Let's Fake a Deal
Delay is preferable to error, at least according to some noobie named Thomas Jefferson. What T-Jeff failed to mention is that there is also nothing quite as frustrating as delay, especially in the world of sports. Tuesday was especially frustrating for the fans: two long awaited trades were reported to be agreed upon, only to be killed or even worse, delayed. The Ron Artest saga continues and Coco Crisp is not yet playing center field for the Boston Red Sox.
Let's start with the Tru Warier himself, Ron Artest. When Artest initially requested a trade about 112 days ago, the first rumor to fly was a straight up deal for Peja Stojakovic (in fact, that rumor began circulating in the summer). The deal made sense, since Peja played the same position and offered close to equal value in return. Instead, Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh played the waiting game and explored deals for Corey Maggette, Lamar Odom, Troy Murphy, and others but could not find a suitable offer. Months went by and less progress was made in finding Artest a home than in negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The wait itself was, and is, truly infuriating.
Tuesday, we were told that the wait was over. Multiple sources reported that Artest had been traded to Sacramento and adopted by the Maloof brothers. I wish that it was an exaggeration to say that relief rushed through my body. As an NBA fan, the Artest situation had loomed over the league like Tony Soprano over New Jersey. Finally, we could just focus on basketball: potential All Stars, playoff races, and Kobe's feats of strength. Plus, my fantasy basketball team now had a stud small forward back in the lineup. Unfortunately, my joy lasted all of a half an hour; Artest apparently didn't wish to play in Sac-town and the Kings had pulled out of the deal.
My mental health aside, the Pacers are really hurting their team by not pulling the trigger on some type of deal as soon as possible. The team is not playing well, needs reinforcements, and might be as distracted by this ordeal as I am. Even if the Peja deal doesn't work out, the team has options: perhaps Josh Howard from the Mavericks, Mike Dunleavy and Mickael Pietrus from Golden State, an injured Corey Maggette from the Clippers, or a deal offering cap space or draft picks from a team like the Lakers or Nuggets. Artest is a cancer in Indiana and the Basketball Jesus must let him go for whatever he can get, ASAP. In this case, even T-Jeff would agree that delaying Artest's departure would be the Tru error.
Another deal that has been rumored since before the NFL playoffs began is Coco Crisp heading to the Saux (please insert Michael Wilbon's exaggerated Boston accent here). The latest incarnation of the trade has top third base prospect Andy Marte, relief pitcher Guillermo Mota, and young catcher Kelly Shoppach being shipped to Cleveland for Crisp, reliever David Riske, and retread backstop Josh Bard. This proposed deal is on hold after the Indians examined Mota's right shoulder and had reservations (pun intended).
Even if Mota's shoulder looks like a pulled pork sandwich, Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro would be foolish to not find a way to make this deal work. Andy Marte is considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball, and he plays a position where the Indians have no long term solution. Aaron Boone is signed only through this season, and he didn't exactly put up Silver Slugger numbers last year (.243, 16 homers, 60 RBI). Of course, Coco Crisp is a very nice player that Cleveland will miss in 2006; he hit .300 with 16 homers and 42 doubles last year, as well as playing very good defense for a low salary. To be honest though, Cleveland is still a year away from really hitting its stride and should add Marte to a young offensive core of Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and first base prospect Ryan Garko. The other parts of the deal favor the Indians as well; Shoppach is a big upgrade over Bard and Riske is definitely not irreplaceable, especially with either Mota or Manny Delcarmen involved in the deal.
The Indians and Pacers are in drastically different situations: the Indians have no urgent need to complete a deal while the Pacers are desperately trying to convince other teams that they are in that same position of strength. What both teams should realize soon is that their choices have already been made for them: the Indians have found a deal too good to refuse and the Pacers simply have to take the best offer on the table. Here's hoping that the posturing by both teams ends shortly, replacing the delay with action.