Free agency — the time when contracts have expired and players are able to visit other teams and sign actual deals — doesn’t begin until Tuesday
at 2 p.m. 1 p.m. (I forgot the country changes time this weekend and we do not) Arizona time. But at 10 p.m. tonight, for the first time (at least, within the rules), agents for free agents-to-be and teams other than the free agent’s own can discuss contracts.
The rules are this: A player has to have an agent to make this work. If the player is self-represented, he’s stuck waiting until Tuesday. No travel for the player can happen or even be planned. But a contract can be discussed and, in theory, reached.
“I think it’s fair to say that everybody will be interested to see how it works out, what the results of it are,” said former general manager Bill Polian, who now works for ESPN but was on the competition committee when the new rule was first discussed. “I wouldn’t say everybody was enthusiastic about it. We all had some reservation.
“But, on balance, I think it’s fair to say that we felt that it was something that would at least bring some organization to what had been a very chaotic process. Agents can talk to clubs, they can go back to the old club with what one would assume would be a bona fide offer or some parameters. They can gauge who is interested and who is not interested. All of those things may bring a little more organization to it than had previously existed. But I’m going to be as anxious as you to see if we come out of the box with deals at 4:01 p.m., or if it serves as a way to sort of set the market before people begin to do deals.”
Polian noted the NBA’s way of doing business. There is a significant lag-time in pro basketball from the time free agency gets underway and the time actual contracts or trades can be executed. In the NBA, it has to do with how long it takes to set the salary cap. But often in that league, many deals are agreed upon and reach the world news before they can actually be executed.
“My study of it is they pretty much get all these deals done during the so called talking period, which is longer than ours, as I understand it. Then after the first flurry, then the market settles down.” Polian said. “Even if that were the case with our league, my personal opinion would be that that would be a good thing.”
So free agency will start, even if nothing can be officially done. I have no doubt some players will “switch” teams this weekend without officially switching teams. Here we go.
Tags: free agency
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