One of the more fascinating caveats coming out of the recent NBA labor talks is the proposed "Carmel Anthony Rule". This rule is designed to hinder superstar movement and to help put a stop to the circus like atmosphere that surrounded the Nuggets and even the Knicks and Nets last year due to incessant trade rumors. The Carmelo Anthony Rule would make it so that mid-season trades did not transfer Bird's Rights to the receiving team when trading a player on the last year of their contract. i.e. A team would have to trade for the player before the season starts (July 1st is the proposed cut-off date) or they would have to re-sign him in the off-season as an unrestricted free agent and could not go over the salary cap to do so.
This possible rule change is even more fascinating as a Magic fan given the much publicized looming free agency of Dwight Howard. In fact, of all of the possible tweaks slowly leaking out from the talks this may have the most immediate and measurable effect (if you happen to follow Orlando, New Orleans, or New Jersey).
From the Magic's perspective an obvious benefit is to limit rampant trade speculation and all of the inherent distractions that they bring. Although, even as that is one of the stated intended benefits of the rule I am a little dubious as to if it will actually be effective in preventing said distractions at all. I mean, the superstar in question will still be heading towards unrestricted free agency and will receive constant questions in regards to whether he is staying or going. And his teammates will still have to answer questions about losing their leader on a nightly basis win or lose. And let's not even think about the nightmare scenario that would play out should the team have to suffer through a *gasp* three game losing streak. Yeah, well, that's the good/non news. It just gets worse from here.
On the down side... It makes acquiring Chris Paul or Deron Williams 98.6% impossible. The unspoken subplot war of the upcoming season (if there is an upcoming season (which, I don't know, there won't be(?))) was supposed to be between the Magic, Hornets, and Nets. These teams are all effectively in a last man standing match where each is hoping for the others to fail hard enough for their respective stars to lash out demand a trade and give the other team the leverage to broker a deal and swoop in to steal the frustrated star. However this rule change blows that plot right out of the water. Now the only way to acquire a max level player during the season if going into free agency is to have max level cap space. The Magic as we all know are no where near having any cap space. Let alone max contract level cap space. This means that even if Chris Paul desperately wanted out of New Orleans and his #1 destination of choice is Orlando. We could never make it work. Hmm... this makes me sad (without made up Chris Paul trades what does it mean to be a Magic Fan these days?).
On the even downer side this rule also has the disadvantage of sending more stars into unrestricted free agency. Making it nearly impossible to do those mid-season blockbusters for unhappy soon-to-be free agent stars means a market full of unhappy stars that the former team wasn't able to deal for anything at all. Or to put it another way: [scary]The Magic will get nothing should Dwight Howard decide his best chance at a ring is to leave Orlando.[/scary]
On the other brighter sunnier hand. With this rule in place it makes it much much harder for Dwight to leave. Essentially you can take the Lakers, Celtics, Bulls, Knicks, and most every other team that sniffed the playoffs last year off the table completely. This means that all the Magic have to do is convince Dwight that he has a better chance of winning in Orlando than in New Jersey or Indiana or some similarly perpetual bottom feeder. So if keeping Howard is your highest priority this change could be sweet sweet music.
But, at best it would be a mixed bag. I mean, seriously, without a miracle Chris Paul trade do we have any ideas of how to make the team championship level...?