At some point in this extremely weird NBA season, free agency will start. Players like Fred VanVleet of Toronto and the Clippers Montrezl Harrell will become free agents and the Lakers Anthony Davis holds a player option that could lead him to free agency as well.
Last season was full of interesting free agent moves including Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn. But, none of these past or future moves would be possible without free agency of the 1990s.
Back in the ‘90s, players did not jump ship and abandon teams in search of either a huge contract or a chance to win a championship. In 1990 for example, one of the big free agent moves involved Sam Perkins.
Perkins averaged 15.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for Dallas the previous season. He was good, but not on the caliber of an Anthony Davis-type star. Perkins was still in his prime at 28 and joined the Lakers where both he and his team went on to enjoy great success.
In 1991, it was Moses Malone that was a free agent focal point. He wasn’t the same MVP Moses Malone though. He was 35 years old and was coming off a 10.6-point, 8.1-rebound per game season in Atlanta. Milwaukee signed Malone who in 1992-93 suffered a leg injury which essentially ended his career.
Rod Strickland was a young potential star but carried a lot of baggage from his days in San Antonio and New York. Strickland signed with Portland in 1992 and was a solid player for the Trail Blazers until his meltdown with head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
The ‘90s continue with free agents like A.C. Green, Horace Grant, and Dana Barros. It wasn’t until Shaquille O’Neal’s move to the Lakers in 1996 that a huge megastar was available in free agency and made a move. A few years later, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady signed with Orlando.
Beginning with ’96, free agency began to change. Young stars didn’t usually leave their teams. The Larry Bird Rule allowed teams to sign and keep their star players. In ’96, television contract money started to skyrocket. Teams had more money to invest in players.
With the advent of the internet and social media, star players now strategize in an attempt to win NBA titles. That is how a team like Brooklyn can end up with a pair of stars like Durant and Irving.