Pacers, my six-year-old son and I headed down to the courtside studio where Alexis Morgan and I tape the Grind City Rewind following each home game. We got there a little early, and I realized we were standing along the tunnel where the players run off the court on their way to the locker room, so I had my son line up at the rope barrier alongside all the other fans so he could high-five the players.
Several guys ran off and delivered fives, from Garrett Temple to Bruno Caboclo, and then came Marc, who stopped along the way and signed a few autographs and even hugged a couple of fans. My son kind of got caught in the shuffle of all the people around, and Marc didn’t notice him as he headed on back to the locker room. And then for some reason, Marc spun around and jogged back from the locker room to where all the fans were standing, and he ran right up to my son and handed him his towel. My son immediately clutched that towel to his face and fell asleep holding it that night on our drive home.
Marc didn’t do it because it was my son – he couldn’t even see me in the background – Marc just did it because that’s the kind of person he is. And that’s the kind of person he’ll continue to be, only this time north of the border.
Speaking on behalf of a city full of people who love and respect you, you will be missed.
Thank you. For everything.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. Their sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and they have no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.