Category Archives: 2013 Free Agency

Mediocre NBA teams deserve special slogans too

“Riggin for Wiggins” is just one slogan the 2014 NBA Draft and its potential prospects have created for teams tanking in March and April. Bill Simmons may or may not have gotten carried away with them last night. Check it out:

I can’t say much, especially when I’ve always thought about tweeting “play like Shart for Smart”, so I saved it for my blog. Nice. That’ll boost my credibility.

But if we could go back in time, I’d also make slogans for teams that tried to stay good in the short term in exchange for a dent in the future. Here they are. Read if you dare:

Washington Wizards: So distraught without Gortat

Charlotte Bobcats: Understand the rationale for Big Al

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ain’t jack without Jack

New York Knicks: Scrawny without Bargnani

Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings-lite with Brandon Knight.

New Orleans Pelicans: Turn away as we trade for Holiday.

Detroit Pistons: Happily writhe for Josh Smith.

Dallas Mavericks: Overzealous for Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers: I’m just sayin, Chris Kaman?

If none of these worked for you, I apologize. Proceed to jump through the laptop and hit me with a frying pan.

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Pain in the bank: Here’s a list of players who collectively made over $600 million last season

The next time you spend a few bucks for an expired gas station hot dog, don’t feel so bad. It’s nothing compared to the money owners had to shell out for players last season who underperformed (or didn’t perform) for a variety of reasons.

Though it appears the NBA is getting smarter every year, season-ending injuries, wrong fits for the wrong teams, and lack of common sense by those who overpaid for a player (or three) are reasons, among others, that investments didn’t work out as planned. There’s always a gray area when it comes to who did or didn’t play up to their contract in any season, but those contracts totaled arguably over $600 million in 2013.

A decent chunk of that money paid out last year–about $150 million–was featured in contracts that expired after the season. Others, like Gilbert Arenas’ paychecks, at least didn’t count towards salary caps. Investments such as Chicago’s in Derrick Rose and Indiana’s in Danny Granger still have a good chance of bouncing back and earning their worth. There are also albatross-like contracts that happen because, well, it only takes one team to overpay for a players’ services.

Bad contracts happen in every major sport, though they’re always something to joke about when it comes to the NBA. Off the top of my head with no proof whatsoever, I’ll say that’s probably because, if anything, that draft busts and overpaid signings are easily more recognizable in the NBA than any other sport. Prospects in the MLB can flame out in the minors with very little publicity and I can’t name a single player drafted in the first round of the most recent draft anyway. Free agent deals are a different beast, most notably the contracts for Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols.

For the NFL, draft busts and free agent signings also typically don’t receive much publicity unless it’s a wide receiver, running back, quarterback, or a headcase towards ESPN. I’m not even going to try and explain anything about the NHL. I only follow that league a few hours each year. It’s too bad it overlaps with the second half of the NFL’s season and just about all of the NBA’s.

Again, that’s based off nothing more than thinking about attention bad draft picks and free agent signings receive from the media. This post features salaries that I believe gave owners in the NBA headaches throughout the 2012-13 season.

All salaries are from Basketball-Reference.com. Let the fun begin:

Gilbert Arenas – $20,807,922

Amar’e Stoudemire – $19,948,799

Joe Johnson – $19,752,645

Andrew Bynum –  $16,889,000*

Rudy Gay – $16,460,538

  • After getting his eyes fixed, I have no idea what to expect from Rudy next season. He could come back to live up to his contract and bag another similar-sized one or continue being one of the league’s most frustrating talents.

Derrick Rose – $16,402,500

  • : (

Brandon Roy – $16,359,805

  • 😥

Elton Brand – $16,059,854*

Carlos Boozer – $15,000,000

Baron Davis – $14,850,000*

Eric Gordon – $13,668,750

Emeka Okafor – $13,490,000

Danny Granger – $13,058,606

Andrew Bogut – $13,000,000

Ben Gordon – $12,400,000

Kris Humphries – $12,000,000

Hedo Turkoglu – $11,815,000

  • Turkoglu recorded a PER of 3.4 and -0.5 win shares last season. Stellar.

