Last week's flurry of deals before the trading deadline followed
a trend that dates back to the 1995-96 season, when the latest
collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players
went into effect. As part of the deal, the league imposed a wage
scale on all draft picks and, in return, granted unrestricted
free agency after three years. The move was intended to give
teams a chance to measure the development of their young stars
before committing to them long term. But many teams, fearful of
not being able to re-sign these players, have had to make
sweeping personnel moves related to the impending free agency of
the class of '95. Here are some revealing numbers. --Marty
Players dealt on the day of the three trading deadlines since
Players dealt on the day of the three trading deadlines before
Percentage of class of '95 first-round picks (21 of 29) who are
no longer with the teams that drafted them.
Percentage of class of '94 first-round picks (15 of 27) who
three years later were no longer with the team that drafted them.
Lottery picks from the class of '95--Kevin Garnett, Rasheed
Wallace and Bryant Reeves--who signed contract extensions last
summer, when they were first eligible to do so.
Average annual salary, in millions of dollars, given to those
three second-year men, who all signed six-year deals to become
the highest-paid players on their teams.