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Dusty to Sydney, Tex to Port - How a mid-season trade period could spice up the AFL and 12 moves we'd love to see

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Expert
23rd May, 2022
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As the mid-season draft looms – a time of year where talented kids from the VFL are being hidden in underground bunkers north-east of Warrandyte – the talk heats up around the potential of a mid-season trade period.

Trades. They’re fun. And as a fan of the NBA, I can tell you now, the off-season movement across the draft, free agency, and the trade market, can be more exciting than the game itself.

As it currently stands in the AFL, the Australian Football League Players Association would have a full-blown fit if Dustin Martin was told tonight that he was on the 6am flight to join the Sydney Swans – as part of a trade package with Sydney Stack – and they’d see him Friday night for the round 11 clash as opponents.

Lawyers. The vibe. Human rights. More vibe. Un-Australian.

The human element of trades is brutal, and it’s why the AFLPA will hold for as long as they can before ceding full player rights over to the clubs. Contracts would need to be in line financially with the NBA for it to become a thing, and that won’t ever happen.

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In Australia, human rights, fairness, and equality matter, and I don’t see Fairwork standing for the type of work-place human sharing we’ve seen in the NBA over the years. But I will say this: club/franchise ownership over player contracts is important, and it works, particularly when players want out. An open trade market is better than having one club of the player’s choice to negotiate with. That is a leverage free zone. And in many instances, the club’s future depends on getting a good haul for their disloyal star player.

In the NBA, players are seen as stocks. Sell ‘em high, buy ‘em low, know when to hold ‘em. They’re used by franchises for improvement.  Either on the court as a winner, or as an asset that brings in more winners, or to fill a positional need that supports the win-now window, or, to build a collection of future assets that sets up the tankorama-win-later-plans.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have the smallest payroll in the league and have been using their available cap space to facilitate trades as a dumping ground for bad contracts. The tax for taking on the stink? First round picks. They currently hold 19 first round picks across the next seven drafts. It’s good business for their tankorama-win-maybe-never-plans.

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Perhaps a nice strategy for North Melbourne?

Picked 14th in the 2003 draft by the Seattle Supersonics, Luke Ridnour was once traded four times in the same week! And unlike an AFL player, he had no say in where he was headed.

Orlando to Memphis. Memphis to Charlotte for Matt Barnes. Charlotte to OKC for Jeremy Lamb and a future second. Thunder to Toronto with cash for a $2.85 million trade exception.

Unlike the guy who started with a red paper clip, and in fourteen trades, ended up with a two-story house; the NBA evaporated Luke Ridnour the human into fake money to be used in another trade down the road and he was out of the league.

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So, in the name of fun, good times, and list management, let’s look at some fake NBA-inspired trades for the AFL.

The challenge with any AFL fake trade is that we don’t know the exact details of contracts, so, for the sake of more fun, we’ve turned off the salary cap via the settings on a couple of the trades.

Dusty chooses the Sydney lifestyle.

Sydney receives: Dustin Martin

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Richmond receives: Dylan Stephens, Oliver Florent and Logan McDonald

With an ageing list, the Tigers get an injection of high upside kids. Logan McDonald a future star and the Jack Riewoldt replacement, Florent the Cotchin replacement? Stephens a reclamation project and you could argue in favour of a future first too. Dusty has proven himself to be that good.

Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates kicking a goal

Dustin Martin. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Richmond receives: Jacob Hopper, Leek Aleer, Bobby Hill

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GWS offering a proven gun in Hopper, so no inclusion of a pick. If you are Richmond, which package do you take? The gun half-forward and the gaggle of upside, or the bull on-baller and a couple of upside kids?

North Melbourne move Horne-Francis for an established star and an old trade offer revived

North Melbourne receives: Jordan De Goey, Steele Sidebottom (leader) and a future first

Collingwood receives: Jason Horne-Francis

North Melbourne loooooooooove splurging outrageous money on footballers they believe will immediately get them out of the hole. De Goey is a gun, he is capable of high-end footy, and let’s be dinkum, he’s only available because of the question marks surrounding his off-field behaviour. If this was a straight football decision, Collingwood pay him maximum dollars and keep him.  Sidey is falling off the slide and provides North with a premiership-winning leader for mentoring/coaching purposes.

