A History Of Failed Physicals
July 26th, 2010
The following post will features as many Head puns as I can think of, with varying degrees of subtlety.
Earlier this month, free agent Indiana Pacers guard Luther Head came to terms with the New Orleans Hornets on a two year contract. A mere couple of days after this news was reported came the news that Head’s job offer was gone; he had failed his physical examination with the team, and that the signing had been called off. Head is now available for everyone.
Controversy surrounded the decision. Head’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, slammed the Hornets’s decision. Bartelstein claimed there was ulterior motives behind the veto, and that the Hornets had claimed Head had failed the physical just to get out of the signing, when in actuality they’d just had a re-think. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports took that angle further, calling the decision a “slimy trick”, and loudly calling out Hornets executive Hugh Weber.
That said, there’s always controversy when a player fails a physical. In all the time I have been following the NBA, the team trading away the player – or, in Head’s case, the free agent’s agent – have cited some kind of failure of the due diligence on the part of the recipient team as being the only reason for the vetoing of the transaction. On a case-by-case basis, that may be entirely correct; for all I know, the Hornets DID do what Barts and Woj suggest, and veto the deal on flimsy grounds because they’d simply changed their minds. Or maybe the Hornets were genuine about their claims on Head’s health. I don’t know. It’s not my place to know. And I don’t really want to know.
But what it did stir within me was a desire to investigate failed physicals over the years, and what they actually represent. If someone fails a physical because a team sees a possible long-term health problem down the road, how accurate have those assessments been? Armed with the benefit of hindsight, I was intrigued to find out.
There follows a list of all failed physicals in the NBA since the advent of the 1993-94 season; as the very least, it’s as accurate of a list as I could compile. If any failed physicals in that time span have been overlooked, let me know.
December 2009: Von Wafer
Wafer started the 2008/09 season with Greek spenders Olympiakos, but was released early due to his poor performances. He averaged 7.7 points in his three Euroleague games, but only 3.0ppg in his three Greek league games, and the team decided they preferred Patrick Beverley. Wafer subsequently returned to America.
The Rockets then brokered a deal to re-sign Wafer for the remainder of the season, who had had his career breakout with the team in the previous season. However, the signing was vetoed when Wafer failed his physical, for reasons that initially went unexplained. Later that same month, the Memphis Grizzlies expressed an interest in signing him as well, yet they passed on signing him; the reason cited was for back and hip problems that would have prevented him from playing right away.
It is obviously too early to say in this instance what impact these injuries, and the failed physical, will mean for Wafer’s career longevity. All that is known is that two months later, the Mavericks signed Wafer to a ten day contract. That contract represented the only other games he played this season.
February 2009: Tyson Chandler
Ever wanting to save money, the New Orleans Hornets (them again) agreed to trade Tyson Chandler to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the 2009 deadline, irrespective of the fact that they were receiving no significant players in return and had only the unsuitable Hilton Armstrong to replace him. Oklahoma City were looking for the defensive centre that would cement their long term lineup, and were willing to sacrifice all their financial flexibility over the next two seasons to get it. The only thing that stopped them was Tyson’s physical.
Chandler had not been a pillar of health over the years. For example, he was becoming a genuinely excellent player in his third season, averaging 11/11 over the first ten games of the season, but then he landed on a chair diving for a loose ball and messed up his back. He missed 47 games, and while he returned to play the final 25, he didn’t play them very well.
The following year, though, Tyson showed no long term effects from the back injury, and played 80 games off the bench. He was awesome, too, a valid candidate for both the DPOY and 6th man awards (losing the latter to his team mate, Ben Gordon). He went on to play 79, 73 and 79 games over the following three seasons, and had played more than 71 games in 6 of his 7 seasons.
Then, in the season that he was traded, Tyson started to suffer from a succession of injuries. He dropped out of Team USA workouts in the summer with left big toe discomfort (an injury which had kept him out of the last five games of the 2006/07 season), then started out the NBA season with a sprained right ankle, and later missed games as he suffered from neck spasms. (Presumably, the three things were unrelated.) Chandler then turned his ankle in a January 2009 game, and missed a month; it was in the week before he returned to action that his trade to OKC was made and unmade. The Thunder rescinded the trade on account of the condition of his left big toe; Tyson, naturally mystified as to how it could be considered so bad, didn’t like the story. After all, he’d missed only 5 games in his career because of the toe, and they were two years earlier.
