How the Cuban Missle Crisis applies to the Yi situation
A commenter on this blog pointed out that I may have lost my mind over this Yi thing. That's because I said I would rather eat the rights to the Chinese forward than see Larry Harris trade him off for another prospect with a gun to his head. The commenter wrote, correctly, that similar trades are made all the time. He pointed out the Ray Allen-Stephon Marbury and the Nowitzki-Traylor deals as past precedent.
The difference is this, however. Those deals were prearranged and done, at least in the initial drafting party's mind, to advantage. The Mavericks always wanted Nowitzki, and the Bucks always wanted Ray Allen. They realized that teams below them (the Bucks and the Timberwolves) coveted a different prospect who was still on the board, and they further realized that they could draft the other prospect and still get the pick they wanted plus some extra goodies thrown in (in each case the "extra goodies" turned out not to have been worth the effort -- I believe the Bucks got Andrew Lang from Minnesota, and the Mavericks got Pat Garrity from the Bucks, both marginal players at best).
However, in this case, the Bucks want Yi. They value him above any other prospect. If they didn't, they would have arranged a deal such as the one the commenter suggests at the time of the draft. They didn't. So if they were to now trade him, you can presume it would only be because the Yi camp forced the move. That is totally unacceptable. It would set a dangerous precedent for the team. Besides, history shows that in such situations, you never get value-for-value.
"Never fear to negotiate, but never negotiate out of fear." That was a maxim set forth by President Kennedy during the Cuban Missle Crisis, and its one that applies to every negotiating situation. You can never let others believe that you can be made to act at the barrel end of a shotgun. If you do, you will soon find the tactic used against you again and again. That's why I'm begging Larry Harris to stay strong and not bend to the Yi camps demands under any circumstances.
"I am prepared to wait... until hell freezes over, if that's what it takes." At the height of the crisis, that's the tactic Adlai Stevenson took with the stunned Soviet Ambassador at the United Nations, and that's the one Larry Harris has to take with the Yi camp. He has to make them believe that he is just crazy enough to sit on Yi's rights rather than trade them off as Yi's camp wants. Time is the big trump card in this game of chicken. Whichever side shows that they are not afraid of time will win the Mexican standoff. If the Bucks make it plain to the Yi camp that they are willing to wait until hell freezes over for him to sign with them, they will win. Granted, it will take a tremendous amount of nerve on Harris' part to pull this negotiating ploy off. If Yi seems on the verge of going back to China, the public pressure to get something for him will be tremendous (the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has already deemed such a result "a debacle" for the Bucks). But if Harris keeps his backbone strong, he will eventually get his man. The question is, in his contract year, will he find that strength?