The latest victim of the faltering economy: NBA free agency 2010.
Because of the changing economic landscape with the salary cap expected to decline substantially after this season and the possibility, raised at the All-Star game by union chief Billy Hunter and NBA commissioner David Stern, that the Collective Bargaining Agreement could be re-opened, some agents are starting to consider urging their big name clients to seek a contract extension this summer rather than opting for free agency in such uncertain times.
The growing likelihood now, say a growing number of NBA observers, is the big time free agents slated for 2010 are more likely to re-sign with their teams this summer than risk waiting and perhaps facing potentially massively reduced contract amounts and contract lengths.
In fact, it makes almost no sense now for the big time free agents of 2010 like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to wait for 2010 and not extend after this season.
Consider this scenario, which is certainly possible: The players' association sees a looming lockout. I've heard some owners say they'd lose less money in a lockout than they are losing now, especially if season ticket renewals and sponsorships decline, which is expected. So the players want to make a new deal. The owners want a reduced ceiling on maximum contracts and shorter terms.
So now James or Wade goes to 2010, and instead of being able to add on five or six years to their deals which conclude after the 2010-11 season, they now are limited to, say, three years contracts with a lower maximum. Instead of the $17 million they'll now make in 2010-11 and be able to build up by 10 percent a year after that for six years it's a lower total and fewer years.
You'd say if they have any idea of the world around them, they'll jump at extensions this summer.