NBA Needs to Adopt NFL's "Franchise Tag" Rule
In the past 12 months we've seen several of the NBA's most prominent players bolt from their teams - leaving devastated owners and fan bases in their wake.
LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavs last summer for the Miami Heat. The Cavs have become a glorified D-League team and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert potentially lost $100M in franchise value.
Chris Bosh, the cornerstone of the Raptors left Toronto for Miami.
Amare Stoudemire one of the cornerstones of the Suns left Phoenix last summer for greener pastures and a bigger media market in New York with the Knicks.
Carmelo Anthony forced a trade to the New York Knicks this week leaving the Denver Nuggets searching for an identity.
And finally, Deron Williams, the face of the Utah Jazz, was traded to the New Jersey Nets as the Jazz obviously felt now was the time to trade Williams instead of enduring their own Melo-drama. Williams is set to become a free agent after next season.
There's already talk that Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic will bolt their teams for a bigger market in 2012 when their contracts expire.
The time has come for the NBA to adopt the NFL's strategy of allowing small market teams to keep their star players - the franchise tag.
The franchise tag has worked in the NFL and allowed small market teams to tag and retain their best players. The rule has also allowed the NFL to be a league of parity.
The NBA is quickly becoming a league of "have's" and "have not's". Stars in smaller markets are bolting for bigger markets, with more media exposure, where they can land lucrative endorsements. And most importantly the stars can join forces with their friends on the big stage.
The franchise tag will also keep mega agencies like CAA from dictating to owners and fans where the stars will be playing. If an owner tags a player like LeBron, Carmelo or Deron Williams, the player won't be able to leave for a bigger market.
If the NBA is not careful, there will be 5-7 teams that have a legitimate shot to win the title each year and the other teams will become doormats for those teams.
What's been great about the NBA is that teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers have been able to compete with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
League's need parity. Its great to have the Lakers, Yankees and Cowboys as your super powers. But its also good for the Green Bay Packers, San Antonio Spurs and St. Louis Cardinals to be able to field championship teams in smaller markets.
I for one, hope the NBA adopts the franchise tag in the next CBA. If not, I think most of the league's owners are going to find themselves in no position to compete with the big markets.
The franchise tag works for both owners and players. Owners/fans can retain their star players and players earn big money when they are tagged.
NBA Commissioner Stern needs to make this happen or his league is going to alienate a large majority of the league's fan base who continue to lose their team's stars to bigger markets.