The birth of the “Sell-By Theory”

A while back I had an idea. An idea that evolved into a theory. Maybe not a theory, but certainly a new way of looking at the effectiveness of pro athletes. And to tie in and finish the analogy (I guess its an analogy, somewhere between an analogy and a theory) their trade value. My thought on the subject is basically, all pro athletes are just like items in a grocery store, not in a “this would represent them” way, the way Andy Varejao is broccoli. But rather that all players, have a sell-by date, and an expiration date. A sell-by date meaning after which they are either a) virtually un-tradeable or b) you will sell them for cents on the dollar. And expiration date meaning that after this point, you can still use them, but you might get food poisoning.

I am going to refer to it as the “Sell-By Theory” from now on. Let me give you all some more thoughts behind it. There are several ways a player can reach their Sell-By date. The most common, is that they simply lose what made them an asset to begin with, for example Luol Deng. He was a constant possibility to be picked up by a good team and instantly change their team for the better. Now nobody considers him a good guy to go out and trade for because he lost some of his scoring touch. They could get too old to be a useful pickup for a team, a prime example is Michael Finley. A few years ago he could have been traded anywhere for a little scoring help off the bench at guard, but now at 33 the Spurs would have to take a severe discount in order to move him, if they had any takers at all. And the last way that a player can reach their Sell-By date. And that is, as we will affectionately call it, “Pulling an Arenas”. This, quite simply, is when a good player, completely loses his shit, and possibly ruins his career, by doing one (or more) dumbass things. Obviously named for the most recent one, Gilbert Arenas. But he is not the first and certainly not the last. Stephon Marbury did the same to his career by going apeshit on everyone he could find, Pacman Jones went to/shot up strip clubs and ruined what could have been a promising career. There have been many guys that reached their Sell-By dates this way, and even a few who reached their expiration dates that way.

So the second part of this theory is the Expiration date. The point at which having a player around is either detrimental to the team or just completely damaging. And there are a few different types of expiration dates, the most common is a player who is past his prime, and past the “past-his-prime” stage of his career, the guy that just can’t let go. Most of the time this guys play hurts the team and leads to the team deteriorating, a release/benching, or retirement. Although there are guys that are in this category that are somehow inexplicably still useful, such as Brett Favre. But eventually he will get to the point where he is no longer useful, and will cause a team to dump him, or cause a team to go 2-14 and force him to retire in shame. Either way, I look forward to that day. The other most common, is an injured player, either one who thinks he can comeback and be the player he was, and failing. Or the player that realizes he needs to take a smaller role, but can’t stomach it and ruins morale. For example, 2009-2010 KG, wouldn’t you know it but he is hurting the Celtics this year, I just hope they don’t realize it. Once a player passes his Expiration date, he still might not be awful for a while but the longer you leave him on the team, the worse it can get. It’s like taking the chance on the milk in the fridge, if it’s one or two days past the date, you might be safe. But you should be very cautious when dealing with something that expired two weeks ago. Having one such player on your team might not be fatal or ruin the team, but there is always that chance.

Anyways, this is just the basic outline of the theory, if you see any holes or improvements to be made, feel free to let us know.

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