Friday, June 3, 2011

5 comments Untouchable NBA Players

Jim Buss has stamped the untouchable label on Andrew Bynum’s forehead. Well congratulations, Mr. Bynum. Thanks to the only higher-up that counts, you’re probably even impervious to Archimedes’ Death Ray. Less impressively, you’re now the only player in this elite class not among the NBA’s top ten players. But that begs the question: Who are the rest of these untouchables? The best and the untouchables are certainly not mutually exclusive, nor are they completely overlapping. Some have rings, some don’t. They do, however, share one exclusive trait. If they depart for another team, it would gruesomely devastate the infrastructure of that city’s fanhood. Here’s the list of the NBA’s only truly untouchable players.

1. LeBron James – Let’s get the obvious out of the way. He’s on the cusp of an NBA title, he’s the best player in the league, and he just signed a six-year deal. You simply don’t trade the best player in his prime. But what if Oklahoma City offers Durant and Westbrook, the NBA’s best non-Miami duo? (Not that it would ever happen.) Riley still wouldn’t pull the trigger, because No. 1 is always better than No. 2 + No. 3.

2. Dwyane Wade – This one’s simple. Chalk up Wade’s lifelong career in Miami to the hometown hero effect. LeBron may be the Heat’s best player, but Dwyane Wade is the leader to the fans because he was drafted there. He’s been with the team through thick and thin. He’s carried the city to a title. He’s celebrated, laughed, smiled, cursed and cried with the Heat. When the LeBacle became a summer phenomenon, it was Wade who remained loyal. That’s why he’s the last to be introduced at home games. That’s why he’s at the center of every poster, picture and interview. That’s why he’s untradeable. He’s become too dear to a city full of passersby. He’s the centerpiece of everything that’s right and true about basketball. Trading him away would be a knife through the heart.

3. Amar’e Stoudemire/Carmelo Anthony – The Knicks have spent too much time, too many dollars and too many lost seasons to ever give up on their dynamic duo. That’s why the demand for a Chris Paul trade will never go away, even if the Knicks lacks the assets to pull it off. New York is too impatient to ever give up on these two. While it may be a smart move in the long run if New York never snags that elusive title, it’ll never happen. No one’s willing to go through another two-year salary-dumping bonanza.

4. Kevin Durant – If Dwyane Wade is a hometown hero, then Kevin Durant is a United States hero. Instead of announcing his new contract on television, he simply tweeted it. No interviews, no press conference. And not only that, he remained loyal to a city no one knew anything about before they got a basketball team. On the court, he’s deferential to a fault. How many NBA superstars do we criticize for not getting the ball enough? He’s polite, well spoken and gives back to the community. If the Thunder let him go, the principles upon which America is built may just collapse.

5. Dirk Nowitzki – Mark Cuban already loves rewarding players with excessive contracts after middling, short-lived success. Even if Dirk’s otherworldly playoff performance doesn’t end in a championship, don’t expect Cuban to let go. More importantly, Dirk’s game isn’t predicated on the merits of being 25 years old. If shooters get better with age, then don’t expect Dirk to ever decline. Sure, his minutes may need to be reduced in the long run, but the one-footed fallaway will never disappear. And neither will Mark Cuban’s infatuation.

6. Derrick Rose – MVP. Conference Finals appearance. 22-years-old. The Bulls lucked into their savior thanks to the NBA Draft Lottery and will ride him as far as he can take them. Thibodeau and Rose have forged a joint identity that will define their individual careers. No matter what moves the Chicago front office makes, the Rose/Thibodeau era will be defined by defense and the upper limits of Rose’s ceiling. Because they have already found success in their current formula, don’t expect it to ever change. He may not be the best in the league, but he might just be the most untouchable.

7. Tim Duncan – Not that anyone’s looking to acquire him, but San Antonio will not let him do the “I’m old and am going to sign with a contender” routine. Considering everything he’s done for the team, the Spurs will re-sign TD just to stick him on the end of the bench. Till death do them part.

8. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles hasn’t hit it big on a draft pick in forever. That and Mike Dunleavy is no longer the GM, so he can’t ruin the team. When contract time comes around the Clippers will offer a max deal, the state of California and the kitchen sink to guarantee that Griffin stays.

Before you jump down my throat for leaving off certain guys, here are some notable players left off the list and why I left them off:

Kobe Bryant – Jim Buss loves Bynum and hired Mike Brown. Don’t be surprised if an aging, disgruntled Kobe is dealt somewhere at the end of his current contract.

Dwight Howard – LeBron 2.0? I’m not willing to believe the rumors that he’s going to resign with Orlando quite yet.

Chris Paul - Same as above, minus “The Decision.”

Joe Johnson – Atlanta is just waiting to be dismantled. As much as the Hawks fans will enjoy a No. 3 – No. 6 seed over the next five years, it will never bring them a title.

Steve Nash – He’s proven his loyalty, but Phoenix has not. Just look at Amar’e.


Bengoodfella said...

I think the Spurs, if they are really on the decline, would think of trading Duncan if that's what he wants. He still has value and I don't think Duncan would take offense to it, especially if he asks for it.

So I don't know if Duncan is untouchable and I think the fans may understand if the Spurs were able to get some quality players back.

ivn said...

Bynum being "untouchable" might just be a ploy on Buss's part. It raises Bynum's trade value if teams think Buss thinks that highly of him. also, Kobe has a no-trade clause, so you'd think that would make him untouchable.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, that is a possibility. I am not a Lakers fan but I can't see a situation where Bynum is untouchable. If anything, his perceived value is probably much higher than his actual value has been. The Lakers may be able to get good value for him.

rich said...

As for Kobe, "at the end of his current contract"? His contract runs through 2013/2014 and has him getting paid 25M next year, 27M and then 30M in his last season.

With the salary cap at ~58M this season and the rumored possibility of a hard cap, I don't think there is now, or will be in 2 seasons, a market for a 32+ year old guard with a ton of mileage and knee problems making almost 30M a season.

Plus, like ivn said, he has a no trade clause, so Kobe's untouchable if only for his contract.

Also, if San Antonio will keep TD no matter what, then how is that same logic not applied to Kobe?

As for Bynum, hasn't he been involved in trade rumors almost every year? And by trade rumors, I mean hasn't LA entertained offers that included Bynum?

This isn't the first time that Bynum has been claimed "untouchable," but I think that LA would be very, very open to a trade with Orlando that centered around Bynum going to Orlando and Dwight going to the Lakers.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I am not sure Kobe is touchable or not. That is a lot of money for him.

I don't think Bynum is untouchable, I really think it is a ploy. If the Lakers could use him to get a star on their team I think they would do it pretty quickly. I think a Howard-Bynum trade, while maybe not smart for the Magic would be eagerly accepted by the Lakers.