NBA free agency to leave midnight start
The NBA has become quite the summer phenomenon, and not just because the NBA Finals now are played in June.
The NBA Draft, while not rising to the public-interest level of the NFL Draft, is a bonafide event that commands the attention of the sporting crowd. And NBA free agency , with its July 1 liftoff, has become an even bigger sensation. Fans are glued to their phones, waiting for the latest nugget of news concerning the latest contract agreement.
Baseball once owned the free agency market. The big signings of the 1970s and into the 1980s were winter thunderbolts. NFL and NBA free agency were non-existent or in embryotic stages.
That has changed, of course. While baseball free agency remains huge, basketball and football player movement has caught up. And the NBA has ascended into the most important of those periods, because of the status of the stars. One NBA superstar impacts a franchise much more profoundly than do superstars in other sports.
There’s only one problem with the spectacle that is NBA free agency. It starts under dark of night. Midnight Eastern time on July 1; 11 p.m. Central.
Paul George was the big news at the start of NBA free agency. The buildup was gradual, from rumors earlier in the week that Russell Westbrook was throwing a big party on Saturday night (June 30) that would include George and a Thunder-relative announcement.
Just before 11 p.m. Oklahoma time, George got on a stage at the party and said he was here. Twitter went wild, the state celebrated and NBA free agency was off to a land-run start.
Except it was midnight on the East Coast, on a Saturday night to boot, and one of the biggest events of the NBA calendar began with many of its fans fast asleep.
Now, that is scheduled to change. NBA commissioner said Tuesday in Las Vegas that the league plans to move up the time-of-day start for free agency.
“I not only heard from my friends in the media, but as I get older, I think we are all tired of all-nighters,” Silver said. “I also heard from several teams, ‘Does this really have to be at midnight?’ I think that’s something we need to find agreement on with the Players Association, but I think we can change it for next year.”
The marketing possibilities are endless. Start at noon on June 30, or heck, July 1, and the free agent frenzy will really go bonkers. ESPN and NBATV, which already commit massive time to the market, will have many more eyeballs. The Paul George news will flow through the internet when people actually are on the internet, not snug in their beds. The Paul George news will make the 6 o’clock news; 6 p.m. Not 6 a.m.
A big event will get even bigger.