When it comes to NBA Free Agency decisions, team General Managers operate on a level of autonomy disconnected from the fans. What if fans could have a real, monetary impact on GM free agency decisions? Using a system similar to the popular KickStarter crowd-sourced investment system, fans could have a real say in NBA free agency decisions.
If you're not familiar with KickStarter, this is a web service where entrepreneurs and artists submit ideas to a community that votes on the ideas with real dollars. If you want to publish a coffee table book about red pandas, for example, you submit your idea and the community invests small dollar amounts (from $1.00 and above) to help fund your project. This same concept can work for NBA free agency.
Let's say the Detroit Pistons are entering free agency in 2012 with a large amount of cap space. Say there are 30 prime players who are accessible to Detroit to fill starter-level holes. At present, fans don't have a say in these decisions. But by investing small dollar amounts, they could "vote" on decisions and provide feedback to General Manager decision makers.
Say there are three players, including ex-Piston Arron Afflalo, who are available in free agency and are acquirable for the cap space the Pistons hold. Fans could choose to pay $25 toward the signing of Afflalo. If the Pistons do finally sign Afflalo, and not another player, that $25 is transferred to the Pistons in exchange for a reward in kind. If they don't sign Afflalo, that amount is returned to the micro-investor. That reward could be scalable, where $25 gets you a ticket to opening night at the Palace in the upper deck. $50 gets you a lower level seat. $100 gets you a lower level seat and a courtside view of warm up. $200 gets you the same plus an autograph and meet-and-greet with Afflalo. $500 gets you a shared club level booth with two friends and a personal interview with Afflalo after the game.
This would be away for NBA teams to gauge fan interest and to pre-sell arena amenities relating to the signing of that player. It's one thing to go on gut level decisions and advanced stats, its another to gauge fan interest and fold that into the equation. If there was a KickStarter service for NBA teams, players could vote with real dollars on who they want to see on their team, and both the fans and the franchise could benefit from the investment and the eventual reward.
Check out KickStarter.com to learn more about the concept. I, for one, would spend a few pretty pennies if I knew it would be taken into account when our GM made decisions about potential contractors. Sure, it might make a difference of 1% in a decision, but that is absolutely better than zero...