With the relative value of having a superstar in the NBA, tthe departures of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Deron Williams from their original teams due to either free agency or impending free agency, and the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement To Save Owners From Themselves (TM), it's not really a surprise that whispers have begun regarding the creation of a franchise tag for the NBA. The Chronicle's Mike Monroe took it upon himself to explain the good side of this after the Rockets missed out on Anthony and Williams near the trade deadline.
Encapsulated in the [Anthony] deal was further evidence the NBA's business model is broken, just as commissioner David Stern insists when he tries to rationalize the need for major concessions from the players in talks aimed at getting a new collective bargaining agreement in time to avoid a lockout before next season.
can the Peter Holts and Clay Bennetts of the league hope to survive financially in smaller markets like San Antonio and Oklahoma City?
Yes, poor poor San Antonio. I hope they can still compete in a game dominated by all these big markets. I mean, they've only won 47 or more games in every non-lockout season since 1989-90 sans one, the one where David Robinson was hurt and that gave them the license to draft Tim Duncan. How are they going to make it in this bold new world?
The franchise tag, much like it is in the NFL, is a protection measure not against competitive balance, but against stupidity. The Cleveland Cavaliers had seven years with James to create a winner. Who is the second-best player the Cavaliers acquired in that span? Anderson Varejao? Larry Hughes? Mo Williams? The Cavaliers drafted Carlos Boozer in the second round the same year they drafted James and stupidly let him go in one of the dumbest moves in NBA history. Does this sound like a team that really deserves a franchise player?
How about the Nuggets? They had the same amount of time to build a winner around Carmelo Anthony. While they definitely gave him a much more solid supporting cast with players like Marcus Camby, Andre Miller, and Kenyon Martin, they were also unable to find that second real star that Anthony was looking for. It was widely reported that Anthony wanted to play for the Knicks, but do you think he would have spent any time praying for that if the Knicks hadn't signed Amare Stoudemire in the offseason? Probably not. Amare was out there for both Denver and Cleveland to pick up for years, but everyone focused on his injuries rather than his skills.
Great players want to play with other great players. I know, this is stunning. It turns out that playing with other greats can help you reach the ultimate goal of many players: an NBA championship. Perhaps instead of worrying about ways to shackle great players to bad teams, the management of teams such as the Cavs or Nuggets should focus on trying to win basketball games.
P.S. I doubt this article had much of a chance of running in the Chronicle when the Magic decided to trade Tracy McGrady to the Rockets.