Every time I’ve visited ESPN.com this month, my head has felt swimmy.
The NBA draft is behind us, and now teams are signing free agents. It’s the staggering amounts of money being thrown at players over the first week of free agency that had me swooning like I have a case of “the vapors.”
Sure, the top players in the league always get enormous contracts that sound just plain ridiculous to us commoners. Still, it’s the huge sums given to marginal players that always astounds me. The ones who are borderline starters, or even backups.
First, let’s look at the insanity at the top of the food chain. In the first week, here were the monster deals.
Stephen Curry, who has a history of ankle issues and surgeries, landed a five-year deal for $201 million. That’s $40 million a year.
Blake Griffin, who has an even worse record with injuries than Curry, signed a five-year deal for $173 million, or $33.6 million a year.
Gordon Hayward, who almost became a Charlotte Hornet the last time he was a free agent, signed a four-year deal for $128 million, $32 million a year.
Kyle Lowry, who is already 31 and needs quickness because he is just 6 feet tall, landed a three-year deal for $100 million, or $33.3 million a year. Sure, he posted great numbers this year, but what happens when he loses a step or two as players do in their 30s?
Similarly, Paul Millsap is an undersized power forward at 6-foot-8, and he is now 32 years old. Can he keep up a high production if he loses some athleticism? Is he worth $90 million over three years?
Jrue Holiday landed an absurd $153 million over five years, or $30.6 million. Holiday is a decent starting point guard, but over eight seasons he’s averaged 14.3 points, 6.2 assists and 1.5 steals. His player efficiency rating was 17.2 when the league average for all players is 15.0. How does that warrant $30 million a year?
By comparison, Kevin Durant is a bargain at $26.5 million per year for two years. As is Chris Paul with a one-year deal for $24.2 million.
Former Duke star J.J. Redick almost will make as much with a $23 million contract. Sure, Redick can shoot the long ball, but that’s about all he does. He doesn’t contribute much else, and his PER was 14.87, which wasn’t quite league average of 15.0. So why the enormous deal?
Jeff Teague lost his starting job in Atlanta, went to Indiana and played well enough to get a big $57 million contract over three years, or $19 million a year. Hopefully he can keep up his career-best pace of 7.8 assists a game like last season.
I saw the name Tony Snell and couldn’t even think of who he played for this season. Didn’t matter (the Bucks by the way) as he landed $46 million over four years, $11.5 million for a guy who scored 8.5 points a game and 3.1 rebounds.
See? That’s the deals that baffle me. Does the team think he is suddenly going to turn into a 20-point scorer? Why is he worth so much money?
Shaun Livingston was a point guard until knee injuries slowed him down. Now he’s a small forward who can’t shoot outside 18 feet. But the backup just landed $24 million over three years as a third stringer behind Durant and Andre Inguodala, who himself landed a $48 million contract for three years as a reserve.
That’s $72 million from the Warriors for two guys who can’t even crack the starting lineup. Are you kidding me?
Darren Collison was shown the door in Indy because he wanted to shoot more than pass. But now the Pacers are bringing the point guard back for $20 million over two years. Why? So he can disappoint you again? Fool me once, shame on you …
Australian Joe Ingles has only played three years in the league, but is already 29. His career numbers are 5.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals. Somehow he landed a whopping $52 million over 4 years, or $13 million a year. Why would anyone give that much money to a subpar player?
P.J. Tucker, who was born in Raleigh, but played for the University of Texas, is in a similar boat. He is 32 years old and has been around for a long time; people know what he can do and can’t do. He’ll give you 6 or 7 points a game and decent defense. Is that worth $8 million a year for four years?
Kyle Korver has probably been the best three-point shooter in the league over the past eight years, but he’s now 36 years old and can’t guard anyone. Is he worth $7.3 million for three more years, especially considering his advanced age?
By comparison, the Charlotte Hornets are shopping in the bargain bin at the discount store. They are only giving Michael Carter-Williams $2.7 million for one year as the combo guard tries to prove he can bounce back from a disastrous year in Chicago where he scored just 6.6 points on the worst shooting of his career and just 2.5 assists.
The Hornets don’t have the salary cap or the roster space to sign anyone else right now.
The starters are Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Dwight Howard.
Off the bench come Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lamb, Carter-Williams and two new draft picks in Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon. In a weak East, that could be good enough to make the playoffs.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.