NBA Free Agency: A Farce

Jan 22, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after a shot during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. The Thunder won 111-105. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest domino of NBA Free Agency fell when Kevin Durant inexplicably left a great Oklahoma City Thunder team, for the team that defeated him in the playoffs, the Golden State Warriors.

The NBA has become a farce when it comes to free agency, where, you can pretty much guarantee where the biggest free agents in the sport are going to land.  The Thunder bent over backwards to accommodate Durant by swinging a wild draft day deal in which the Thunder acquired promising up and comer, Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and a first round pick from the Orlando Magic for the services of a diminishing Serge Ibaka.

Durant left the only NBA team he has ever known, and one of the league’s few superstars in the form of Russell Westbrook.  Durant had meetings with only a few teams in free agency, and if you guessed Oklahoma City (token meeting), Boston, Miami, Golden State and San Antonio, you’d be correct.  Because these are some of the only markets these soft new NBA babies want to play in when they reach free agency and can’t get it done with the team that drafted and developed them.

I’m not usually one to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” like a stodgy old man, but there was something admirable about the way that Michael Jordan wanted to best Magic Johnson, or Shaquille O’Neal wanting to get by Hakeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing, or Jordan v.s Clyde Drexler, or Larry Bird.  Gary Payton wanted to beat John Stockton, and Shawn Kemp wanted a piece of Karl Malone.  These guys never thought to themselves, “oh, well we can’t beat Jordan and the Bulls, so why not play with them, or form together somewhere else and make our own super team of super friends.”

LeBron James started this super team trend by taking his talent’s to South Beach and forming a holy triumvirate between himself, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  Then, we saw Chris Paul tried to follow suit and join the LA Lakers which was vetoed by the NBA, who instead deemed Paul to be a perfect fit for the other LA team, the Clippers.  So, Paul set about forming his own super team with an emerging Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Now, LeBron openly opines about the opportunity to play with Carmelo Anthony, Paul and Wade in forming their own band and trying to outdo everyone else.  And therein lies the problem.  If you’re an NBA team in one of the “uncool” cities, and you draft a generational talent, they’re most likely going to bolt as soon as they’re humanly possible for one of the “it” cities of the NBA.

Fresh off the heels of the Durant announcement, the incomparable Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports, announced that free agent centre Pau Gasol had elected to sign with the San Antonio Spurs for two years at 30 million dollars with a player option in year two.  The lure of playing for Greg Popovich and the San Antonio program was too strong for Gasol to overcome as he would end up spurning the Toronto Raptors and the Portland Trailblazers.  How convenient for Gasol to overlook two of the NBA’s “lesser” markets.

The Raptors brought along Drake on this ride hoping his strong ties to the basketball community would entice free agents to sign in Toronto.  But Drake’s star power wasn’t enough to even get a meeting with marquee free agents.  Neither was the prospect of playing with Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan, two of the NBA’s lesser light free agents.  Or a team that was two wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.

The fact of the matter is, the NBA has never been favorable to the Raptors, they have held the first overall pick only once in Franchise history and bungled that with Andrea Bargnani.  Had they gone with LaMarcus Aldridge who is now in San Antonio, he’d have been a good soldier for Toronto before taking his immense abilities to one of the “sexier” NBA cities like he did to the Trailblazers.

So here’s my solution to the NBA, contract the following franchises:

Toronto, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Indiana, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Portland, Utah, Denver, Minnesota, Sacramento, Phoenix, Memphis and New Orleans.

Play the rest of your league’s existence with the following:

New York, Chicago, Miami, Golden State, Clippers, Lakers, San Antonio, Dallas, Brooklyn and Houston.

You can have a ten team league, have all of you major markets in one big, happy, exclusive family where all the super friends can fall in love with each other and spend the rest of their playing lives together.  How do you spread around the players who are on the other teams?  It’s easy, we’ll have a dispersal draft to stack the league on all 10 rosters.

We’ll have the draft in traditional order, from worst to first.  Your viewership will be up in your major markets and you can live without the rest of us.  Here are the players to disperse, while everyone else can play in the National Basketball League in Canada.

Toronto:

DeMar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, Cory Joseph and DeMarre Carroll

Philadelphia:

Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Ben Simmons

Cleveland:

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson

Indiana:

Paul George, Monta Ellis, and Jeff Teague

Detroit:

Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson

Milwaukee:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and Greg Monroe

Atlanta:

Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard and George Hill

Charlotte:

Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Washington:

John Wall, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris

Orlando:

Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier

Oklahoma City:

Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams

Portland:

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum

Utah:

Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward

Denver:

Jamaal Murray, Will Barton and Kenneth Faried

Minnesota:

Andrew Wiggins, Kris Dunn, Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns

Sacramento:

DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay

Phoenix:

Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler

Memphis:

Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Chandler Parsons

New Orleans:

Buddy Hield, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans

NBA dispersal draft round 1

Lakers – LeBron James
Nets – Russell Westbrook
Knicks – Anthony Davis
Rockets – Damian Lillard
Bulls – Kyrie Irving
Mavericks – John Wall
Celtics – Paul George
Heat – DeMarcus Cousins
Spurs – Kyle Lowry
Warriors – Marc Gasol

NBA dispersal draft round 2

Lakers – Mike Conley
Nets – Andrew Wiggins
Knicks – DeMar DeRozan
Rockets – Karl-Anthony Towns
Bulls – Giannis Antetokounmpo
Mavericks – Damien Lillard
Celtics – Bradley Beal
Heat – Jabari Parker
Spurs – Andre Drummond
Warriors – Tristan Thompson

NBA dispersal draft round 3

Lakers – Jonas Valanciunas
Nets – Derrick Favors
Knicks – Jeff Teague
Rockets – Kevin Love
Bulls – Paul Millsap
Mavericks – Gordon Hayward
Celtics – Ben Simmons
Heat – Zach Randolph
Spurs – Zach LaVine
Warriors – Cory Joseph

NBA dispersal draft round 4

Lakers – Joel Embiid
Nets – Jrue Holiday
Knicks – Chandler Parsons
Rockets – Jahlil Okafor
Bulls – Dwight Howard
Mavericks – George Hill
Celtics – Kris Dunn
Heat – DeMarre Carroll
Spurs – Jamaal Murray
Warriors – Buddy Hield

NBA dispersal draft round 5

Lakers – Victor Oladipo
Nets – Nerlens Noel
Knicks – Monta Ellis
Rockets – Ricky Rubio
Bulls – Rudy Gay
Mavericks – Steven Adams
Celtics – Greg Monroe
Heat – Reggie Jackson
Spurs – Kenneth Faried
Warriors – Aaron Gordon

NBA dispersal draft round 6

Lakers – Tyreke Evans
Nets – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Knicks – Markieff Morris
Rockets – C.J. McCollum
Bulls – Eric Bledsoe
Mavericks – Evan Fournier
Celtics – Kemba Walker
Heat – Will Barton
Spurs – Khris Middleton
Warriors – Tyson Chandler

There you have it, a league full of stars and superstars with none of the markets that you don’t care about, polluting your association.

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