Guard Eric Gordon, he of the mysterious and eternal knee injury, was the subject of late rumors in which he was being shopped for players or draft choices. The fact that Gordon was not dealt is not a surprise. He missed most of the 2011-12 season with a knee injury and has only appeared in 19 games during the current campaign.
Factor that in with the four-year, $58 million deal the team matched to keep the former Indiana star this summer, and that increased the risk factor well beyond the comfort zone of most NBA general managers. The alternate-game activation strategy is cautionary, so not to rush his recovery, but it does little for a team who desperately needs a veteran leader to be there night after night.
The team will revisit the Gordon situation after the season when the team shucks its transmascot status and becomes the Pelicans. At least the trading deadline offered some hope, which is all the fans want at this time of a long season: to pick up that player who can make a difference or get rid of one who can’t. There is never a guarantee of either, despite the sport, and some trading deadline deals can downright boomerang. One of those haunting decisions, at least for Red Sox fans, came on the infamous trade of Jeff Bagwell. Selected in the fourth round of the 1989, Bagwell was traded to Houston on August 30, 1990 for relief pitcher Larry Andersen. The object was to gear up for a playoff run, but the result was a deal that is now considered one of the most one-sided trades in baseball history.
In fact, in 2002 ESPN's readers named it the second-worst trade in sports history, behind only the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Although Andersen pitched well down the stretch in 1990, and helped the Red Sox win the AL East division title on the last day of the season, Boston was swept in the ALCS by Oakland, and then lost Andersen after the season when he was declared a free agent due to the second collusion settlement. Ahem, Bagwell finished a bonafide Hall of Fame career with the Astros.
I recall a similar situation in the NFL that came after the trading deadline that could have resulted in a blockbuster deal because of a quirk in NFL rules. It was 1981, and neither the Baltimore Colts nor the Seattle Seahawks were going anywhere. Colts owner Bob Irsay had a running feud with QB Bert Jones, which was not helped when the LSU product responded to a question about the owner, saying: “I learned a long time ago you don’t get in pissing contest with a skunk!” Irsay would not be unhappy if the team traded Jones, and a likely suitor appeared to be Seattle. QB Jim Zorn was not having a great year, and GM John Thompson coveted Jones.
The trade deadline passed, but the waiver rules still applied, which meant that clubs with the worst records had first choice at players who were placed on waivers. Interestingly enough, at one point late in the season, the Colts had the worst record in the league, and the Seahawks had the second-worst. Which meant, in effect, each team could put their quarterback on waivers with the other team having first option to claim. That would have set up a “trade” of starting quarterbacks that would have been remarkable in normal times, but even moreso because it involved a creative use of the waiver system.
Thompson approached the league office about the legality of such a deal and whether it would be approved, and he knew Irsay would agree in a second. However, at the last minute Thompson backed off. The two teams were stuck with quarterbacks neither wanted. Zorn remained with the Seahawks and was eventually relegated to second-string behind Dave Krieg in 1983 and then cut the next year. Jones was traded to the Rams in 1982, but played in only four games before retiring.
His new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores, at Amazon.com and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com