NBA Trade Deadline – Preparation for the Summer of LeBron

By Luke Penner

The NBA has had an eventful few days with the trade of Blake Griffin to the Pistons, Cleveland trading 6 players, and many teams not testing the waters.  Who are the big winners from the deadline, and why?

3. Toronto Raptors

While many people may say the Toronto Raptors did not do enough this trade deadline, I firmly believe that they should be considered a winner.  The Raptors are currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference and poised to make a run to get out of the East this year.  The only piece they really need is an athletic defending wing, such as Wesley Matthews of the Dallas Mavericks.  This trade would provide the Raptors with an elite defender, with the added bonus of a shooter.  However, the asking price for Matthews may have been too high.  Logically, the Raptors would have traded Jonas Valanciunas, draft picks, and possibly Delon Wright.  By not making this trade, the Raptors do not lose future assets, and do not sacrifice long-term success for the short-term.  Grade: B+ 

2. Los Angeles Clippers

While the Detroit Pistons got the best player in this trade, Blake Griffin, I think the Clippers got an amazing return in two solid starters and draft picks.  Tobias Harris slots into the starting 3 spot, averaging 21.5 points a game, Avery Bradley becomes the starting 2, averaging 10 points and 1.5 steals a game since the trade (albeit in a small sample size).  Meanwhile, Blake Griffin is averaging 21.5 points a game since the trade.  The draft picks, a first rounder and second rounder, are nice, but the biggest reason the Clippers are a winner is they got rid of Griffin’s 5-year, $171.2 million contract.  By getting rid of it, the team has opened up a max contract, but have officially put their stake in the LeBron sweepstakes this coming summer.  While James is not a guarantee in a Clippers jersey, the fact that the team made space to be able to go after him is huge.  The reality is that even if they miss on LeBron, there are many other stars who are free agents this summer including Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, and Chris Paul.  The Clippers may have created a short-term drop (a minor one at worst), but they have set themselves up for a huge summer, while still remaining competitive.  Grade: A-

 1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The biggest winners of this trade deadline are the Cleveland Cavaliers, mainly from their trades with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz.  Prior to the deadline, the Cavaliers looked like they were going to crumble and lose LeBron in the process.  By making the trade with the Lakers, the Cavaliers gain a scorer in Jordan Clarkson, and become more youthful inside with Larry Nance Jr.  They gave up Isaiah Thomas, but I think this is a great trade.  The common thing with Thomas is that he needs to be the star, the primary ball handler, to succeed.  He wasn’t in Sacramento, Phoenix, or Cleveland, while he was in Boston.  This resulted in his best year being in Boston.  I think the Cavaliers got the best bang for their buck in this trade.  The second trade involved the Jazz with the Cavaliers receiving George Hill and Rodney Hood.  The Cavaliers gave up an oft-injured Derrick Rose, a limited Jae Crowder, and Iman Shumpert.  These two trades allowed the Cavaliers to do three things: get younger, stay active in the LeBron sweepstakes, and do not lose the coveted Brooklyn Nets first round pick.  Ultimately, I didn’t see Thomas’ fit, and the Cavaliers got some great youth in Hood, and Nance coming back in the two trades.  They have become better now, and have positioned themselves well for this coming summer, both in free agency and in the draft.  Grade: A

Every NBA team’s prize free agent next summer – LeBron James
(image credit: Tony Dejak – AP Photo)

I think that many teams received assets that they wanted, but these three teams put themselves above the rest.  The Raptors through not overpaying for an asset, the Clippers for staying competitive while positioning themselves at the top of the LeBron sweepstakes, and the Cavaliers for becoming more competitive both now and in the future.

Aztec Adaptive Sports Showcase

By Ahkeel Whitehead (SMBA ’19) and Ryan Lieu (SMBA ’19)

In the 2016-2017 academic year, as seniors at SDSU, the two of us got involved with a student organization at San Diego State University called Aztec Adaptive Sports. Their purpose is to ensure that students of all levels of ability have access to fitness and athletic programming, from recreational to elite level, at San Diego State University. About one dozen collegiate adaptive sports programs exist in the United States, but not one of those programs is located in the state of California. Aztec Adaptive Sports is working towards introducing the first college-level adaptive sports program in California.

With the guidance of Dr. Antoinette Domingo, the faculty advisor for Aztec Adaptive Sports, we have transitioned from active members to Directors of this organization. We are currently a part of the Sports MBA class of 2019 cohort, and beyond our coursework, we work hard to continue building the presence of adaptive sports on campus. Our first endeavor after stepping into our new roles was to work with the CEO of ABC Medical, Keith Jones, to host the Aztec Adaptive Sports Showcase.

The purpose of our Showcase was to raise awareness about the potential impact a collegiate adapted athletics program could have on SDSU and the San Diego community at large. The event was divided into two days; January 26th featured a wheelchair dance performance by the Rollettes followed by a presentation by 13 time Paralympic medalist, Dave Kiley. Day one concluded with the screening of the award-winning documentary “The Rebound,” which followed the lives of three wheelchair basketball athletes on their way to a national championship in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

(Back Row: Aztec Adaptive Sports Officers, Front Row from l to r: Morgan, Dave Kiley, Samantha, and Edna)

On Saturday January 27th , the Showcase moved to Peterson Gym and featured high-level competition by elite athletes competing in sitting volleyball, wheelchair tennis, and wheelchair basketball. The wheelchair basketball demonstration included members of the ABC Medical All-Star team, comprised of former University of Alabama Women’s Wheelchair Basketball players who have won five national championships since 2009.

