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NBA

The Case For A Universal Trade Deadline

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Reporters Rachel Nichols and Adrian Wojnarowski speak before the start of the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Woj getting word of the Breanna-Stewart-to-the-Blue-Jackets trade that will upend the sports world.
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Consolidated anything is usually a bad idea because of the simple truth that the bigger something is, the more unwieldy it is for the people in charge of it. Science fiction master Isaac Asimov explained this essential truth to us in his Foundation series, which you will become acquainted/reacquainted with because it’s being turned into a series on Apple TV for release later this year. We mention that only to show you young’uns that this isn’t just another old-coot reference from 80 years ago. It’s being STREAMED, for Christ’s sake. It MUST be contemporary and cool.

Anyway, we bring this up for you to consider congealing our national obsession with and demand for hyperactive trade deadline days, like the one you are currently enduring in the NBA. I mean, otherwise things this become too big a deal in your head:

Here’s the idea in a nutshell, and yes, some details would have to be worked out first, starting with these:

1. Overthrow the government, including dissolving Congress and cleaning out the top layer of the Postal Service.

2. Issue an indissoluble decree that every major league’s trade and transfer deadlines be held in the same three-day period every year—any Wednesday-through-Friday combination for maximum blowhardery and TV producer destruction. That’s the NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, MLS, and all other ancillary sports leagues that are organized enough to have recognizable acronyms.

3. Reinstall the government, including Congress, not because they’re ever good at what they do but because we are fixing this thing right now and haven’t the time today to fully dismantle and reconstruct the rancid kleptocracy that is our political system.

A universal trade deadline would give us the proof we need to learn if our obsession with the exchanges of humans for humans and future humans and varying wads of cash is actually more important to us than the games they play. It has long been my contention that deadline days are more in keeping with what future sports consumers will prioritize, and that such a three-day festival of flesh peddling and muscle monetization would do more to clarify this than a thousand Sloan conferences.

To gather all sports fans together and let them simultaneously immerse themselves in this invigorating (not to mention demeaning) process is merely the logical extension of the more-is-better philosophy of latter-day capitalism, and watching everyone at ESPN physically overheat and explode while hallucinating through a four-way trade between the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, and Detroit Lions is worth the experiment alone.

We can finally measure the true empirical value of the new army of trade monitors. Comparing and contrasting Woj, Schefty, Passan, Friedman, Shams, Rapsheet, Rosenthal, Luszczyszyn, and all the other pixies, wizards, and dingoes in heat who chase this stuff down so desperately need to be measured for speed, accuracy and coherence. The matter of whether Gabriele Marcotti is better than Sid Lowe, David Ornstein, or Raphael Honigstein is at discerning the European transfer markets makes this a global matter as well. We need to know who we can really trust in these perilous times.

We also grant that this may be more a social experiment that measures how we value our own expertise conceits than a helpful adjustment for the principals who trade and are traded, but to hell with them. If we wanted their opinions, we would have given them permissible ones already (remember, the government is ours right now, so all they are are people with big mouths and no backup). Political pundits were all reduced to entrail-sifting charlatans in 2016, and it would do America a world of good to know who is best at the future of sports porn—days like today rather than days like the Super Bowl. The result is likely to expose us all to the cruel light of day in which we know a hell of a lot less than we think we do, but hell comes in a number of sizes, and besides, this is information about information that we all need.

And even if we don’t want to learn that lesson, we still get three days of Christmas on crank, not to mention the potential boiling of the brains of amateur capologists as a warning to the next generation of lunatics. Now who’s not up for that?

It must be noted, and was by Comrade Petchesky in our semi-regular “why would you think THAT’S a good pitch” meetings, that the present system of having many trade deadlines rather than one would be more bang for our entertainment buck. He’s probably right, the malevolent baboon—lots of smaller Christmases might well be better than one super-bloated one. But sports fans are still predominantly attracted to one rather than many sports, and they are not likely to be distracted by too much action. There are, for example, almost no people attracted to both the NBA and NHL deadlines even though they are only 19 days apart, and the NFL free agent market just opened up last week. In sum, we’re not that far from a universal deadline now, and once we convince soccer that it has too many transfer windows, this idea could be in business.

A potential sticking point would be when the deadline would be. Someone would get hosed, impact-wise, probably college football and college basketball because the ideal times for pro football, basketball, hockey, and soccer are right around now-ish, and recruiting is a year-round charnel house as it is. So for the sake of not yanking our heads off in exasperation trying to find the date that works for everyone, let’s exempt what we would describe as LWC sports (Labor Without Compensation) and put it at the week before the NCAA basketball conference tournaments start. If you need your Patriot League fix that badly, go with your God.

And what will learn from this towering accomplishment? How will humanity benefit from three straight days of Black Fridays? Who knows? And in the end, who cares? It’s new, it’s weird, and that means some think-tank Gollum somewhere is working on it even as we speak. As baseball changes all its rules in 45 minutes in an attempt to unlearn 150 years of history, as football goes through its annual ruinous rulebook edits, as hockey reacts (both under- and over-) to the revelation of the existence of pre-planned makeup calls, the time of radical experimentation is upon us, and this is an idea whose time has come.

Even if only the once.