Wednesday , May , 19 , 2010 J.N.

The Invisibility of NBA Small Market Teams

The 2010 Draft Lottery is over. The results are in.

The draft is supposed to help bad teams rebuild. The free agency system is designed to help teams who need that shot in the arm with a star. Or better yet, stars have the option to get out of a bad hopeless situation while seeking the extra dollars. Sometimes these things are difficult to see because the process usually becomes a circus or traveling freak show. Wait a minute. That’s one and the same.

Shaquille O’Neal was the biggest free agent during in 1996. Almost every team went after him. The hoopla was only captured in newspapers and big networks. The huge drawback was we truly do not know what teams offered or what persuasive package they concocted to get a guy to join up. One can only imagine. Shaq eventually signed with the Los Angeles Lakers – a huge market team. Today, LeBron James is at the center along with other huge name free agents. Thanks to the internet, we find out that the New York Knicks has already blitzed Bron with a lot of things already indirectly such as a night club offering free lap dances for life and purchasing power in stock. Los Angeles Clipper fans are planning a parade. As for the other teams, who knows what they will offer?

This is where small city teams lose out.

Small market teams such as Sacramento and Indiana don’t have resources like that. Sacramento can offer free cowbells and Indiana can offer farmer’s daughters. The latter sounds great though. Big markets offer more opportunities to make money, exposure, and an entertaining night life. How can any tiny blip city on a map compete with that? The free agency period is where small cities literally become invisible.

The theory is that the draft should help small cities that can’t compete with the big markets. However, that has not been helping either; not that much anyway. Did you see how disappointed Danny Granger was after confirming the 10th pick? He represented the Indiana Pacers. He must have been thinking, “Damn. I’m stuck with second rate players for the rest of my career.” Then there are other cases where drafted players do not even want to play for the small city team that chose them. They look dissatisfied and demand trades. How does the league stop the “trades” part in that context? Steve Francis is an extreme example.

I was hoping the entire time that Indiana won the draft. I also predicted during the intense reveal of the draft order that New Jersey will not get the number one pick. I kid you not. Sadly, I don’t have proof to record my uber prediction. New Jersey wants the pick just to entice LeBron James to sign on. If they won the draft, the whole process is rigged because for the past year they have been pining to land it. This wasn’t a mystery. They truly wanted to accommodate Bron at all costs. However, the basketball Gods didn’t let that happen. Besides, they’re already stockpiled with talent such as Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Jay Z, Chris Douglas Roberts, Courtney Lee, and Terrence Williams.

The Washington Wizards won the draft. Good for them. They lost the entire team recently and they are not a big market either; better that they got it instead of the huge popular teams because the process of acquiring amazing talent is truly unbalanced during free agency. Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Sacramento got great positions. New Jersey got the 3rd pick. That’s about right. It’s too bad that there is no way to circumvent teams tanking for draft status. I suppose the basketball Gods have to figure that one out. It’s also bad enough that there is no way to fix the problems plaguing the free agent process since the pipsqueak teams are severely handicapped.

Unless small city teams relocate to big cities, how can the NBA fix the free agent system so that they can compete alongside big cities? Are there any ways? My mind is fried. Perhaps more free lap dances could help.


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