The Phoenix Suns have been right in the middle of a whirlwind free agency period.
They've attempted to pull of the unrealistic in chasing New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon, traded their superstar Steve Nash to the rival Los Angeles Lakers and signed two unrestricted free agents (as soon as the Gordon situation comes to a conclusion) Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley.
Moke Hamilton from SheridanHoops.com wrote a well done, interesting story about how the CBA impacted what went down this summer:
Prior to the 2011 CBA, extensions were commonplace. Back in 2004, Bryant cut against the grain when he became an unrestricted free agent only to re-sign with the Lakers - although by doing so, he was able to get a rare no-trade clause. For the most part, a player who wished to remain with his team would continually extend his contract when he became eligible to do so. After being drafted by the Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett played his first three seasons under a rookie scale deal before signing a six-year extension in 1998 that would pay him $126 million to remain with the Timberwolves.
Garnett then signed a five-year extension in 2004 and another three-year extension prior to the 2007 trade that sent him to the Boston Celtics. And on June 30, the day before his contract with the Boston Celtics was set to expire; Garnett agreed to extend his contract for three more years.
Technically, Garnett has never been a free agent. And in days past, that wasn't uncommon.
However, the 2011 CBA saw the NBA's owners crack down on extensions and "extend-and-trade" scenarios. Carmelo Anthony became the poster child for an extend-and-trade deal, but he only followed Kevin Garnett's example.
The bottom line here, though, is that under the terms of the 2011 CBA, a player extending his contract may not extend the contract beyond the fourth season in the future. So, if Player X has two years left on his current deal, his extension cannot be for more than two additional years.
Deron Williams opted out of the final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets and became an unrestricted free agent. Shortly after 9 p.m. in Las Vegas, he signed a new five-year contract worth nearly $100 million. Had he opted to extend his then existing contract with the Nets, he would have opted into his 2012-2013 contract year and could have only signed a three-year extension, giving him four guaranteed years.
Under the 2011 CBA, the same rule applies to an extend-and-trade, with the difference being that under any such agreement, a player may not extend the contract beyond the third season in the future. So in essence, by executing an extend-and-trade deal, a player is receiving two less guaranteed years of income than if he became a free agent and re-signed with the team holding his Bird rights.
That's why it would behoove Dwight Howard to not extend his contract with any team and go the route that Williams did. Accept a trade, become a free agent, and re-sign.
The moral of this story is that the NBA's owners sought to make it more difficult for modern players like Anthony to execute extend-and-trades and they removed the incentive for doing so by shaving a year off.
The problem? In the process, and in practice, they've made it more attractive to any player and any agent that understands the new system and new rules to become a free agent.
I apologize for the really long excerpt, but it does an excellent job explaining why it makes sense for players to become free agents instead of signing extensions.
I do think there is one angle that Moke Hamilton missed and it's extremely important.
This is exactly what the NBA wants. David Stern and Adam Silver plus all the owners aren't dumb.
The CBA was signed the summer after the 2010 free agent Bonanza including the insane LeBron James saga. The NBA was in the news cycle consistently during that time. What the owners created in the new CBA ensures players become free agents instead of signing the extensions as Hamilton explained.
It was a genius move by the owners. Instead of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard signing extensions they ensured the players have to go to free agency in turn creating more stories and attention. Essentially it's free advertising.
Think about how much run Deron Williams picking between the Mavericks and Nets got. If D-Will was going to be able to make more money signing an extension, he would have re-upped during the season and you lose all the exposure that decision brought. Air time on Sportscenter, stories from national NBA writers, twitter, Facebook and other avenues of social media were filled with constant updates.
It stinks that it's this way, but what got more attention Kevin Durant signing his extension or LeBron James' decision?
The NBA's job is to stay in the twenty four hours a day, seven day a week, 12 month a year news cycle. How the NBA and NBAPA arranged for this new CBA ensures they will.