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Jerry West says teams should call trade demand bluffs

Feb 3, 2012, 8:44 AM EDT

Jerry West AP

Last season it was Carmelo Anthony. This season it’s Dwight Howard. Players who hold the threat of walking as a free agent over a team to force a trade to a destination they prefer.

Jerry West wants none of it. He says teams should call the player’s bluff — make him leave the money on the table to walk away.

The legendary player and long-time league GM of the Lakers and Grizzlies (and current Golden State minority owner and team consultant) was asked in interviews on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles how he would handle such a situation if it were his team.

“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. 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.”

Jerry West just became very popular in Orlando.

West has always been a risk taker and his strategy comes with one big risk — that the player isn’t bluffing and would leave. Meaning the franchise gets nothing. Maybe West would rather just start over, but if you hold out like Denver did (and find an owner like James Dolan who caves to work with) you can get a fair amount of talent back.

But in the case of Orlando, do you think Howard is willing to leave the guaranteed year and larger raises on the table just to get out of town? Is getting Brook Lopez or Andrew Bynum back worth it for the Magic?

Or do you call Howard’s bluff?

  1. hoytdadd64 - Feb 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    You got to know……when to hold ’em…..know when to fold ’em…know when to walk away….know when to run!!! 30 mill on the table or rings on ya finga’, which would bring lot’s of endorsments, keep cambling West.

  2. leearmon - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    I actually agree 100% with West. Its one thing to say “Trade me or else I’ll walk.” its a completely different thing all together to actually leave approximately $30 million on the table to have a “better chance” at a title. In recent history the only team to come out better after a trade is the Denver Nuggets. But the fact is if you trade a star, you almost never get anything close to equal value for the leaving player. Your entire team and coaching staff has been built to surround the departing star so your organization has to start from scratch anyway. Not to mention when a team trades you picks, for your star the picks you’ll be getting will be late first rounders. The old saying goes, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” yet thats exactly what the players have been doing, based only on threats, threats I might add that are completely unprecedented. How many guys have voluntarily walked away from $30 million in the primes of their careers? I dont know of any, I obviously could be wrong, but even when Lebron took less than a max salary to go to Miami, he still got much more than he would, had Cleveland not decided to trade him. And what did Cleveland get in return? Not much. If im Orlando I absolutely call Howard’s bluff, unless I get Bynum & Gasol, there isn’t really another deal out there worth their while. If Dwight wants to leave Orlando and $30 mill (Plus Florida’s lack of state tax) go right ahead, sign a deal giving him around $90 million and see guys who you are much better than make significantly more than you. Plus if he goes to Jersey, the Nets will have a great 1-2 punch, but not much else. While Orlando can end their attempts of trying to appease Howard and move on to building an actual team.

    Its time for the owners and GMs to become more proactive in these matters, instead of crying trying to look like a victim.

    • leearmon - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM

      Sorry for double posting, but also this notion of endorsements is a little overstated. Deron Williams left Utah for the bright lights of New Jersey, yet how many national endorsements have you seen from him? Melo was in more national endorsements in Denver than in NYC.

      • bringin1234 - Feb 3, 2012 at 11:55 AM

        Deron didnt leave Utah….he was traded and in fact was surprised that they traded him. It came out of no where, then the question comes will he stay in NJ or go else where…. he didnt leave Utah, he caused locker room problems with Sloan and they dumped him. NJ was in the Melo hunt until they landed Deron

  3. zer0sand0nes - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    In the bigger picture I agree with The Logo that few if any player would leave that type of cheddar on the table. Two key factors that would determine leaving that type of money on the table would be: What are the marketing opportunities in the players desired destination vs their current location + what is the tax in each team’s respective state? The marketing opportunities etc can come close/offset/eclipse the difference in money, and some states have low or no state tax, allowing players to sign elsewhere for less and the monies almost equaling out or maybe even coming out ahead. If players start leaving significant money on the table, what do the owners do then? Ultimately, if one is truly unhappy with their work situation/environment, and making nearly $100 million, to leave $10-30 million on the table isn’t unfathomable since players will still be able “To feed my family”

  4. patsfan401 - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    This is the same guy who threw his former team a bone by sending Gasol to LA. So, you know he is hoping the Lakers land him. If he were the Magic GM he’d probably trade Howard for Metta, Steve Blake & L.O.’s trade exception. And call it a win-win.

