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  • How to Save the NBA . . . Part II

    Read: How to Save the NBA, Part I HERE

    OK, so we’ve established the basic financial plan of How to Save the NBA.  Here are the player movement rules:

    1. #1 Superstar Players can sign three year contracts
    2. Playoff teams can protect ANY two players for next year
    3. Conference Champs can protect ANY three players for next year
    4. NBA Champs can protect ANY five players for next year
    5. Any player that is protected holds player option to move up a salary slot if possible, before team fills vacancies
    6. There are no injury/suspension/etc. replacements unless the player is given a full release with full salary.  Released player can sign with any team for remainder of season
    7. Inseason trades are allowed, trading deadline 20 games prior to end of season
    8. No Rookie draft, all Rookies are Free Agents
    9. All other players are granted Free Agency every year

    That’s it!  No other rules.

    Think about the impact of those rules.

    Its been trendy lately for athletes to compare player movement to slavery.  Puhleeze!  Regardless, this plan takes care of that.  Superstar players are given recognition and special status.  As a “Top 30” player, they’re less likely to collude with other superstars, there’s no way they’re willing to take $5 million per year less in guarantees, plus the ability to sign a three year contract.  A “Top 30” guy can still decide to sign as a #2, but he does so knowing that if he wins a championship, he’ll make $16 million LESS than the #1 guy.  Think LeBron James ever leaves Cleveland under that premise?  Even Chris Bosh stays in Toronto . . . but they don’t HAVE to.  This allows teams to build marketing plans around their key players, which is always a Superstar guy anyway.  If a “Top 30” guy gets a year-ending injury, teams can fill that slot but only on a yearly basis until the “Top 30” guy returns, or the contract expires.  The injured player is not entitled to playoff share money.

    Its interesting to think who would be opposed to this much player movement.  Players love getting guaranteed contracts and stability, but complain if they outperform their contracts, plus the whole “slavery” issue.  Teams hate losing their best players, but get killed if they oversign a player, or lose the player to injury.  It is now a pure market system and “meritocracy”.  Each year most players get to choose who their teammates are.  Team owners are virtually assured of breaking even at least, and significant windfalls for winning.  Players ultimately will have more control, but less stability.  Think of the choices a player like Lamar Odom would have.  He could take $9 million guaranteed with a mediocre team and be a #2 guy; or he could sign lets say as a #4 guy and only be guaranteed $3 million, but have the chance of making almost $26 million if his team wins!  We find out pretty quickly what is important to the players.

    Rookie drafts are no longer necessary with this system.  Teams can save their “Top 30” slot for “once in a lifetime” talent such as LeBron James if they so desire, but most Rookies would likely make the most money with non-playoff teams as they will have the most slotting flexibility.  Most Rookies will obviously choose the team that will pay them the most, but a smart Rookie may choose to be the Lakers #6 guy with a chance to make $14 million his first year, instead of a #3 slot for $6 million.  Choices abound!

    Instead of a Rookie draft each year, the NBA could hold a team signing/unveiling ceremony.  What a huge event that would be each year, especially if deals are not finalized until the last minutes.  In fact, that would be better, invite all the eligible players and all the teams, and let them make final decisions at that time.  It would combine all the best elements of a draft with NCAA signing day!  Assuming Joe Johnson is not a “Top 30” guy (which he’s not!), think about the drama he’d bring with 3 hats in front of him . . . and will he insist on the #2 slot, or will he sacrifice that slot for a chance to win?

    Most important in all of this, only winning gets rewarded . . . and EVERY team has an equal chance to compete.  And that’s all you can ask for in sports.


    Published on August 24, 2011 · Filed under: NBA, Sports;
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