The NBA trade deadline is as unique of a phenomenon as there is in sports. Somehow, for a few weeks in the middle of the season, the games don’t seem to matter all that much. Wins and losses happen and people react, but the context through which we view basketball changes, because the trade deadline is looming, and everything, for one reason or another, has to be viewed through this lens.
Wins are proof of two things. Either a team is in a good spot and doesn’t need to make a move, or the players that win the games are showing off their value to potential suitors. Losses? Well, that just shows that a team has to do something, anything, to get better in preparation for the postseason, or maybe it means everything is hopeless, and sooner rather than later, they need to embrace the tank. We’ll worry about gauging things later, because baby, there are buyers, and there are sellers, and there are teams that will act as a third party to make deals happen if you give them something for their time. And then there’s the Warriors. They’re probably fine.
The deadline has taken on a life of its own, going from A Thing That Happens every year at 3 p.m. on a day in the dead of winter to a weeks-long event, rife with rumors and rumblings about major decisions that radically impact the lives of human beings most of us will never meet, people who rarely have a say in the decisions a few people in suits make that involves uprooting their lives, leaving the communities in which they’ve become ingrained, and starting anew.
The evolution of the deadline as an event is an awfully fascinating one, and in the eyes of Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, it stems from one simple principle: For folks at home, the transactional aspect of basketball is really, really fun.
“I think that there’s such an appetite for how deals come together,” Wojnarowski told Dime, “the mindset of teams and players and agents and owners in doing deals, and I think there’s such a sophistication of the audience that they know more about how this league works, I think, largely because of how we’ve all reported on it.”
“People like trades, I think people have always liked trades,” Lowe says. “I think a lot of the genesis of fantasy sports is that people like trades, people can’t pretend to be players, but people can pretend to be GMs, and I think trades are fun, I think that’s all it is, just on a fundamental level, trades are fun and interesting.”
This hunger the public has to learn about trades has manifested itself in ways that impact the pair (as an aside, this is your informal reminder to make sure you have notifications on for Wojnarowski’s tweets, because a #WojBomb can come at any time). One such way will be on display on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET, when ESPN2 will air the latest broadcast of Woj & Lowe.