NBA superstars on the move this summer has sparked talk of how hard it is for smaller market teams to land them. Plenty of teams were scared off of going in for Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, or Paul George because they got word through agents and back channels that the player would not re-sign with them when their contracts were up. Why do you think the Suns wouldn’t put Josh Jackson in a trade offer for Irving?
However, it should be noted, what teams are on that “will not go there” list changes. A lot.
Consider Chris Paul leaving the then New Orleans Hornets in 2011 and told the Warriors and Celtics forget it, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said his latest podcast.
“When Chris Paul was in New Orleans, there were two teams (Golden State and Boston) that wanted to be aggressive in trading for him and he said ‘I will not re-sign with you.’”
The lesson here is simply that things change. Small market teams can draw stars, big market teams can repel them.
Remember, back in 2011 the Celtics were running into the brick wall LeBron James and friends in Miami, and they were a couple years away from starting a rebuild. The Warriors were still a well below .500 team where David Lee and Monta Ellis were the scoring leaders. Neither of these teams were what we think of them now — Kevin Durant would not have left OKC for that Warriors team.
Things change. Things evolve. Everyone will complain next year about the advantages the Lakers have if they land a superstar free agent, but they couldn’t get a meeting with Durant and had an embarrassing one with LaMarcus Aldridge in recent years. Los Angeles — and Miami and New York and other markets — have advantages, but it is more than location and brand, it’s having quality on the roster. Minnesota will become a free agent destination in the coming years, and it’s not because players want to be closer to the nation’s best hotdish. It’s because they want to win, and they want to play with Karl-Anthony Towns.
Paul went to a Clippers team that, on paper, should have done better than it did. Injuries and one collapse (against Houston) derailed it. However, for Paul it seemed the smart call. This summer CP3 pushed and was traded to Houston, another team that would have been off his radar in 2011.
It’s the way things evolve.