There has been a cosmic shift among the parties who negotiated the new labor deal that ruined Thursday's trade deadline. David Stern is retiring next February, long before the next deal will be negotiated in 2017, long before the next inevitable work stoppage. His bargaining adversary, Billy Hunter, has been ousted by the players and finds himself ensnared in a serious criminal investigation on three fronts.
their wake, they left a completely different model for how players will change teams in the NBA, one that shrewd owners like Mark Cuban and general managers like Sam Presti anticipated months or even years ago. Everyone laughed when Cuban broke up a championship team by letting Tyson Chandler go to the Knicks. Everyone's jaw dropped when Presti traded James Harden to the Rockets. But now Cuban's team is one of a handful in the catbird's seat, unconstrained by the tax penalties and other restrictions that will mercilessly be placed on teams who continue to do it the old way. Presti keeps gaming the system, like he did Thursday in acquiring a trade exception from Portland for Eric Maynor -- a $2.4 million placeholder that effectively extends Maynor's usefulness to the team long beyond his days in a Thunder uniform.
This is how business is done now in the NBA. No blockbuster trades in February. Few, if any teams are willing to absorb future salary, which would clog up their books and restrict access to tools needed to improve their rosters. Nobody is willing to give up draft picks as incentive to move a contract or rent a player for the stretch run. No more Monopoly money.