If Horne-Francis wanted to be the future of the Shinboners, he would have signed the extension. Turning down big-time guaranteed money is a brave move in professional sport and suggests only one thing – he’s out. The boy has Mark Riccuito’s fully formed adult body and he’s 18 years old. Kid is special. North Melbourne might be best to cash him in.

Also, this trade is horrible. De Goey is not their guy, but it’s a Roos type move.

Jordan De Goey.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

North Melbourne receives: Josh Rachele and 2 x Adelaide first-round picks

Adelaide receives: Jason Horne-Francis

It was offered 12 months ago – would Adelaide accept it now?

Port Adelaide go forward hunting

Port Adelaide receive: Josh Kennedy

West Coast receive: Future third-rounder

OR

Port Adelaide receive: Tex Walker

Adelaide receives: Willem Drew

Port Adelaide are desperate for a key forward and you’d imagine both Kennedy and Walker could be had on the cheap. Crosstown switch? Tex the Port hero? Walker up the ground when Dixon returns? Dangerous!

OR

Hawthorn receives: Karl Amon and Xavier Duursma

Port Adelaide receives: Jacob Koschitzke, Jack Gunston and a second-rounder

Jacob Koschitzke is 21 and has shown enormous upside in his 26 games with 38 goals. Gunston is a proven performer, a star, and would provide instant offense to a Port team short on forward options.

Hawks pick up Amon, who has been linked to them in free agency, and the exciting Xavier Duursma who is out of favour with Port coach, Ken Hinkley, who is in win-now mode after a disastrous start to the season.

Three-way trades

North Melbourne receives: Matt Crouch and Reilly O’Brien

Geelong receives: Todd Goldstein and Jed Anderson

Adelaide receives: Jayden Stephenson, a North third-rounder, a Geelong first-rounder and Quinton Narkle

It would be irresponsible of Geelong to give up a first. But they’re all in on the flag and the inclusion of Goldy might tip them over the edge. Anderson gives them a sub 30 on-baller to replace Selwood, Bairstow and Couch when the time is right.

The Roos get the two best players in the trade whilst dipping out on the money owed for Stephenson, who hasn’t lived up to the hype of superstar billing. Adelaide get a fluffing of picks and an injection of foot speed, hard to find, in Stephenson who can play exclusively forward and doesn’t have to be the stud in Adelaide. Narkle a nice piece for the rebuilding Crows too.

Tackling fuel, the underutilised star and the O’Brien upgrade

Essendon receive: Josh Dunkley

Western Bulldogs receive: Jack Lukosius, a Gold Coast second rounder and an Essendon second rounder

Gold Coast receive: Andrew McGrath

Dunkley is the star here. GC and Bombers cough up additional picks to cover the talent gap. The Bombers get their man. The tackling machine with the hard edge to support the everywhere man Parish and the elite moving and kicking of Merrett. They’re finally a midfield that complements each other. Next trade is to send Shiel to OKC.

The Dogs have been playing Tim O’Brien as a defender, and that’s a problem. He’s serviceable, but he’s not lock down and is far from an elite kick. Lukosius offers a significant upgrade in the back half and has proven himself as having forward chops too. McGrath seems lost in the Essendon midfield with Merrett the go-to kicker and Parish getting all the loose balls, leaving him to just kind of run around. He is better than that, he’s a former no.1 pick, and in the Gold Coast midfield, he’d be the polished decision-maker and kicker Touk Miller has been looking for.

The fantasy trade

St Kilda receives: Jeremy McGovern, Andrew Gaff and Luke Shuey

West Coast receives: Two  first-rounders, Mitch Owens, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Ryan Byrnes

The Saints have had enough. It’s time to break the drought and this trade sends them into another stratosphere of talent.  West Coast cash in their vets for a bundle of upside. Enough for the Saints to win a flag? Remember, we turned the salary cap off… so let Saints supporters dream.

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