The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Panic

One day into free agency- ONE DAY- and things are already off the hook and the chain and out of hand out a road. I figured it would take until the cupboard was bare and teams which had pinned all their hopes on this offseason got desperate for the really idiotic contracts to start being flashed, but no, it’s the NBA. Assuming the reports are accurate and these end up finalized, we have:

Drew Gooden, 5/$32 million. This is a guy who’s consistently a bit above average on offense (16.5 career PER) and has a solid rep overall, but has also played for 8 teams in 8 years, none of whom thought he was crucial enough enough to keep him out of trades or retain him in free agency for more than three years consecutively. He’s played for 5 teams in the last two alone, and the Bucks just married him for the next 5 at over 6 million per. If there’s a lesson here, it’s that if you want a Drew Gooden you can get a Drew Gooden; you don’t need to lash an anchor contract to your leg for the purpose. Odds are 5-1 minimum against him actually playing all five years in Milwaukee.

– Talk about Gay for pay, Rudy’s about to get 5/$80 from the Grizzle. Yeah he’s a shiny ball of potentialistious potential with the proverbial Tremendous Upside, but for the love of God: Gay’s only real noted value is as a scorer and he was arguably better at that 2 seasons ago when he posted a superior TS% and PER, and for this he gets a foundational cornerstone contract. Mind you I’m not complaining: it stops the Nets or Knicks from being this dumb. But it’s one of those moves which it going to seem really, really bad in about 3 years. To put this in perspective, take age and perceived potential out of the equation and the Grizz are basically paying twice as much money to get a less effective version of Corey Maggette, who is pretty much the player Gay is hoping to grow up to be. What?

– And finally, the Hawks broke down and maxed Joe Johnson. You know what? Good. A Hawks- or really any- team built around Johnson (and if he’s maxed, he’s the centerpiece) is never, ever going to be much better than they were last season. If he turns this down and makes the market (and he’d be insane to) there’s way too much chance of the Knicks in particular talking themselves into throwing near-equivalent money at a guy who’s never been worth it on his best day and is only going to decline from here on out. A cliff notes version of the same thing I’ve written probably 15 times on the guy while trying to body-English him the hell away from the tri-state area: He’s almost 30, he’s been in the league for a decade, he’s played an unconscionable number of minutes (38 or more a game for 7 straight seasons), he’s got a career PER of 16 and change, he’s never posted a season above 20 (the aforementioned Corey Maggette has two), his career playoff PER is 13 and change… this could go on for a while. It’s not that he’s a bad player; he could be a great sidekick to a star or superstar, and he is better than a Maggette once you take other elements into consideration. But the Hawks are offering him ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN MILLION DOLLARS over SIX YEARS to be THE MAN on their team. It’s insanity. You can’t pay the man into being something he never was.

There are reports going around that the Hawks ownership cabal supposedly offered this deal because they’re selling the team and don’t expect to have to pay all of it. Ok Player. If they have people telling them that an extra guaranteed $119 million liability on the balance sheet is going to help the sale price of the team in a down economy, God bless ’em. I hope they’re right, or there’s going to be some of the saddest people since Sherman rolled through down there.

The bottom line with all three of these contracts is that they’re far, far in excess of what these players are worth in a salary capped environment in which a team’s most valuable commodity isn’t any given player or draft pick, it’s the capacity to add additional talent. The Hawks are done with this core from now on- they just became the Wizards of a year ago, except the Wizards had a point guard. The Grizzlies are lashing themselves to a core of random bits and bobs who are getting far more than you can afford to pay them if you want to be a contender some day. The Bucks just added another to a long list of contracts that probably leave their front office asking questions like “what did we do last night? Did we go home with Bobby Simmons’ agent? Oh God….” And yet none of these teams ever learns from experience, their own or others’. Boggles the mind.

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July 1, 2010 - Posted by | Other NBA

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