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Fantasy Basketball Offseason Extra: League tweaks worth considering

Fantasy Writer
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Getting through a basketball season can be a long, arduous process. You've probably run into the same problem I have -- your league is relatively active for a while, but slowly, owners start to lose interest as the months drag on and their team's playoff hopes grow dim.

While football is over in a relatively breezy 15 or 16 weeks (if you're smart), the NBA season is a marathon that drags out for nearly seven full months. The monotony of the season certainly doesn't help keep interest up for a dozen owners at a time.

So I'm here to offer some suggestions that might help you keep your leaguemates involved for the long haul, even if their first-round pick blows out a knee in November and torpodoes their season. At the very least, these should provide you with a new perspective and some possible ideas to tweak your existing league.

(Note: Not all Fantasy providers offer the same options, so make sure your league is customizable enough to allow for the fun that follows.)

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short, Stupid)

The easiest solution is to mimic the football schedule, and limit the length of your league. While the actual league goes on until Week 25, you can do whatever you want with your league's schedule. Sure, you might miss out on Tobias Harris carrying you to a championship as his team tanked late last season, but you also won't have to deal with veterans being rested in April -- deep into your playoffs.

You also carry the added incentive of making sure each week matters just a bit more, a key to increasing competitiveness and interest in general. If your buddies have short attention spans, start your playoffs in March. Who knows, you may even be able to watch your real team's stretch run without having to secretly root for their opponent's point guard to drop 30.

Dynasty league w/ rookie drafts

This one is going to require a higher level of dedication from everyone involved, but it has the added upside of weeding out the disinterested at the start and making sure nobody wants to abandon their team in January. If you're already out of it, you still have the chance to pick up young players and build for the future. If you're one piece away from a championship, you can risk your future by trading for a stud now.

If you're worried about tanking, you can even put together a variation of Bill Simmons' "Entertaining As Hell" tournament, wherein the non-playoff teams take part in a tournament at the end of the year to determine seeding for next year's draft. This can run concurrent with the actual postseason, thus keeping teams interested, while giving an incentive not to let your team fall to disarray, lest you lose out in the tournament.

The downside to this is most people aren't willing to put the time or effort into making a long-term league work. If you've got a good group of knowledgeable players who are willing to put in some research year-round, a Dynasty league really is the only way to go.

Salary Cap League

The first two suggestions are a bit vanilla, I'll admit. But it gets better from here, I think. A salary cap league is essentially a dynasty league on steroids, requiring even more from the owners, but with a potentially bigger reward in terms of owner interest.

Here, you'll base your team on players' actual salaries, while making sure you don't go over the NBA's actual salary cap limit for the year. The fun of this league is you're going to go deeper than ever before to look for value, even at the top of the draft. While LeBron James and Kevin Durant are still first-round values, their nearly $20 million salaries make them look a lot less enticing when you see Stephen Curry available for 60 percent of the cost.

You'll probably have to do your draft via email to make sure everyone's pick falls in line with the cap, and a diligent commissioner who will stay on top of transactions is a must. But there's something undeniably attractive about the prospect of further blurring the line between reality and Fantasy, especially for those nerds among us who have Larry Coon's CBAF FAQ bookmarked and check ShamSports.com daily.

"Fantasy Fallacy" or "Wack Fantasy"

When I took to Twitter to ask for suggestions for this column, two different people immediately replied with two different names for the same concept. Here, you're eschewing traditional norms of good play and competitiveness, and instead rewarding those NBA players who screw up the most.

Instead of two points for an assist and one point for a blocked shot, say, you're rewarding points for all of the bad things a player might do on the court. If you get creative and offer 10 points for ejections, you might as well put DeMarcus Cousins at the top of your draft board.

The fun in this league comes from more than just reminding yourself how hapless Sasha Pavlovic can be -- there's also real strategy involved. You have to strike a delicate balance between a player who is so lost he can't even stay on the floor (think Larry Sanders' first two seasons) as opposed to one who is just intriguing enough to his coaches to remain a rotation fixture despite being useless on a box score (think, the last six or so vintages of Derek Fisher).

Another variant of this I have tried in the past is to turn it into a bench-only league. Award Fantasy points as you normally would in a Head-to-Head league, but create a penalty for games started that is so severe, even LeBron James ends up in the negative. This league obviously ends up putting more value on a player like Jamal Crawford, who ends up playing starter's minutes or something close, despite being a reserve.

One player, one team

This was one of my favorite ideas brought about via Twitter. I love it because of its elegance, as it is exceedingly simple -- no new scoring formats or in-depth roster research is involved. And it doesn't ask much from owners at all.

