Free Agency in Franchise Mode

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The following guide is intended to help you get the most out of Free Agency in Franchise Mode.

Games

This guide applies to the following games:

The Guide

Although it's simplified, the nature of free agency in NBA Live reflects that of the real NBA. Some years yield a good free agent crop, as all-star calibre players become free agents and shop their services to the highest bidder. Other years, all the stars are locked up and the only movement comes from role players and journeyman and the occasional disgruntled "second fiddle" player. There are years where major players become free agents, but re-sign before you have a chance to wave some green at them. Still, there's plenty of fun to be had with free agency.

First of all, remember these facts:

  • It's a simplified salary cap, with simplified rules. There's no such thing as a restricted free agent in NBA Live, no Base Year Compensation players, and no opting out of contracts.
  • You proceed through the offseason in stages, so there is no ongoing bargaining with free agents. The value of the contract you offer a player is based on his age, his overall rating, and the amount of years the deal is worth. This inflexibility means if a player won't sign with you, he won't sign with you.

With those points in mind, here are some strategies when dealing with free agents.

If you have a couple of players on your team who are free agents who you wish to retain but have fairly low overall ratings, and you want to try for an expensive free agent, do not re-sign these players on the Re-Sign Players screen. This way, you can conserve cap space. You can then try to sign a key free agent, and then re-sign your former players (as you are able to do so). Since you can go over the cap when signing players for the minimum, this can be an effective strategy. If the free agent you are after refuses to sign, you can simply sign the lower rated players to the larger deals you would have originally given them anyway.

Just in case anyone is confused, here it is step by step:

  1. At the Re-Sign Players screen, do not re-sign any low-rated players you wish to retain
  2. Proceed to Rookie Draft, complete it as you wish.
  3. At the Sign Free Agents screen, make an offer to the expensive free agent you are after. If you can't sign a free agent, just re-sign your players if possible.
  4. Re-sign the low-rated players if possible. If you don't have the cap space to re-sign them and if a CPU team doesn't sign them first, after you proceed to the new season schedule, go to the free agent pool and sign them for the minimum.

This is not cheating, it is merely holding off signing your more expendable players while you pursue a major (and expensive) free agent.

If it isn't worth drafting a player with your second round pick, you are better off forfeiting the pick and saving the cap space for a free agent. When you draft a player in NBA Live, he is automatically signed to a guaranteed contract which counts against your cap, so if all a second round pick is going to do is sit on the IR, you might as well save the money for that key free agent.

Sign players who will actually help your team. If you have a star point guard, you don't need a star point guard as his backup. When you make transactions, you are trying to build a roster that will be able to make a legitimate run at a title. At the very least, you are slowly putting the pieces together for what will hopefully one day be an NBA Championship team. Always try to sign a player who will help you build a better team. If such a player isn't available, you might look at signing a player who could be used to trade for a player who suits your needs. When you see a superstar player available in Sign Free Agents, you may be tempted to lock them up to a long term deal. Before you do, consider whether they will actually help your team and also whether they are in decline. You don't want their huge contract counting against your cap while you're trying to rebuild.

Similarly, be very careful who you offer long-term deals to, whether they be your own free agents you are re-signing, or a free agent from another team. A 7 year deal offers a lot of security, but may leave you with an aging player with a huge deal that you cannot unload. Or it may leave you with a player that once showed a lot of promise, but went downhill as soon as you showed him the money. It is generally safer to give longer deals to players with higher ratings, as they have a lot further to decline than most players, and they will stick around to help your team for many seasons. Signing veterans to long term deals can be a costly move, although their salary no longer counts against your cap if they retire before their contract expires.

Low rated players who show promise and signs of improvement should be re-signed for 1-3 years if you wish to retain them. There's no advantage locking them up with a long deal if there is a good chance they will turn out to be a bust. This generally applies to second round draft picks, who are free agents after their first year. Don't be too quick to pass over them when re-signing your players, but don't place the future of your franchise in their hands either.

After both you and the CPU have concluded signing players at the Sign Free Agents screen and the game has progressed to the new season, check the free agent pool to see if any useful "spare parts" have gone unsigned. Perhaps you could pick up some deep bench reserves, or pick up a player to fill a hole in your lineup for a year, then once again shop the free agent market for a permanent replacement. Or, if your pickup proves to be steal, re-sign him.

If you're clearing house in preparation for a run at some major free agents, make sure of three things:

  1. Ensure there will be attractive free agents on the market
  2. Ensure you will have the money to offer them.
  3. Ensure you have a backup plan if they refuse to sign.

If you gut your roster in the hopes that you can snatch a couple of superstar free agents at the end of the season, you may be in trouble if they refuse to sign with you. Since chances are high they will re-sign with their current team, you may be better off thinking of possible deals that will allow you to acquire them through a trade.

Remember, if you play the games in your Franchise - many people sim games, seasons, and sometimes the whole Franchise game (10 years on console, 25 years on PC) - build a team that you have fun playing with and one that you can use effectively. If you haven't mastered the techniques of shooting, then a team of jump-shooters probably isn't for you.

Have fun building your dynasty!

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