(Above: ABC Medical’s Women’s All-Star Wheelchair Basketball team with Keith Jones) PC: Abraham Arredondo

(CAF Sitting Volleyball team athlete, Patrick Young) PC: Abraham Arredondo

The list of notable athletes that participated in the event includes:

● Katie Holloway: 3x Paralympic medalist, 3x Paralympian, women’s sitting volleyball

● Bethany Zummo: 1x Paralympic medalist, 1x Paralympian, women’s sitting volleyball

● Steve Baldwin: 2x Paralympian, wheelchair tennis

● Anthony Lara: 4x Paralympian, wheelchair tennis

● Lex Gillette: 4x Paralympic medalist, 4x Paralympian, WR holder in Long Jump (T11), Track and Field

● Nick Rogers: 1x Paralympian, Track and Field

(Congresswoman Susan Davis, 53rd District) PC: Abraham Arredondo

The event was attended by Congresswoman Susan Davis of the 53rd district, who addressed the attendees.  We also heard from Candace Cable, who was recently appointed as the Vice Chair of the bid for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Many dignitaries from San Diego State University’s administration also attended the event, including Interim SDSU President Sally Roush, Dean Larry Verity of the College of Health and Human Services, and Dean Randy Timm of Associated Students.


(Left to Right: Ryan Lieu (SMBA ’19), Dr. Antoinette Domingo, Dean Larry Verity, Interim President Sally Roush, Ahkeel Whitehead (SMBA ’19) and Keith Jones) PC: Abraham Arredondo

Stay tuned for the next Aztec Adaptive Sports event as we continue to pave the way for California’s first collegiate adapted athletics program.

SMBA 19 Students Volunteer at 72nd Annual Salute to Champions

By Ryan Maguire, Tatijana Bowman, Blair Brewer, Tatum Lockett & Yawen You

SMBA 2019 students were excited to meet and congratulate Padres’ Executive Chairman, Ron Folwer, after he received the 2017 Community Champion Award (from left to right: Blair Brewer, Ryan Maguire, Ron Folwer, Yawen You, Tatum Lockett & Tatijana Bowman)

Last week, a number of SMBA 2019 students had the unique opportunity to volunteer at the 72nd annual Salute to Champions awards gala, hosted by the San Diego Hall of Champions. The event has a longstanding tradition of bringing together athletes with ties to the San Diego area, and recognizing them for their athletic excellence, whether it be at the high school, college or professional level. In addition to the awards ceremony itself, there was a portion of the event dedicated to celebrated outstanding individual and team accomplishments, as well as the Stars of the Month and Stars of the Year.

While the students weren’t involved in the planning process of the event, they were able to assist with event setup, registration and backstage coordination, under the supervision of the Director of Special Events, Sarah Petitpierre-Branco. With many recognizable San Diegans from the sports industry onsite, the behind-the-scenes access was something that genuinely excited all of us.

Main takeaways from each student include:

  • Ryan Maguire: Organization aside, I was most impressed by how supportive the San Diego community is for it’s athletes, regardless of sport or level. The room was filled with standout high school and college athletes, as well as former professional athletes, all of whom were very supportive of one another. Being a part of an event like that was really special and helped to reinforce why San Diego is such a great sports community.
  • Tatum Lockett: With wanting to pursue a career in event planning, being able to assist the with behind-the-scenes work and understanding what roles are most important during the event itself was the best part for me. Also, running around and keeping the event ahead of schedule was beautiful because prior events I’ve worked were usually on-time or behind schedule.
  • Tatijana Bowman: I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of athletic talent in the San Diego market and the pride all of the athletes have in the city of San Diego, many of whom credited the community as an integral part of their success.
  • Yawen You: It was my first time working a sporting event, so it was really inspiring to meet all the people who work with a great passion in the sports industry. I also had the opportunity to learn a lot about how to maintain and run an event from behind the stage. I am glad that I can be a part of this community and help to support what the talented people in the sports industry do.
  • Blair Brewer: I was impressed with the organization of the event itself. They had everything planned out to a tee and it made it very easy for us as volunteers. It was great to see all the behind-the-scenes effort and planning that goes into such a prestigious and big event. It was also great to see how big of a sports city San Diego is and the many opportunities to work in sports within this market.

In addition to these key takeaways, a major highlight of the night for the SMBA students was the opportunity to meet Padres’ Executive Chairman, Ron Fowler, just moments after he accepted the award for the 2017 Community Champion. Ron Fowler has had such an incredible impact on the San Diego community, both in sport and philanthropy, so having the opportunity to see him receive his award was an incredible experience. Also, once we mentioned that we were sports business students in the Fowler School of Business at San Diego State University, he was more than happy to take a picture with us. Overall, we walked away feeling very honored and excited to have been a part of this annual event, and look forward to seeing how it grows and impacts the San Diego community moving forward.