Free Agency was designed to enable professional athletes to have a greater say in where they ply their trade. It now exists as a means of leaving the city you currently reside in for one with nicer beaches/more plastic looking women/bigger buildings.
There are many different types of Free Agent. Below is merely an introductory guide designed for beginners.
The differences between Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agency are not explored in depth. Put simply, restricted free agency is like unrestricted free agency, minus the ability to decided what actually happens to you.
In reality, free agency is complex like tax law, and deep like the Mariana Trench.
Probably the free agent type that is least likely to result in the burning of jerseys. This player has dedicated the majority of his career to one team, but now his career is coming to a close. In a last ditch effort to get that elusive title, this player signs with a team expected to contend in the coming season.
Example: Karl Malone to Los Angeles in 2003.
"I wouldn't have had to do this if Jordan would share"
More Desperate Example: Gary Payton to Los Angeles in 2003....then Boston in 2004.....then Miami in 2005.
"If this doesn't work there are still 26 other teams I could try!"
"I have absolutely no intention of remaining with the team when I become a Free Agent. However, I'm not publically going to say that outright, because then I'd look like a bit of a dick, right? So instead what I will do is say vague, open ended things, which will force you to do something about the situation, all the while giving desperate fans a small ray of hope that I might in fact stay. Then, when you eventutally trade me, fans will hold it against you.
But hey, it's good that I'm telling you this. Now you can trade me for a few guys that aren't as good as me. If you're lucky there might be some cap relief in it for you"
"THUMBS UP FOR CAP RELIEF!"
"Hey guys?..... Is uh.....anyone around? Look, I think I'm going to leave this summer. Maybe you guys could try to organise a trade or something?
Hmmmm, no one is in their office. Thats weird. That must explain why nobody has responded to the thirty-seven e-mails I've sent regarding my intentions.
Maybe I should leave a note on the receptionist's desk..........again. Somebody is bound to see it eventually, right?
"Seriously. I'm trying to make this as obvious as possible"
"I'm going to weigh up my options. Chances are one sad team will offer me a max contract once they fail to land LeBron or Wade. Goodbye Atlanta.
Wait. 6 years and 119 million dollars. Really? Are you sure this isn't some sort of typo? Did you guys see the playoffs?
Um, alright then. I guess I'll stay here then.
Pop Quiz: Is this a) Joe Johnson's reaction to Atlanta's offer
b) Joe Johnson's reaction upon learning Bruce Willis was a ghost the whole time
"Mark Cuban wants to pay me how much?"
Any guy over 6'10 with no athletic ability whatsoever.
"God I love being tall"
"I want to go play with my friends, and rather than just sign with them, I will prolong the whole ordeal weeks longer than necessary, culminating in a one hour special on ESPN that would have been less offensive to the city of Cleveland if I had just stared down the camera for an hour while flipping them the bird. They will still love me though, right? What do you mean they are burning my jersey?"
"Didn't those guys read the label? Do not tumble dry and highly flammable!"
"If you pay me more than anyone else will, I'll sign for you"
Pretty much everyone.