JJ Hickson

Fine Line Between Basketball And Business

Thursday's trade deadline came as a disappointment to many fans and media members that obsessively tracked it on Twitter and every basketball blog on the internet. The disappointment was not unwarranted when the biggest name moved was J.J. Redick.
A lot of talk after the deadline was about how this is a product of the new collective bargaining agreement, some think the C.B.A. had nothing to do about it. Earlier in the season, marquee names like Rudy Gay and James Harden were traded, which may have influenced the lack of action on the official trade deadline. But either way, there was widespread disappointment at the lack of activity around the NBA.
Here in Portland, everyone expected the Blazers to deal J.J. Hickson and his expiring contract. When all was said and done, Hickson is still a Blazer and the team opted to make a smaller scale deal for Thunder point guard Eric Maynor. A lot of fans were confused as to why the Blazers held onto Hickson instead of dealing him. Blazer GM Neil Olshey was doing his best tight rope on the fine line between basketball and business.
On the basketball side of things, keeping Hickson is the best idea in the short term. Having Hickson on the floor alongside LaMarcus Aldridge will win more games than they would with any other combination they have available to them at this time. The rumors were that the Blazers were seeking a first round draft pick for Hickson. A first round draft pick in the upcoming draft does not win games now. So basketball-wise, keeping Hickson was the smarter move.
On the other side of the coin, keeping Hickson may be a bad thing for business. His value is higher than it's ever been. He has been putting up career high numbers and the league has taken notice. This was the franchise's last opportunity to cash in on this in the trade market. At the end of the season, Hickson can ride off into the sunset to the highest bidder, leaving the Blazers with nothing in return. This franchise has had a lot of these similar caliber players walk without getting anything in return.
In Orlando, the Magic shipped Redick to Milwaukee to avoid the same predicament this summer when he would be eligible to move on the highest bidder in free agency. The Magic netted a few players that could help their franchise now.
Now, let's talk about the fans, where basketball meets business. Fans seem to think that trade decisions are made by the suits and that normal fans have no input. I would argue that that is not true. Let's get into some hypotheticals…
Suppose that the Blazers would have traded Hickson for a 1st round draft pick. Assume the Hickson-less team came out and lost 5, 6, 7, 8 games in a row, would you spend money to go watch this team play? What would your thoughts be towards Blazers' management? They factored all of that in.
Now let's look at it the other way. Suppose this summer rolls around and Hickson decides that Portland is the place for him and he signs a long term contract here. Then fans will love Olshey for having the foresight to hold onto him.
This business of basketball has so many moving parts and is so unpredictable. With this passing trade deadline, we saw a record breaking lack of activity, rumors with no backing and a general sense of disappointment by fans. The NBA is full of teams that are playing the "chess match", trying to arrange their pieces and assets in hopes of striking gold and building a dynasty. The dynasties of the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls weren't built in just one trade deadline.

Garrett Thornton is on Twitter. Follow him at @PortlandGarrett

About Arran Gimba