The start of free agency is a time of lunacy. Huge contracts are floated around for mediocre players. Teams get into salary cap hell as a result. Some have pointed to this year’s free agency in order to validate Ernie’s genius – he refused to be involved in the inflated free agency mess. However, the sad truth is that the free agency period demonstrates Ernie’s lunacy, specifically vis-à-vis the Okafor-Ariza trade.
The new CBA was designed to reel in spending by assessing extremely punitive damages on teams spending above the cap. However, this summer many teams have handed out exorbitant contracts (or at least offers). Currently, those punitive measures are not in place, therefore teams are not deterred by the penalties. However, with forward thinking the Wizard’s could have taken advantage of team’s spending sprees and the luxury taxes to follow.
Once when the penalties kick-in, teams would need to dump salary. They would need to do that even moreso because of poor contracts handing out today. If the Wizards had cap space, they could execute BOYD trades (see Gordon-Bobcats trade) or they could have obtained good, pricey players from teams stuck in playoff and luxury tax hell, partially because of the contracts negotiated this year. The fact that everyone is handing out contracts like candy now means that cap space will be all the more valuable later. But because of the Okafor-Ariza trade the Wizards lost cap space flexibility and will be unable to take advantage of the current free agent madness.
The free agency period proves Ernie’s short-sightedness, not his intelligence for avoiding free agency.