Monday, February 23, 2015

1 comments Grantland Writers Talk about the NBA Trade Deadline While Bill Simmons Cracks Pop Culture Jokes

Bill Simmons did a NBA trade deadline diary with Zach Lowe last year. Since apparently Lowe's wife has produced a human baby then that means Lowe is not participating in this year's NBA trade deadline diary, which apparently means Bill will use a lot of the other writers at Grantland to do a running diary of the NBA trade deadline. Bill essentially only has two gimmicks in his writing these days. The running diary (or it's cousin, the retro-diary) and the mailbag. Again, he doesn't have a huge interest in writing anymore it seems. I just wish he would stop writing if that's the case. Maybe once his contract runs out with ESPN he will go somewhere and transition away from writing into being the media personality he so desperately wants to permanently be. So here is the 2015 NBA trade deadline running diary and we'll see if Bill manages to keep up better with the Grantland writers than he was able to keep up with Zach Lowe last year.

At 2:01 p.m. ET, the Grantland staff began an email thread about NBA trade deadline day. Ninety minutes later, the landscape of the league had changed and 100 emails had been exchanged. Here is that thread, condensed and edited for clarity and sanity, even though there was nothing sane about what happened today.


(Okay, so this year's trade deadline was fairly crazy but announcing this year's deadline/NFL season/draft as the craziest ever is still an old journalistic standby)

Bill Simmons: Yes or no, would you believe this tweet?

@WojYahooNBA Sources: Suns-Knicks talks for Dragic derailed because of Phil Jackson’s spotty cell phone service in St. Bart’s.

No. Because I'm sure St. Bart's has good cell service. I don't begrudge Bill his success. He has a talent and a good vision for what he wants to do, but he constantly reminds me of a person trying just a little too hard to be clever. I've claimed he always has to be the most clever guy in the room and I still think it's true. He's the guy in class who is always cracking jokes and everyone really likes because he's funny and creative. But he's also the guy who is trying really, really hard to be funny and creative to where it becomes slightly more desperate as time goes on.

(Note there are a lot of pictures and embedded Tweets in this running diary that I may end up leaving out. If it's not YouTube videos, it's other media that gets thrown in to increase the length of a Bill Simmons column)

Jason Concepcion: No, simply because St. Barts is the kind of place Roman Abramovic and Lorne Michaels go to hang out, and people that rich would never go anywhere with spotty cell service.

See? Bill was trying SO HARD to be funny and creative that it comes off as desperate sometimes. Why would St. Bart's have spotty cell service? Because it's not America?

To me, it’s more like: @WojYahooNBA Sources: Suns-Knicks talks for Dragic derailed due to the continuing radioactive fallout from the Bargnani deal.

Not terribly more funny, but it makes more sense.

Trade: Denver sends Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland for Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, Victor Claver, and a 2016 lottery-protected first-round pick

Trade: Denver sends JaVale McGee, the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum, and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick to the Sixers for the rights to Cenk Akyol

Simmons: I liked the Afflalo deal for Portland, but thought they blew it by not offering the same package for Jeff Green last month.

Wait, so you mean the Trail Blazers had a really good idea that Bill believes he can improve upon because only he is the person allowed to have the best idea? You don't say. Readers of Bill's mailbags know this trick very well. A reader writes in with a great idea and Bill has to better it by 10%, because of the whole "most clever guy in the room" thing. The best part is that Bill is assuming the Trail Blazers would have offered that same deal for Jeff Green and the Celtics would have agreed to it. A lot of Bill's ideas are dependent on GM's just saying "yes" to whatever he proposes. It's one of the reasons I would have loved to see him be an NBA GM.

Green would have allowed them to play small ball, with Aldridge at the 5.

They could still do that with Batum at the 4 if they really wanted to. He's only 10 pounds lighter than Green.

Is it weird that I’m pissed Boston didn’t trump Philly’s offer of “Absolutely nothing for JaVale McGee and OKC’s protected pick”? Why didn’t the Celts offer “Nothing” or even “99 percent of nothing”? Sam Hinkie totally outwitted us.

