The NBA might experience a cataclysmic change to their free-agency period after the events of July 8, 2015. It was the day before the end of the NBA’s free-agency moratorium, and DeAndre Jordan’s ambivalence over his future led to an all-hands-on-deck call to his Clippers teammates that resulted in him reneging on an earlier verbal agreement to sign with the Mavericks and instead re-sign with the Clippers.
So how will DJ’s stunning, last-second reversal change things for the NBA moving forward? One NBA executive thinks it’ll “f*ck up the whole league.”
Before we attempt to answer that unanswerable question (only time will tell), first let’s explain why the NBA has a free-agency moratorium. During that time of the year, no contract can be signed, but players are free to conduct meetings with teams and give a verbal form of commitment to them before they sign the paperwork when the moratorium ends. That verbal commitment used to be as good as a signed contract, at least for other teams. See where we’re going with this?
As the CBA makes clear, verbal agreements in early July don’t count toward the cap, since the cap for the upcoming year is still being figured out during the moratorium miasma. The number itself for the 2015-16 season only broke a few hours before the moratorium was to lift.
This is how Kawhi Leonard was able to verbally agree to re-sign with the Spurs for the maximum allowable under the CBA, but San Antonio was still able to lure LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency. If San Antonio’s verbal agreement with Kawhi had counted against the cap, they wouldn’t have enough room to sign Aldridge.
But verbal agreements count towards the cap at any point outside of that brief moratorium stretch in the NBA calendar.