Mind Blown in 3, 2, 1…

According to this article on HoopsHype, there is a possibility that the Lakers will bring Kwame Brown back.

Hold. Up. Say What?!?!

The same Kwame Brown who was booed by the hometown fans?! The same Kwame Brown whose exit led to chorus of cheers? The same Kwame Brown that squandered the potential people saw in him as a former number one pick in the draft? The same Kwame Brown who can’t even hold a piece of cake?!

But I suppose I could see some reason in even the remote possibility of getting Kwame Brown back. After all, the Lakers just lost Ronny Turiaf to Golden State, and Andrew Bynum’s knee is still a question mark in training camp. So the organization probably felt like they needed another body, in fact, any BODY, for nothing else other than taking up some room in the post. And believe me, if there is one thing that Kwame Brown is even remotely competent at, it is standing there and taking up space. But sometimes, he can’t even do that right.

Yet one must wonder, how awkward must this re-union be? I mean, this is worse than saying to an ex whom you triumphantly dumped for someone much hotter, and then later going back to that ex and saying: I would like you back just so that I can another pair of hands around the house, but by the way, I’m sleeping with the much hotter girl that I dumped you for while you get to sleep in the basement on an old futon.

But, I suppose if the Lakers pay something like a $1 mil a year for two years with a second-year team option, I can see the deal making both basketball and financial sense. And even as the logical part of me can potentially rationalize this, there is a part of my brain that just exploded when I read that article.

If this deals does end up happening, then the Lakers will have essentially traded Ronny Turiaf for Kwame Brown–surely a trade that no one would make, considering that Ronny Turiaf is an improving young player that plays with energy and provides a lift off the bench, whereas Kwame Brown is a has-been who wasted ten years in the league and has nowhere to go but down, assuming that he can even go lower.

None of this would have happened if the Lakers simply matched the offer sheet for Ronny Turiaf. After all, the Lakers are one of, if not the, richest and most profitable franchises in the NBA. And this is where the notion of restricted free-agency makes no sense to me. First of all, the very phrase “restricted free-agency” is a contradiction in terms.

Second, restricted free-agency is completely biased in favor of the players, because no matter what happens, the player who has an offer sheet made to him will get paid than what he’s actually worth. From a prospective team’s point of view, the only reasonable way to get a restricted free-agent is to offer him a contract whose value exceeds his market value, because otherwise the original team can always just match the offer sheet. Therefore, you have situations in which second or even third-tier players being offered ridiculous contracts, in which case, he wins whether his original team matches or not.

The effect of this is obvious: it grossly inflates payroll, which means additional costs passed onto the consumers. Really, the NBA should get rid of free-agency altogether: let both teams and players have complete freedom when their contract is up, so that both sides can negotiate in a more optimal way. But then again, restricted free-agency is skewed towards the players, and for this reaosn alone, it will probably stay because the players’ union can use it as a huge leverage when it comes to renew the collective bargaining agreement.

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