It's almost a truism: big trades are dependent on others not going down and trades that are rumored often fall apart while trades that take place are often never rumored beforehand.
Take a look at how the Vince Carter trade evolved. The Nets players involved in that trade were all involved in other rumors right up til the time of the big trade. Then, suddenly, the timing was right and the big deal came out of nowhere.
The following is all this is from beat reporters' articles in December of 2004, some before the Carter trade, some right after. It's a case study of how a trade often evolves.
We begin in the summer of 2004, months before the Carter trade. The Nets tried to acquire Dejuan Wagner, a Camden native, from Cleveland over the summer in 2004 in a sign-and-trade for Eric Williams.
After the season began, the Cavaliers and Nets tried again to work a deal, this one would have sent Aaron Williams and a draft pick to Cleveland for center DeSagana Diop and either Wagner or swingman Sasha Pavlovic. The Cavs weren't interested. The Nets also had discussions with New Orleans regarding Aaron Williams in November. Hornets coach Byron Scott liked Aaron Williams.
On December 3, Alonzo Mourning met with Rod Thorn and Bruce Ratner to discuss a buyout. The meeting ended in rancor, but the Nets knew what Mourning wanted in terms of a buyout of the remaining $17 million on his contract.
Around the same time, the Nets offered Toronto Aaron Williams, Brian Scalabrine and Jabari Smith for Donyell Marshall. Those discussions went nowhere but were the first talks between the Nets and Raptors. They would soon be renewed.
On December 14, the day before the Nets could deal Eric Williams, Thorn told beat reporters, "I think you're liable to see several things happen, but not necessarily with us."
The next day, he called Rob Babcock in Toronto. The Nets said everyone on the roster except Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins and Nenad Krstic was available in a trade...plus the draft picks. Babcock chose Aaron Williams and Eric Williams. He tried to get Thorn to relent and include Collins in the deal. Thorn refused. Thorn said the hardest part of the deal was persuading Babcock to take Alonzo Mourning. But he knew what Mourning wanted in terms of a buyout from the December 3 meeting...and he knew also that Babcock was looking for cap space along with draft picks. Babcock could now estimate what he was going to get in cap relief from a Mourning buyout. Finally, Babcock wanted the Nets to take Jerome Moiso in the deal as well. Thorn declined but after the Raptors waived Moiso, which they had to do to make room for the three Nets, he signed the former Raptor.
[It's interesting to note that the day before the deal went down, on December 16, the Raptors waived Roger Mason Jr. Toronto sports writers speculated that the action was in preparation for a multi-player deal involving Carter. Babcock denied there was any correlaton between moving Mason and opening up a roster spot for incoming players. In short, he was not telling the truth. The deal was basically done.]
The day after the Carter deal went down, the Nets moved to find a backup, offering a second round draft pick --and presumably someone else-- to the Grizzlies for Dahntay Jones. The Grizz wanted a first round pick.
So you never know.