The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers had a very entertaining buyout market, bolstering their squads with a couple of signings that confirm their status as the favorites to win the championship this season.
The Nets started things off by signing Blake Griffin, who was bought out by the Detroit Pistons. After that, they secured the services of LaMarcus Aldridge, who was waived by the San Antonio Spurs after the trade deadline. They received a lot of criticism for adding more veteran players to their already powerful squad. Steve Nash said that they didn't do anything illegal and the team was ready to keep improving its level.
On the other end, the Los Angeles Lakers landed a very good player in Andre Drummond, who was bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 27-year-old was probably the hottest name in the market and the Lakers were the winner of this very good signing. All these moves didn't sit well around the league and rival executives are reportedly working to make some changes that won't favor big-market teams in the upcoming seasons.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, seeing the moves the Lakers and Nets did, executives are pushing for the league to make some changes in the process of signings after the trade deadline.
The NBA is hearing the renewed calls from small-market executives to overhaul the buyout free-agency system, an insistence that the odds are unfairly weighted against them and that the salary-cap system has been contorted to satisfy the glamour markets' supply of star talent for championship runs.
With Andre Drummond going to the Los Angeles Lakers and Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge to the Brooklyn Nets, there are front-office executives determined to push the commissioner's office to reexamine the process of post-trade-deadline buyouts. If the clear-eyed reality is that these players are simply faded All-Stars released from the back end of expensive contracts, the visual of them flocking to superteam rosters in two marquee markets does cast a chilling impact on the league's collective psyche.
Whatever the front-office objections, the NBA will counter with this data: Over the past 15 years, there are 39 buyout players who averaged two games and 10 minutes per NBA playoff round. Twenty were signed into top-15 markets -- and 19 into the rest. Out of the 13 of 39 players joining teams that advanced to the conference championship, three were signed in top-15 markets. It has always been rare for buyout players to sway playoff destinies and championship chases, but the pursuit of them is forever intensive.
Wojnarowski adds that teams are already trying to find alternatives to the current process, which could favor small-market players and change their fate in a season.
As a way to recapture some control of the process, NBA GMs have discussed pursuit of everything from a blind bidding system, similar to how amnesty claims have functioned; a compensatory draft provision that delivers second-round picks from the players' new team to the old one; even moving the buyout market ahead of the trade deadline to make it harder for agents and players to manipulate the process.
The NBA has never brought legislation for the Competition Committee or the Board of Governors to vote on, nor made recalibrating the rules on buyout free agency an issue in Collective Bargaining talks with the National Basketball Players Association. The union will always side on the freedom of movement for players, so they'll stay on the side of status quo -- unless there's something of significance to trade on in CBA talks.
The NBA does want to find a way to make the buyout pool players available to more teams than only the contenders, sources say, but that's hard to do without significant changes to the process. That'll take the league pushing hard on the NBPA -- with an understanding that its agents and players will want to push back. For all of the difficult CBA discussions ahead on the league's financial system, it'll take more than just front office executives to drive significant change. Owners will have to take up the cause, and they'll have to make it a priority to change.
These are very interesting ideas and the league has a lot of material to work with. Time will say what they're going to do but they're always trying to make a more competitive league for everybody. This could be a very good option to do so.