Chandler then missed another month with the same left ankle injury, returning only for the season finale. He recorded only 45 games played on the season, the second worst mark of his career. He followed that up last year by playing in only 51 games, struggling early with the same ankle injury (on which he had offseason surgery; he also had surgery on the toe) before going down at Christmas time with a stress fracture in the same left foot. He returned for the final two months and the playoffs, but was way below his best, as he was before the lay-off. None of his totals of 51 games played, 6.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game were career lows, but they may as well has been. And they’re certainly not the player OKC considered trading for.
Are all these left foot/ankle injuries related to the left toe problem? Could not say. But Oklahoma City’s doctors feared an injury history in that exact foot, if not in that exact way. It probably is not a coincidence. I am neither a qualified physician nor a smart man, yet I see enough grounds here to logically conclude that the triumvirate of left foot and/or ankle injuries must surely be inter-related, and that therefore, since the toe injury came first and loudest, it may all have originated from that. This conclusion supports OKC’s decision. And if there’s nothing seriously wrong with Tyson’s toe, why does he keep having it operated on?
(Interestingly, Tyson has since been traded twice, to Charlotte last summer and onto Dallas earlier this month. He didn’t fail either of those physicals.)
November 2008: Cuttino Mobley
Upon being traded to the Knicks by the Clippers as a part of the Zach Randolph trade of November 2008, it was discovered that Mobley had a heart condition that threatened his playing career. Mobley was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the disease that killed Reggie Lewis and Hank Gathers. He had been playing with the Clippers before the trade, but stopped once the illness was diagnosed, and retired a month later. He has not played since.
February 2006: Steven Hunter
The Philadelphia 76ers, who had had their cap woefully mismanaged by their President Billy King (not Jean), decided they needed to save some money. At the same time, the New Orleans Hornets (who are a recurring theme in this list) are looking for immediate big man depth to fill the void left by Chris Andersen’s two year suspension, handed down the previous month.
The two agreed to a deal that saw Steven Hunter traded to the Hornets for two future second round picks, getting the Hornets some much needed big man cover and getting the Sixers out from under one of King’s more ambitious contracts (a five year guaranteed deal to a backup big man who had only played more than 60 games once). However, this deal was also vetoed, after the Hornets doctors found a whole load of bad news in Hunter’s right knee. Hunter had torn the ACL in the knee back in 2002, and even though he was healthy and playing at the time, the Hornets doctors didn’t like the knee’s prognosis, and viewed something that the Sixers doctors had deemed to be insignificant as instead being significant enough to cancel the deal, much to Billy and Jean’s chagrin.
They were right, too. Hunter played in only 19 games and 120 minutes in the 2007/08 season due to his right knee, then missed all of the 2008/09 season because of it, and nearly retired at Christmas time due to the unrelenting pain. He was later traded to the Memphis Grizzlies as a pure salary dump, where he was once again not expected to play because of the knee. As it happens, Hunter DID play a few minutes for the Grizzlies this season; 158 minutes in 21 games, to be exact, before leaving the team in February to further rehab his permanently painful knee. This meant a total of 278 minutes played over the last three years of his contract, while earning a tasty 8 figures for his troubles.
The team rescinding the trade had once again made the right decision.
August 2005: Robert Traylor
Throughout his career, Robert Traylor has been overweight. It was part of the reason why he never lived up to his draft billing; because he could never keep up, Traylor could never stop fouling. In the 2005 offseason, Cleveland declined his team option and made him a free agent, at which point Traylor agreed to sign with the Nets. But New Jersey vetoed the deal once their physical revealed that Traylor was suffering from a serious heart condition. They advised him to stay away from the game.
It is hard to say what kind of impact Traylor’s heart condition has had on his career. His career has certainly been derailed, but that was at least in part due to this. All we know for sure is that Traylor had aortic valve surgery in the autumn of 2006, and has not played in the NBA since that time. However, as the previous link showed, he has played. And he’s played rather well at that.
August 2005: Antoine Walker
Walker’s failed physical was slightly different to the others. His physical examination when signing a contract with the Miami Heat threw up warning signs about the longevity of his right knee, yet rather than veto the contract, Miami just changed it slightly; they changed his guaranteed six year contract into a guaranteed four year deal with an unguaranteed final two years.
