The Los Angeles Lakers sent a warning across the league on Thursday night.
Big markets are back.
You heard me. A year after some of free agency's top stars like Greg Monroe chose to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks, the advantages long-held by the country's largest markets were declared dead.
You say the Lakers can't get big names? Well I bet you felt pretty stupid when they signed literally one of the biggest players on the market, Timofey Mozgov, to a blockbuster four-year $64 million deal on the first night of free agency.
The Lakers knew that the big Russian would be one of the market's top free agents, and so they flexed their Los Angeles sized muscles and pounced on him one minute after the starter gun of free agency fired.
Now, I know what you're asking: "Why would one of the summer's top free agents leave the defending champs for the defending chumps, a 17-win team that has a bunch of young guys no one has heard of?" The answer is simple.
Follow the money.
You see, Mozgov may be Russian, but he's no communist. Despite leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals two years in a row and winning this past year, Mozgov knew he could never reach his full earning potential in a small market like Cleveland. It's just not possible. LITERALLY ZERO stars, no matter how talented, are ever going to get a signature shoe playing in the Mistake by the Lake. It's just not economically feasible.
I mean, just look at this natural acting skill. It's like watching a young Philip Seymour Hoffman.
You can't keep that type of shining stardom hidden away in Ohio. It wouldn't be right. And if he can do such a brilliant endorsement in Cleveland, imagine the potential marketing opportunities Mozgov can get in Los Angeles.
Actually forget that, this guy was born for the silver screen. If LeBron dithers on making Space Jam 2, maybe Mozgov will take that role, just like he took the open cap space on the Lakers that LeBron clearly wanted according to reliable insiders like Stephen A. Smith of ESPN.
But Mozgov didn't come to Los Angeles just to make movies. He also showed up to win basketball games and no matter what the future in cinema holds for the real Big Timmy, this guy is not simply some Hollywood softy.
Who could forget how Mozgov rattled the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, with his hard screen on Klay Thompson serving as the turning point in which the Cavs flipped that series on its head and forced the Dubs to choke away a 3-1 lead, demonstrating for all to see why jump shooting teams will never win championships:
You thought that was dirty Klay? First of all, you never would have survived in the 80's with gritty superstars like your dad. Second, get ready for four games a year of "dirty," because big Moz is coming to your division.
For these reasons and more, this much is clear after the Lakers made the first big move of free agency, one that left other teams' brain trusts cursing in disbelief at their rapid movement.
Big markets are back, baby.
The preceding was (hopefully) fairly obvious parody. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.