Eliminate the NBA Buyout Rule

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By Jared Peterman

Every year, NBA teams and players mutually agree to buyout the remainder of the player’s contract, usually at a lesser cost than what the player is owed, for the chance to join another team.  This action is usually a domino effect from the NBA trade deadline in the middle of February where teams out of contention make a trade for an expiring contract attached with draft picks or a player that will get minutes down the stretch for them.  This also happens with teams out of contention that couldn’t find a trade for the player or promised the player a buyout to allow them to play for a contender, while the team plays younger guys.

This year, the buyout rule seemed to go to an extreme.  Useful veterans like Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, Terrance Jones, Jose Calderon, and Matt Barnes were all bought out by their teams, cleared waivers, and now are free to sign with any team they would like.  The common trend lately for veterans in free agency has been to take less money and in some cases, less minutes to play for the Cavaliers or Warriors.  Teams like the Houston Rockets even made trades during the deadline that looked useless to create more money in their buyout wallet for these players.

The verbal agreement signings have already begun as the Cavs will sign Williams and Bogut after clearing waivers at 5 P.M. to boost their bench down the stretch and in the playoffs.  The Warriors agreed to sign Calderon, but after the injury to Kevin Durant, they plan to waive him and sign Barnes instead, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.  The current three seed in the East, the Washington Wizards, are also reaping the benefits by signing Jennings to backup John Wall, a need all season.

This rule seems outrageous in a sense.  It’s almost like playing fantasy football when a team out of contention drops a solid fringe starter after the trade deadline to help another team out.

Yes, teams save some money on the end of the player’s contract, but it’s not like the teams will go bankrupt if they pay the player’s full contract.

Yes, teams out of contention want their younger guys to play and clear some roster spots to try out some of their D-Leaguers, but why can’t they just bench the veteran or make them inactive?

Buyouts happen every year, and most years, the players aren’t of the caliber as this year’s buyout market, but it’s to a point where this rule can be abused.  Last year, the big coup was Joe Johnson signing with the Heat, and before that was Caron Butler signing with the Thunder.  Did either team get significantly better or win the title? No, but that doesn’t mean the rule should be allowed.  This year, it almost seems inevitable that Bogut, Williams, or Barnes will play a role in winning a NBA championship.

Why the Warriors Will Repeat

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By Jared Peterman

After being buried 3-1 by Oklahoma City in  the Western Conference Finals, many people doubted and ridiculed the Golden State Warriors for likely not even making the NBA Finals after setting a regular season record of 73-9.  The Warriors saw the end of their season minutes away in each of the final three games of the Western Conference Finals, but didn’t budge. The resilient group from the Bay Area not only came back and won the series, they set up a guaranteed repeat of winning an NBA championship in my eyes. 

Going down 3-1 was the best thing for the Warriors and the worst thing for their Finals counterpart, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors already hold a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals, but these are the reasons why they benefited from being down 3-1:  

Challenged. The Warriors finally faced a challenge in the Thunder. All season long you saw the starters resting during fourth quarters of regular season blowout victories. For the most part, the Warriors strolled to 73 wins without breaking a sweat. Steph Curry getting injured in the playoffs broke the metaphorical sweat. The Warriors lost a game to Houston and Portland in each series, but it wasn’t anywhere close to the challenge they were going to face with OKC. The Thunder’s stars and credentials alone were a challenge, add in a 3-1 deficit and it seemed like an almost impossible task. The Warriors overcame the deficit, living to play in another NBA Finals against an inferior opponent than the Thunder. 

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers simply faced zero challenges throughout their postseason run. Even when Toronto knotted the series at 2-2, did anyone really think it would go to a deciding game seven? No. They breezed their way to the finals only to run into a juggernaut that they hardly have a chance against. Cleveland is facing the challenge of the century: Beat the 73-9 Golden State Warriors in a seven game series who have regained every bit of confidence and swagger known to man. 

Refocused. The OKC series simply refocused the Warriors. Their backs were against the wall. They needed a historical performance by Klay Thompson to even play a Game 7. They saw their historic season crashing down without a NBA Championship ring or banner, let alone a Western Conference Championship. Now they’re here, in their second straight NBA Finals against the same opponent from the year before (just at full strength this time). They simply won’t face pressure in this series because they weren’t supposed to be here after being down 3-1. Game 1 showed this. Steph and Klay shot miserably and they still won by 20. The Warriors are locked in on winning three more games to have another ring, another banner, and another drunken speech by Draymond Green at their parade ceremony. 

Oracle Arena. Home court is crucial in the playoffs, but protecting home court is the difference between winning and losing a series. The Warriors have protected home court throughout the playoffs going 9-1. I previously mentioned Cleveland being tied 2-2 with Toronto, where Cleveland lost at Toronto twice in front of a monstrous crowd. How do you think Oracle Arena compares when the crowd thought their season was over, but now finds itself in the finals again? Well, let’s put it this way: it doesn’t favor Cleveland. OKC stole Game 1 in Oracle, but couldn’t steal another one after that. I can’t see Golden State losing on their home floor again this season after winning Games 2, 5, and 7 in Oracle during the Western Conference Finals. The jolt in Oracle may be even louder now with the confidence gained from the OKC series, and after watching Game 1? Cleveland doesn’t stand a chance in the Bay Area. 

I predicted the Warriors to win the series in five games before the series started: 

https://twitter.com/peterman_24/status/738404042628534272

As of now, it looks great with the Warriors holding a 1-0 lead without having a good first game from Steph or Klay, but getting Lebron James down 0-2 will be the most difficult thing of this series.