The NBA doesn’t make trades like any other league on this big round Earth. It doesn’t live in a wonderful utopia where mutual sides agree it’s time to move on. Instead, the NBA rides waves of Jimmy Butler screaming “You can’t win without me” in an open practice and cryptic Eric Bledsoe “I don’t wanna be here” tweets.
For a player to get traded where he wants, he has to make some noise. Notice I say some because recent history has proved the too much or too little has its consequences. To break down the math on how to best execute a trade request, I’ve developed a new statistic called Trade Request Efficiency (TRE%).
The metric goes as follows: the less work a player had to do to get where he wanted to go, the higher his rating. Other factors include whether he landed where he wanted to and how long it took to be traded. If you disagree with this made-up stat, there’s an ‘X’ button you can click on to get off my blog.
Here are six of the biggest and most recent trade requests from around the league, ranked from highest to lowest TRE%.
Goran Dragic - TRE: 99%
What happened: There were rumors that Dragic was unhappy with the Phoenix Suns’ three-guard lineup with Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe (tbt), and finally, he snapped. After a practice on the day before the trade deadline, he told media, “I don’t trust them anymore. They make promises they don’t keep.”
Trade request date: Feb. 18, 2015
Actual trade date: Feb. 19, 2015
Trade destination: Heat
Dragic spoke softly to the media in a stern, but unmemorable fashion. He got exactly what he wanted in as quick a turnaround as possible without becoming a meme, and still got his message across that Phoenix has snakes inside the office, too. Bravo.
Eric Bledsoe - TRE: 88%
What happened: He tweeted “I don’t wanna be here.”
I Dont wanna be here— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) October 22, 2017
Trade request date: Oct. 22, 2017
Trade destination request: Anywhere but “here”
Actual trade date: Nov. 7, 2017
Trade destination: Bucks
Eric Bledsoe nearly played this one into perfection because “I don’t wanna be here” was the ultimate meme until he retracted it. Then-Suns GM Ryan McDonough told reporters that Bledsoe claimed to have sent that tweet while at a hair salon he didn’t want to be at, which ... come on dude. This was almost extremely cool, but it was still very cool and Bledsoe got his wish within two weeks. This was a very effective trade request.
Kyrie Irving - TRE: 73%
What happened: Irving decided that he wanted to be The Guy on a team rather than LeBron James’ sidekick, which completely shook the world. He also wasn’t in touch with LeBron about it for months! Kyrie brought to light the idea that superstars didn’t want to play with LeBron.
Trade request date: July 27, 2017
Actual trade date: August 23, 2017
Trade destination: Celtics
Kyrie put this request in in silence without talking to media. It was strategically done in the heart of the summer when the cameras were away from him and Cleveland could work the phones. He may not have gotten exactly where he wanted, but Boston is a good enough fit that he’s already declared he’s staying long-term. And he’s still on ok terms with LeBron! This was a semi-effective trade move with little backlash.
Paul George - TRE: 65%
What happened: George blindsided Indiana by stating that he had no intention of re-signing with them before the NBA draft. He gave the team the option to trade him before it lost its biggest star for nothing the following summer. In trying to be nice, George killed Indiana’s leverage, which resulted in what looked to be an unappealing haul when he was dealt to OKC.
Trade request date: June 18, 2017
Trade destination request: Lakers
Actual trade date: June 30, 2017
Trade destination: Thunder
This trade request was really dramatic as George said all the wrong things to pander to fans in Indiana, but he ultimately found a good home. Maybe it wasn’t the one he wanted then, but he seems truly happy playing next to Russell Westbrook. The trade happened very shortly after his request, and his legacy hasn’t been stained otherwise (except to some Pacers fans.) That he lost some fans back at home hurt his TRE a bit.
Kawhi Leonard - TRE: 5%
What happened: I... don’t really know. After debate with the Spurs on when Leonard should return from a mysterious quad injury, reports swirled that he felt “betrayed” by the organization. There were then a series of bizarre attempts from the team to speak with him that failed, and this became a messy, messy drama.
Trade request date: June 15, 2017
Trade destination request: Lakers or Clippers
Actual trade date: July 18, 2017
Trade destination: Raptors
The world thought of Kawhi as the quiet guy who never smiles or talks but wreaks havoc on the court. After the game he puts his jeans on, drives away in a Prius and watches the Weather Channel until his bedtime at 8:30. But this moment — this act of silence against none other than the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich changed all.
Does Kawhi secretly love drama? Will he hate the Raptors? Is anything we know about Kawhi true? Simply put, this moment will forever leave a mark on his career until we know what truly went on. Oh, and Kawhi apparently wanted to end up in Hollywood in the warm weather but instead went to TORONTO. Oops. Very ineffective trade request.
Jimmy Butler - TRE: 1%
What happened: What didn’t happen? Butler had coach Tom Thibodeau fly to him in L.A. so he could tell him in person wanted to be traded. He was reportedly unhappy playing next to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Then the Timberwolves front office fought within itself about whether or not to grant his request. Then Wiggins’ brother got into a social media fight with Butler. Then Thibodeau decided he didn’t want to trade Butler. Then Butler showed up to a practice, dominated with the third stringers, reportedly yelled out “You fucking need me,” and then sat down for an interview with Rachel Nichols.
Trade request date: Sept. 19
Trade destination request: Nets, Clippers or Knicks
Actual trade date: IDK
Trade destination: Somewhere
This trade request an entire percent because this has become a memorable meme, but sheesh, this drama is unparalleled. And it’s dragging on for eternity. Butler requested a trade so late in the offseason that he’s actually forced to play with the teammates he so hates in a uniform he doesn’t want to wear. And he actually pre-planned an ESPN interview after a practice?
This has been a whole lot of effort with no reward, thus landing the lowest active TRE%.