Deandre Jordan – “Scared” Coward or Pioneer for Change?  Why the NBA Moratorium Should be Lifted

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or so, no doubt you are aware of the famous Deandre Jordan flip-flop.  You know.  “I’m proud to be a Maverick… I think.”  “Wait, I’m proud to be back with the Clippers…I’m pretty sure.”

During the recent league mandated moratorium, the Dallas Mavericks, led by their self-anointed head recruiter, Chandler Parsons, threw a sales pitch that lured the enigmatic L.A. center to Dallas. The promise was that Jordan would be “The Man” in “Big D” and that they would build their team around him.  Disgruntled from being the Clippers’ third wheel for the past six years, that all sounded pretty intriguing. Problem was, Jordan never really wanted to leave LA.  He was a Clipper at heart and, like most humans, just wanted to be shown some love. So, after making a verbal commitment to join the Dallas Mavericks at the beginning of the moratorium period, Jordan reneged and inked a max deal – $88 million – to remain with the Clippers for another four years.

Parsons, who had spent countless hours wining and dining his friend- now ex-friend – with the promise of being the centerpiece in Dallas, immediately cried foul, alluding that Jordan couldn’t handle the pressure of being the focal point and calling him “scared” to lead a team.  Others called him a coward.  The media has been in a frenzy ever since, with both sides of this moral argument being made.   Many believed Jordan, at the very least, owed Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, the courtesy of an explanation.  Others, arguing that the moratorium is just that – a time for teams to discuss deals, but not officially sign – felt that Jordan, still a young man at the age of 26, was fully within his rights to recant.  We’ll leave the moral argument to the media pundits and focus on one issue: Should the current structure of the NBA Moratorium be changed or even eliminated altogether?

The NBA is big business, boasting nearly $5 billion in annual revenue.  It’s the livelihood for many people, not only for the players, but also for the thousands associated with the NBA.   The value of basketball franchises is ever increasing.  Below is a comparison of the estimated value of select franchises:

Team          Estimated Value
LA Lakers       $1, 350,000,000
LA Clippers       $575,000,000
Dallas Mavericks     $765,000,000

This data reflects merely the FORBES estimate of franchise value.  With ex-Microsoft exec, Steve Ballmer, shelling out a cool $2 billion to wrangle the LA Clippers away from embattled Donald Sterling, it’s clear that the actual market value is even higher.

In order to determine whether or not the Moratorium should be changed, let’s first examine exactly what it is.  Starting on July 1st after each season, the NBA designates a period of time, approximately 10 days, in which teams can negotiate with prospective players, but not actually sign contracts. It was put in place to try to avoid the clandestine deals that teams and players were negotiating while they were still under contract.  During this period, the league conducts an audit to determine what the Salary Cap will be for the following year, which goes into effect on the day after the Moratorium is lifted.

There is no question that the NBA owners need the salary cap to police themselves.  Otherwise, the owners would spin out of control trying to sign LeBron James or Anthony Davis to even more insane contracts than they enjoy now.  A look at the NBA Salary Cap by year:

Season       CAP Figure Per Team
2012-13       $58.044 million
2013-14       $58.679 million
2014-15       $63.065 million
2015-16       $70.00 million

Without question, the Deandre Jordan fiasco has been great drama, and although league officials would never come out and say it, they love the attention.  That said, something has to change.  The solution?  Eliminate the Moratorium completely, have the NBA auditors crunch the Cap numbers quicker and begin free agency immediately after the figures has been presented.  That would eliminate most of the problems.

At least Mark Cuban would agree.

Sources:

Forbes 100 must-follow sports business twitter accounts of 2014

Rodney Fort – @rodneyfort    / Christina Settimi – @csettimi

SBR.net, Sports Business Research / http://bit.ly/11AM86U

This blog post was written by Samford University student Carson Howe

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