Trade deadline creates awkward moments

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
11:29
PM PT
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The timing could have been better.

As the NBA trade deadline was coming to a close Thursday afternoon, Los Angeles Clippers players were gathered on the team's chartered plane, waiting to depart for Memphis for their game against the Grizzlies on Friday.

[+] EnlargeBarnes
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesThere were some tense moments for Matt Barnes on the Clippers' plane, but the NBA trade deadline came and went without him being moved.
With each minute that extended past their scheduled departure time, the tensions began to grow as players who were rumored to be traded, refreshed the Twitter pages on their smart phone and checked text messages.

"The plane was a sweatbox today," said Matt Barnes, who was prominent in trade talks with the New York Knicks for Iman Shumpert. "It's just a business and it's tough. We sat on that plane for almost two hours looking around in silence, looking at Twitter.

"No one was really talking. We were looking around and the captain said [the delay was caused by] bad weather and we're like, 'Yeah, bulls---, we're waiting for that trade deadline.' I'm just glad it's over.

In fact, the plane began moving shortly before the noon PT deadline in Los Angeles but then had to stop.

Antawn Jamison had been traded to the Atlanta Hawks and Byron Mullens had been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

"I saw that the trade was official and then saw that it wasn’t," Barnes said. "And then saw that Antawn got traded and then saw that Byron got traded. We had to stop the plane to let them off."

No one on the plane was more nervous than Barnes, who signed a three-year deal worth about $12 million in the offseason to be with the Clippers and closer to home. Barnes actually took less so that the Clippers would also be able to sign Darren Collison to a two-year deal for about $2 million. Both players were in talks to be sent to the New York Knicks for Shumpert and Raymond Felton.

"It's tough," Barnes said. "Any time you lose teammates and your team is your family it's tough to see those guys go, but for me personally I was sweating the whole time. Someone said the trade was official so I said, 'OK, I'm out of here' and then Blake [Griffin] said, 'No, I saw it's not official' so then I'm like, 'OK, maybe I'm not out of here.' "

Barnes was able to breathe a sigh of relief when the deadline passed and the plane finally took off for Memphis.

"I don't even look at Twitter that much, but I was on that thing refreshing constantly," Barnes said. "It's a tough situation to play so well last year and to have so many ups and downs this season, but it's a business and the team's got to do what's best for them. It leaves us in a tough predicament as players, but that's what they pay us for."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the trades of Jamison and Mullens were made more for salary cap reasons and roster flexibility than anything else after the team conducted a practice Wednesday night after arriving in Memphis.

"That's more cap relief for the summer," Rivers said. "Those are tough ones for me from a coaching standpoint, to do a move that is not necessarily making your team better, [those] are difficult moves, but from a team standpoint it was the right thing to do because it gives us a little more cap relief."

Perhaps because he was on the phone and not refreshing his Twitter, Rivers said he didn't think the trade deadline was that eventful.

"It really wasn't as much as people thought," Rivers said. "I was amused at all the stories. We were in discussions with a lot of people but nothing, it never got anywhere."

The Clippers currently have 12 players on the roster and will need to add another player at some point, but Rivers said he didn't think it would happen this week.

"I don't think we're in any rush," Rivers said. "We may be at 12 for a while. We're out looking and there's some guys out there, there really is, and buyout season could happen pretty soon too so that's the next new thing that we can talk about."

When Rivers was asked about possibly adding a former player of his to the team such as Glen Davis, who was reportedly negotiating a buyout with the Orlando Magic, he said, "I don't know. We'll see."

Whomever the Clippers sign to fill out the roster, the players who left the practice floor in Memphis on Thursday night were glad they were not going anywhere and would finish out the season together.

"I'm just relieved that it's over and now our only focus is winning games with the group we have," Barnes said. "We know we have enough of what it takes to win it."

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Blake Griffin
PTS AST STL MIN
22.8 4.3 0.7 34.8
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Jordan 13.0
AssistsC. Paul 9.7
StealsC. Paul 1.9
BlocksD. Jordan 2.4