NBA Free Agency has changed and everyone needs to get over it
With the signing of DeMarcus Cousins by the Warriors, everyone believes that the free agent model is broken.
July 1st is the start of NBA free agency and the unofficial beginning of the NBA calendar. There are surprises and unexpected signings, but over the last couple of years, the surprises and unexpected occurrences have increased. It all started in 2010 when LeBron James “took his talents to South Beach” and joined forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Since then, the sky has been falling according to many with the birth of superteams and free agents going to play with friends.
It all came to a head in 2016 when Kevin Durant spurned the Oklahoma City Thunder and joined the Golden State Warriors. The move came after the Warriors eliminated the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Durant’s rationale was that he wanted to win a championship. Many took it has “if you can’t beat them join them.” From that moment on, the NBA and its free agency system were dead. There was something wrong with the players having the ability to pick and choose where they want to play basketball…you know, the whole idea of free agency.
The start of free agency saw LeBron James sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in a move that many expected. There were a few surprises (Paul George staying with the Thunder), but for the most part, there were no moves that moved the needle. That is until something happened that shook the NBA world to its core. And it all revolves around a player that will not play until 2019.
DeMarcus Cousins, the temperamental but talented center, signed with the Warriors on a 1-year/$5.3 million contract. Cousins tore his Achilles this past season and is not expected back until after Christmas, probably longer. So let’s review. A player who is not playing anytime soon signed the mid-level exception to be a role player. In turn, the move blew up the internet as many said that the NBA free agent model is broken.
The whole idea of free agency is for players to pick and choose where they want to play. In the NFL, teams can pretty much own players for additional years after their contract expires with the franchise tag. Players are under team control for up to six years in MLB until they can hit the open market. In a country that promotes capitalism and the free market, the NBA is the best sports example of those philosophies.
While the NBA put in the “supermax” provision where players could make more money staying with their original teams, it’s a new world. Players talk more and are more inclined to take less money to play with friends. They are more willing to take less money to build a new legacy outside of the city that drafted them. This is the modern world, and everyone needs to take heed and calm down.
Gone are the days where players spend their entire careers with one team. While Giannis Antetokounmpo says he wants to win in Milwaukee, the reality is that Milwaukee is a small market and he will leave the second he has the opportunity. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but that’s where the league is. Those who are saying that the NBA needs a franchise tag to stop this from happening is fooling themselves and are stuck in days gone by. Hell, even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar changed teams a few times. How many of you remember Kareem with the Bucks?
So here’s the point…everyone needs to calm down. NBA free agency will continue to be one of the highlights of the summer. It will continue to feature players changing teams at high rates, and those players will join “superteams” with friends. Instead of complaining about it, let’s all embrace it. It’s making for exciting seasons and intriguing storylines. Moreover, isn’t that what sports are about? Not just the on the field (or court) performances but the inner workings of team chemistry and who assembled the best team.
The sky is not falling folks. Just relax.