Every July the free agency begins in the NBA and creates a frenzy around the league, however, some teams have better luck at signing high profile players than others do – but not because of their location.
Yesterday the 2013 league MVP, Kevin Durant, announced that he was leaving Oklahoma City to join the Golden State Warriors.
It seems like the obvious choice for KD to join the team that came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat OKC in the Western Conference Finals. He’s a competitor who likes to win. And his best chance to win, in a competitive Western Conference, is on the same team as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green rather than as their opposition.
However, some argue that the reason Durant left is because Oklahoma is because it’s too small of a market for him, despite Durant saying that market size does not matter. For most players the market size does not matter, winning a championship matters.
Look at LeBron James for example. James left Cleveland to a larger market, Miami, where he promised to win multiple championships but after four years and two consecutive championships (2012 and 2013) he returned to Cleveland because he was not wining as much as he thought, and saw an opportunity to join a young talent in a city that is special to him where he can win.
At the end of the day, a player’s success is based on how may rings a player has and not whether or not they are in a large market or not.
And lets be honest, not all large markets are worth going to. The New York Knicks, one of the biggest markets within the NBA, is rebuilding and coming off a 13th place finish in a weak Eastern Conference, which is not desirable to high profile athletes.
However, some small market teams get lucky and can land a big name. For example, the Atlanta Hawks signed Dwight Howard this free agency. Howard is a coveted center that has struggled to live up to the standards people have of him, but has proven that he has talent. The Orlando Magic have also been active this free agency along with other surging, small market teams like Memphis.
The free agency is a time for players to see what is out there and to find the best place for them. Whilst larger markets tend to draw the most attention, there are other factors causeing high profile players to sign with them.