Monta Ellis – $11,000,000*

DeAndre Jordan – $10,532,977

Corey Maggette – $10,924,138*

  • I tried looking Maggette up via Basketball-Reference’s voice recognition search box, only the site instead spat out “Corey My Daddy”. So creepy, yet if I was an NBA player I’d definitely pay the site to interpret my name the same way. Every single time.
  • Also, I had the similar difficulties with Emeka Okafor. The site doesn’t recognize his name via voice recognition at all. Among the names it thought I said:
    • “iMac out of a form”
    • “eMac out open floor”
    • “94”

Richard Jefferson – $10,164,000

Stephen Jackson – $10,059,750*

Andrea Bargnani – $10,000,000

JaVale McGee – $10,000,000

Gerald Wallace – $9,682,435

Andris Biedrins – $9,000,000

Jameer Nelson – $8,600,000

Mo Williams – $8,500,000*

Rodney Stuckey – $8,500,000

Devin Harris – $8,500,000*

Brendan Haywood – $8,349,000

Marvin Williams – $8,287,500

Lamar Odom – $8,200,000*

John Salmons – $8,083,000

Charlie Villanueva – $8,060,000

Tyrus Thomas – $8,000,000

Caron Butler – $8,000,000

Kendrick Perkins – $7,800,531

DaSagana Diop – $7,372,200*

Beno Udrih – $7,372,200*

Metta World Peace – $7,258,960

Trevor Ariza – $7,258,960

Andray Blatche – $7,118,502

Josh Childress – $7,000,000*

Samuel Dalembert – $6,698,565*

Drew Gooden – $6,687,400

Al Harrington – $6,687,400

Glen Davis – $6,400,000

Landry Fields – $6,250,000

Fransisco Garcia – $6,100,000

Luke Walton – $6,091,363*

Brandon Bass – $6,000,000

Michael Beasley – $5,750,000

Darko Milicic – $5,228,000*

Daniel Gibson – $4,792,332*

Marcus Camby – $4,590,338

Wes Johnson – $4,285,560*

  • Including rookie contracts felt like cheating, but poor Wes could barely get off the bench for a 25-57 Suns squad.

Hakim Warrick – $4,000,000*

  • Warrick’s played on six teams in four seasons. He’s like that freak athlete in college every intramural basketball team wants until they realize how good he really is–or isn’t.

Ryan Gomes – $4,000,000*

Joel Anthony – $3,750,000

Gerald Green – $3,500,000

Johan Petro – $3,500,000*

Raja Bell – $3,480,000*

Jan Vesley – $3,294,960

Kwame Brown – $2,819,044

  • It’s a necessity that he makes this list.

Nolan Smith – $1,404,960

Fab Melo – $1,254,720

Hasheem Thabeet – $1,200,000

  • Wasn’t even that bad for OKC last year, but also a necessity he makes this list.

* – expiring contract

This post has been edited to fix up a chunky paragraph or two.

Tracy McGrady, the Hall of Fame and other thoughts on recent news

If you’re coming from Basketball-Reference, I apologize. This is two months old and just a test of the Player Linker tool. For my most recent postings, check out the RSS feed on the right. If you still want to read this one, you have a place in my heart. Probably.

Tracy McGrady calls it a career

Here’s my favorite commercial of Tracy McGrady:

If only the same forces kept me away from the ice cream in my freezer.

The Twitterverse has been buzzing about Tracy McGrady’s retirement and, most interestingly to me, whether or not one of the best shooting guards of the post-millennium NBA is a Hall of Famer.

The standards for what is and isn’t a Hall of Fame-caliber player can be confusing. We could be living in a world where Manu Ginobili, surely one of the best players during the Spurs’ championship squads from 2003, 2005, and 2007 while also known for his international success, makes the Hall of Fame despite being the overwhelming underdog when deciding between him and McGrady on who to start a franchise with.

