There are still homegrown stars who stay. Even in the player empowerment area, some superstars do stay with their original team.
The young Celtics stars are showing their development this year as both are predicted to make the Allstar team, whether there is a game or not. The concern, of course, is will they stick around? Since Lebron James, “The Decision” to play in Miami, player empowerment has been higher than ever. Superstars have been able to not only leave in free agency, but also force trades and leaves teams early while still under contract. In fact, its happening every year. James Harden being the most recent, getting his wish to get to play in Brooklyn.
This is concerning because it provokes the thought of instability. At any given moment one’s favorite player and franchise cornerstone can up and leave. With that being said, it’s also just as possible that stars can want to spend their entire career in the same place. Granted it takes the right management, coaching, and ownership.
Damian Lillard is one of the best examples of this. He’s been in Portland for 9 years and has never shown any signs of wanting to leave. He’s been one of the best at his position for sometime and taken the Blazers as far as the Western Conference Championship. Throughout it all there have been struggles though. The team has had bad injury luck, defensive struggles, and faced the juggernauts of the realm multiple times. But still, Dame wants to be a Trail Blazer. Never getting upset, never requesting a trade, and always supporting Portland.
It goes beyond the basketball court too. Historically Dame is known for his help in the community. His charitable efforts aren’t done out of obligation, or media coverage. It’s a genuine care for the community of Portland, his community.
He wants to be what Dirk Nowitzki was in Dallas, Tim Duncan was in San Antonio, and Kobe Bryant was for the Lakers. He wants to begin and end his career in Portland, and go down as the best blazer of all time, a title he undoubtedly already owns.
Steph Curry is often overlooked in the category. The argument being that he’s had nothing to complain about, but he could have handled himself far differently than he has.
He’s been nothing but the perfect teammate his whole career. When Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors he easily could have gotten upset and gotten his ego hurt. After all he is a two-time MVP and had already won a championship as the best player on his own. He did the opposite. He gave Durant all the room to shine. Durant won 2 Finals MVPs and was the best player on both championship teams with Curry being the happiest player on the floor, al the while supporting him.
Steph is already the most important Warrior of all time, if not the best. Him wanting to leave is unthinkable. Even in this year, with a suboptimal team around him, Steph is making no complaints and still playing at peak levels.
The ironic thing is that Steph didn’t even want to play in the Bay originally. He denied the Warriors request for a workout pre-draft but was selected anyway. Steph changed the game of basketball and could have acted any sort of way, but he didn’t.
Bradley Beal is the one player that is being treated rather differently. Instead of being criticized for wanting to leave, he’s being criticized for wanting to stay. Well which is it? This brings about the questions of the player empowerment era. Either he can stay and be criticized for wasting his talents or he can want to leave and be criticized for his lack of loyalty.
The reality of the situation is that neither wanting to stay or leave are the wrong answer. Players are young professionals and can want to work for other employers if they so choose. In addition, they are also free to want to use their talents to rise up a struggling organization. They’re grown adults with their own agency and there is nothing wrong with either decision.
The Wizards have a decision to make then. They can move Beal for picks and players or they can keep Beal and do a soft rebuild around him and a struggling Russel Westbrook. The issue with the latter is that draft picks and young players won’t fit the timeline. Beal is in his prime now, and is visibly frustrated with the talent around him.
Either way it’s no doubt that Beal is one of the best shooting guards and leading the league in scoring. His situation will be one to watch as the trade deadline approaches.
The point is that some stars do genuinely want to stay, and situations can change. Washington’s GM, Tommy Sheppard, is trying to undo the mess he inherited and time will tell if he can improve the situation. Beal may want to go down with Wes Unseld as one of the best Wizards/Bullets of all time, and he just might if he truly does stick around.
(Photo Cary Edmondson: USA Today Sports)
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