This Cleveland Browns-nearly-traded-for-Jim-Harbaugh story has to be a goof now, right? Complete and utter shash, no? A classic slow-news-day-reporters-in-a-tavern-what’s-the-silliest-story-we-can-think-of talker gone viral, surely?
Hell, who knows? And frankly, who cares? This is good enough on its face to fuel literally months of whack-job speculation on Harbaugh’s place in the 49er hierarchy, the Browns’ thought processes in gutting their draft for a single khaki’d-brain, and this most disturbing of notions:
Whether or not Harbaugh or his agent thought he needed a no-trade clause in his contract.
The Browns, according to the tale, would have sent “multiple” draft choices to the 49ers, who already have a couple of hundred of them, in exchange for the mercurial-successful Harbaugh, and that Harbaugh turned the Browns down on the perfectly sensible theory that he would destroy his career working for Jimmy Haslam and The Dysfunctionaires.
According to the noted monitor of such things M. Florio of Pro Football Talk, a deal was “in place” when Harbaugh demurred. Now the question of what “in place” actually means becomes the crux of the tale, but as a concept, a theory and perhaps even as an executable plan, this would have been the greatest, worst and most bizarre deal since the 1989 Herschel Walker-for-five-players-and-eight-picks trade in . . . and maybe since the 1959 Ollie Matson-for-9-actual-already-vetted-and-paid-players deal.
And it should have happened, because we’d be talking about it for decades. And after all, isn’t that the only real reason for football to exist at all?
That the Browns allegedly thought it was a good idea should come as no surprise. They couldn’t run a fire drill out of a one-room, one-door bungalow with one person inside. That the 49ers apparently (if this story is actually a real thing) proposed it to Harbaugh as a “What do you want to do?” option makes you wonder if they actually have a price in mind for their head coach.
But the best thought of all is how long Harbaugh actually thought about it if it was presented to him? A nanosecond? An hour? A day? A week? He’ll never say anything other than “I never considered it at all,” which may or may not be true, but does it really matter in the end? Aren’t we really more invigorated by the possibility anyway? And isn’t this the height of creativity on somebody’s part, whether it be Haslam’s, Jedediah York, Harbaugh himself or whoever had polished off that Johnnie Walker Blue and blurted out, “Hey, how about this one?”
–Ray Ratto, CSNBayArea.com
When Stephen Curry looks back on that summer night in 2009, he still isn’t sure exactly how it happened or who decided what happened.
The history: On June 25, 2009, the Warriors used the seventh pick in the NBA draft to select Curry and change the course of the franchise.
Simple as that? No, not really.
Even now, some mystery remains about all the moving pieces and roads almost taken that night, which is why I recently spoke to Curry and several principals involved to try to reconstruct what I could.
“I’ll be interested in what you can find out,” Curry said last week, chuckling.
Yes, on that draft night Curry was quietly hoping to land with the New York Knicks, who had the eighth pick.
Yes, Curry should’ve been taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had the fifth and sixth selections but bypassed him to select two other point guards — Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn (who no longer is in the league).
And, yes, even though the Warriors selected Curry seventh overall, he heard he was almost traded to the Phoenix Suns.
But after all that, here stands Curry, the Warriors’ franchise player, an All-Star starter, and the result of the best, most fateful event in recent team history.
That almost didn’t happen, several times.
“To the extent that we could control what would happen, New York was what we thought would be the best spot,” Curry recalled of his camp’s thinking. “So we played it that way.
“But I guess a higher power guided me to where I was supposed to be, and I ended up with the Warriors. Because who knows how it would’ve turned out if I went to New York?”
Or to Phoenix. Or to Minnesota.
It seems so obvious now: The Warriors were lucky enough to have Curry drop to them, and that should’ve been the end of it.
But had Amare Stoudemire been a little more eager to join the Warriors in a proposed trade, or if Don Nelson were a little less sure that Curry was better than Monta Ellis, or if Minnesota had drafted sensibly …
Maybe, at the time, the least likely thing was for the Warriors to get this one perfectly right.
Remember, this all was occurring at a strange intersection period of Warriors dysfunction and transition: Team president Robert Rowell and Nelson had just pushed Chris Mullin out as chief decision-maker, Nelson was holding onto what power he could, then-general manager Larry Riley was trying to solidify his role, and owner Chris Cohan was months away from putting the team up for sale.
In the next few years, almost everything about the Warriors changed — with new ownership and Curry as the standard-bearer for the new era.
“We got one right, anyway,” Riley said with a laugh recently.
A lot of things had to happen for that result, though. And lot of things had to not happen.
For one, in the days before the draft, Riley and then-Phoenix G.M. Steve Kerr had put together the outlines of a major deal: If Curry got to the Warriors’ slot, the Suns were offering to trade Stoudemire for the pick and a collection of veterans, including Andris Biedrins.
Nothing was finalized, but …
“I think we felt like from our side that if Steph dropped to seven, where they were picking, that we were going to get a deal done,” Kerr recalled. “We had a lot of discussions, Larry and I did. Until something is approved by the league office, you can’t count on it. We felt pretty good about it, though.”
The potential trade was reported that night, but Curry, at home in Charlotte, N.C., didn’t hear anything about it for a while.
Riley, Nelson and Rowell certainly gave Curry no indication of any pending trade when they spoke with him on the phone that night.
“It wasn’t until the next morning — I was pretty new to Twitter at the time — and the next morning one person I followed had mentioned it, that the trade was supposed to happen, I guess for Amare Stoudemire,” Curry said.
“My dad (former NBA player Dell Curry) was kind of telling me if it happens, it happens, there’s nothing you can do it. Right now you’re a Warrior, so act like it.”
But how close did that deal come to happening?
–Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News
Are you ready for the big stories of spring training?
Just so you don’t miss any of ‘em, here’s a list of news flashes guaranteed to break in Arizona and Florida (with helpful clarifications). Keep this list and check ‘em off as the looong weeks roll by.
— Slugger in the best shape of his life. (Pear is a shape, right?)
— Lefty says he was thinking too much last season. (He’s given up crossword puzzles.)
— Slugger taking grounders at first base. (We’ll send the blooper reel to Cooperstown.)
— A’s and Giants tie 9-9. (Players distracted by snoring fans.)
— Lefty’s been studying video. (He’s halfway through the video of the SI swimsuit issue.)
— Skipper impressed with Slugger’s bat speed. (So was the fan who was hit in the forehead by Slugger’s bat.)
— Bud Selig visits Giants and A’s camps, sidesteps the issue of a possible A’s move. (“Groundhog Day,” without the laughs, acting or message.)
— Lefty recovered from his last Tommy John surgery. (And just about due for his next.)
— Skipper says team going back to fundamentals. (Today they worked on shaving.)
— Slugger working on shortening his swing. (We’re having him study the shower scene from “Psycho.”)
— Lefty throwing off front slope of the mound. (Reports only slight altitude sickness.)
— Players comment on loony Arizona law. (Gays with green cards could be detained, fined for fashion errors.)
— Slugger pain-free after session of half-speed simulated swings without a bat. (He’ll be ready Opening Day … 2027.)
— Lefty’s got a shot at making rotation. (Especially if he avoids the dengue fever outbreak in the clubhouse.)
— Slugger says he’ll play as long as he enjoys the game. (Still gets a thrill out of that paycheck.)
— Skipper says team will run more. (Last season, the fastest guy was the churro vendor.)
— In first spring outing, Lefty was spotting the ball well. (So were the hitters.)
– Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle