Early, as he always was, the well dressed man took his seat. In his early 40s and exceptionally tall, but moving with smoothness of a former player himself, he settles into his chair. He knew he would be early, as he knew his adversary would be late, so he sipped his drink and reminded himself of the two rules of negotiation. Stay relaxed, stay sharp. He fills the minutes texting rapidly, until one message comes through that catches his eye. He turns off his phone and sits calmly.
A minute or two later his opponent strolls in, as large and as impeccably dressed, but older. The first man rises and they shake hands silently, sitting down. A tense moment passes and the first man reaches into his pocket and then slips a folded piece of paper across the table. The second man reciprocates with his own envelope. There is silence long after they read their respective offers, and finally the first man breaks the silence.
"There would be protection, of course"
Leaning back with a satisfied air the second man replies "Of course"
The first man nods his head wryly, crumples the paper and tosses it toward a corner. From the shadows a hand reaches out, groping for the paper, finds it and the hand jerks back out of sight. Footsteps echo down a hallway and somewhere in the darkness Sam Amico tweets "#Lakers #Cavs discussing Bynum+Dion+'14 1st for Gasol, still working on protection"
Back at the table the first man takes a long drink, puts it down and a breaks the silence again. "Is he gone Mitch?"
"Yes Chris, he is gone." He twists the paper in his hands and holds it to the candle on the table, watching the smoke curl towards the ceiling "But if you mention Jarret Jack's name again I will be right behind him."
Chris breaks out into a smile "I'll make you a deal, Jack and Dion are both off the table,agreed?"
Both men relax visibly and talk like old friends for a brief time, but the conversation quickly returns to their reason for being here.
Chris puts his first offer out there "We both know that Bynum and Gee for Gasol works technically, so what are your objections?"
"We also both know that Miles works better than Gee, but more importantly that the Lakers are never going to dump a player like Gasol for salary reasons alone. We have a brand and we have money and we can ride out this season with or without Pau. A first rounder, even Sacramento's, would protect that brand, with that you could choose either Miles or Gee."
Chris leans forward, his face serious and his eyes intense "Bynum, 2 second rounders of your choosing this year, and Miles."
Mitch takes a long drink. "That's a good deal Chris, wish I could do it without a 1st rounder."
Chris leans back "Then we are at an impasse."
Mitch pauses to mull over his reply. "Perhaps not. A 2014 first rounder" He holds up his hand to interrupt Chris' objection "top 20 protected. I cant have Pau leading you to a 3 or 4 seed for a couple of second rounders. If you don't make it that high then we take the 2 second rounders instead AND we don't release the details of the protection for a few days. In 24 hours Lakers fans will all think we got an unprotected 1st and this way half our fan base will spend the year thinking we could land Parker AND Wiggins with our two picks and I can spend the rest of the season in peace from their ridiculous rants."
Chris twirls a pen in his fingers and eyes his adversary, then reaches out his right hand he smiles "Done".