With the Feb. 10 trade deadline quickly approaching, NBA fans all over the world are spending countless hours pretending to work during the day while crafting the perfect fake trade that will get them instantly hired by their favorite team.
Most of these fake trades suck, but they could be made a lot better with a few adjustments.
With that in mind, here are some tips to make your fake trades suck less.
Use Fanspo’s trade machine
ESPN’s trade machine was revolutionary when current Timberwolves general manager Sachin Gupta created it as an ESPN employee back in 2006. Nowadays, there are newer and better options.
Fanspo’s trade machine (formerly known as TradeNBA) allows you to trade draft picks and even allows protections on those picks. It also uses BBall Index’s LEBRON rating system to give a ballpark of what the value is for each side.
Stop trading six players for one to make the salaries work
Technically, this trade works.
Realistically, it will never happen midseason. Conducting imbalanced trades would involve waiving a significant amount of players because of roster spot limitations.
Two players for one, three for two, etc. is kosher. Any more than that and your trade sucks.
Learn the Stepien Rule
The Stepien Rule, named for former Cavs owner Ted Stepien, prevents teams from trading first-round picks in consecutive years. For example, the Lakers have already shipped out their 2022 and 2024 first-round picks. The Stepien rule means that they can’t trade their 2023 or 2025 picks either.
You can see all the future pick obligations of every team over at RealGM.
Bottom line, double-check to make sure your trade doesn’t leave any team without its first-rounders for two years in a row. If you run into that problem, try involving first-round pick swaps instead, or multiple second-round picks. Those two moves won’t violate the Stepien rule.
Three teams max
Four-team trades almost never happen. There’s been one in the past 22 years, and you can probably guess who pulled it off.
Answer: Daryl Morey got Robert Covington to the Rockets in 2020 as part of a 12-player, four team swap.
Three-teamers are much more reasonable. A minor one just happened earlier in January to get Bryn Forbes to Denver. Keep your trades down to three, or else it sucks.
Don’t put teams in the tax
Because of outrageous spending by the Warriors, Nets and Clippers this year, the tax is a big factor in trades. Owners will get a windfall, between $10-12 million, if they keep their teams under the tax line at the end of the year.
Boston and Portland are right above the tax and are looking desperately to get under. The Nuggets, Heat, Timberwolves, Raptors and Wizards are all right below the luxury tax line and aren’t going to be adding any money
Trades involving any of those seven teams (Celtics, Blazers, Nuggets, Heat, Wolves, Raptors, Wizards) shouldn’t involve them taking on any more money, or else your trade sucks.
Include realistic targets
You already know the big names such as Ben Simmons, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner that have been rumored in trade talks. But what about the role players who can fill big holes in a roster?
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of decent rotation players who also make some sense to get moved at the deadline:
- Guards: Dennis Schroeder, Marcus Smart, Collin Sexton, Corey Joseph, Donte DiVicenzo, Spencer Dinwiddie, Kemba Walker, Buddy Hield, Eric Gordon, DJ Augustin, Eric Bledsoe, Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton, Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson
- Wings: TJ Warren, Caris LeVert, Justin Holiday, Torrey Craig, Josh Richardson, Terrence Ross, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, PJ Washington, Gary Harris, Evan Fournier, Kenrich Williams, Harrison Barnes, Nic Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris, David Nwaba, Kyle Anderson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Talen Horton-Tucker, Josh Green
- Bigs: Robin Lopez, John Collins, Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant, Montrezl Harrell, Paul Millsap, Nic Claxton, Mike Muscala, Derrick Favors, Richaun Holmes, Marvin Bagley, Isaiah Hartenstein, Daniel Theis, Serge Ibaka, Jusuf Nurkic, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Clarke, Thad Young, Chris Boucher, Mo Bamba, Nerlens Noel
The final test: Check the response on Twitter
There aren’t many fleecings going on these days. The value has to be pretty close for trades to actually go through.
One good measure to check whether your fake trade is balanced is to post it on Twitter and see the response. If both fan bases hate it equally, then congratulations are in order! Your fake trade does not suck.