But that’s what the Hall of Fame is. It doesn’t reward just excellence in the NBA, but also takes into account college basketball accolades, international ones too, and those who innovated or changed the game in some way.

It’s possible that Tyler Hansbrough, in some way or another, could get into the Hall of Fame before, with, or instead of Tracy McGrady. Picture this (half-sarcastic) career path from Hansbrough:

  • Averages a 20 points and 10 rebounds for three years on a Seattle expansion team that goes a combined 46-200. That, or he rocks Michael Jordan‘s world and goes for 20 and 10 for continuously awful Charlotte Bobcat squads.

That may or may not be enough production to balance out Hansbrough’s pro career with his storied four years at North Carolina. Ralph Sampson, for example, produced at a high level for five years before injuries derailed his career, but he played on Rockets squads that once made the Finals and were playoff-caliber for all but his rookie season.

Still, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012 to the surprise of a few.

Another thing Hansbrough could do:

  • Sign with Toronto at some point or another, get dual citizenship with Canada and help a surging basketball country medal in either the Olympics or the World Cup, whichever event is a bigger deal from 2016 to 2022.

Like mentioned before, innovators have a place in the Hall of Fame too. Enter another Hansbrough scenario where he could take advantage of the Hall’s standards:

  • Mainstream underhand free throw shooting.

Who knows, though. Hansbrough might have done enough at North Carolina to warrant himself a place in the Hall of Fame, but it shouldn’t carry the same weight as McGrady’s 16,000 points in the NBA from the 1999-00 season to 2007-08 (nine years total). It’s unfortunate those years account for 86 percent of McGrady’s total points. An extra 2,546 points happen to be spread across six other seasons (seven if you count his playoff run with San Antonio that started four months ago) where he played just 300 more games.

Antawn Jamison signs with the Clippers

Jamison reportedly signed with the Los Angeles team with jerseys that remind me of Dairy Queen for the veteran minimum.

I believe his days as a key cog off the bench are behind him. He was overused last season because of injuries to Jordan Hill and occasionally Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. However, Jamison will be a great locker room and behind the scenes presence. While I’m not basing this off a ton of material, he also seems like someone to conduct a great interview with. Bonus points for the media!

Would Jamison have been a better fit somewhere else? The Grizzlies and Rockets could’ve used a stretch four. The Pistons could’ve used Jamison as well, but they signed Josh Harrelson instead.

It makes Jamison a confusing signing for the Clips. He does nothing to fix the interior defense that haunted the Clippers in the last two postseasons, which puts even more pressure on DeAndre Jordan to plug the middle. Maybe the Clippers can get away with that weakness with a freakishly good offense, but I highly doubt it.

Whatever the reason for the signing, it’s nice to see Jamison on another team in contention out West. He’s produced too much for too long not to have one more shot at a title.

If you ever wanted to know what an NBA contract looks like…

…then check this out!

The Clippers round out their lineup, the Suns acquire a rebuilding piece and the Bucks continue their nosedive

trade

Not exactly the assets I’ll be talking about.

2014 was supposed to be the summer of sheer excitement and terror for teams looking to either rebuild or hang on to their superstars, but 2013 hasn’t failed to keep fans tuned in (at least for the first week or so). Key signings and trades are flying around left and right. The Pacers even gave Tyler Hansbrough a qualifying offer worth $4.2 million, then rescinded it and made him a free agent. Life is weird.

Basically, I’m afraid to take a nap after work in fear of Twitter exploding about the most recent transaction, most likely reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. I’m almost sure he’s a robot. 

Unfortunately for me, one trade went through while I really was dreaming (about eating at an all-you-can-eat cheesecake buffet, no less). It involved one of the most intriguing players in Eric Bledsoe, but also two of my favorite role players in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. The former was acquired by the Phoenix Suns (along with Caron Butler), the latter was gobbled up (om nom nom) by the Los Angeles Clippers.

