NBA: In the Restricted Area

LeBron James is the face of the NBA and has been that for the last decade depending on which region of the country you go to. He has changed the game, both on and off the court, in many ways.

Whether it’s historic seasons, winning titles, engaging in philanthropic work off the court, or being outspoken on social matters, LeBron will go down as one of the most memorable and influential athletes of all-time.

However, there are naysayers that will say King James is nothing more than a ring chaser. That is because it’s rare to see a player of his stature play for three different franchises (Cleveland, Miami, and now Los Angeles) in his prime.

Just look at a few greats in recent memory.

Michael Jordan stayed with the Chicago Bulls well through his prime. Kobe Bryant remained loyal to the Los Angeles Lakers even through turbulent moments. Heck, even guys like Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki were lifers with the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.

Those players represent an old way of employment in America. The kind of employment where you get a job and put your head down and see through the good and bad for numerous decades before retiring.

LeBron represents today’s job market. He prefers job mobility over worrying about job security.

Job mobility speaks to this notion of capitalizing on opportunities. It’s the kind of obligation and loyalty to yourself that is needed. LeBron makes decisions based on the goals he has set for himself not goals set by others.

It’s a blueprint many players in the league should adopt, but only few have. In fact, the only player that has bought into this notion has been Kevin Durant. Now, he is a two-time champion.

LeBron’s way of doing things is easier for an established veteran to mimic, but the young guys don’t have that luxury.

As a player on a rookie deal in the NBA, it’s very hard to exercise job mobility. That is because the league ensures each franchise has a chance to retain a young star with restricted deals.

Restricted contracts imprison young players by keeping them in the locations they were drafted in. When their first contract expires, the organization can offer them a deal or wait for another team to. If the latter happens, the team that drafted the player has a chance to match the offer.

That scenario is good for small market teams like Charlotte or Sacramento. Yet, it can be hard for players to breakaway from.

That is until Kristaps Porzingis found a loophole.

By being adamant about his frustration with the New York Knicks, KP put the organization in a sticky situation. They could either wait until the summer and let someone sign him and then match the offer, or trade him. They chose the latter as they shipped him to Dallas.

The young All-Star might have set a new precedent for players to come who are approaching the end of their rookie deals.

Porzingis took a page out of “The King James Commandments” and might have set a new blueprint. It’s something that many of his peers might be wishing they had the fortuitous wherewithal to do.

You don’t think Devin Booker or Karl-Anthony Towns, when Jimmy Butler was in Minnesota, would have liked to do such a move?

How about Anthony Davis who is at the mercy of the New Orleans Pelicans front office?

The seven footer’s unprecedented request took him from basketball purgatory to, potentially, basketball heaven. That is all up to what Mark Cuban does following this sequence.

KP pulled off the biggest stunt for a young player as he appeared to be entering a stalemate with the Knicks. It certainly seems as if this is a sign of things to come for future young guys in the association.

Porzingis finding a loophole put the ball back in the players’ court as he put the other 29 owners on notice.

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