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Sunday, March 3, 2024

NBA free agency is both good business and outrageous

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Most players in the National Basketball Association today couldn’t tell you what the legendary Oscar Robertson’s greatest accomplishment was during his storied NBA career. 

Obviously it was his successful lawsuit against the NBA which opened the door for free agency which continues to make many players multimillionaires.

It’s clearly an accepted business practice in the league to make marginal to average players very wealthy and to make those with simply unbridled talent in to multimillionaires instantly with even more guaranteed money.

Yes, teams generally overpay for their acquisitions and quite often find themselves on the short end of the proverbial financial stick.

Sure, there are exceptions to the aforementioned but many times teams pay for their shopping sprees long after the fact in terms of mortgaging their salary cap future to suit an overzealous owner’s win now or else mantra.

After all, it’s an immediate chance to upgrade your roster without the growing pains associated with the draft. 

While many of the people l see and talk with in the sports media world have labeled me to be a bleeding heart liberal, l’m also a capitalist and feel the players should get paid as much as the market will dictate and run with as much money as they can.

I certainly would if l possessed NBA level talent and don’t tell me some owner wouldn’t also value my impeccable sense of humor.

On the local front the Indiana Pacers appear to have had a  solid off-season (just ask them) and also established themselves as a front office to be reckoned with (well sorta) by signing point guard Tyrese Haliburton to an enormous maximum contract extension of some Two-hundred Sixty-million guaranteed dollars.

They also doled out another twenty-two million dollars to Bruce Brown Jr who was an integral part of the Denver Nuggets championship run. 

While a team option for another twenty-three million is in place for the 2024-2025 season is included in Brown’s deal, both these contracts highlight the obvious risk-reward environment in which the mega-rich owners must navigate the financially intrepid waters of NBA free agency with a flashlight and oar.

I’m not implying the Pacers moved too quickly on Haliburton’s massive extension, but an argument could be made that generally one must play at the high level he has for more than the eighteen or so months that he has been employed.

Granted, his statistics have been beyond impressive but when you have a guy under contract for the upcoming season, what’s the rush?  One can also argue the Pacers were wise to lock him up quickly before the maximum extensions would cost more, so perhaps l’m splitting hairs.

The Brown contract makes very little sense to yours truly as l simply don’t believe he’s worth twenty-two million dollars, but that throws it back to the free agency dilemma about one overpaying to get your guy and now they certainly have him.

You also must factor in the small market is generally not an attractive destination for anyone other than those searching for that first big pay raise and Brown is no different than any player  of that type. His timing was good and reportedly he had other options that the Pacers had to outbid to acquire his services. 

In the end, this isn’t about bashing the system as you obviously have to spend big money to win a NBA title, and yes, the teams must spend ninety percent of the designated salary cap number to comply with the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, but that doesn’t totally curtail a franchise from making sound choices with their substantial investments. 

One thing is for certain, every player in the NBA should send Oscar Robertson an envelope with a check enclosed or at least hug the man when you see him.

Danny Bridges who sometimes wishes he would have been much taller and possessed a better perimeter shot instead of handsome and modest, can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com. 

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