Friday , Nov , 07 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Steve Francis, Sam Cassell, and now Antonio McDyess? Why Stern and NBA must change buyout laws

But the NBA must create better measures to protect and preserve its integrity. One simple step is reworking the clause that allows players to be bought-out after a trade and then returning to their old team. Improved rules limiting buyouts before playoffs would also help …

Steve Francis, Sam Cassell, and now Antonio McDyess? Why Stern and NBA must change buyout lawsThe NBA has critics. They complain of conspiracies with the suits patrolling league head office thinking up ways to influence playoff games, lottery picks, and even a franchise’s location.

They point to MJ pushing off on Byron Russell, bitch about New York winning the 1984 draft lottery and the rights to Patrick Ewing, and laugh at the comically close relationship between Commissioner Stern and Seattle Sonic killer Clay Bennett.

I ignore the Oliver Stones. Not because they are necessarily wrong, but because I want them to be wrong. There is a difference. It’s too painful to entertain thoughts that the game I love could in any way be fixed.

Ignorance is bliss, I guess. By the way, who is this Tim Donaghy?               

But the NBA must create better measures to protect and preserve its integrity. One simple step is reworking the clause that allows players to be bought-out after a trade and then returning to their old team. Improved rules limiting buyouts before playoffs would also help.

For example, after this week’s Pistons-Nuggets trade, reports indicate Antonio McDyess doesn’t want to join Denver. The Nuggets and his representatives are currently working out a ‘golden parachute’ on the remaining 13 million dollars on his contract. The forward could, despite being mad at Piston executive Joe Dumars, return to Detroit after a league mandated thirty day cooling off period.   

Obviously, there is no Dumars-McDyess conspiracy. If the pro returns to Detroit, there will be the perception of a backroom deal because the NBA works off connections.

After all, Sam Cassell spent last season lobbying Boston for a contract, while still with Los Angeles. Sure enough, his wish was granted. After much public posturing, the veteran was bought out by the Clippers before the playoffs, picked up by the Celtics, and won a third NBA Title.  

Of course, high profile players like Shawn Kemp, Steve Francis, Alonzo Mourning, Damon Stoudamire, and Chris Webber were all recently paid multi-million dollar buyouts to disappear.

To be clear, I don’t fault or hate on the player. If he can work the system and/or is willing to give up guaranteed money to play for a specific team, so be it. Athletes have a limited window to take advantage of.

I don’t fault the team, either.  If a player is unhappy, doesn’t fit with a specific coach, or wants to be closer to home and is willing to give up guaranteed money, so be it. Teams are in the business of making money and winning. Nothing more.

I put the blame squarely on Commissioner Stern and the NBA. The boys in New York aren’t doing enough or appear to be doing enough to protect the sport. They have created a climate of distrust with customers. And the debacle in Seattle, a poor response to the referee-gambling crisis, and the belief that head office favours big market teams has damaged the league’s credibility.

Enough.

It’s debatable what restricting buyouts would achieve. But introducing transparent legislation on what teams can and can’t do with buyouts would at least temporarily silence the conspiracy critics.  

After all, perception is reality. And the current perception surrounding the NBA isn’t great. Even I can’t ignore the Oliver Stones.

Do you think changing buyout laws will improve the NBA’s image and silence the conspiracy critics? Get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA Tidbits. Photo courtesy of m ahearne.