Why would the Celtics want JaVale McGee for this season when he has been a locker room issue in Denver and is owed $12 million next year? Danny Ainge is famous for saying that picks can be traded but players can't. Obviously Sam Hinkie feels differently and the Sixers are absolutely not going to keep McGee all the way through until the end of next season.

Concepcion: Fair point, but the thing about acquiring JaVale is that you then have him. Underrated drawback. ​I think it’s very important that the Sixers do everything in their power to make sure JaVale can’t speak, text, see, or in any way contact or influence Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.

Exactly. Bill really wants McGee hanging out in the locker room with some of the Celtics' young players? The Sixers don't care because most of their roster will be out of the league in two years.

Simmons: If Pat Riley gets Dragic for a bunch of spare parts and a couple of picks in the 20s, I’m gonna be vehemently pissed off. I’m just warning you now. Is Dragic-Wade-Bosh-Deng-Whiteside kind of terrifying or am I crazy?

No Bill, they are LEGITIMATELY terrifying. What's funny is prior to the trade deadline Bill was making fun of Heat fans on Twitter by Tweeting out:

Then he got all defensive when a trade not too far different happened and acted like the other draft pick thrown in for the year 2021 is completely different from the trade proposed.

Yet in this trade deadline diary, he is pissed off the Heat got Dragic for spare parts and two first round picks. So the Heat didn't get Dragic with one first round pick, but they didn't give up Chalmers (ugh, either way) and the 2nd first round pick is in the year 2021 when robots controlled by humans will be playing in the NBA. So Bill looks a little dumb, couldn't really admit he looked sort of dumb and acted like the 2021 first round pick the Heat gave up is completely different from the trade he proposed. It's a rollercoaster trying to avoid being wrong.

Sharp: If the Knicks, Celtics, or Lakers had pulled off a Dragic deal, I was fully prepared to spend the rest of the week mocking them for talking themselves into Dragic as a franchise cornerstone.

Why would these teams have convinced themselves Dragic is a franchise cornerstone simply because they traded for him? It could just mean they want to try and re-sign Dragic as part of their rebuilding plan. Even so, how would the Heat not be talking themselves into Dragic as a franchise cornerstone? He'd be the 2nd/3rd highest player on the team if he was re-signed for the max.

But Dragic in Miami with Bosh, Whiteside, and maybe a healthy Wade by the playoffs? That’s fantastic.

And so why aren't the Heat talking themselves into Dragic being a franchise cornerstone? If they re-sign Dragic to a max deal then he and Bosh would be taking up about $45 million of the Heat's cap in 2016 with fewer draft picks to replenish the roster. Isn't that seeing Dragic as a franchise cornerstone as well?

Simmons: I am making this point for the second time this week: Dragic was the fourth-best guard in basketball last season. I voted him second-team All-NBA.

This is Bill subtly waving his dick around trying to remind us he has an All-NBA vote. So basically, Dragic was the fourth-best point guard in the NBA last year because Bill says so. His opinion equals fact.

Miami becomes a title contender if it can get him without touching its top four … at least until we remember that Dwyane Wade couldn’t play 38 MPG for four straight rounds even if Anthony Bosch, Brian McNamee and Ivan Drago’s trainer were training him. But we won’t remember that until, like, late April, right?

So...the Heat aren't title contenders then? And also who is this "we" person? You mean "you"?

A few months from now Bill will point to this first sentence to show he said the Heat were a title contender or point to the other sentence in the paragraph to show he knew Wade and the Heat would falter down the stretch.

Concepcion: In retrospect, shouldn’t we now view a team acquiring a core player’s non-twin brother, in order to make that core player feel more comfortable, as a red flag? Zoran is this generation’s Chris Smith.

Oh, now Dragic is a core player to a franchise. One guy at Grantland thinks he isn't, another does, and Bill Simmons is going to go with whatever ends up happening in two years.

Simmons: I wish I had an undeserving black-sheep brother who I could ram down everyone’s throats at Grantland. Oh wait, I have Joe House. 

