This year, buyouts were like another trade deadline, with contenders like Celtics and Heat scoring big time, for little money. It’s the allure of victory and such. Meanwhile, some other squads, like Orlando, didn’t find themselves with dirt cheap quality veterans walking through the door, like Boston and Miami got with Troy Murphy and Mike Bibby, respectively.But coach Stan Van Gundy sees another problem in the buyout plague: It makes it more difficult to get players to believe in team unity. From The Orlando Sentinel:
“You spend all this time in your locker room talking about trying to get guys to put aside personal things and ‘it’s all about the team,’ ” Van Gundy said. “And then on March 1st you’re changing the team and sending guys out the door. I think pretty quickly players pick up that you’re sort of full of crap, that they’re not really part of it. And why are they buying in [to the team concept] if you’re just going to jettison ’em? I don’t think it’s good.”
Again, there might be a sour grapes element to this, but Van Gundy later admits that they were interested in Murphy. It just didn’t work. His point, though, is well-taken: Forget good teams snatching up veteran detritus. Teams buying out these guys in the first place doesn’t just undermine their confidence (as soon as the buyout chatter begins). It does every bit as much damage to the concept of team unity as free agency—just from the front office, rather than the players’ own volition. Granted, some guys want buyouts. But the overall message a buyout sends isn’t the most encouraging for average players trying to feel like they are a part of something.
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