One more team had to join in which, because of Redick’s involvement, was the Milwaukee Bucks. All they could squeeze out (I guess) were two second round draft picks. I’d rather avoid talking about that and focus more on the Clippers’ and Suns’ side of things:

Now that Chris Paul signed a max contract worth $107 million over five years, losing Eric Bledsoe wasn’t as big of a blow for the Clippers. They had to get something in return before his rookie contract expired next summer, as well as Caron Butler’s contract. They landed two excellent role players in Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick. I’m especially excited for Dudley, who’s been a roleplayer on a lottery-bound team for three straight years and one of my favorite Twitter handles to follow.

Both players give the Clippers maximum stretch at the wing positions, though Redick’s one of the finest shooters in the league. Steve Kerr tweeted Redick would be used under Doc similar to Ray Allen in Boston. I both nodded and disagreed with that tweet. I agree that he could be used like Allen to make for a more fluid offense, but I find it hard to believe that Paul will pound the ball like Rondo did near half court for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, waiting for Redick to come around screens. It sure seemed like Rondo disagreed with those plays. For Chris Paul, who’s an old 28 years of age, he’ll probably be more open to it.

The Clippers were already an elite offensive squad last year, even with the troubles that came with a stagnant, predictable offense. With the upgrade of Redick at the 2 instead of Willie Green while also starting Jared Dudley at the 3, the Clippers should once again be in fine shape on offense (at least in the regular season). Whether it carries over into the playoffs remains to be seen, but unfortunately that’s still over nine months away. Shucks.

The Clippers have needed a lockdown perimeter defender for the last two years. There was a small chance Grant Hill could fill that role last season, though injuries prevented him from ever gaining traction in Vinny Del Negro’s 27-man rotation. Unless the Clippers find a way to get Matt Barnes (or some other defense-first player, which is becoming more of a scarcity by the hour) back in a Clippers uniform, the role of defending the team’s best perimeter scorer will be up to Dudley.

I’m not sure why this is the case, but NBA.com only goes ~60 games into the season when looking at advanced stats regarding team vs. players. Maybe that’s just my laptop, who knows. According to the site though, the Suns allowed four less points per 100 possessions when Dudley was on the court, from 107.1 to 102.8 and the former being in the middle of the NBA defensive efficiency across the league. The latter would’ve been third-worst.

Here’s Zach Lowe’s comments on both Redick and Dudley’s defense from his Deal Report:

Redick is a solid team defender, but he’s not up for that, and Dudley’s reputation as a stopper is wildly overblown. He’s solid on the right nights, but he’s slow and prone to ball-watching; look for those back-door cuts next season, Clippers fans.

So yeah, the Clippers should dive into the pool of defense-first wings while it still has some H2O.

Dudley and Redick don’t exactly contribute to the ‘Lob City’ nickname the Clippers have been given for the last two years. Neither are all-stars or even that athletic, but they give the Clippers their best shot ever at advancing through the playoffs. At the cost of a few highlights here and there, I’m sure Clippers fans will take that sacrifice. Hopefully.

As for Phoenix, they did what every rebuilding team should do: acquire assets. Whether Bledsoe turns into the all-star every team seemingly wanted to trade for or not, it’s worth taking a gamble on a player when they’ll be one of the five worst teams next year no matter what.

Though the Clippers’ defense was better with Bledsoe on the floor, their offense sputtered both according NBA.com and 82games.com when looking at on/off floor statistics and top lineups. The Clips allowed five less points per 100 possessions when Bledsoe was on the floor for a defensive rating of 97.4, per NBA.com, which was the same rating the Memphis Grizzlies had this season. This is quite amazing when Bledsoe logged over 700 minutes in lineups with both himself and Jamal Crawford on the floor. Matt Barnes was on the floor for a similar amount of time, but so was Lamar Odom.

The offense was a different story, dropping eight points when Bledsoe was on the floor, from 110.6 points per 100 possessions to 102.1. The former number would’ve led the league in efficiency while the latter would’ve been a middle-of-the-road type.