Well and there are also your column ideas (running diaries, ranking players by tradeability), Chuck Klosterman, and any article that tries to determine the proper ratedness of an athlete, movie star, television show, album, band, or any other entertainment entity.

Simmons: What would happen if The Players’ Tribune hired Isaiah Thomas to write a piece for them? Would half of their staff just quit?

So Bill is bashing Isaiah Thomas again. Look for Thomas to take offense and then Bill will back down  Gus Johnson will broker a peace between them, even though Bill's bashing of Thomas was based totally on his opinion along with facts he provided about how bad Thomas was, so I'm not sure how that peace being brokered worked. Bill either thinks Thomas sucks or he doesn't. Bill bashed Thomas publicly in his columns and then never really retracted what he said, so maybe they just agreed to disagree.

By the way, I keep picturing the Dragic brothers hitting South Beach dressed like Martin and Aykroyd in the famous “Wild and Crazy Guys” sketch. Can’t we Photoshop the heads of the Dragic brothers on them for a GIF with South Beach behind them? Or would a straightforward Miami Vice Photoshop make more sense?

Pretty low hanging fruit joke there. Two white guys who are also foreigners hanging out at clubs. I'm surprised Bill didn't make a "A Night at the Roxbury" joke as well.

Trade: Brooklyn sends Kevin Garnett to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young

I can't figure out why the Timberwolves would give up a first round pick for Thaddeus Young only to later trade him for an old guy who is running out of gas very quickly and is a pending free agent. But hey, maybe I'm not supposed to figure out what the Timberwolves are doing and that's the genius of it all.

Goldsberry: Man. Anthony Bennett is going to hate practice all of a sudden.

Bennett is either going to end up being an All-Star (which I still think he can be...I'm still riding this train) or he's going to just quit basketball for good in late March of this year.

Simmons: How sad is it that the greatest Timberwolves moment in 11 years — seriously, 11 years — is bringing an ancient KG back home to play his final two months on a terrible basketball team? And yet, I love it!

It's crazy that your opinion the greatest Timberwolves moment in 11 years also coincides with your opinion that you like this move. It's almost like, because the world revolves around you and your opinion, Kevin Garnett going back to the Timberwolves has more meaning.

Simmons: Remember in Rounders

(Bengoodfella rolls his eyes and makes a wanking motion with his hand)

when they all ended up at the same Atlantic City poker table and Mike McD said, “Welcome to the Chesterfield South”? Then they all stayed at the table, played together and stole the money of every overmatched tourist that sat down at the table? That’s how like 20 NBA GMs feel about Billy King. He’s the overmatched tourist who keeps sitting down at the table as they all sneak smiles at each other. Welcome to the Chesterfield South again, Billy!

As usual, in order to make himself seem very clever and waste space Bill has used six sentences to simply say, "Billy King is overmatched once again." This is what I mean about having to be the most clever guy in the room. He can't just say something, he has to use an analogy to pop culture that strings out what he wants to say.

Bill could even write, "Billy King is overmatched like the Atlantic City tourists playing against Mike McD in 'Rounders'." But he doesn't, because if the pop culture analogy is more elaborate and longer then it just feels more clever to him. He mistakes quantity for quality and throwing more words on to the page as being more creative in using those words.



  1. Goran Dragic
  2. Dwyane Wade
  3. Luol Deng
  4. Chris Bosh
  5. Hassan Whiteside
Coach: Erik Spoelstra


  1. Kyrie Irving
  2. J.R. Smith
  3. LeBron
  4. Love
  5. Mozgov
Coach: David Blatt

Since I'm covering a Bill Simmons-related column and he likes to point out when he is right, I want to point out I thought Hassan Whiteside could turn into the type of player he is becoming. Prior to the 2010 draft.

I don't say this just because he comes from my hometown, but Hassan Whiteside may end up being the type of player Hasheem Thabeet will never be. I think he could turn pro, but I also think learning a little bit more in college about how to play the center position would be a great idea. I see him staying pro, especially since his stock is up and he will go in the lottery, but I am afraid the NBA may eat him up a little bit. He needs to be taught how to be a center and if he gets with the wrong team in the NBA that probably won't happen to the extent it should. Otherwise, he plays great defense and could be a valuable player in the NBA.

