For many NBA fans, the news which came at the end of Thanksgiving weekend that the NBA and players had reached a tentative settlement agreement to the antitrust litigation filed by Carmelo Anthony and others, was likely the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie. In other words, it was good news.
While all signs point to a new collective bargaining agreement being reached later this week and training camp opening soon thereafter, one annual NBA off-season event will likely be met with less fanfare than normal.
That event is the beginning of the free agency contact period. Set to tip-off at 10:00 a.m. EST today, NBA teams can begin contacting free agents to work toward signing them to new contracts with their team.
While there is much speculation about which free agents will land where, today’s kick-off of this period will likely be less eventful than normal.
This is due to the fact that as noted above, a new collective bargaining agreement has not been finalized. Thus, while teams largely have a sense of what the NBA’s new economic structure will look like, they cannot be entirely certain of what the final economic rulebook for teams will look like once the new agreement is adopted. It would not be advisable for teams to begin negotiating with free agents without being fully aware of how much they can offer them salary-wise under the new collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, other than for courting purposes, it does not make sense for teams to begin seeking out free agents until the new collective bargaining agreement is finalized and they know how their salary structure fits under the new salary cap and luxury tax system.
Thus, while news that teams can begin contacting free agents today is a positive reminder that fans are one step closer to seeing a season, fans should not expect a signing frenzy, or for their favorite players to hold hour-long press conferences to announce their decision as to which team they’ll be joining for the protracted 2011-12 NBA season.
However, once the new collective bargaining agreement is signed, diehard NBA fans should plan on refreshing their favorite sports news website frequently, as a flurry of free agency deals will likely be signed shortly thereafter in order to prepare for the start of NBA training camp on December 9, 2011.