Neither mean Bledsoe is a terrific lockdown defender or a horrible offensive player. He’s prone to both gambling on passes and falling asleep when playing off the ball. With his athleticism though, he makes some breathtaking blocks and gets into the passing lanes quite often. It also helps that he’s aided by a 6’7”½ wingspan. Bledsoe averaged 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes last season, which is a half-block more than the next guard in the NBA,Tony Allen. He was second in steals per 36 minutes at 2.5. The leader in that category was former-teammate Chris Paul with 2.6.

The tools are there for Bledsoe to be one of the best lockdown defenders in the league. Offensively, he has a ways to go. He shot nearly 40 percent from 3, but only took one attempt per game and was just 29 percent from 16-to-30 feet, according to Basketball-Reference. His form isn’t the most fluid, sometimes kicking his right foot out even while given wide open jump shots. That’s a bad habit that should only be spotted at the worst of pickup basketball games. It has to change.

Rounding out his game, or at least showing signs of improvement from outside the paint, will help Bledsoe get a hefty raise in his contract for the Phoenix Suns.

But Eric Bledsoe isn’t the only player the Suns acquired in the three-team trade. They also took on the expiring contract of Caron Butler. Even though Butler’s versatility has declined to where he’s become the most ripped spot shooter in the NBA, playing with someone with a defined role like his over the likes of Michael Beasley should be considered an upgrade.

But now the four best players on the Suns are at point guard and center with Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Alex Len, and Marcin Gortat. Dragic’s contract is moveable at $7.5 million over the next three years and he’s only 26. Arron Afflalo of Orlando comes to mind when looking at potential trade partners for Dragic because the Suns could use another wing while Orlando is in search of a point guard, but the Magic are considering experimenting with Oladipo at that position next season. Basically, the trade makes too much sense since both teams are scrapping for a top five pick next year.

Marcin ‘Tater Tot’ Gortat (going to try my best to get that nickname trending) will also be on the trading block. Gortat’s mobility or lack thereof keeps him from playing power forward, but with Phoenix going nowhere anytime soon they could experiment with Len at the 4 alongside Gortat at the 5. It just might be bad enough to give them the most lottery balls possible.

Dragic could also continue to start games, this time at shooting guard alongside Bledsoe. Having two guards who can create off the dribble is never a bad thing, though Bledsoe’s improvement with his jump shot should be mandatory for Phoenix to make the best—at least on the offensive side—out of playing two point guards at once.

It’s not like it would be the first time a team has experimented with that kind of lineup before and it could be useful in order to make the most out of Dragic’s productivity when either shopping him or looking for a reason to play out his contract. That contract is 100 percent guaranteed and takebacks. Ouchies.

Both the Suns and Clippers got what they wanted in the trade. I can’t say the same for the Bucks, who have had one of the biggest head-scratching off-seasons in recent memory. Some of it isn’t their fault, thanks to Monta Ellis not re-signing for a more expensive price than the free agent market can offer him.

But if we’re counting at home as far as trades involving the Bucks and Redick, Milwaukee traded Tobias Harris for Redick in a six-player trade February 21 and then flipped Redick for just two second round picks 19 weeks later. Also, they’re supposedly going to match any amount of money a team offers at Brandon Jennings and are finalizing a deal with O.J. Mayo. Life is weird.

The Bucks will likely see a rise in my Tankapalooza Power Rankings, whenever I decide to come out with the second version of it. It probably won’t be for a while because the silly season of the NBA has been more hectic than I expected. In fact, another three-team trade went down yesterday, involving the Kings, Blazers, and Pelicans. As much as I’d like to tackle it, I’ll cut my losses. In the 24-hour news cycle we live in, I might as well post this (and other couple-days-late postings) next summer.

It seems like the Bucks are in a similar boat as I. We’re both a little behind the curve this summer. For them, they’d be advised to throw in the towel until next year’s draft. I can’t say I’m allowed to do the same.

Edit: Though I probably should.

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