I mention this because Whiteside sort of Amelia Bedelia'd his way into becoming a really good player for the Heat. I was afraid he was so raw that he wouldn't get the chance to learn and show what he can do. I even thought the Raptors should have taken him at #13 in that 2010 draft. I was worried when he was drafted by the Kings in the same draft as DeMarcus Cousins that Whiteside wouldn't get a chance. That happened. He played two minutes that entire season. And yes, feel free to read the rest of my thoughts and picks. Some are good, some are bad, and mock me accordingly. I do not mind. Some of these guys come out of college and just aren't ready to contribute in the NBA, so they get eaten up. I'm glad it didn't happen to Whiteside...eventually.

Trade: Oklahoma City sends Reggie Jackson to Detroit and Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, and the rights to Tibor Pleiss to Utah, Utah sends Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City, Detroit sends Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin to Oklahoma City, Utah sends Steve Novak to OKC. Utah receives a first-round and a second-round draft pick. OKC receives a second-round pick. 
Simmons: My “Pistons over 36 wins” bet loves this trade!

Glad Bill's first thought was how this trade affected his own opinion of the Pistons. The world revolves around Bill and his first thought is usually, "How does this affect me?"

I can’t decide if Reggie is overrated or underrated.

It really doesn't fucking matter if Reggie Jackson is overrated, underrated or properly rated, but okay. It's all an opinion anyway. Bill has made a career out of trying to quantify his own opinion and what his opinion means for the career of these athletes, so I probably shouldn't criticize him for doing what comes naturally.

He was fucking awesome in that season-saving Grizzlies game last spring when KD and Russ were melting down. Do you think he’s on his life raft staring back at Waiters Island and pumping his fist or crying tears of joy?

I think Reggie Jackson works well for what he was in Oklahoma City and needed to embrace that role. He has a chance to get overpaid now and that's good for him. He was great for Boston College, but in the NBA I would have liked to see him embrace the role of the scorer off the bench who plays crunch time minutes and is essentially a starter.


This is the point where every other writer on this running diary just reacted like a normal person would to the flurry of trades, but Bill takes the chance to say, "HEY LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT MY FUNNY COMMENT! HERE'S A POP CULTURE REFERENCE! I NEED ATTENTION!"

Ryan: Oh holy shit.

Concepcion: I just blacked out. I don’t even know what’s happening. Also, the SUNS WERE LIKE FUCK THIS ISAIAH THOMAS NONSENSE ANYWAY?!?! WHAT?!?!

Chau: Pray for Zach Lowe.

Ryan: Thomas to Boston!?!?

Normal reactions, but like Robin Williams when he couldn't stop playing for laughs, Bill has to play for cleverness.

Simmons: Bob Sarver just reenacted the christening scene in The Godfather. Steve Nash is about to get shot in the eyeglasses during a massage.

And this isn't a terrible joke and it endears him to many people, but I am not as amused by others trying to be clever all the time. Turn down the schtick and forced pop culture references. It's just typical Bill and an example of how his writing has turned from well-timed cleverness into forced cleverness by beating the same jokes into the ground.

Ryan: I don’t know which players play for which basketball team anymore.

Concepcion: [Weeps uncontrollably.] This is for the best.

Ryan: Hinkie is John Wick?

And here he is...

Simmons: Woj and Steiny Mo are going head-to-head right now in The Challenge. We’re about to find out who is CT and who is Johnny Bananas.

I don't even know one person who watches "The Challenge." Zero people. I tend to believe it is Bill Simmons and maybe some drunk college kids who watch "The Challenge," and even then the college kids don't remember they watched it. Though there is a good parallel between washed-up reality stars trying to hold on to their few minutes of fame by turning back the clock to stay relevant and Bill as a mid-40's writer who is trying to stay relevant by turning back the clock and writing like he is still in his mid-20's. Perhaps Bill can identify with the struggle of these washed-up reality stars.

