If the NBA operated under the NFL’s rules, Kevin Durant would still be in Oklahoma City.
That’s because football teams can use a franchise tag each year to lock up their best free agent for another season. That allows them to try to work out a long-term contract while preventing the player from negotiating with other teams.
After receiving the franchise tag, the player receives either 120% of his previous year’s salary or the average of the top five salaries at his position throughout the league, whichever number is higher. It’s a price the Thunder would have gladly paid to keep Durant in their lineup for another season while trying to work out a longer deal.
As we count down toward the expected reopening of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement in December, many owners want to adopt some form of the franchise tag. The concept had several vocal supporters at an owners’ meeting last month in Las Vegas, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
Such a measure would gives teams in smaller markets, such as Oklahoma City, a better shot at retaining their own free agents. It would also discourage the formation of “super teams” like the Warriors who have many league observers concerned about competitive balance.
While not publicly endorsing a franchise tag, Commissioner Adam Silver is among those who believe the current arrangement needs to be tweaked.
“I do think to maintain those principles that I discussed in terms of creating a league in which every team has the opportunity to compete, I think we do need to re-examine some of the elements of our system so that I’m not here next year or the year after again talking about anomalies,” Silver said. “There are certain things, corrections we believe we can make in the system.”
The players union is strongly opposed to a franchise tag, and Bontemps speculates that it could be one of the most divisive issues during the next round of negotiations. The union is fighting for more player control and wants to see free agency arrive earlier rather than later. Players see the nine years Durant spent with the Thunder franchise as long enough and believe he earned the right to play wherever he desires.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Does the NBA need a provision similar to the franchise tag that will level the playing field in free agency, or do the players deserve full free agency without more restrictions? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.