After throwing slop at a wall like everybody else trying to figure out the best route for the NBA regular season and All-Star break to matter, I have the ultimate solution. There is no better idea, and even though it won’t happen, the potential to overwhelm the news cycle is so alluring that Adam Silver has to consider it. And that idea is a midseason free agency window.
Player movement in the NBA has been one of the biggest storylines in all sports since LeBron James went to Miami, and this past trade deadline was no different. If Kyrie Irving’s trade request sent a tremor through hoops media, then Kevin Durant going to Phoenix was an eight, maybe a nine on the Richter scale.
How would a midseason free agency window work?
It would be the same as an offseason, only midseason. So if an organization has cap space and is ahead of schedule on their rebuild, they could supercharge the second half of the season with a signing instead of being sellers or giving up an asset that might negate room for improvement. Think about franchises like the Utah Jazz or Indiana Pacers that started off hot, and could’ve kept the pace with a signing.
If a franchise wanted to go the other way that would be easier, too. Teams would be more willing to take risks because they could get off them easier, and the roster turnover would be literal crack for NBA beat writers.
The obvious hurdle would be the CBA negotiations, and judging by how long it’s taking to overturn the one-and-done rule, we could expect approval of a landscape-altering move like midseason free agency to take anywhere from 50 years to several millenia.
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The potential of half-year deals will melt your mind
The No. 1 reason why this idea wouldn’t work would be the implementation of half-year deals that would allow a contract to expire midseason. Any star who signs a contract with a half year at the end of it will be an immediate candidate for the next disgruntled player to want out.
How many half-year deals would LeBron James have signed consecutively while in Cleveland? “I will leave in February and join Kyrie Irving in Dallas if you don’t trade all your first-round picks for him right this instant.”
Imagine team or player half-year opt-outs, and people pulling the parachute cord after 50 or 60 games. Take the Boston Celtics last year for example. That team would’ve been a prime candidate for dissolution at the break. Instead, they went on a run to the NBA Finals. There would be an endless amount of inflection points, and teams would be on the clock to be competitive out of the gate for fear of guys leaving. The havoc that impatient owners could cause also is frightening for fans, but a gift from the gods for content companies.
The cons of a midseason free agency
There were a couple of inspirations for this idea, and one of them was the transfer window in soccer. While I don’t know exactly how it works, I do know that it presents the opportunity for huge names to switch clubs during the regular season (which also is the postseason — soccer is weird). That’s fine a dandy until you think about how top teams like Real Madrid and Manchester City get richer (despite possibly not being able to afford it), and the disparity between the top clubs in the world and everyone else.
All of the buyout guys already want to chase rings for contenders, and if given the chance to take a flier for 20 games and possibly a title, I’m assuming a lot of the capable role players — and maybe even a gutless star — would give it a whirl as well.
If the Durant Warriors added a coveted piece on a discount bin deal at the break, I know several fans who would stop watching pro hoops altogether. My guess is the fans I spoke with are either outliers or liars, because the masses love polarizing topics, and the ratings and page views reflect that.
This might be an outlandish suggestion, but I have yet to see a realistic one that will solve the NBA’s midseason conundrum. Fans aren’t going to swarm to watch a contrived tournament.
However, we know what they will flock to, and that is player movement. My main muse for this idea was NBA trades overshadowing the NFL during Super Bowl week, and if you can usurp the king during his annual celebration, capitalism and America say you should try to do it more often.
Original source here
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