Recently, Brandon Jennings expressed his desire to look into large market options rather than sign an extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. While, I don’t fault players for ever looking at their options when free agency strikes, the comments spoke to an important issue for any front office to recognize. If you draft talent that you want to keep and build around the stakes are higher to do what it takes to keep the talent on your team.
In light of this, and the many other high-profile players to change teams in recent years (James, Anthony, Bosh, Paul, etc.) it seemed like a worthwhile endeavour to look at why players choose to switch teams when they hit free agency. Here is my list of why players pick a team as they top free agency destination.
1 – Money
The list starts off with the most obvious. Some players are so talented that they can think about more than just money, but many are going to follow where the money is in order to take care of their financial future. Even though NBA players get paid handsomely, the implications of the collective bargaining agreement will impact players who are in the middle tier of talent.
2 – Playing Time
A player always wants to go where their wanted, but also where they can contribute. It may be nice to receive a contract, but if you never get to utilize your skill on the floor, then it is not as rewarding.
3 – Best Chance to Win
Many players may view playing in the NBA simply as their job, others view it as an opportunity to leave their mark on the game and leave a legacy. Kobe Bryant is a great example of this mindset. He recently reached number 5 on the all time scoring list, and in the interviews after the game starting talking about trying to win championship ring number six.
4 – Bigger Market
Playing in a bigger market can mean more options for endorsement deals and other options to supplement income. This is a big consideration for some who wish to earn extra money other than their NBA contract and who want to build their “brand” beyond the basketball court.
5 – Playing with a Certain Player
Ever since we saw LeBron James and Chris Bosh leave their teams to partner with Dwyane Wade in Miami it appears forming groups of power players is the new thing. While this trend goes against the traditions of how teams came together, it certainly has to be considered by a player in a free agency situation. Who wouldn’t want to pair up with a friends to make life on the road more enjoyable.
The next five in quick order:
6 – Coaching, 7 – Ownership, 8 – Weather, 9 – State Income Tax, 10 – Family and Friends in area
There are many more reasons that could be mentioned in the list but these seem like the ones being talked about in the league at present. I believe it is the players choice and right to take his skills where ever they are in demand in the open market. I believe that one or more of the reasons above play a role in their decision. If I am in the front office I am considering these options and trying to build the team in a sustainable way to ensure that a few of the reasons above are available so the player doesn’t have to consider leaving.
Consider Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder. The OKC market is much smaller than all of the other teams in the NBA, but Durant has been doing just fine in endorsement deals, he recently signed an extension, and he gets to play with some of the best young talent in the league with also having a shot at winning big each year.
Players move teams each year for a variety of reasons. The key as a front office is to attract and retain the players that are key to your system. In the case of Brandon Jennings, though he may not be a LeBron James, he is a talented point guard who a lot of teams would desire. Though the Bucks want to keep him, they are a smaller market and more importantly, a team that does not have a track record of winning. I am curious to see what Jennings does and how the elements above came into consideration for him as free agency nears.