The NBA’s New Free Agency Rules Are Worthless

Free agency is a circus and there’s nothing the league can do about it.

Some things just can’t be controlled no matter how hard you try.

That was a lesson that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the rest of the league learned this weekend as free agency completely took over social media.

“You already know where Kevin Durant (Nets), Kyrie Irving (Nets), DeAndre Jordan (Nets), Kemba Walker (Celtics), Klay Thompson (Warriors) and Kristaps Porzingis (Mavs) are going, so tune in as we discuss Kawhi Leonard and what the Lakers and Clippers will do with their cap space,” wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Arash Markazi on Sunday at 5:46 PM EST.

On May 15th, it was reported that the league was implementing a new policy on free agency, and nine days later it was official.

“The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today an agreement to modify the time at which teams can begin negotiating with free agents.

Teams and players will now be permitted to begin free agent negotiations at 6 p.m. ET on June 30 – six hours earlier than the previous start time of 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1.

By league rules, teams also will be permitted to communicate with free agents or their representative beginning at 6 p.m. ET on June 29 solely for the purpose of scheduling a meeting to take place at after 6 p.m. ET on June 30.”

Nobody stuck to the rules. And to be honest, I don’t think the league ever expected them to.

On Friday, it was reported that Klay Thompson was staying with the Warriors.

And on Saturday, before 6:00, we knew that Kemba Walker and Terry Rozier were swapping teams. It was also reported that Derrick Rose was headed to Detroit, Nikola Vucevic wasn’t leaving Orlando, and that Kyrie Irving was indeed headed to Brooklyn.

All bets were off on Sunday as Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes broke the Kevin Durant to Brooklyn news at 4:53 PM, as most of the major names in free agency had already made their decisions public before 6:00 besides Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Al Horford.

“This whole idea of tampering is hilarious…the amount of shenanigans that took place before 6 pm today is unreal,” tweeted Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks.

In a season in which tampering became a consistent theme, the new free agency rules were put in place to shut down tampering as much as it could.

But yet again, the rules weren’t followed.

The Los Angeles Lakers were disciplined three times in less than 12 months for tampering, as Magic Johnson caught a $50,000 fine for talking about Giannis Antetokounmpo, while general manager Rob Pelinka had previously caused the franchise to pay a $500,000 fine last summer for being in contact with Paul George’s agent while he was with the Indiana Pacers.

We also saw Doc Rivers get fined for commenting on Kawhi Leonard on ESPN,  while the Milwaukee Bucks and Anthony Davis also had to cut the league checks for either publicly discussing another player or publicly demanding a trade.

When you take a step back and realize all the moves that have taken place, and will continue to get done over the next couple of days, it’s another example of how the NBA has become the most entertaining and dominant league in American professional sports.

In the past few weeks alone, we’ve witnessed arguably the most drama-filled NBA Finals of all time, Zion and the draft, the 2019 NBA Awards, and now free agency. And don’t forget, Summer League games start this week. The league has found a way to control headlines even when they aren’t any games.

It’s become a snowball effect, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. The league just has to accept it and get with the times.

The only problem is that they have to come up with a system that can keep up with the speed of Adrian Wojnarowski’s words per minute.

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