Timing is everything. It’s well known that to get the most publicity teams and leagues should make sure they have large events or big announcements when the viewing public is fully engaged. When those same teams and leagues want to dump bad news or bad PR, they announce them on Friday afternoons heading into a long — holiday — weekend. The hope is that the news will be ignored or washed over until the next news cycle. That is why it is so confusing that the NBA is starting free agency officially on July 1, the Friday before July 4th weekend.
This NBA free agency has the potential for — proverbial — fireworks. First there are some big names involved led by superstar Kevin Durant. Other big name players include Dwight Howard, Al Horford, and Harrison Barnes. All of these players could theoretically be signed while fans and their families are more concerned about grilling up burgers and literal fireworks displays. Factor that in to the crazy amount of money that could be spent due to the skyrocketing salary cap and this NBA free agency period could be unlike any other in the history of the league. That’s made for traditional and digital media.
Instead the league and its partners such as ESPN and Turner won’t be able to leverage the events of this weekend. People just won’t be paying attention. Maybe they might check their Twitter feed, but no one is fully focusing on their teams future roster. People are less likely to be watching anything on TV while they vacation or hang out with family and friends.
The date was moved up because teams were reaching agreements prior to when they could officially sign players. Everyone remembers the DeAndre Jordan Banana Boat fiasco from last year. Even though it seemed like anarchy, it got the attention of casual and obsessive fans alike. That won’t happen if Kevin Durant makes his decision on July 3rd. It won’t happen if Dwight Howard gets a four-year deal on the first day of free agency. It’s just a missed opportunity for the league, its teams, and its media partners.
It’s just an odd time to start one of the most important and heavily covered portions of the off-season. Maybe it is just unlucky timing and next year will change. For now, the NBA and its partners are missing out on a huge opportunity.