It turns out that they were right to do so. Antoine had been extremely healthy in the nine seasons he’d played before joining Miami; he had missed only 19 games in that time, never averaged less than 34.6mpg in any season, and had averaged over 41mpg three times. But in his first two seasons with Miami, Walkah’s production level declined more precipitously than Eddie Antar’s business portfolio.
Antoine played all 82 games in his first season with Miami, yet played only 27 minutes per game, easily a career low. He played 78 games but only 23 minutes per game in 2006-07, and his production fell off the planet; a PER of 9.6 and a true shooting percentage of .462% were evidence of the struggles of a man who could neither shoot threes nor make layups. And in 2007-08 – in what proved to be his final NBA season – Walker played in only 46 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves before being told to go home, traded to Memphis, and waived. At no point did he miss significant time due to injury, yet his production declined so quickly and painfully that Memphis paid him $9 million not to ever suit up for them.
No exact calculation can ever be placed on quite how much of Antoine’s career implosion can be attributed to his knee. All we know is that his talent level and production both dropped off greatly upon joining Miami, and while a dodgy wheel would certainly be a contributing factor to that, it is impossible to pinpoint with Walker; Antoine, even when he was good, did always kind of suck a bit.
But what we do know for sure is that Miami found something worrying in their physical examination, and in the months immediately following this, Walker’s decline begun rapidly. In two short years, Walker had gone from an eclectic yet good player, into a genuinely bad one. Few stars decline quite that much before the age of 30; even fewer decline that quickly when you consider that Antoine had no significant injury downtime at any point. Therefore, despite the fact that his truly irritating style of play was never going to lend itself to the style of a role player, Antoine’s career longevity simply cannot have been helped by the knee injury that Miami had predicted.
August 2005: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
In September 2008, Shareef Abdur-Rahim retired as a basketball player. He was only 32. He immediately joined the coaching staff of the Sacramento Kings, his final team. But they were still paying his contract as a player.
Shareef started his career with the Vancouver Grizzlies, spending his first five years there and appearing in 375 out of a possible 378 games. Even more impressively, he played in 14,237 out of a possible 18,144 minutes in that span, 78.4% of all available minutes. Playing in over three quarters of almost every game for five years is a pretty Herculean effort for any man. But Reef didn’t stop there.
In the 2001 offseason, Shareef was traded to Atlanta in a one-sided deal for Brevin Knight, Lorenzen Wright and the draft rights to Pau Gasol. (Wright, Knight and rights. I see what they did there.) Abdur-Rahim kept up his warhorse approach, and played in 77 and 81 games over the next two years, averaging over 38 minutes per game both times.
(Bonus trivia; the Grizzlies GM at the time of that Pau trade was the much maligned Billy Knight, whose next job was going to Atlanta to clear up the mess his fine trade had put them in. Tough break.)
Even more impressively, Shareef was traded to the Blazers partway through the 2003/04 season, and wound up playing in an emphatic 85 regular season games that year due to the two team’s schedules not quite matching up. Reef came off the bench for the Blazers, and the 2,684 minutes that he played that season were a career low for a non-strike shortened season, but he still featured heavily. In total, Shareef had played 618 games and 22,988 minutes in his first 8 years, averages of more than 77 games and 2,873 minutes a season.
Shareef played one more year for the Blazers in 2004/05, playing in 54 games and being back to a 35 minutes per game player. He missed 28 games that year, more than his career missed games total until that point, most of which were due to elbow surgery. At the end of the year, he became a free agent, and agreed to a sign-and-trade deal to the New Jersey Nets. (Them again.)
Then it got weird. The Nets rescinded the trade, due to some bad times that they foresaw in Shareef’s physical examination results. A scan of his right knee revealed a build-up of scar tissue, and despite the fact that Shareef had not missed a single game in his career until that point with any injury with his right knee, the Nets found the prognosis sufficiently bad to rescind the trade, and to miss out on the high scoring big man that they needed so badly.
The Nets were roundly denounced as scaremongering pansies for this. Shareef wasn’t happy, feeling that his name had been besmirched, and New Jersey’s subsequent acquisition of Marc Jackson instead didn’t quite bring with it the same stench of quality that Shareef did (who averaged as-near-as-is 20 points and 8 rebounds for his career at the time).
