Depending where you live, at some point this afternoon the NBA trade deadline (3PM EST) and its traveling circus will vanish, leaving behind all the debris from what will or will not have happened come the witching hour. Both trades and mere rumors have impacts on teams, players, coaches, fans — everyone — but while all the here-say can wet appetites for a period of time, or generate conversation about the game, there comes a time when it all just boils down to a static buzz of auditory waste. Rumors are only useful so long as something happens, trades themselves make the real impact and stir true intrigue in an actual basketball sense; determining how a player may fit in, or change, a different team around him can have much more meaning behind it when a new player and team actually cross paths.
Otherwise, it sometimes feels like missing the point or wasting time. Rumors may fuel excitement for a time, but eventually it becomes spoiled if talks break down or interest is outright denied, ‘according to sources’, says a report, from an ‘anonymous league official’, and the focus changes from basketball to catching wind of the latest morsel of half-maybe-truths. Actual basketball, the games in this uncertain time leading up to the deadline, seem to take a backseat as everyone waits for the other shoe to drop. Teams directly and constantly involved in the rumor mill may grow weary — like poor Stan Van Gundy — play well regardless, poorly due to the circumstances, or see some roster shifts in anticipation of a move, but no matter the results they’re all fleeting, temporary snapshots of a team here one minute, possibly changed the next.
Which is why today is a great day. Today either something happens, either a trigger is pulled on a deal, or it’s not, and we can all move on. The rumors that sort of exist as allergens in the air die off with the cold front of a deadline moving in, to get all meteorological about it, leaving us with only harsh reality to sift through. It’s all about the process, or progress really, towards the season’s breaking point — the end of the regular season, or, as most teams hope, the beginning of the playoffs.
Trade rumors have their purpose and time in the sun — I think we can agree they make the most of the limelight — but now it’s time to advance the plot. Different players, different teams, new adjustments, more questions; if the end result of all the back-and-forth he-said-they-said-I-said reports are real-life moves to mull over, or just a conclusion to the chatter for another season, that seems like a fair deal. Whether a player is going to change jerseys or not, at least the only thing left to discuss is playing.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.