Former NBA All-Star forward and current broadcaster for TNT Charles Barkley, loves to say things just to get a reaction. He also has no problems acting the fool at times; and he is certainly no stranger to controversy as he has taken on all sorts of sacred cows during his time as one of the hosts of “Inside The NBA.” However, deep down Barkley is an intelligent man filled with insight on life in general, and the Association in particular.
Friday the former power forward was in Springfield, Mass. attending the induction ceremonies for the 2011 class of the Basketball Hall Of Fame. According to a report from the “New York Daily News” Barkley contends that NBA Team Owners want to radically alter the current system of Free Agency in the Association. Barkley told reporters “‘When you have a player like LeBron going to Miami, owners have a problem with that. Teams like Cleveland, to do well and increase in value, they need to keep their star players. This isn’t like baseball where one team can put a bunch of stars together.”
As a reporter who covered the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1995-2006, I had a chance to see how the fortunes of the club skyrocketed once they acquired James with the first pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. The Cavaliers went from being the fourth team in a three team market; to the most sought after ticket in the city of Cleveland. Before LBJ started playing for the team the arena they played their home games in then named Gund Arena, was always cold and attracted very few fans. Once James was drafted, it was as if the circus had come to town; and the team as well as the city benefitted.
I have suggested that the NBA adopt a policy similar to one in the NFL, in which any team can designate one player on their roster as a “Franchise Player.” The team would have to pay the athlete a salary that matches the average of the salaries of the top three highest paid players at their position. The club would then have a year to try to sign the player to a long-term deal; or trade him as Denver did with Carmelo Anthony and Utah did with Deron Williams this past season.
This system would be a win/win for all involved, as the player would receive an equitable salary for one season while trying to work out a deal; while the team could get value back for an All-Star, unlike what happened in Cleveland. Now if the powers that be are smart enough to implement this system, it just might make all sides very happy in the long run.