But in the end, they were right.
Only three days after the trade was rescinded, Shareef signed a five year full mid level exception contract with the Sacramento Kings, making basically the same amount of money that he would have done under the original Nets deal. His first season with the Kings was solid, averaging 12.3 points in 27 minutes of 72 games, posting a PER of 17.2 and a true shooting percentage of .588%.
However, it then started to go wrong; his second season was a career worst, with averages of 9.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 25 minutes per game, along with a troublesome 3 fouls a contest and a true shooting percentage of only .524%. Shareef still managed to appear in 80 games with 45 starts, but he had started to drop off rapidly.
From there, it capitulated; Reef appeared in only 6 games and 51 minutes the following season, missing almost the entire shaboodle with knee trouble, and he never recovered. He retired in the 2008 offseason with two guaranteed years left on his contract, and with only 158 games played to show for the $29 million that the Kings spent on him. The knee, which hadn’t been a problem early in his career, had broken down in exactly the way that the Nets doctors predicted that it would.
So you can see how the Nets were correct not to give him a six year contract.
September 2002: Mateen Cleaves
In a trade that basically everyone forgot about, Sacramento (who had picked up Cleaves the previous year) tried to trade Mateen to Cleveland in exchange for Jumaine Jones. Cleveland needed a point guard at the time – this was a 16 win team that had Bimbo Coles on the roster – and Cleaves was their target, perhaps on account of his perfect surname. However, the deal was contingent upon both players passing their physicals – teams can waive physicals, and sometimes do – and Cleaves failed his. (Cleveland instead unnecessarily traded a future second round pick for Milt Palacio, wasting a second rounder that was later used, albeit via one more trade, on Goran Dragic. This is how Jim Paxson rolled.)
It was never said why Cleaves failed his physical, only that he did. But there are clues; a mere couple of weeks after the failed physical, Cleaves had pins inserted into his left foot to prevent stress fractures, and missed the first 24 games of the season. Three years previously, Cleaves had had the same surgery in his right foot, and in his first season with the Kings, Cleaves played only 32 games due to plantar fasciitis in the same foot.
Cleaves was with the Sonics for the 2004/05 season, and spent most of the season on the injured list without actually being injured. (God bless that throwback of a system. Great for fantasy basketball, pointless in reality.) The same was largely true in the 2005/06 season, when he spent the majority of the season with Seattle and yet played only 230 minutes. Cleaves then played most of the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons with a variety of different teams, and then went to the D-League for the 2008-09 season. He played 37 of 50 games, briefly sidelined by a hamstring injury, but sat out last year, doing TV work and music promotion instead. Whether this was due to injury or full-blown retirement is not clear.
Regardless, whatever Cleveland failed him for, Mateen has certainly been injured. Mainly in the feet.
February 2000: Alvin Williams
In 1997-98, Alvin Williams’s rookie season, he played only 54 games between Portland and Toronto. He missed six weeks from mid-February to the end of March after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The following strike-shortened 1998-99 season, Williams played all fifty games, yet in the 1999-00 campaign, Williams managed only 55 contest. He never missed any one long period of time; in fact, he never even went on the injured list. But he was constantly a game-time decision, missing a game here, a game or two there, a couple more in some mythical third place. His playing time also suffered; apart from 33 minutes in the season finale, Williams did not play double figures minutes in any game over the final two months of the season; this from a man who had started 73 games over the previous 18 months. The reasons he was missing all this time were knee and ankle injuries. And it was because of the right knee that his February trade to Boston was vetoed.
The following season, a resurgent Williams played all 82 games, with 34 starts, totalling 2,394 minutes. That offseason, Toronto re-signed him to a seven year contract (you could do that then), and Alvin responded in 2001-02 with 82 games, all starts, and 2,927 minutes. 2002-03 was much the same, with Alvin playing and starting in 78 games and compiling a total of 2,638 minutes.
