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Big-splash trades defined the 2017 offseason. Kyrie Irving being traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and a bevy of assets appeared to cap off an unforgiving and unpredictable summer of massive trades. Then, in another top-rope-finishing-move trade executed by Thunder GM Sam Presti, Carmelo Anthony was moved for Enes Kanter. You read that right. After all, it’s comically easy to forget: Chris Paul and James Harden comprise a guard duo for the ages. Paul George now compliments defending MVP Russell Westbrook. Jimmy Butler reunited with an old friend named Tom in Minnesota. There are two major conclusions to draw from all this madness: 1) Stars are being traded, and at relatively early stages of their contracts. 2) Each of these other stars ended up being traded for much less than Cleveland got for Kyrie.

Furthermore, these star-laden trades make it easy to forget the other serious trades that were made this off-season. Boston traded the #1 overall pick to Philly and collected (hoarded) some more assets. D’Angelo Russell was sent East to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez. Avery Bradley was swapped for Marcus Morris. Dwight Howard once again changed jerseys as he was traded from the Hawks to the Hornets.

Naturally, fantasy players this season will be put in situations where they will be wont to respond similarly. Expect trades in your league to more common than they have been in the past as players across the league adjust to new roles and ever-changing NBA landscape. This article will offer a new way to think about trades through discussing three principles to consider when making one. These three principles ought to help you re-envision the trade block.

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The Best Player?

Often, general managers of all types are convinced that winning a trade means getting the best player back. That’s not always true. I think the biggest exchange of assets from this summer actually speaks to this very fact. Cavalier Kyrie Irving was sent to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round pick. Kyrie, without question, is the best player in that trade. While concerns about IT’s hip may have tempered Cleveland’s outlook, the general consensus since the trade has been that Cleveland did well for themselves—and they even maybe won the trade.

Here’s what I’m saying: you don’t have to get the best player to win a trade. You can and should consider trades in which you lose the best player. Perhaps you have too many players at a position and need to make a less-than-lateral move in order to fill a position of need. Maybe you are concerned about a player trending unusually upwards and you want to sell high. Or, maybe you are able to get a treasure trove like the Cavs did for Kyrie. In any case, don't fly by the normal rule: winning a trade doesn't always mean getting the best player. On that note...

Nobody is Untouchable

I mean nobody. Now of course, the value of players is situational—it depends on the type of league you’re in. Regardless, if the right offer comes along, you have to take it. Let's say Kevin Durant is your pick in the first round. You think, "there's no way I'm trading him," right? But what if someone offers you Kawhi Leonard, Kristaps Porzingis, and a young prospect for KD and two players you're not sad about trading? That trade package, depending on how your draft goes, is not altogether inconceivable. You have to think about it. The real conclusion between the first two principles here is that there are no absolutes. I think of trades as acts of opportunity: in order to take advantage of every opportunity you have to beat your opponent you have to take risks. To take risks means to sometimes part with the better player in a trade. Sometimes before you sit down at the table, you have to break a Benjamin.

Don't Just Sell High, Make Sure to Buy Low

Fantasy managers often make the critical mistake of overlooking players that have not produced recently. Get off of that "what have you done for me lately" and scour the waiver wire and some unexciting trades for players you project to be future values. This is especially relevant in the case of injuries. Are you set at point guard? Cool, hit up whoever drafts Isaiah Thomas anyway and see what you can do. Try to maintain your point guard depth through the trade and let Isaiah heal from his hip injury. Come February and March, you'll probably be happy you got him when his value was criminally low. On the subject of selling high, it is difficult to predict when someone is going to fall off. With respect to diamonds in the rough, I always follow a simple motto: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Have Fun with It

Winning is important, and you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to. Regardless, the first rule when playing fantasy sports of any kind is that it has to be fun. That means don’t be afraid to make big splash trades yourself. Putting on your perplexing Kevin Pritchard hat (to an extent) can be really enjoyable. Don’t tell my league-mates, but sometimes I’ll make trades just to see what will happen. That’s part of the beauty of this game: you can enjoy it even when your team isn’t looking great and you become the old-timey snake oil peddler on the trade block.

To review, there are really three guiding principles you should follow when trying to win trades: 1) You don't always win trades by getting the best player. 2) Everyone can be reasonably traded for somebody. 3) Try to "buy low," as often as you "sell high." And remember,  anything is possible! (*Kevin Garnett scream!*)

 

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