DeAndre Jordan saga shows free-agency moratorium must go

Hopefully DeAndre Jordan's indecision in free agency can accomplish something that his ineffectiveness at the free throw line couldn't: Get the NBA to change its rules.

The reason Jordan could renege on his verbal agreement with the Dallas Mavericks and return to the Los Angeles Clippers was because no one can actually sign contracts during the moratorium in the first eight days of free agency. It's a logistical nightmare the NBA brought on itself. The concept was to ostensibly provide teams with an equal opportunity to negotiate with free agents while the accountants tabulate the final numbers to determine the salary cap and luxury tax. It was supposed to negate any early tampering before the marketplace opens.

But just as the average investor has no chance to get in on a stock market IPO before the big brokerage houses snap up the shares, the rule-abiding teams are doomed to fall behind in free agency. Did you ever marvel at teams reaching agreement on nine-figure contracts with players a half-hour into free agency? Did you actually believe they just started talking that night and hashed out the details of a major deal in a matter of minutes?

Of course they're talking before July 1. Teams don't want to blow the whistle on their competitors because they don't want the attention to be turned back on them. It's a similar deterrent to what could keep Mavericks owner Mark Cuban from launching an inquiry into how the Clippers got to Jordan, then successfully shielded him from the Mavericks and Jordan's own agent until they got him to sign on the dotted line. Does he really want an investigation into what was said at those Chandler Parsons dinners with Jordan leading up to free agency? There are actually player-to-player tampering rules on the books, though they are rarely enforced because it would be too difficult for the NBA to differentiate between recruiting and friendship like the LeBron-DWade-Melo-CP3 vacation.

So as long as there are secret conversations going on, they might as well push the start of free agency back to July 9 so the numbers can be in place and the signing can commence right away.

One counterargument, which Jordan just demonstrated, is that players need time to think over such important decisions. That's fine. July 9 would be a start, not a deadline.

Fans have become spoiled in the Instagram age, wanting immediate results. Shaquille O'Neal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 18, 1996. If he took that long today, the Internet would crash from the weeks of speculation. How about we allow players and organizations making momentous decisions a little breathing room to think things over?

Surely the DeAndre Jordan-sized breach in the moratorium concept will come up at the NBA's board of governors meeting in Las Vegas next week, but any changes would have to come through collective bargaining with the union.

The competition committee meets next week as well. It passed on the previous chance to eliminate the defense-avoiding gimmick that lets teams send poor free throw shooters, such as Jordan, to the line even if they're standing without the ball 90 feet from the basket. One of the arguments against changing the fouling rule is the same case I've heard for not changing the free-agency moratorium: They shouldn't rewrite the rule book for something that applies to such a small percentage of players.

Sure, not many players would be either as indecisive as Jordan or willing to risk the ridicule by going back on an agreement. That rarity is no consolation to Cuban right now. It happened to him, and it could happen again. Why even allow for the possibility?

Granted, the speculation, the emoji-accompanied descent on Houston by the Clippers and their at-home intervention capped by Paul Pierce tweeting out a triumphant picture of Jordan signing his contract with the Clippers made for a wildly entertaining day for anyone without a stake in the outcome. It was every bit as fun as watching a game grind to a halt for Jordan to shoot free throws is dreadful. The NBA would still be better off if both loopholes were closed.