NBA Free Agency: Why Lockout Was a Total Failure
We haven't even reached the signing period of the 2012 NBA Free Agency market, yet we have one of the craziest offseasons in recent memory.
While all the talk is around the players and their money, most of the talk should be about how the NBA owners—the same ones that locked out their players to keep them from controlling everything in the league—have failed miserably in their efforts.
The 2011 NBA lockout saw players and owners arguing over money. The players felt they deserved some more while the owners wanted to be able to control more of what they were paying out.
Not only did the lockout not work for the owners, it may have only caused them to take a massive step back in their efforts.
Let's take a look at some of the reasons behind the failure of the lockout based on the offseason thus far.
Massive Contracts Still an Issue
Deron Williams: the one free agent who deserved a massive contract.
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
One of the biggest issues for the owners was having to pay players massive amounts of money in free agency.
Normally, teams are more willing to write those big checks to those who already play for them. Case in point: Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets.
Williams was, easily, the most talented free agent on the open market. He was receiving interest from his 2011-12 team, Brooklyn, and his hometown team, Dallas. In the end, Williams ended up re-signing with the Nets for five years and $100 million. Not a bad deal for a seasoned veteran who ranks amongst the top players in the NBA.
While Williams may be the definition of a solid deal, there have been numerous horrible deals agreed to so far this offseason.
For instance, as I wrote in this previous article highlighting the overrated free agents in the class, guys such as Jeremy Lin and Omar Asik are receiving loaded contract offers for little or minimal production.
In the case of Lin, he had a remarkable run with the New York Knicks before falling to an injury that ended his season. While he played well, Lin was limited to only to 35 total games with the Knicks. Now, after his short run, he's being offered a poison-pill contract by the Houston Rockets, a deal that could go as high as four years and $40 million.
An average of $10 million for a player that's been in the league for two seasons and who produced in only 35 games? Even though the first few years would be lower than the last one or two, that's still a lot of money being thrown his way.
This is exactly the kind of thing owners were trying to avoid in the lockout: loaded contracts to players for no reason other than that they won't sign anything less.
Of course, Houston is the one offering the contract, and they could have not offered up that sort of money. But is there any other way the Rockets could have gotten Lin if they didn't offer up that sort of money? Probably not.
Now, Lin is just the one example being used for this subject. It is in no way singling him out. He was just the best example.
Owners wanted to avoid massive contracts on a consistent basis. Having to pay players that sort of money handcuffs the owners for the rest of their roster. It also costs other players, role players most importantly, and allows the opportunity to get a favorable contract as well.
This does not bode well for overall team-building for most teams in the league.
Players Still Call Most of the Shots
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
So you fire your head coach, your general manager and have a written agreement for your top star stick around another year. Normally, this would be a good sign you have another year to build a winning team, right?
Yes, unless your star player is Dwight Howard and you are the Orlando Magic.
Even after signing a termination of his opt-out clause in his contract to commit to the Magic for the 2012-13 season, Howard has, again, asked to be traded. Then, when the Magic threatened not to trade him, Howard tried to seek legal action against the Magic saying he "felt blackmailed" into agreeing to stay in Orlando.
So much for having control of the players you have under contract, huh?
The never ending saga that is Dwight Howard's trade demands will, hopefully, soon come to an end. For the sake of the Magic, the NBA and its fans, it needs to end.
Beyond all of this comes the fact that owners have even less control over players, star players no less, than ever before.
Orlando has bent itself backwards and revamped their entire organization. Yet, they will lose Howard because of his inability to commit to anything. Howard may be a dramatic example, but he could very well just be the start of a horrible trend for NBA owners.
Who's stopping other players who come into the league and have huge egos, from doing the same thing Howard is doing? Demanding trades is one thing, that happens all the time in sports. However, it's the fact that the entire organization looks different because of Howard's demands and now he won't even be around to see those changes through.
NBA owners should take note: avoid players that have the potential to be another Howard or your entire organization could end up in the tubes. Much like where the Magic are right now.
Putting Olympic Players, Themselves at Risk
photo courtesy: sidelinestoriez.com
When the lockout ended, it meant that the NBA schedule would be dramatically condensed in order to fill a certain number of games. This number (66) would be used to make the season worth playing. Also, this meant tighter schedules and more back-to-back games for each team.
Because of this fact, the health of players was at an all-time (high) risk level. Not only did that affect some players throughout the regular season and the playoffs, but it also will affect those playing for the Men's Olympic National Team this summer in London.
Now, it may only be 12 players playing for Team USA, but they are also the biggest names the NBA has to offer.
With the biggest names and the best players continuing to play competitively throughout the summer, these same players have the potential to be completely drained by the start of next season.
Obviously, this isn't the first time Team USA has been assembled of the best in the NBA, but it is the first time those players are coming off of a condensed season, right into Olympic play and back into regular basketball.
NBA owners who have players on the National Team should be scared of fatigue and potential injury come November. Had the lockout been resolved in time to satisfy the normal NBA schedule, the risk wouldn't be as high as it is right now.
Owners and organizations must now hope that their players do not get injured, or completely drained physically, while representing the United States, or they will be kicking themselves for extending the lockout as far as it did.
One Huge Mess
Welcome the new group of players who will soon run the league.
Right now, even after a successful 2011-12 NBA season, the league and its owners are in a flux in terms of players and money control.
The entire purpose for the owners to continue the lockout the way they did was to control their capital and what players earn. Owners also wanted to be able to protect their investments (players) better than before.
With all the lucrative contracts (mostly being offered to unproven, younger players), having the players choose their own paths even while under contract and the possibility of players sustaining injuries due to increased work loads, owners are on the losing end of this lockout.
Overall, the players still run the league and management must bow down to them until further notice. In the end, the lockout was a waste of time for the owners seeking control over their teams.
Players run the NBA. It appears there is no stopping them from doing so for a long time.