But again, the other Grantland writers have normal reactions and Bill makes a two sentence comparison to pop culture.

(One other issue, these are supposedly emails sent back and forth. How heavily edited are these emails to flow like they do? Did "Ryan" really just write "Hinkie is John Wick?" or were there 50 other words just edited out? Also, how many of Bill's jokes you think would have gotten edited out if he weren't the Editor-in-Chief of Grantland? 50%? 60%?)

Concepcion: Remember when the consensus was that this was going to be a quiet trade deadline? Related: Nobody knows anything.

"We" didn't know it would be this exciting!


Simmons: Don’t sleep on Dork Elvis somehow swiping K.J. McDaniels from Sam Hinkie. That was a total “look, you fucking owe me and I am cashing in” trade. Daryl just cashed in his Money in the Bank suitcase with Sam.

I thought trading McDaniels was a dumb move for the 76ers. The only justification I can think of is that McDaniels only wanted to sign a one year deal as a second round pick, so he's looking to cash in after the season is over and the 76ers weren't keeping him at his salary request. Otherwise, he seemed like a good bench player for them to have.

This will lead to a whole new round of sucking Daryl Morey off, where his reputation will once again exceed the achievement of his Rockets team.

Simmons: Zach just emailed me:

At this moment, my day-old baby is sleeping, Woj just tweeted “good lord,” and it’s unclear what team Isaiah Thomas plays for. Or I might just be hallucinating all this.
Sharp: If Zach was missing an NBA trade deadline, there was a 100 percent chance it was going to be one of the craziest deadlines ever. We should have warned people about this.

No one knew the trade deadline would be this crazy or because Zach Lowe was out on paternity leave then it should have been known the deadline would be crazy? WHICH IS IT? You know, either way. I think at this point these guys are just writing without an actual purpose if there isn't a trade to be discussed.

Simmons: Forgot to mention: Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley grew up in Tacoma together.

Bill forgot to mention this little fact because he probably didn't know this little fact until someone else wrote it and Bill thought, "Since it's the Celtics being discussed then I'll just pretend I knew this fact prior to just learning it."

They’re best friends.

And this is the proof. They are not best friends. They grew up in the same area together, but didn't even cross paths in high school. Bradley and Thomas grew up together in Tacoma in the same way I grew up with anyone who lived in the same city I lived in as a child. So this is proof that Bill just found this information and spit it out as fast as he could in order to pass it off like he knew it prior to just learning it.

Sharp: I made fun of it at first, but isn’t adding Kanter a much smarter version of adding Lopez? Neither one changes things that much, but at least Kanter isn’t making $30 million over the next two years, and he won’t command a ton of touches in the playoffs. And he’s not Perk! OKC quietly got itself in much better shape this afternoon. Now it’s time to go pass out.

Yes, yes, yes. Here is another thing that annoys me. The Thunder have had some major injuries that have affected their ability to win games in the playoffs. Whether it is Westbrook or Ibaka being injured, they have suffered big injuries that have held them back. So I don't entirely get how there seems to be pressure on them to "finally" win an NBA Title. The last time the Thunder had their best three players all healthy in the playoffs they made the NBA Finals.

Chau: I’ve had an unhealthy, irrational grudge against the trade deadline, dating back to 2003, when Ray Allen and Gary Payton were traded in a deadline deal between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics. 

I'm not sure you can have an irrational grudge against something that is intangible and only exists in the way that a trade deadline exists.

I think I’m finally ready to call that off. Today, narrative arcs were completed, teams were blown up from the inside out, and the Nets got embarrassed on a sweet pump fake from the Thunder.


2. Does Oklahoma City have a much better bench now?

Remember last  year when the Thunder lost to the Spurs in part because guys like Derek Fisher were playing big minutes in big games? Remember when they had no bench? Yesterday’s maneuvers might have fixed that.

Usually when Derek Fisher isn't playing big minutes in a big games anymore then that means the bench is much better. I'm not sure it matters who replaced Fisher on the bench.

