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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Bad deals


In the aftermath of what could be the most exciting NBA offseason in recent memory, the balance of power has shifted to Los Angeles. Anthony Davis will be playing with LeBron James in the Lakers while 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard has teamed up with fellow All-Star Paul George for the Clippers. Meanwhile, other superstars have moved homes in a bid to further cement their legacy. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant now call New York home while Russell Westbrook is now in Houston.

With most of the notable free agents already signed, it is now a good time to look at the worst contracts in the offseason:

1) Khris Middleton ($178 million, 5 years) – For a small-market franchise, this is certainly a steep price to pay to keep their 60-win team intact and their resident superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo happy. Sure Middleton does everything on the court including shoot threes and guard the opposing team’s best offensive player but paying him superstar dollars, when he is not one, might hurt the team’s flexibility in the long run. Just for context, Middleton will roughly earn the same as Irving and George. After this season, the Bucks will have to shell out an estimated $250 million contract to Giannis.

2) Terry Rozier ($58 million, 3 years) – Instead of signing resident star Kemba Walker to a max contract, the Charlotte Hornets let him walk and signed Rozier as his replacement. Rozier has shown that he can be a starting point guard in the NBA. But spending nearly $20 million yearly on a guard that hasn’t shot more than 40% of his field goals in his career and is not really exceptional in any statistical category is a waste of money. I don’t know what Michael Jordan is thinking but clearly, he is ready to tank. The Hornets are paying more Rozier in three years what they paid Walker over the last 8 years. Go figure.

3) Tobias Harris ($180 million, 5 years) – The Philadelphia 76ers lost Jimmy Butler to free agency and this may have pressured the team to sign combo forward Tobias Harris to a Kawhi Leonard-level salary. Hours after the team announced the signing, they also signed Al Horford, which would further eat into Harris’ playing time. Harris now becomes a heavily paid 3rd or 4th option in a line-up filled with bigs. He may be forced to slide down to small forward, a position he is not suited for. The 76ers made a costly mistake by signing Harris, they just don’t know it yet.

4) Harrison Barnes ($85 million, 4 years) – Yes, in today’s NBA teams tend to overpay versatile small forwards who can shoot from range and defend various positions. This is a perfect example. Barnes is good but he is not great. Re-signing Barnes jeopardizes the Kings’ cap space especially with young stars Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox. It’s true that Barnes has a championship ring but he is not a champion. The Kings keep shooting themselves in the foot.

5) Ricky Rubio ($51 million, three years) – The Phoenix Suns finally have their point guard but it took $17 million a year to snag him. Rubio is a terrific passer and solid defender but has no shooting whatsoever. He will probably move the needle since it allows resident superstar Devin Booker to play off the ball but his presence won’t be enough. Expect the Phoenix Suns to miss its 10th straight playoffs.


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