The Excitement of Free Agency
When it comes to professional sports, the games themselves are exciting, but everyone loves a good round of switcheroo. That’s the spirit of NBA free agency, which can end up being a whirlwind 24 to 48 hours where the nonstop speculation since the end of the NBA Finals resolves itself. For basketball fans, but really sports fans in general, free agency is an unpredictable time that makes everyone giggle with delight at the plethora of possibilities.
What makes this year’s round of free agency compelling is that it has the potential to drastically change the balance of power across the league. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson, all All-Stars, are free agents and their decisions will change the favored teams in the coming season.
Even though Kevin Durant, in all likelihood, will not play next year after tearing his Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, his free agent signing will signal a shift in the balance of power in the league. Considering that excitement about sports is a year-long thing, looking forward to free agency really shouldn’t be anything special, but this year’s edition of NBA Guess Who? sparks so much interest precisely because it is not ordinary.
It is not ordinary for five perennial All-Stars to all be available in the same offseason. It is not ordinary for free agency to have the potential to completely change the championship landscape of the league. But most of all, it is not ordinary to see potential contracts whose average annual values are higher than the entire salary cap 15 years ago. On average, these top-flight free agents should anticipate signing contracts with AAVs of $35 million.
But no matter what happens, the crucial questions surrounding free agency become apparent in October, when the regular season starts. Can these new players gel with their new teammates? Do their new coaches’ systems work with their skill sets? Will they be able to substantially improve their new teams’ performances? Whatever the answers to those questions are will determine whether all the courtships were worth it.