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A bird in the hand

by ja on 4/20/2008 12:42:30 AM

In a previous article I mentioned how it was important for owners to keeper their sights on what is important. That is, winning it all, at all costs, when you can. A win one year is worth more than 10 second places or 20 strong finishes… the championship defines your success. It’s also what pays the most if you are in a league with a pot. Often 2nd place gets something as well so I won’t discount 2nd’s value entirely, but have no doubt; first place is where it’s at. In that same article I mentioned that it was important for owners to keep that in mind instead of always prospecting on youth. What I should have mentioned was the old adage “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bushes”. I’m going to share a fairly painful story with you all in the hopes that it will keep some of you from making the same mistake I made this year.

At you are able to sign players to multi-year deals. This season in one of my leagues I had Gilbert Arenas. Our league contracts are for up to three years and this was his second of three years. So not only did I have him on my team this year, but he was under contract for next year as well. The fact that I had him for next year made him quite valuable… both to me and to other owners who had expiring contracts they could trade.

I got some pretty good offers. For example, in mid February I could have gotten Josh Smith (a bad contract money wise, but expiring so who cares – I had the capspace still available) and Biedrins (also expiring) for Agent Zero and Marcus Williams of the New Jersey Nets. For both teams it made sense. The other team was out of the playoffs and was prepping for next year. I was definitely in the playoffs and just had to decide who I wanted to take. An iffy Arenas or the healthy duo of Biedrins and Josh Smith. For some reason, I also had in the back of my mind that next year was also relevant. Did I take the deal? No. I thought Arenas would pack more punch and rationalized it by telling myself “he’ll be back in a few more weeks. Plus… I want him for next year.” WRONG!

Well, Arenas came back last night. It was only a month after he was supposed to. It was during game 5 of a 5 game playoff series in our league. The last night of the last game even… the series was tied 2-2. I was playing by far the best team in the league (who has won the entire league the last two years) and I had a chance to upset him and put myself in position to win it all. I won the first two games, but he had come back. My opponent won game 3 convincingly and then won game 4. I lost game 5 as well, but I had a chance if I had players playing instead of sitting around injured.

Had Agent Zero come back a week earlier, I would have looked like a genius for hanging on to him. He would have almost assuredly tipped the scale in my favor. Had I made the trade, I would have looked like a genius. Josh Smith and Biedrins would have made up for several nights that I was undermanned while Gilbert was ticked off at the wizards staff for not clearing him to play. In both cases it would have been over in game 4 instead of even making it to a game 5. Not making the trade was really about the only way to lose this year. And that’s what I did.

So what happened? Why didn’t I pull the trigger on the trade? Honestly, I expected Arenas to be as good as two birds when he came back and I gambled on that. Instead, I ended up with nothing because he never came back at all – well too late to be worthwhile anyway. I cost my team a championship this year by not keeping in mind that a guaranteed REALLY GOOD player is probably a better bet than an iffy GREAT player. There are exceptions, but you’re playing with fire when playoff time rolls around and you make these types of gambles. You don’t have to be perfect to give advice – sometimes you can be fresh off of a mistake and be working to clean it up while at the same time giving advice to others not to make the same mistake. So, if you have a good shot of winning it all and just need that little extra, I would suggest stocking ones team up with healthy players that will play and if need be sacrificing the teams future to do so. I wish I had.

The good news – I’ll be in great shape next year. That’s the great thing about fantasy sports. Just like real sports, there’s always next year. But I’d rather have a championship this year and rebuild next year than to keep coming up short year after year just so I’ll have a great core for next year. The core I have coming back will be something special – maybe the best in the league – especially since I’ll still have good ole’ Gilbert Arenas. Thank goodness. I don’t know what I would do without him… Oh, that’s right… I’d be gloating all summer and most of the fall about how I didn’t even need my superstar to take the championship home.

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Article has 3 comments.
#24 by Anonymous posted on 9/21/2012 10:52:18 PM
If the NBA is going to force kids to go to college for any set prieod of time, they might as well force them to go for the full 4 years (or until they graduate with a degree) or forcing them to go for any set amount of time is meaningless. Going to school for only 2 years when it requires 4 years to get most bachelor's degrees with a normal course-load still isn't doing much for anyone academically.Since I don't see the NBA ever requiring players to earn a degree before playing in the league (and I don't think they should), I'd say I don't think the NBA should force kids to go to school for any set amount of time unless it's long enough to get a bachelor's degree in something.
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