4. Is Amar’e the sneaky big addition?

Considering prior to even being bought out by the Knicks there was talk all over ESPN about how Stoudemire would help the Mavericks, then no, this wasn't a sneaky big addition at all. It was telegraphed and discussed prior to Amar'e even joining the Mavericks.

Concepcion: Sam Hinkie throwing double middle fingers at the world and going super tank. I think he was secretly threatened by how bad the Knicks are. MCW, K.J. McDaniels, and K.J. McDaniels’s mom are out. JaVale McGee and various draft picks are in. I like imagining Hinkie seeing K.J. sky for a dunk early in the season, then quietly deciding to trade him.

I've defended the Sixers' long term plan here and here. I'm starting to wonder if I'm crazy though. I don't think MCW or K.J. McDaniels are by any stretch franchise players, but at what point will Sam Hinkie stop hitting the "reset" button and getting rid of talented players in favor of draft picks? I'm wavering, but still on the bandwagon. Maybe Hinkie is getting rid of all the talent that he doesn't think will be a starter on a championship team. I don't know, but at some point Hinkie has to take the talent on his roster and keep it for a year or two. Maybe K.J. McDaniels would be overpaid after this year and maybe MCW isn't a great shooter, but the Sixers are going to have players with faults or have to pay players at some point. The worst part is many of the best players in this year's draft are big guys and the Sixers already have Noel and Embiid. You can't have too many big men, but if the Sixers got Okafor or Towns then I would start to wonder if that adage is true. That's three good young big men who all want good minutes and all can play the center position. Of course, drafting Mudiay is a different story I guess. He is a better point guard than MCW, or should be. At a certain point, they have to keep players on the team and work around their faults. That's my point.

Tangential Takeaways

Zach Lowe sneaking into the bathroom and away from his newborn child and wife so he can tweet about deadline day.

Because women are such bitches they won't allow their husband just a few minutes to Tweet while their baby sleeps.

Isaiah Thomas has gone from good player to low-key cancer faster than anyone ever. DeMarcus and Dragic don’t want to play with him; then the Suns trade him away even though Dragic is leaving, acquiring Brandon Knight, who is a looming restricted free agent.

But Thomas is going to the Celtics and I'm sure there is some ubuntu left over from the Doc Rivers era. As we have heard dozens of times from Bill, I'm sure the Boston crowd rising as one and cheering on the Celtics as if they KNOW they are about to see something special will motivate Isaiah Thomas to hide any cancerous habits he might have.

Simmons: What an astounding turn of events for Chris Bosh. Remember when we believed that Bosh willingly passed up four years of contending Rockets teams for an extra $30 million and two more months off a year in Miami?

"We" believed this. Bill was wrong, so everyone else was wrong too.

Now he’s playing with Dragic, Wade, Deng and an emerging 7-foot center who’s routinely throwing up 20-20s.

Regarding Whiteside, considering he is a restricted free agent after this year there is a small chance his play could just be one of those weird contract years that allows centers to become overpaid in free agency and later have the words "expiring contract" or "cap-killing contract" attached to his name.

Other winners: every feature about Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas being best friends who grew up together;

Except they are not best friends. They are from the same city and grew up playing against each other. They competed against each but aren't besties or anything like that. Of course, it doesn't mean the media won't portray it that way, but prior to Thomas playing for the Celtics, he and Bradley were two guys from the same area who played the same sport, so they knew each other. Next thing you know, Bill Simmons has them getting matching butterfly tattoos and double dating on the weekends.

Flip Saunders for turning a first-round pick into 50 games of Thad Young and KG’s retirement tour (but being unable to be fired because he’s his own boss); 

Bill Simmons would have been a much better GM for the Timberwolves. He would have proposed a bunch of trades to other GM's and ended every proposal with "Who says 'no' to that?" while smiling smugly.

and, of course, Wade, Riley, Spo and Arison because hot damn, that was a fantastic trade.

Well, the most clever guy in the room got the first and the last word of this trade deadline diary. I can't wait for Bill's next mailbag full of YouTube videos with questions from his overly-dedicated followers which is disguised as a column.


JBsptfn said...

Bill Simmons.......There is nothing else to say at this point (facepalm).