Didn’t pay much attention to the NBA free agency bonanza over the three day weekend (or sports for that matter), but caught up the last couple days on the rumor mill, and it sounds like all the rumors that were swirling on Friday, sound just about the same as they do today. Maybe there’s a little more of the I think so and so is leaning towards staying/going here, but nobody’s opinion is truly relevant, since nobody knows what factors are in play for these guys in making their final decisions so rumors will continue. There was one big commitment over the weekend with Amare Stoudemire agreeing to a five year $100M contract with the Knicks. I think it’s good for the guy, he wasn’t going to get a max deal in Phoenix, so why not go where someone that is willing to dish out the cash! He might not be exactly what they were hoping for, and as MCeezy said, they still aren’t relevant without another big player, but he is as worthy as anyone for a max offer. He’ll probably hold his fantasy value rejoining the anti-defensive D’antoni coached team. They might actually come out of this free agency period a winner depending on what else they get. I’m not going to say I think this was the greatest signing, but it’s far from a bad one as some would have you believe. If he somehow recruits another superstar, then he would be an all-time Knicks without even stepping on the court. It was much better than signing Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay to the “max” deals. I’m starting to wonder where Boozer will land since there are really no rumors about him. I do like the ring of Boozer’s Vodka if he ends up on the Nets. D-Wade and Chris Bosh are going to team up in Miami, just as I predicted. It’s tough to tell how much of a supporting cast they can have with only four players (Chalmers and Beasley) on the roster, but if they really don’t care about the money that much, maybe they’ll be able to bring in another big name.
I found the rumor of Carmelo waiting it out until next year’s free agency to go join Amare in New York as a laughable scenario. Does Melo even really have a choice on waiting it out with the lockout scheduled for next year? He could’ve been part of this free agent frenzy, but chose to take the extra year and some extra cash instead of opening up his 2010 summer. The Baltimore native has lived the rough life, so I don’t see him passing up any guaranteed money. Could he really pass on an extension that would guarantee him close to $20M per year for the next three? I’ll say no. The way money is flying around this summer is going to get even crazier after Lebron makes his choice tomorrow. You may think it already has with contracts like Amir Johnson (5 years $34M), Darko Milicic (4 years $20M), Drew Gooden (4 years $39M), but this summer there will be even more of those unfathomable numbers for guys that are at best bench players, especially if all these big free agents end up staying put. There’s a lot of teams waaay under the cap that were hoping to lure a Lebron or Wade to their city, but all these potential suitors forgot one thing, what if they don’t want to leave and want the extra $20-30M guaranteed that these guys can have tacked onto the last year of their contract in their current cities. So in essence, some teams will be overpaying for guys this summer that aren’t going to change a franchise into an instant contender. I’m thinking Richard Jefferson, Luis Scola, Raymond Felton, and Ray Allen will all eventually get some ridiculous money thrown their way from teams that are desperate to make a splash. They are good, but should only be additions to an already good team not THE addition that makes them a team.
The NBA is an uncertain place, and taking the most you can while it’s out there is the right choice for all these players financially. Maybe that’s why Dirk and Pierce opted out, just to resign for some big bucks. I’m positive it’s the reason Durant signed his five year extension. There are a few things that will fallout because of this offseason. We will see teams wildly overpay for guys (already have), we will see players stay more loyal than we thought (if you count taking money over leaving as loyal), we will see the owners bitching about the ridiculous contracts they just signed their players to during next season, and finally, we will see a lockout where the players will have to restructure their salaries so this league isn’t so messed up. I long for the days when trades are evaluated on talent opposed to opening up cap space. How many more times do we have to see a Rolex traded for two Casio’s!?!
As one owner put it “We need to protect ourselves, from ourselves.” This couldn’t be truer as teams will shift from wooing the top free agents, to what the hell did we just do mode. The owners will want to push for a major overhaul, and will rightfully get one. The guaranteed money in the NBA is ridiculous. They need to restructure the way contracts are doled out, and not make everything completely guaranteed. Don’t we want the guys that we are paying to see coming to our arenas making the most? Of course, that’s the way it should be! Is it fair that Kobe has the largest salary of $24M next season? I’ll say yes, not just because he just won a championship, but because he might be the best in the league. However, the second highest paid player is Rashard Lewis with $20.5M. Should he be the 2nd highest paid player in the league? If you answered yes, you must not watch much basketball. Michael Redd, Gilbert Arenas, and Yao Ming are also in the top nine, and haven’t really showed their worth, because of injuries or arrests, yet they are sucking away nearly a third of their teams payroll! I’m not against paying injured players, but maybe they need to figure out some way to make these contracts like the MLB or NFL. Then they could use the incentive clauses, so if a player sucks or is lazy, at least they won’t have to pay them the full amount. Look at Jamarcus Russell on my beloved Raiders. They wasted $39M on him, but fortunately he wasn’t good enough to get his incentives to earn that extra $10M he possibly had coming to him. I’d say keep the salary cap, but let teams go over it if all their players hit their incentives.
I saw an interview with Derek Fisher (president of the players association), and he was asked “Why have all contracts guaranteed?” Fisher replies “Because the owners agreed to them.” Interviewer: But why don’t players who are actually contributing care whether a guy who is unable to help either the team or the league get his $10M? Fisher replied “Because that is the contract that an owner signed and the player is entitled to that money.”
I think this has to show why the lockout is inevitable. Both sides seem so disconnected from what is needed and what is wanted. I’m sure there will be something done about guaranteed contracts that are bogging teams down. I’m against them, and I hate that Rashard Lewis, is the 2nd highest paid player in the league when he’s not even the most important to his team. We need some of the contracts to hold some performance based incentives. They don’t have to be career years each season, but something to make them work harder every night. The big question is; will teams actually use the extra money that wasn’t spent on player X’s sudden injury? Are teams going to jump on the market and make a trade/signing to make up for the loss of one or two of their players? It depends on the team, and if you’re a Warriors fan like me, seeing the team dump off contracts to save money, your hopes aren’t all that high that this will in fact help your team since they care about the bottom line more than the product on the court. Hell, they could even start trading healthy guys for injured ones just to save money. Oh wait, they already do that even with the money guaranteed…
Another failing point the league needs to address is the mid-level exception contracts. Some teams use it to just sign whoever to a contract to get the fans slightly excited about the upcoming season. It’s a rare situation that a prize like Ron Artest last season can actually come in and make a difference on a team that gives the player the MLE. I feel like it just dilutes others salaries tossing no names the $5M just because teams can. Last year Jerome James was given the MLE by Cleveland. So he made roughly $5M, and Lebron meanwhile only made $15M. Seriously, why is Jerome James making a third of the amount that Lebron is. Theres never been an instance when I’ve heard someone say the Jerome James show is coming into town! Shouldn’t someone that will barely make it off the bench be making more than a couple million? I can’t think of one person that wouldn’t take that salary. I sure as hell would! Lebron should be able to make half his team’s payroll, and unlike football and baseball, one player does make a HUGE difference on an NBA team. Strap on your seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy couple years for the NBA!