just wrote an article on free agency and overpaying for my blog
http://frankcesare.blogspot.com/2013/07/nba-free-agency.htmlWarning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
NBA Free Agency
Today is the first official day organizations can sign free agents. Up until the tenth of July, teams were allowed to communicate, court and extend offers to players. If the player accepted, it was only a verbal agreement. In some past instances, a la the Carlos Boozer situation in Cleveland, a player would go against the agreement made and sign elsewhere, but that rarely occurred.
In Boozer's case, he left the Cavs after initially agreeing to re-sign with them for roughly an extra $20 million more and the opportunity to play for one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA. A lot of people nagged the Duke alum for his decision, betraying LeBron James and the city of Cleveland, but the Cavaliers did it to themselves with their below market offer.
A player's market value varies upon position, size, age, and athleticism. A seven foot center under the age of 35, no matter how lousy, will always receive an offer above $1 million a year because of the "you can't teach seven feet" logic which is borderline asinine. Jerome James stole $30 million from the Knicks over the course of five years after averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 11 playoff games for the Seattle SuperSonics in 2005 because of this rationale.
Eddy Curry, like Jerome James, also robbed the Knicks after Isaiah Thomas arranged a sign and trade deal with the Chicago Bulls that gave Curry $60 million over 6 seasons. Zeke made the move for Curry at the time, even though the center had heart and weight issues, based on potential and size. In that deal, the Knicks gave up what would be the number 2 pick overall, which Chicago botched by drafting and trading LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas (a guy that would be overpaid later on because of his athleticism and size), and the number 9 pick the following year (Chicago had the right to swap picks with the Knicks and they did), Joakim Noah.
Andrew Bynum, whom missed the entire 2012-13 season for the 76ers and was diagnosed with degenerative knees, received an incentive laden offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers for $24 million over two years, the second being a team option, because of, you guessed it: Potential and Size. Bynum, only 25 years of age, was the second best center in the league when healthy but those days may only be memories at this point. The rationale with him is his age, but age doesn't mean diddly when you're a seven footer with knee issues. Just look at Greg Oden.
A young athlete with long arms that can run the floor, catch the ball in transition, play the passing lanes, rebound and defend marginally, will always be sought after, regardless if the guy can shoot, pass or dribble. In the eyes of those GM's, the shooting, dribbling and passing can develop later on, but the leaping ability and wingspan were must haves today. Little did those GM's realize, not every talented athlete had the patience or desire to develop their game after signing a long-term contract. Darius Miles epitomized this paragraph and only hung around the NBA as long as he did and made as much as he did because of his athleticism and wingspan.
Combo guards also had the potential to make a lot of money after showing out on terrible teams. Ben Gordon duped the Pistons into believing he was an all-star after electrifying the Chicago Bulls and their fans early in his career. Joe Dumars gave him a five-year $58 million deal that he subconsciously regretted immediately. But that has been the NBA way. When teams have had money, they have spent it solely for the purpose of spending it.
Dumars has done it again with the four-year $54 million Josh Smith signing. While I like J Smoove as a player, his lack of a consistent jump shot has pinned him to the power forward position. Detroit, seeing as how they already possess two young big men oozing with potential in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, view Smith as their small forward of the near future. And although Smith possesses the abilities to defend 3s with regularity, he's better suited to score against 4s.
On paper, the Pistons would have been better off pursuing Andre Iguodala (Warriors) or Tyreke Evans (Pelicans). Both were capable of playing the 2 or the 3, question mark positions for Detroit, and they both had the ability to run the offense for stretches. Evans was a restricted free agent, however, which was likely to be why Dumars shied away, and to be fair, Tyreke has regressed since his rookie season, but that had to do more with Sacramento's coaching carrousel and glut of guards.
Iggy went to an exciting young team with three budding stars so he may not have had interest in rebuilding Detroit, but at the end of the day money talks and if Dumars wanted to overpay for Andre, Iguodala would have been there.
NBA free agency has always been about teams overpaying for their incoming players. Sometimes, if a player was a restricted free agent, an organization would go above market value in hopes of the contract not being matched, but more often than not, a player was overpaid for what they possibly represented (size, potential, leaping ability, past stats--empty or not), as opposed to their current performance and outlook. There have been instances of teams bringing in players on fair contracts, or below market value, like Denver signing JJ Hickson for three-years $15 million, but usually when a team gets a deal, it's with a veteran player that had a lousy agent, gave them a hometown discount or simply wanted the opportunity for a ring.
We'll see how GM's issue contracts after this Collective Bargaining Agreement expires and the next one is drawn up.