Unexpected Fresh Start

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While Exciting, Mid-Season Transactions Aren’t Easy for the Players

“I was shocked more than anything, to be honest with you, because I hadn’t heard anything about a trade”.

Behind all the flashing lights, the glamour, and the fame, it’s easy to forget that being an NBA player is still very much a job. The athletes themselves seem outer-worldly for us fans, but off the court and away from the cameras, they are just regular people – who just happen to make absolute bank.

“For someone like me,” said former NBA sharpshooter Anthony Morrow. “I [was] 31 years old and have a family. I just had twin boys who are five months old and I have a 4-year-old. So I had to tell them, and that was hard. Telling my 4-year-old was really tough because he was OKC everything [and loved the Thunder]. I had to explain it to him. I’m blessed that it wasn’t a huge adjustment for them. It’s just tough not being with them right now, especially when you have 5-month-old twins. But it’s cool… (sighs) We’ve been doing a lot of FaceTiming. It’s not the same, but they’re going to come visit me soon. But that’s the main thing people don’t understand about midseason trades. Imagine being at home and then just having to leave and how that affects the family and everything. It can be hard.”

A few weeks removed from the NBA’s trade deadline, the time for mid-season transactions has not come to an end just yet.

The next order of business is the buyout market. Contending teams have until March 1 to sign waived players to new deals to ensure they could be eligible to play in the playoffs. Although buyouts are more so discussed between the player and the team, the idea of starting fresh mid-season, in a different city – even a different state – is by no means an easy feat.

“I think the hardest thing is [how it impacts] your family,” said Jamal Crawford. “When you have kids, there’s a good chance that at that point you’ll be separated from them for a period of time. When you’re moved in the middle of the season, the kids are in school and you don’t want to just uproot your family like that. That’s always one of the most difficult things about this. When you’re young and you aren’t married and you don’t have kids, it’s different. It’s a just totally different feeling when you’re married and have kids since your family is involved too.”

With families involved more often than not, abruptly getting up in the middle of the season and reporting to a new team is a difficult life change.

Moreover, teams rarely tell their players when they float their names in trade talks. The NBA is a business after all and no matter how much the term “family” is thrown around in the league, for executives supporting their main families back home will always take precedence. To support their family, they must make tough decisions that translate into winning, which often times may uproot a player and their family in the process.

“If you’re working on trading somebody, let them know,” Kelly Oubre said. “Let them know beforehand when it crosses your mind. They want us to communicate if we’re sick or if we have personal issues at home and can’t make it to work, so let us know if y’all think you’re gonna trade us.”

With the way social media works nowadays, often times players learn of their fate through Twitter.

Usually it is Adrian Wojnarowski who is the bearer of tough news. Other times its family or teammates, and then it could be fans blowing up a player’s social media feed. Rarely is it an executive who relays the message first. Quite simply, before the executive phone call comes in, the news have already been broken ten times over.

“Some organizations handle it differently,” said current Cleveland Cavaliers interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “Things like how long guys have been there, the relationship they have with their families, those types of things always play a part because the decision-makers are human too. If a guy’s been there eight or nine years and you’ve watched their kids grow up, that’s a huge part of the decision you have to make. What I think you have to do in that situation is you have to put your emotions to the side.

“The team’s responsibility is what’s best for the organization,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s why their jobs are so difficult. I’ve been in situations on a bad team where you have a good veteran, and out of respect for that veteran, you trade them to a contender and give him an opportunity to succeed. So, I think it can go both ways. I think the good organizations take that into consideration.”

It is truly a tough situation to be in – both for a player and an executive.

While all a player truly asks for is fair warning, if an executive does tell said player that he is on the trade block – and said player doesn’t end up being traded by the deadline- well, then said player may assume that the team believes they are better without him and simply failed to find a suitable trade partner or a package worth acquiring.

It’s an lose-lose situation.

Ultimately, this is just the plain reality of the NBA and professional sports as a whole – it’s a tough business and a ruthless business – and winning trumps all. From the outside looking it, it seems like a dream and in many ways it is, but from the perspective of the player, life in the NBA doesn’t always move along a smooth trajectory.

“How you find out is how you find out. You’re still getting traded.”

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