Each team must come away from the draft with 30 players, one each from each NBA franchise. Sure, you'll prioritize, focusing on the Miamis and Brooklyns of the NBA world in the early goings. But, at some point, you're going to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel. That means, if you're playing in a 10-team league, you very well may end up with the Bobcats' 10th man (And that would be ... Ben Gordon? Uh ... Maybe you will have to do some research).

From that point on, you don't touch the league. Just set the stakes at the beginning of the season and let it go. This takes care of the problem of uninvolved owners, by taking the power out of their hands as the season goes on. This format requires little more than a monthly reminder to check out your progress, almost like a survivor pool in football.

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Player News
Wizards sign Paul Pierce to two-year deal on mid-level exception
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) The Wizards and forward Paul Pierce agreed on a two-year contract at the mid-level exception, according to ESPN's Marc Stein on Saturday. Pierce will have a player option in the second year of his deal.

Pierce averaged 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season for the Nets, the lowest averages of his career across the board.

Hornets ink Marvin Williams to two-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) Free agent forward Marvin Williams has agreed to a two-year, $14 million contract with the Hornets, according to ESPN on Saturday. Williams averaged 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 66 games for the Jazz.

LeBron James signs two-year deal with Cavaliers
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) If LeBron James agreeing to join the Cavaliers Friday came as a surprise, the contract his signed Saturday is just as surprising.

James has signed a deal for just two years with the Cavaliers according to ESPN.com, an it also includes an opt-out after the first season. He will be paid $42.1 million over the course of the deal, and he plans to re-sign following the 2015-16 season. The league's new television contract is expected to kick in for the 2016-17 season, raising the value of the salary cap -- and the maximum contract value as well.


Pau Gasol announces signing with Bulls
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) Free agent center Pau Gasol announced he is signing with the Bulls Saturday, confirming multiple reports that he was leaning that that way.

Yahoo.com reported the Bulls were working on a sign-and-trade with the Lakers for Gasol, but that deal fell through, limiting how much the Bulls can offer. Gasol will sign a mulit-year deal with a starting salary of approximately $6.5 million according to report, though exact details are not yet known.

Gasol played in 60 games last season, averaging 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. 


Trevor Ariza signs four-year deal with Rockets
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) Free agent forward Trevor Ariza is repeating history, as he opted to sign as a free agent with the Rockets for the second time in his career, as first reported by USA Today.

Ariza has agreed to a four-year deal worth $32 million, with Yahoo.com reporting he will have a declining salary in each year, starting at $8.6 million in 2014-15.

Ariza put together one of the finest seasons of his career last year, averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Wizards. He also shot a career-best 40.7 percent from three-point range, after posting a career-best 36.4 percent mark the previous season. 


Cavs send Alonzo Gee to New Orleans
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) The Cavaliers completed a trade sending forward Alonzo Gee to the Pelicans Saturday, in exchange for a second-round pick.  

Gee is expected to either be traded or waived by the Pelicans in the coming days, thanks to his $3.2 million unguaranteed contract for next season, according to The Times-Picayune. 


Hornets, Cavaliers announce minor move
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) The Cavaliers acquired center Brendan Haywood and the draft rights to Dwight Powell from the Hornets for guard Scotty Hopson, the team announced Saturday.

Haywood did not play at all for the Bobcats last year.  


Anthony Morrow signs for three years in Oklahoma City
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) The Thunder have added free-agent guard Anthony Morrow on a three-year deal, The Oklahoman reports Saturday.

Morrow's deal is reportedly worth $10 million with a team option for the third year. He averaged 8.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in 76 appearances for the Pelicans last season, and is a career 42.8 percent three-point shooter. 


Carmelo Anthony returning to Knicks
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) Free agent forward Carmelo Anthony has decided to re-sign with the Knicks, CBSSports.com NBA Insider Ken Berger was able to confirm Saturday.

Exact details on the contract are not yet known, but Anthony is expected to sign a five-year max contract which could pay him $129.5 million total. That deal would begin with $22.5 million in 2014-15.

Anthony missed the playoffs with the Knicks last season for the first time in his career, but still averaged 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. 


Vince Carter signs three-year deal with Grizzlies
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/12/2014) Free agent guard Vince Carter is jumping from one Western Conference playoff team to another, after he agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Grizzlies Friday.

According to multiple media reports, Carter will sign a three-year deal worth $12.2 million with the Grizzlies. ESPN.com reports the Mavericks offered Carter a two-year deal worth $8 million to return, but could not officially make that offer with their cap space tied up in other offers.

Carter had a solid age-37 season, averaging 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 24.4 minutes per game. 


 
 
 
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