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3 Hacks NBA Teams Use to Attract Top Talent

There are a few obvious ways to get someone to play for your NBA team.

Number one: offer them a huge chunk of cheddar. Pretty straightforward.

Number two: give them the chance to win a ring (or at least stop playing for the Suns). Sorry Phoenix fans.

But there's more to free agency signings that just these two factors.

In fact, there's a whole world of wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes - for each and every transaction.

Here are three hacks the best NBA teams use to attract top talent.

1. Selling a story

Imagine if you were a pro basketball player. Your ego would be kind of off the charts, right?

The best NBA teams use this to their advantage when trying to sign top players.

"You have nothing left to prove in Toronto, Kawhi. Come to California and show the world that it wasn't a one-off."

The issue that the Clippers had here was that there was another team in LA that also wanted Kawhi Leonard's signature. The opportunity to play on the west coast wasn't a unique selling point.

So, what did they do?

They showed him exactly what their game plan was for the coming season, and how he would slot into their starting lineup.

They proved that they had the right coach, and the right leadership group to compete for the title.

Will the Clippers make a finals run? Nobody knows.

The important thing is they were able to build the best possible team (given their circumstances) because they were able to sell the story of how they would reach the finals.

2. Emphasize the crowd factor

You might be noticing a bit of a theme here... appealing to an athlete's ego can be an incredibly powerful negotiating strategy.

The top NBA teams obviously have the best turn-out to home games - it's common sense. However, this can actually be used as a relatively powerful motivator to get a player to join.

The Hawks, for example, have a history of notoriously light home attendance. This is part of the reason they struggle to land top-level free agents.

But here's the key.

This trick isn't just effective at changing a player's mind.

It's actually more often used as a way of getting their agent on board.

NBA agents can, in a lot of instances, heavily influence the commercial decisions made by the player. This is why they sometimes pay rookies to represent them - to get a chance to build what could become a very lucrative relationship once the kid goes pro.

So how do NBA teams get a player's representative on their side?

It's simple: show the agent how signing a deal with their team can make them richer.

The more support a team has, the more clout a player can pick up, especially if they do well. The more clout they have, the more sponsorship opportunities come their way. The more sponsorship deals they have, the more money they (and their agents) make.

For this reason, it's always a little nicer to have a few extra people in the crowd cheering you on.

3. Building recruitment teams

Pro sports player trading doesn't quite work like it does in Moneyball. Not anymore at least.

GMs don't just call up agents or other GMs and make a deal. There are hundreds of people behind the scenes working to get things done.

The top teams spend millions to ensure that they have the best scouts and stats gurus on hand.

This allows them to get a much better idea of what a player is really worth to them. Meaning, instead of guessing a fair value, they can offer a player a fair deal, making them much more likely to accept the offer.

But the best teams aren't just limited to just having the best analytics in the league - there's a whole host of other information that can be used to sway a deal in your direction.

To get a player to sign, you've got the know what they (and their agent) want most. This is how you decide whether to try and sell a story, whether to just offer as much as you can afford, or whether there are other important contract terms you could throw in as an effective bargaining chip.

The better your recruitment team, the more likely it is that somebody knows a guy, who knows another guy, who has the info you need to get a player signed.

While analytics is important, once you try and approach a player, the human element is still a crucial factor.

The best NBA teams sign great free agents because their networks of relationships are the best in the league.

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