The Udonis Haslem Rule

By: Evan Siegel

The NBA has recently had a number of sentimental favorites of fans who have to be jettisoned by their team. J.J. Barea of the Dallas Mavericks was the latest one to be cut after a remarkable 11-year run over two stints in Dallas. Anderson Varejao was another player to be let go by the Cavaliers despite being one of the most revered members of his rabid fan base.

The NBA should institute a rule called the “Udonis Haslem rule”. Essentially, the league should allow teams to keep one player as a 16th roster spot that doesn’t count against team salary. This would allow teams to keep their lifers and not have to unceremoniously release any of them at the displeasure of die-hard fans.

The criteria for a player to qualify for this rule could be as follows:

  • Must have played 10+ years with the same team, at least five consecutively
  • Player can’t earn more than minimum salary
  • The player can only appear in 10 regular-season games, all playoff games
  • The players contract can be no longer than one year
  • The player can’t sign this contract multiple times
  • If a team signs a free agent to a ten-day contract once the regular season has started, the player on this exception cannot play in any games during that ten-day period

The team shouldn’t be allowed to designate a player for this exception more than once every three years. In other words, only the most loyal and beloved longtime players can be afforded this extra roster spot. Revenue would likely continue to be boosted, as many fans would continue to purchase merchandise involving the player instead of having him play one year elsewhere or remain a free agent in the case of J.J. Barea.

This type of rule would be a win-win for the owners and players. The teams get to keep a player that doesn’t count against team salary, and players who are at the very end of their career can ease into a mentorship role for younger players while still being able to play for the team they’ve spent the majority of their career with.