Depending on where your allegiances lie and how vast your sports interests happen to span will have a considerable impact on what particular offseason you find most exciting.
For me, the most exciting day belongs to the NFL Draft, week goes to the NBA with that stretch of free agency that lingers around the 4th of July and world soccer owns the summer as a whole.
The NFL’s player movement is basically non-existent outside of the draft, the NBA’s is often mucked up in the midst of a holiday weekend and soccer often has the most significant player movement, but it is so sporadic the appeal ends up being the shock of news arriving, which is often dulled by the constant and obsessive refreshing of the “_____ transfer news” Google results page.
The NBA is the unique position of possessing elements of the other two sports – a draft as well as regular major player movement, so buckle up because I’m about to outline the greatest possible day in (offseason) sports.
So, in totality the NBA already possesses the best offseason in all of sports.
Especially in the days following the most recent CBA with super-max contracts, an incentive to sign shorter deals to maximize salary potential, and the desire continuously re-enter the free agent market.
Not only do NBA players love the money making aspect, but many love the feeling of being recruited all over again, like LeBron’s “The Decision,” Kevin Durant inviting teams to the Hamptons in 2016, and Gordon Hayward’s Players’ Tribune announcement (even though it occurred after a leak and a “rethinking of things”).
But, what’s the main problem with free agency? Well, tampering occurs throughout the season in the new age of players being more friends than foe and constantly recruiting their buddies who have a chance to change allegiances. But, more so, the fact the NBA Draft occurs prior to the free agency period in addition to the cap often not being known until near that period is just about to begin.
This year the cap was projected to be somewhere around $102 million and it ended up closer to $99m due to the lack of playoffs games, which significantly impacted the league’s revenue.
This threw a wrench into the Boston Celtics plans for instance, where they thought a trade for Paul George or Jimmy Butler would fit nicely with the eventual signing of Gordon Hayward. Instead they missed out on both their trade targets, despite both going for seemingly well under their market value.
To make matters worse, they were forced to engage teams in talks to quickly dump one of their primary players in order to fit Hayward under this unexpectedly low cap, which concluded with a head-shaking decision to ship Avery Bradley to Detroit for the worse Morris twin.
At the end of the day they got the only person on Earth making $128m over the next handful of years that takes advantage of Jos. A. Bank’s buy one get two free deal:
@StoolGreenie my friend just saw Gordon at jos a bank. Allegedly Hayward says "uhhh I need a suit for tomorrow." hoping that means he signed pic.twitter.com/yqLD6BfQJR
— $pielberg (@MoMoneyMorency) July 6, 2017
So, here’s the deal on how the NBA continues their dominance over the offseason, while finding a way to take ownership over a news cycle for an entire 24-hour period.
No more elongated free agency decisions that get lost in the long 4th of July weekend and no more blockbuster trades that occur on a Friday night and become a brief tweet that gets discussed amongst bar goers instead of demanding that eyes be glued to TV sets.
Think of how you took in Paul George to Oklahoma City or Hayward flip flopping briefly before signing with the Celtics. These moves took place during one of the most prominent drinking and event based time periods of the year and one of the staples of the summer.
Let’s revamp this entire process.
Determine The Salary Cap Before The Season Ends
The NBA has, for lack of a better term, “nerds,” crunching numbers year round to determine revenues and where the cap might land, and these minds can determine where the cap will fall well before free agency opens.
So, what if instead of waiting until July creeps in, this calculation occurs once the playoffs start and the various outcomes for number of games can be determined sooner, like the second the final buzzer sounds concluding the Finals soon.
Allow Teams To Contact Free Agents Immediately After The Finals
The moment the finals conclude, even before the confetti is done falling, the cap is announced and teams can begin contacting those players who are currently out of contract. Not making offers, but feeling out where a player’s monetary desires may be.
The Second To Last Saturday In June Is Where It All Happens
Then as a few weeks pass and the second to final Saturday in June arrives, at 12:01 teams can begin finalizing offers with the cap known and begin filling out their rosters.
Add Hourly Deadlines To Free Agent Signings
If Gordon Hayward wants to sign a max with Boston he has to do so by 3:00 PM Eastern, any player who wants a deal over $100m has to put pen to paper before that deadline as well.
Then 4:00 PM anyone who is eligible for between $75 and $99m and then by 5:00 PM anyone between $60 and $75 and so on with all players hoping to sign a deal north of $50 million must sign prior to 6:59 PM.
Anyone below that figure is then able to negotiate their deals throughout the standard free agency period.
Introduce An Hour Of Trades With Reduce Cap Impact
But, once 7:00 PM Eastern rolls around free agency is suspended for 60 minutes. And during this new unique window trades can occur and anyone willing to be prudent and swift can make a killing. Any trades during this time only count against the cap at 85% of what they normally would.
This would increase activity tenfold and arguably create the most exciting hour in sports as a whole. Of course teams can begin discussions prior, but they need to be completed and signed off on during this time.
Team’s can reshape their entire rosters and undo summers of awful signings in the span of an hour if the successfully pull a few of the right strings
Why just 60 minutes you ask? Because at 8:00 PM on the last Saturday in June, the team possessing the number one pick is on the clock and the NBA Draft begins.
For the first time in recent memory team’s will actually have a relatively concrete idea about the holes on their rosters and be able to draft accordingly and there won’t be another holiday weekend where the biggest moves in the NBA are after thoughts.
Think of the impact this would have had on the year in particular? Would Boston have moved more swiftly for George and Butler? Would signing Hayward have impacted their decision to draft yet another small forward? Would the aforementioned Butler and George have seen their respective teams get fleeced in trades if they could have been acquired at a monetary discount?
I have no idea (except Ainge would’ve failed to capitalize on any of these advantages for Boston because he is the most overrated decision maker in sports, but that’s another post for another day), but it certainly would make intelligent GM’s an even greater asset than they already are and really separate men from boys.
Oh, and it would be the most unbelievable day for sports fans during one of the loneliest times of the year where only baseball is there to comfort us.
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