However, then it started to go wrong. Williams’s right knee, the one which had been operated on and been the reason behind the trade’s demise, started to fail him. After offseason left ankle surgery, Williams played most of the early part of the year, but missed two games in late February with more right knee pain. After a small surgery on it and a three week lay-off, Williams returned to play two more games, yet that was all he could manage before being ruled out for the remaining 12 games of the year. Now mindful of the severity of the problem, Williams spent the whole summer rehabbing, while Toronto left him unprotected in the expansion draft (and Charlotte left him unpicked). Williams’s knee was described as “bone on bone”, and more surgeries on it forced him to miss the whole of the next season.
That wasn’t quite it; although Williams missed the whole 2004-05 season, he managed to get 10 minutes of 1 game in November 2005 with the Raptors (who then bought him out, unable to get an injury exemption), and Williams later returned from retirement to play two games on a 10 day contract with the Clippers in January 2007. Nobody said he wasn’t tough. That really was it, though, and Williams never played again.
Boston saw enough problems in Williams’s knee to refuse to trade for him. Toronto didn’t see enough problems in it to prevent them giving him a seven year contract, even after the failed physical. Because of that, they were stuck with paying four years of dead salary. Williams didn’t play after March 2004, yet he got paid by Toronto through April 2008. Only Boston’s doctors saw it coming.
June 1997: Dino Radja
Radja was drafted by the Celtics way back in 1989, yet played in Europe until 1993. He averaged 15/7 in 80 games as a rookie, and played in 66 games in his second NBA season, missing a few games over the New Year period after breaking his left hand. Radja’s third season in 1995-96 saw him play in only 53 games, spraining his ankle in late February and missing the remainder of the season, a particularly painful result giving that he was averaging as-near-as-was 20 points and 10 rebounds at the time. And then in 1996-97 came the worst injury of all, breaking his left kneecap in early January and missing the remainder of the season, playing only 25 games on the year.
That June, Boston tried to trade Radja to Philadelphia in exchange for Clarence Weatherspoon and Michael Cage. Philadelphia vetoed the deal on account of the condition of his left knee. Radja then took the unusual step of asking to be waived by Boston so that he could return to Europe; Boston obliged, and Radja returned to play six more seasons in Europe. He played them damn well, too; in his final professional season, aged 36, Radja averaged 19/13/2/2 for Croatian team Osiguranje Split.
In this instance, the failee seemed to have no long term physical repercussions.
October 1995: Victor Alexander
Alexander was drafted by Golden State with the 17th pick in the 1991 draft, and played 221 out of 246 games in his first three seasons. He played only 50 games in his fourth season, missing the last 14 games with ligament damage in his ankle; however, he had also received a lot of DNP-CD’s earlier in the season, before winning his way back into the rotation. Golden State traded him to Toronto after the season as part of the package for B.J. Armstrong, and a month after that, in October, Toronto tried to forward him on to Cleveland in exchange for Harold Miner. However, even though he had passed his Raptors physical only a month earlier, Alexander flunked his Cavaliers physical on account of his ankle. He then sat out the whole 1995/96 season and was waived in February.
Subsequently, Alexander went to Europe and played 5 years with various top level clubs, including Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Tau Vitoria. He eventually fought his way back to the NBA for the 2001-02 season, which he spent with the Detroit Pistons, and then played a couple more years in Europe before retiring aged 35. Alexander’s ankle injury cost him one and a bit seasons; since he only had one season remaining on the contract that Cleveland were due to take on, it was understandable and diligent for them to void the trade on the basis of his injury. However, unlike other compelling protagonists on this list, Alexander’s injury seemed to have had no long term repercussions. After all, he was on the All-Euroleague 1st Team at the age of 34.
February 1994: Duane Causwell
Causwell played 11 years in the NBA from 1990 to 2001. Drafted 18th overall in 1990, Causwell first signed a two year deal (remember that this was pre-rookie salary scale), then re-signed for five more seasons after that contract expired. In 1997, Causwell was signed and traded to Miami to a multi-year contract with an opt-out after three seasons; Causwell exercised that opt-out and signed one more one year contract with Miami in the summer of 2000. That was the last time he played in the NBA.
The failed physical came only 18 months into the five year contract. Causwell had played 76 games for Sacramento in his rookie season and 80 in his sophomore season, but he never played more than that again. In his third year, Causwell played only 55 games in his third season due to a stress fracture in his left foot. He fractured the foot again in year four; it was in this year, and for this reason, that the trade with Detroit (for Olden Polynice and David Wood) was vetoed.
