Hamilton Nationals Dump Former MVP Grant
Even the head coach admitted the Hamilton Nationals didn't get fair value in trading two-time Major League Lacrosse MVP John Grant Jr. to the Long Island Lizards for a 2012 second-round draft pick.
"Getting a second-rounder is of course undervalued, but it is what is," Nationals coach Regy Thorpe said Wednesday. "If we're talking four or five years ago, it'd probably be three first-rounders for John. It was a situation. Jody Gage [Hamilton general manager] did the best he could under the circumstances. He's worth a lot more, but it is what it is."
What that situation in fact is, is unclear. This part is known: Gage tried first to send Grant to Rochester, where he used to play, or Denver, where he played indoor with the NLL's Colorado Mammoth, but to no avail. Long Island was the lone taker, and also got rookie faceoff specialist Adam Rand (Stony Brook) in the deal.
Consider also that draft picks aren't as sure fire as they used to be, with the collegiate draft now being held prior to the college season, which can includes twists, turns, injuries, busts, etc., for MLL teams' picks throughout the spring.
Conspiracy theorists could point to Nationals team owner Curt Styres, who has now traded Grant twice this year. Styres is also the owner of the MLL's Rochester Knighthawks, who traded to Grant to Colorado prior to the season. In that trade and Tuesday night's Nationals-to-Lizards deal, Grant has been sent packing for reasons along the lines of to "get the team younger" in official press release explanations. Styres took over full ownership of the Nationals with their move this offseason from Toronto to Hamilton.
"It just came to a point with what the organization is trying to do, coming off a 3-9 season and getting a good young draft class," said Thorpe, a former teammate of Grant's with the Rochester Knighthawks. "We just weren't getting the minutes for some of the guys that we thought. Certainly, a very tough day, but I think going forward it's the best for the team and sometimes those decisions aren't easy. I think it's going to hopefully be a long-term good decision."
"We have Jeremy Boltus, Cody Jamieson, and we drafted Steve Keogh. We need to get those guys some minutes as we build here for the future."
The question is will Grant report to Long Island? Lizards coach Jim Mule said yes on Wednesday. Mule spoke to Grant Tuesday night, when the trade went down, and he said Grant told him he'd play Thursday night against the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The Lizards have practice scheduled for Wednesday night, but it was unclear if Grant would be there in time.
"Pumped to play with a legend," Lizards attackman Matt Danowski said on Twitter about Grant, the All-World Canadian and the only three-time MLL Offensive Player of the Year in league history.
"I thought it was a curious trade, quite frankly," Rochester Rattlers coach B.J. O'Hara said, actually talking about the Long Island side of it. "I'm not sure where he fits in with their attack group."
O'Hara said Rochester wasn't interested in Grant because he doesn't live in Rochester anymore, but Peterborough, Ontario. The Rattlers, after playing last season on the road as the team formerly known as the Chicago Machine, are trying to fill their roster with local players.
"It goes against the strategy of what we're trying to put in play with more local guys," O'Hara said.
If Grant for some reason doesn't report to Long Island, the league has already said the second-round pick will be downgraded to fourth-rounder. That would be even less value for the Nats.
"It's a super tough decision, especially for myself," Gage said. "But you have to put the team first and you have to look long-term. It's certainly undervalued but I don't really know what to say. He's worth a lot more, but it is what it is."