It’s Wednesday Feb. 23 and you wake up to startling news. Your team has just traded away the cornerstone player of the franchise for young prospects and future draft picks. This is what happened to people who root for the Utah Jazz this week. Deron Williams of the Jazz, one of the top point guards in the NBA, was sent to New Jersey for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and several future first round draft picks. While the Jazz scored a good haul for Williams, it also lost PR points for the team. There were instances this week where a franchise completely changed the look and the feel of its team.
Utah must now sell a message to its fans that the team failed to win with Williams and they had to get rid of him before he opted for free agency in 2012. Each team wants to keep its fan base and to do this they must produce wins.
The Denver Nuggets did something similar when they gave up Carmelo Anthony in a multi-player deal that sent him to the Knicks. There comes a time when a team must stop attempting to sign their marquee players and allow them to save face by trading them away. This shows the fans that the team is on track.
The Jazz and the Nuggets lost their big-name players this week but there is the other side of the trades. The New York Knicks have been stuck in mediocrity since the mid-1990s and with this trade there is new hope for the franchise to be an important team once again. The Knicks brought in one of the biggest stars in the league with Anthony and have generated excitement at Madison Square Garden that would have seemed unlikely just a few years ago. The Knicks failed this summer to secure LeBron James and needed to add pieces to A’mare Stoudemire in order to elevate the team’s profile; by acquiring Anthony, the Knicks have new life.
The team that had tried for months to sign Anthony was the New Jersey Nets. They publicly pursued him and were eventually denied the opportunity to extend his contract for three more years by Anthony and his agent. Anthony had his eyes set on playing in MSG and he got his way. The owner of the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, then traded for a star in Deron Williams who no one knew was available at the time. The Nets plan on moving to Brooklyn in the next few years and they needed a marquee player to assist in the switch.
Both teams made trades that would generate excitement but neither move will produce championships on their own. The two New York teams knew they needed to make splashes to spike awareness and this is public relations at its finest. The Knicks have also launched a campaign playing on the fact that Anthony is a native New Yorker and this is his homecoming. The move has worked for the Knicks with record-breaking ratings for his first game in the Garden.
Do you think it is important to make trades in sports just to generate interest? Do you think that players have the right to demand where they want to go while under contract like Carmelo did? Do you think public relations is necessary in sports or just producing exciting games? Will you pay more attention to the New York teams because they made these exciting trades? Do you think it’s fair that smaller market teams have trouble convincing their stars to stay put?