Foot injuries didn’t seem to bother Causwell again, yet in the seven years after the trade, Causwell played more than 58 games only once, and played only 40 four times. This was in the era of the injured list, however, and stashing players on the injured list with fake injuries was common practice. Causwell played in only 289 games over the final seven years of his career, and only 158 over the last five, yet at no point did he seem to suffer any of the long lasting repercussions with his feet that the physical may have red-flagged.
February 1994: Sean Elliot
Sean Elliott’s kidney problems, that eventually resulted in a transplant, have been well documented. What may not be so well known is that his kidney problems dated back to 1993, and were the reason he failed his physical.
Elliott was drafted by the Spurs in 1989, and played 4 years with the team, missing only 13 games. He was then traded to Detroit as the major part of the deal that sent Dennis Rodman the other way. After only a few months with the Pistons – in which his 17ppg average had dropped to only 12ppg – Detroit tried to send him on to Houston in exchange for Robert Horry and Matt Bullard. However, Houston vetoed the deal on account of Elliott’s kidney ailment, and they traded him back to San Antonio the following summer for only the rights to Bill Curley.
(Another part of the Rodman trade = David Wood, mentioned earlier in the Duane Causwell entry. Just thought I’d mention that.)
Elliott then starred for the Spurs, playing all but six games between 1994 and 1996, even becoming a 20ppg scorer in that time. He then managed only 75 games over the next two seasons with a myriad of knee surgeries – becoming partially responsible for the Spurs winning Tim Duncan in the process – before returning to play the whole of the strike-shortened 1998-99 season and winning a championship.
However, that summer, the gravity of his kidney situation came to light. Elliott announced that he was suffering from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, and that he would require a kidney transplant. He missed the first 63 games of the 1999-00 season recovering from the operation (with a kidney donated by his brother), returning to play the final 19, making him the first NBA player to return to action after a kidney transplant. (Alonzo Mourning has since done it as well.) Elliot then curled off one more season, playing 1,229 minutes in 52 games in the 2000-01 campaign, before retiring from the game for good.
The Rockets’ physical had identified a problem with Elliott’s health that derailed, and then prematurely ended, his playing career. It didn’t happen straight away, yet as this list has shown us, it rarely does. The examination results clearly showed enough warning signs about Elliott’s long-term prognosis that they could not risk acquiring him, even if the grim realities of that prognosis did not come to pass in the duration of his incumbent contract.
As the rest of the list has shown, those diagnoses are often right.
So, what does all that tell us?
Of the 13 players above, only three (Chandler, Wafer, Traylor) are still playing. Alvin Williams now coaches with the Raptors. Shareef coaches with the Kings. Antoine would like to still play, but can’t get any work. Elliot does TV work for the Spurs; Radja is now the president of Croatian club KK Split. Alexander retired in 2004 and is now untraceable. Causwell is producing reality television, of all things. Cleaves is doing his music. Hunter is an unrestricted free agent of the Grizzlies who will likely never play again. And while Mobley is talking about a comeback, it might not come to anything.
Age of course factors into that; however, in the cases of Walker, Elliott, Williams, Abdur-Rahim, Hunter, Chandler, Mobley and Traylor, the cause for concern proved to be accurate. Those players either had to retire immediately due to health risks, or ended up losing time off the back end of their career in the way that the examination had predicted that they might. It was not always the case; Radja and Alexander didn’t seem to be held back, Wafer’s case is incomplete, Causell missed so much time by default that it’s hard to say where he would have stood, and Mateen Cleaves’s injury history is comparatively clean. Yet in the clear majority of cases, the failed physical proved prophetic.
In the cases of the aforementioned eight players, future and/or immediate injuries identified in their physical examinations did indeed go on to end, or at least greatly derail, that player’s career. For one team in particular, this is a worry. Tyson Chandler is the only player on the list still in the NBA, and yet it was but a fortnight ago that Dallas made him the centrepiece of a trade involving Erick Dampier’s unguaranteed contract. The mighty, magical, mysterious DUST chip. The thing that was supposed to get them LeBron James. The thing which would have now helped them bid for Chris Paul. The thing which just got used on a player who missed the last two seasons with foot injuries that a rival team was entirely prescient about.
Disconcerting, to say the least.