But perhaps it also is a means of protecting teams from themselves.
Dec. 15 holds a special place on the NBA calendar. It is when teams effectively can say, "Uh, never mind." It is the first day that players signed in the offseason can be dealt.
Without such a cooling-off period, rash decisions might ensue.
Take the Heat, for example, when they were going through their early season growing pains and Chris Bosh was struggling with the adjustment. At times he was going to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony, to the Hornets for Chris Paul, to the Nets for Devin Harris and a big man. There was a time in the early weeks of the season when he couldn't get gone early enough, viewed as a player holding back the ultimate success of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Now? Now Bosh isn't going anywhere, except into the mid-post, providing the type of inside-out game that has the Heat finally in a rhythm, moving up the Eastern Conference ladder.
Because of the Dec. 15 rule, there never was a decision to be made with Bosh or any free agent signed in the offseason.
While the Feb. 23 trading deadline remains the league's ultimate personnel deadline, Dec. 15 essentially is the starting gate for in-season maneuvering, when the bulk of the league stands trade eligible.
That also makes it the perfect time to evaluate the signings from this past summer, as teams debate whether to hold 'em or fold 'em.
Moving past the no-brainer offseason signings, such as the Heat's Big Three, the Knicks' addition of Amare Stoudemire, the Celtics' re-upping of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, or the Mavericks doing the same with Dirk Nowitzki, a look at some of the other offseason signings worthy of Dec. 15 debate.
Raymond Felton, Knicks: Considering his uneven run with the Bobcats, and the fact that a team in need of a point guard themselves allowed him to depart, Felton set up as somewhat of a rental for the Knicks, with his two-year, $14 million deal.
The thought was he eventually would give way to Chris Paul or Steve Nash or some other A-list free agent down the road.
But Felton has been good, very good, emerging as nearly as much an anchor for future success as Stoudemire. Not only isn't he going anywhere, he is essential the here and now.
Shaquille, O'Neal, Celtics: Admit it, it just never seemed right, Shaq in a Celtics uniform. Eventually Kevin Garnett, Allen and Pierce would appeal to Doc Rivers to allow sanity to rule and Shaq would be sent on his way.
While it will be interesting to see if Shaq truly can accept a second-team existence upon Kendrick Perkins' return, we're not so sure he just might not remain with the first team.
Al Harrington, Nuggets: No, he's not Carmelo Anthony, but he could be the player who replaces Anthony, and that makes Harrington essential, for now.
Should the Nuggets reach an agreement on a long-term future with Anthony (and what are the odds of that?), then Harrington could again grow surly over a second-tier existence, his $32 million deal perhaps too much to carry along with a new Carmelo package.
But considering nothing is likely to happen with Anthony until closer to the trading deadline, Harrington becomes a chip the Nuggets can't afford to play, even as he has somewhat revived his value around the league.
James Jones, Heat: There was a point during the preseason when it seemed uncertain whether Jones would make it to opening night. His first two seasons with the Heat were that non-descript, his re-signing in the offseason considered a courtesy for accepting a cap-friendly buyout.
There again is a market for Jones, but until Miller makes it all the way back, Jones will remain off the market.
Darko Milicic, Timberwolves: Yes, like everyone else, we mocked the four-year, $20 million package extended by Minnesota, even without the fourth year fully guaranteed. At the start of the season, the laughter only grew louder.
But, well, what do you know, Joe Dumars was right (OK, OK, we're attempting a bit of levity here). Twenty-three points and 16 rebounds against the Lakers. Twenty-two and eight against the Spurs.
This seemed to be the kind of contract the Wolves would attempt to unload by throwing in a few draft picks and sweeteners. Now you'd have to pay to get Darko — who would have thought?
Wesley Matthews, Trail Blazers: Another case, we were quite sure, of buyer's remorse. Five years at $32 million for a Jazz reserve?
But with Brandon Roy's chronic and perhaps career-limiting knee problems, this proved to be more than a quality move by the Blazers. And the kid can play, too.
He's not going anywhere.
Richard Jefferson, Spurs: We're still not so sure this wasn't a case of re-signing a player to eventually move him, sort of like that curious deal with Tony Parker. But Jefferson and his four-year, $39 million package aren't going anywhere right now, with the way the Spurs are playing.
PBT: In a series featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, unheralded Danny Green may be the Finals MVP.
PBT: Manu Ginobili erupted for 24 points in Game 5 to lift San Antonio past Miami 114-104. The Spurs lead the NBA Finals 3-2.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
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