    • leearmon - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      Well if you go back and look at that trade its not as bad as it was originally thought. Memphis got Marc Gasol, two first round picks and throw ins for Pau. Im pretty sure if the Grizz could do it again, without West in the organization, they would. So too would most other teams.

    • loungefly74 - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      man…the pau gasol trade conspiracy theories…(especially from east coast guys like “patsfan401″” sheesh)…they have revisionist history. jerry west wasn’t with the Grizzlies when this trade was made…the griz needed salary cap relief, they didnt want to sign pau to max contract…it was the best offer, yeah, other offers were made but this was the best…a “superstar trade” is never equal in return…oh, how’s this trade looking now? pretty damn good for the griz. marc is a silky beast, the cap relief helped get guys like randolph…

  5. burnsy - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    “If I were an executive on a team where a player says he’s going to leave, let him leave…”

    Says the guy who desperately wants Dwight Howard to be a free agent.

  6. deadeyedesign23 - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    The reason teams don’t generally make those trades is that often the team making the offer won’t include as much because you’re essentially trading for a few months of service with the chance of more years.

    It’s not like the owners are petrified over hurting the players feelings. It’s the first time in their careers the player has the leverage and they should use it.

  7. rodneysixerfolife - Feb 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    How about finishing what you started?? I mean, these guys can’t wait to get drafted by ANY team, and once they are there they will do all of the right things, and say all of the right things. As soon as they can’t win a CHIP, then the organization that drafted you and pays very well doesn’t know what it’s doing. Go figure. I guess I’m old school. I like my players to stick with one team. How can the little market teams ever become good if all the big name guys wanna play together. That is so sickening. What happened to wanting to beat the BEST!!! Dwight Howard will realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and being a Laker doesn’t guarantee a CHIP either. Today’s players SUCK. I’m a die hard sixers fan..and no I don’t want Dwight. Much respect to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook….(flashback) KD and Russell are what Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury could have been back in the day if not for Marbury pining for New York/New Jersey!!!!! Jerry West is 100% right!!!!
    call his bluff…you can’t play forever and when your done playing you will reminisce about that 30 mil and the no state taxes from Florida….damn dunking machine…learn a post up move!

  8. deshackle - Feb 3, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    I agree with Jerry West. This is the NBA, not AAU. Every professional league needs parity to some degree and a method to player movement that’s both fair to the player and fair to the league. While I enjoy watching the Miami Heat play, and I think they’re one of the more entertaining teams in the league, that act of collusion perpetrated by Wade, James, and Bosh has set a bad precedence for the league.

    It’s good to see teams like Philadelphia and Denver playing winning basketball.

  9. czakobry - Feb 3, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    I don’t know how anyone thinks Dwight will stay in Orlando after this season, whether they trade him or let him leave as a free agent.

    Exhibit A:
    Exhibit B:
    Exhibit C:

    First they get demolished and set franchise records for worst offensive performance, then they let Boston come back from 27 points down to win, and then they get blown out by one of the worst teams in the league missing their best player. There is no chance the Orlando Magic win a title this season or any time soon. They have players who aren’t very good signed to huge deals (like Hedo) and have no cap flexibility. Why would Dwight stay there? Does Dwight really seem like a person who cares more about money than winning championships? Dwight has the natural ability to be one of the best centers ever but he’s not going to get there if he gets knocked out in the first round of the playoffs every single year. He’s gone, there’s no “bluff” to be called, it’s not a bluff.

  10. bigtrav425 - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    iv been saying this for yrs!…F these players!! call there bluff!

  11. sham13ert - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Denver did luck out and get great talent in return.

    In the Magic’s situation, I would take Bynum. Especially if you can tell him he’ll be the focal point of the offense. He would love that. You just have to realize that his knees aren’t the best, but you evaluate that concern in 1.5 years.

    In the case of Lopez, there’s no way. There’s no mix of players from the Nets that make sense for the magic.

    So, the only reasonable trade for them would be Bynum and a first round pick for Howard. Otherwise, give him an offer to extend, let that ride out, then offer him the max. If he says no, oh well, you tried. Offer Bynum a max contract, and make L.A. either bid on Howard or counter offer Bynum. L.A. can’t afford both with the new CBA.

  12. finsfan4life - Feb 3, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    Isn’t Jerry West the same guy who snatched Shaq out of Orlando to LA. Orlando didn’t call the bluff and when he became a FA, Jerry helped getting him into LA.
    I think Jerry is just blowing up steam, trying to keep D12 away from LA because everybody and their mama knows that D12 doesn’t want to come to Golden State

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