For those of you who have ever played a fantasy sport, be it basketball, football, hockey, etc., you already know that you’re obviously more than qualified to run a professional team. That’s just how it works. What’s interesting, is that once a year, the GMs of NBA teams think that they’re qualified to run a fantasy team. They couldn’t be more wrong.
The NBA trade deadline turns the league from a professional organization into the biggest fantasy basketball league in the country. It’s got the highest buy in, the most dangerous stakes, and somehow, gets sloppier than any fantasy league of the fans. The craziest part, it only lasts for about three, mind bending days. Chaos is truly a ladder.
That is, unless you’re the Nets. There’s always a team in fantasy that, on paper, should be untouchable, but manages to have a subpar record. It is infuriating to be that team. And yet, with the trade deadline fast approaching and despite all the drama, the Nets, like our subpar fantasy team, aren’t going to do a goddamn thing about it, with the hope that it magically works itself out.
All throughout the fantasy basketball season, the GMs are monitoring waivers, making (or at least trying to make) halfway decent pickups on the week, and constantly looking for trade options. Maybe they need extra games, maybe they’re going for someone long term to fill in for an injury, or maybe it’s collusion. Regardless, it’s always with some hint of logic, no matter how unconventional.
Consider a scenario where a college student is given 2,736 hours to complete an assignment. Being a college student, they might glance at it once or twice, but they are ultimately going to wait until they have 72 hours (or ~.026% of their time) to get it done. That is what the NBA GMs do with the trade deadline. Literally. They have that many hours from the start of the season to the trade deadline, but wait until the last three days to complete their assignments.
Worse than that, you have front offices like the Sacramento Kings, actively pillaging their franchise with trades that include giving up their best young player (possibly even best player overall) in Tyrese Haliburton, for nothing that will get them any closer to a deep playoff run, let alone a championship. There are teams in my fantasy league, who have stopped paying attention altogether, that aren’t down that bad.
Meanwhile, the Pacers are like that 5-11 team that isn’t going to make the playoffs, but isn’t in such rough shape that anyone expects foul play when they make a trade that benefits a team with playoff hopes, like the Cavs. Whether there’s collusion there or not, the Pacers are doing what no fantasy team should ever do…begin a rebuild. If you aren’t sure why that is, I hope your fantasy league’s buy in wasn’t too expensive.
The Pelicans, however, while in a similar position as the Pacers, are taking a different approach. Instead of blowing it up and hoping for better luck next year, and despite being a handful of games outside the play-in tournament, their addition of CJ McCollum is a page out of the FANtasy GM book. Cut the dead weight in a trade with a non-contender, and add a player who will put up solid numbers. Of course, emptying their notable IR slot, as any fantasy GM knows, is a waiting game that always seems to be resolved after it’s too late. “At least you tried.” - All the real contenders, in both Fantasy and the NBA, probably.
My advice through this crazy time: maintain your composure in fantasy basketball. Continue to prove that, despite not having to worry about contracts, chemistry, fines, investigations and wayyy more rules, we fantasy GMs are incomparably better than the likes of the GMs in the worlds largest fantasy basketball pool, that is the NBA right before the deadline.
Want to prove that you’re as good of a GM as you think? Drop your A+ trade scenarios in the comments for the NBA GMs who are in desperate need of help (looking at you Monte McNair).
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