Don’t wait until the last minute.
The warning comes whenever a deadline is approaching, and NBA teams have gotten the message.
They aren’t waiting to make trades, already completing more than twice as many as the same point last season.
“If you’re trying to make a change and you need some help, the earlier the better obviously,” Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said.
It could pay off later for Dallas or Memphis, who added pivotal pieces well ahead of the trade deadline that’s still a month away. Rajon Rondo got extra time to master the Mavericks’ offense, and the Grizzlies have more than half a season for newcomer Jeff Green to get comfortable playing alongside Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
“That’s one of the things that’s nice about not getting the deal done at like the trade deadline, where you only have six weeks left and you just throw him out there,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “We’ve got some time and try to build something.”
There have been 22 trades involving 40 players since opening night, according to STATS. That’s well above the 10 deals involving 22 players before February last year, and the most in either category it could find in any season following research that dated back to 1995-96.
Hollins believes the flurry of deals comes from bad teams trading good players so they can begin rebuilding, and playoff contenders have taken advantage. Memphis got Green, who was averaging a career-best 17.6 points, from Boston. Cleveland acquired J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, two of the dismal Knicks’ best players.
Dallas acquired Rondo in December, though coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t picky.
“If you can trade for a guy like Rondo, I don’t care when it is,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s in April.”
That’s not legal, of course. The deadline is Feb. 19, and general managers sometimes prefer to wait until as close to it as possible to be certain they are getting maximum value for their players.
But that gives coaches less than two months to prepare for the playoffs, so Carlisle was glad the Celtics wanted to do it so soon.
“The earlier you can do a deal like this, it helps,” he said. “Helps both teams, so we’re grateful that we were able to get it done in December as opposed to mid-to-late February, no doubt about that.”
Here are some things to watch this week:
MONDAY MATINEES: Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one of the highlights of the NBA schedule, with many games during the 12-game slate starting in the afternoon. Rondo and Green, former teammates, meet in Memphis.
CALLING ALL-STARS: The starters for the All-Star game will be announced Thursday night on TNT. The leaders going into the last day of fan balloting: LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, John Wall and Dwyane Wade in the East; and Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol, Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant in the West.
WELCOME HOME: Kevin Durant is under contract through 2016, but that didn’t stop his free agency from becoming a story last summer. Figure on it coming up again Wednesday when he’s back in his hometown as Oklahoma City visits Washington.
AND FROM THERE …: Durant and the Thunder then visit East-leading Atlanta, which has won 12 straight and 26 of 28, before he faces LeBron James in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon as ABC’s national coverage returns.
SUNK IN THE ATLANTIC: Not only are the 76ers not the worst team in the NBA, they’re not even worst in their division. The Knicks have been better at being bad, and they are last in the Atlantic entering Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: Austin Rivers, Clippers: 0 for 4, 0 points, 1 assist. Rivers made history Friday when he became the first NBA player to play for his father, but Doc Rivers will need him to make some baskets, too.