Free Agent Pool
Usage & Appearances
NBA Live 96 was the first game in the series to utilise a Free Agent Pool, with each subsequent game in the series recognising free agents and representing free agency. While the function to sign and release players has often been accessed through specific screens, it is sometimes been implemented as part of the Trade Players function with users being able to trade to and from the Free Agent Pool (effectively signing and releasing players in the process). Franchise and Dynasty Mode have traditionally used different menus for signing and releasing players, owing to the fact they must present more information such as contract information, the salary cap and a team's current payroll.
Currently there is no limit on the amount of players that can appear in the Free Agent Pool, though pruning does take place during Dynasty Mode (see below). In NBA Live 96 however, the Free Agent Pool essentially existed as an additional team in the game and as such only featured fourteen player slots.
During a Franchise or Dynasty Mode game, the Free Agent Pool is pruned of lower rated player year-to-year. This has been the cause of some confusion in the past as such players are purged from the database without being recognised as retiring players, vanishing without warning. It is less common for higher rated players to disappear in this manner unless there is a glut of high rated players in the Free Agent Pool, though it is not impossible for quickly declining stars to be pruned before officially retiring. However, the players most commonly pruned in this manner are the lowest rated players in the game, including generated rookies.
In more recent games in the series, the Free Agent Pool is pruned back to the top 50 rated players in the Free Agent Pool upon starting a new Dynasty game. As yet, no workaround to prevent this has been discovered.