• Michael Sanchez

The Art of the Non-Deal

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Three idiots walk into a trade machine...

Raise your hand if you just got traded to the Suns. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Raise your hand if you just got traded to the Suns. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

WHAT IN THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the greatest non-trade in NBA history. I can’t wait to have grandkids just so I can tell them about it. So, the Suns, Grizzlies, and Wizards agreed on a three-team trade that looked something like this:

My initial non-Suns thoughts on the trade:

“Trevor Ariza is about to become the first player to quit on two different teams before the All-Star break.” (I think this trade was part of some bigger conspiracy to get Ariza to the Lakers when he’s inevitably bought out by a Wizards team that finally decided to blow it up. Literally. I think John Wall might just blow up the locker room at some point this season.)

“Memphis actually got a useful piece for a potential run at the playoffs for basically nothing.”

“Aww, Doc Rivers is probably so happy that his son is moving closer to him.”

Honestly, I wasn’t even concerned about who the role players would be. I was still trying to wrap my head around how the hell I was going to root for Austin Rivers. Then, Woj provided some more details:

I never expected to get much for Ariza, so I was unmoved by the Suns “haul.” It was fine, I guess. Austin Rivers is already the best point guard on the roster, and he’s not even really a point guard. Wayne Selden is a guy that plays basketball. (That’s literally the extent of my knowledge of him.) And, Dylan Brooks is a promising young piece.

Sure, Suns fans might have wanted Lonzo Ball, but how about a guy that beat Ball for Pac-12 Player of the Year two years ago. If you’re the Suns, you might as well keep throwing stuff at the wall to see if anything sticks (although it seems like they’re just throwing stuff at the block of ice where Robert Sarver’s heart is supposed to be.)

It could have been worse, I suppose. At least, it wasn’t MarShon Brooks. Huh, what was that Woj?

Damn it, James Jones! You didn’t even ask for the right Brooks! Two years ago, MarShon Brooks was playing in China for the Jiangsu Dragons with Greg Oden. He’s turning 30 in a month, so I can’t even trick myself into thinking that maybe someday he won’t suck.

Oh well. I mean, does it really even matter which Brooks we got? (Oh, it definitely would.)

Wait, what? Was James Jones driving in and out of tunnels while making this trade? Was Chris Wallace crinkling a candy wrapper by the phone every time he said Brooks’ first name? HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?

Oh, so it was the Ernie Grunfeld’s fault, the current franchise destroyer and President of Basketball Lunacy for the Washington Wizards. (Source: Wikipedia) Did he just get drunk Friday night and decided he wanted to make NBA Twitter explode? Has his tenure with the Wizards been some sort of Banksy-style performance art culminating in this grand masterpiece?

But if you’re the Suns and Grizzlies, how do you not communicate directly and depend on ERNIE GRUNFELD to facilitate it? That’s like asking a 5-year old kid to order you a pizza. Chances are you’re going to end up with a 2-liter of Coke and 10 cups of ranch.

Of course it is.

The Wayne Selden era in Phoenix lasted just under an hour, and it was one of the greatest hours of my life. My fondest memory will always be that YouTube video I watched of him dropping 31 points on the Pelicans last season. According to Basketball-Reference, his Box Plus-Minus of 0.0 ranked third on the team. Dragan Bender will always yearn for the awkward end-of-the-bench conversations that could have been.

Now, it might seem like James Jones is in way over his head as a rookie GM. I actually think that he’s employing some savvy PR strategies. The best way to distract from incompetence on the court is incompetence in the front office. The Bulls have been angling to overtake Suns as the NBA’s most dysfunctional franchise, but Jones will have none of it. He will not be deterred from making the Suns entertaining one way or another.

P.T. Barnum once said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” The Suns took that to heart and decided to turn themselves into their own media circus. I wonder if the Talking Stick Resort renovations that Sarver is trying to extort out of Phoenix includes a big top tent. If nothing else, the Suns will get some screen time on NBA Desktop this week. I’m just glad that Christmas came early this year. I love this league.

(Bonus Conspiracy Theory: Can we really discredit the idea that LeBron is really running the Suns? He knew that there was too much heat from the Chandler buyout for the Suns to trade Ariza to the Lakers directly. So, he launders Ariza through the shell (of their former selves) company, the Washington Wizards (sounds made up, I know). Now, THEY’RE the ones that will eventually buy out Ariza, keeping James Jones’ hands clean of the whole thing.

Now, he has a fresh Ariza whose only real wear and tear is signing his game checks every week without giving anything up. In an added layer of brilliance, LeBron calls up the only team that has two players with the same last name and concocts a whole “mistaken identity” debacle to divert attention away from the real motivation of the trade. LeBron is playing five-on-five while the rest of us are playing HORSE.)

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