As exciting as the past few weeks have been with the inconceivable and outrageous rumors billowing and the misinformation spreading via provocative tweets, NBA free agency needs an extensive makeover.
In no world should a player, or group of players, have such a vast amount of power over the teams engaged in free agency. This is one of many reasons why the NBA is so fractured, and why the concentration of power is isolated to such a few number of teams.
For instance, while the Miami Heat are the ultimate representation of the reprehensible NBA enterprise to many, they are completely hamstrung by the way their Big Three have handled their respective free agency courting periods. With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all opting out of the final year of their contracts with the Heat within one week of each other, they instantly became three of the hottest names on the market.
This was a necessary step if the Heat had any chance of restructuring their contracts and surrounding them with a fresh supporting cast. The problem is that once they opted out, each of the three became resistant to make any sort of move until one of the other two did. It has basically become a game of chicken, and none of them have blinked at the Mack truck barreling down the street in front of them.
In the meantime, the dominoes continue to fall in terms of top-tier free agents signing on with teams. And those who haven’t yet signed are in such deep and meaningful discussions with a handful of teams that the Heat frankly stand no chance at acquiring any of them.
So now, when LeBron signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as is now being asserted as the most likely destination, and Bosh goes to the Houston Rockets, the Heat are going to be in full-blown scramble mode. They will most likely be put into a situation where they will quickly need to surround Wade with a hodgepodge of available free agents, and in all likelihood will be forced into rebuilding mode.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t necessarily take pity on the Heat. They have had plenty of spoils over the past four years, so it may be time for justice to run its course. But regardless, no team should be at the behest of their players to such a nauseating extent.
I think there is a complex solution and a simple solution. The complex solution would involve a renegotiation of the CBA to include provisions that govern the salary cap exemptions and simplify the free agency process, eliminating some of the countless options available to the player. This of course would probably result in a players strike and a potential lockout, not to mention the next opportunity to revisit the CBA isn’t until 2017.
So, let’s explore the simple solution: Impose a strict time boundary on the free agency period, demanding that it gets completed in 48 hours. Of course, this would have to be handed down as some sort of executive order from the NBA Commissioner, and I imagine that it would violate countless NBA bylaws, but hey, it could be the NBA’s version of the Patriot Act.
Can you imagine how different NBA free agency would have looked if it had to be completed in 48 hours? There would have been no billboard for Carmelo Anthony in Houston; no movie trailer shown to him in Los Angeles. Pau Gasol wouldn’t be getting the completely unfounded right to freeze out teams based on past greatness, And we would already know what the Miami Heat’s future holds.
In short, it wouldn’t be the excruciatingly painful dog-and-pony show it has become. So I implore you Adam Silver, use some of that goodwill you gained from the way you handled the Donald Sterling debacle, and lay down your heavy hand to truly better the league.