Jerry West is old school. And while there were certainly players who wanted out and negotiated their way out of their teams during his era, it wasn't the marketing/sponsorships/exposure/sta
r-power league it is today back when he played. West has been involved in the league for decades, was around for the Shaq transformation in L.A.. And in his mind, all this nonsense from players forcing their way out through trade demands should be stopped... by management. From ESPN.com:
I honestly think I'd call their bluff," West said in an interview on 710 ESPN's Mason and Ireland show Thursday, not mentioning Howard specifically. "I really would, because I don't think any agent or player is going to leave $30 million on the table.via Jerry West says teams shouldn't give in to players' trade demands - ESPN Los Angeles.
"I just don't believe that's going to happen."
"If I were an executive on a team where a player says he's going to leave, let him leave," West said on 710 ESPN's Max and Marcellus show earlier Thursday. "It would be better than saddling yourself with a bunch of players that are not going to fit in to what you're trying to do -- high-salaried players, in many cases overpaid players by today's standards, that would burden you going forward. "I'd almost rather start over again myself. You're not going to replace that player, but there's an enormous penalty there and it looks like to me like the inmates are running the asylum if you let that happen."
West is basically saying "Orlando, if you trade for a bunch of high-priced vets you're stabbing yourself in the face." And West's right.
Orlando is reportedly looking for veterans back in a trade for Dwight Howard, in an effort to keep some semblance of a window of contention open. But the reality is that when Howard leaves, the franchise is starting over and having an expensive terrible team is much worse than a rebuilding terrible team because of the limited capacity for improvement.
But more to the point, West's advocation of calling the bluff is salient. How are players ever going to be deterred from trade demands and scuttling seasons if there's no punitive reaction from teams? Forcing Howard to walk away from a significant amount of money may not stop players like Howard from their plans, but it'll make them think twice and at least give those smaller market teams some leverage.
West is a former member of the most star-studded, bandwagon-hijacking franchise in history (though his relationship with the Lakers has been strained at times), and he's advocating for smaller market teams to stand up for themselves. Unfortunately, the era may have simply changed. After "The Decision" and the Melo trade last season, it's hard to see things reversing direction, for anyone.