Ask LeBron, who in the eyes of many, somehow went from being the best player in his sport to the second-best player on his team. Or ask Vince Carter, who suddenly went from 20-5-5 per game to barely worth an NBA contract. Or ask Yao Ming, who went from franchise centerpiece to trade bait in the snap of an ankle.
The NBA is a “What have you done for me lately?” business, where you’re only as good as your last week. So in using the term “untouchable,” remember that nobody is truly untouchable. Everybody from Shaq to Wilt Chamberlain has been traded before, and superstars will be traded again. A bad enough injury, one too many postseason flops, an embarrassing off-court transgression — a lot of things can make a guy suddenly available where he once seemed unavailable. That’s why players don’t believe in “loyalty” to an organization like they used to, because they’ve all figured out that organizations are only loyal when players are useful to them.
The idea of untouchables came up in the Dime office again this week when reports surfaced that Blake Griffin had been targeted by the Nuggets in their Carmelo Anthony trade talks. Apparently, Denver contacted the Clippers a few times about sending them ‘Melo in a package for Blake, and the Clippers weren’t trying to hear it. At all. Who else holds off-limits status in the League? Here are 10 guys that won’t be traded anytime soon:
KEVIN DURANT, Thunder
Not only is KD one of the three to five best players in the League and on pace to lead the NBA in scoring every year until his arm falls off, he actually embraces the small-town atmosphere of Oklahoma City and has fallen in love with his team and his teammates. The Thunder wouldn’t trade him for anybody right now. Not even home state hero …
BLAKE GRIFFIN, Clippers
Hollywood hasn’t seen a star shine so bright on the scene so soon like this since Justin Bieber — and for once the town’s shiny new sports star isn’t a guy who plays for the Lakers. The Clippers have made some head-scratching moves in the past, but trading Blake won’t be one of them.
DERRICK ROSE, Bulls
Every team is looking for a great point guard to carry them through the next decade, and the Bulls have arguably the best in the NBA right now in Rose, who is also a beloved hometown product. D-Rose is at least the best scoring PG in the League and is in contention for his first MVP award.
KOBE BRYANT, Lakers
Not even if he demands a trade. It’s not so much that the L.A. front office has an undying loyalty to Kobe, it’s that they see how their fans are unshakable in their love for Kobe and they won’t ruin that (until they have to). Especially since Andrew Bynum hasn’t yet established himself as a dependable future-of-the-franchise type, Kobe is going to be The Man for as long as his body holds up.