What Were the Best and Worst Contracts Handed out in Free Agency?
It has been nearly a month since NBA free agency has kicked off and since July 1st, millions of dollars have been dished out, player transaction has been talked about on the daily, and many free agents have either returned or found new homes on lucrative deals.
Now, of course handing out lucrative, long term deals could turn into double-edged swords, especially depending which talent received the deal. NBA general managers are the best in the world at giving out smart contracts to players, but even they can make blunders.
This offseason has been no different.
There have been great contracts handed out, those that teams will get every penny’s worth out of the signed player. Then there are the bad contracts – the brutal ones that leave fans confused as to what the direction of their team is.
To break down the best and worst from the first month of free agency, let’s take a look at the top 5 in each category!
5) Rudy Gay (SAS): Two-years, $17.2-million
There is just something about being a contender year in and year out.
Rudy Gay missed the last part of the 2016-17 due to an ACL tear, and opted out of the final year of his previous contract with the Sacramento Kings. This summer, without hesitation, Gay jump shipped to the Spurs for a contract far under market value for a chance at competing for an NBA championship.
Prior to his injury last season, Gay averaged 18.7-points and 6.3-rebounds per game. Yeah, it must be nice to be the Spurs!
4) Jonathon Simmons (ORL): Three-years, $18-million
One of the more underrated free agents in the 2017 class, the Orlando Magic stole the versatile Jonathon Simmons for dirt cheap.
The talented 27-year old is now entering his prime and can do a variety of things on both ends of the court. He is a skilled and gritty defender, he is athletic, and he is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.5-points, 4.1-rebounds, 3.3-assists, 1.2-steals, and 0.6-blocks per-36-minutes.
This looks like a low-risk, high-reward acquisition which could just pan out nicely for the Magic.
3) Willie Reed (LAC): One-year, $1.5-million
Let’s allow a former superstar teammate of Willie Reed’s sum up how we all really feel.
Wait what. Willie Reed got whattt???? Highway robbery. Keep grinding bro you deserve better!!! @LAClippers you got you one!!!
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 19, 2017
For the Clippers, striking the deal was a no-brainer for the back-up center. Reed started five games for the Heat last season, and averaged 14.8-points, 8.2-boards, and 1.6 blocks, on 68.6% shooting from the field. His per-36-minute stats from the 2016-17 campaign are just as impressive: 13.1-points, 11.6-rebounds, 1.6-blocks.
Looks like a highway robbery to me.
2) Derrick Rose (CLE): One-year, $2.1-million
Derrick Rose has struggled mightily to stay healthy over the past several years, but coming off a very productive season in which he averaged 18.0-points per game through 66 games, one could say, Rose earned himself a nice new contract. In fact, there were even talks earlier in the season of Rose looking for a long term, big money contract extension from the Knicks.
Fast forward to today, the former league Most Valuable Player is getting pocket change for a chance to compete for a championship in Cleveland.
It is a win-win. If Rose can stay healthy and continue being a productive point guard, he will be rewarded next offseason with a nice, lucrative deal. If Rose cannot regain his health and doesn’t play well, what is $2.1-million for an NBA team nowadays?
1) Kevin Durant (GSW): Two-years, $53-million
The Golden State Warriors can’t stop winning of late.
Bringing back their entire championship core, while adding a couple more useful pieces couldn’t have been possible without the huge discount that Kevin Durant took to remain with the team. Hell, his new contract even helped the Warriors avoid a hefty luxury tax bill.
Let’s put it this way. Kyle Lowry is currently getting paid more than the second best basketball player in the world.
5) James Johnson (MIA): Four-years, $60-million
I realize James Johnson is a fan favourite, but let’s slow down for a second and think about this.
Four-years, $60-million? Damn. $15-million annually for a guy who started only five games this past season. Johnson is a versatile forward and is coming off a great year, but considering the other signings the Heat made this offseason, this may have been an oddly premature contract handed out to a player who’s term may come back to hurt the Miami organization.
4) Langston Galloway (DET): Three-years, $21-million
With the largely superior Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith still in the fold, Langston Galloway got paid a premium to become the third string point guard of the Detroit Pistons. Jackson has three years remaining on his deal, while Smith has another two. Not to mention that the Pistons brought in undersized two-guard Avery Bradley from the Boston Celtics.
If you can see the fit, please let me know!
3) Cristiano Felicia (CHI): Four-years, $32-million
The undrafted Cristiano Felicia cashed in after playing only 97-games in his first two NBA seasons. In just over 15-minutes per game this past year, the Chicago Bulls power forward averaged 4.8-points and 4.7-rebounds a game. To make this contract even more puzzling, Felicio has not attempted a single three-pointer and shot 31.3% from the floor when stepping further than five feet away from the rim.
The Bulls clearly know what they’re doing.
2) Jrue Holiday (NOP): Five-years, $126-million
Since being named an NBA All-Star in 2013, Jrue Holiday has missed 122-games since. Now, he is the team’s franchise point guard on an insane contract with insane term. This is not to put down Holiday, when he plays, he is a respectable point guard, who isn’t an All-Star per say, but can do a lot of good things for a basketball team.
But at the same time, five-year, $126 million contracts aren’t supposed to be handed out to guys who can do a lot of good things for a team – especially guys who cannot stay on the floor long term.
1) Tim Hardaway Jr. (NYK): Four-years, $71-million
Phil Jackson is not even in The Big Apple anymore, yet the New York Knicks keep doing New York Knicks things. Assuming the Knicks do end up trading a certain superstar to Houston or Cleveland, the new highest paid player in one of the NBA’s biggest markets will be Tim Hardaway Jr.
Now let that sink in.