What’s happening this summer in the NBA free agency market makes no sense. Teams are “maxing” guys who are not elite players, and overspending on guys in the middle market.
First the Bucks jump out on day one and sign journeyman forward Drew Gooden to a five year $32 million. Good thing they did otherwise he was close to signing with… wait, who else was bidding? I don’t understand why the Bucks were so eager and so generous. Then they did the same with Salmons under what appeared to be similar non-competitive conditions. And why did they feel the need to go so long term with each player? It makes no sense.
But the largest idiocy of the summer is the maximum contract signings. In theory, maximum contracts should be reserved for the best of the best. But that’s not how it works in practice. In practice, when a team is bidding on a player they want, the maximum contract price actually acts as a sort of “desire” barometer. Any offer less than the maximum is taken as a sign of “disrespect” or “frugality”. Its bizarre.
Thus players that I refer to as “Tier 2″ stars get max offers. Players like Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudamire. Why? Because there doesn’t seem to be that “three quarter” market. When teams bid on free agents either the incentive, apparently, is to offer really good, but not great, players maximum deals. So you run into situations where the New York Knickerbockers overspend on Amare Stoudamire and the Atlanta Hawks do the same on Joe Johnson.
Over the past two seasons, I have Johnson producing winning percentages of .799 and .821. Pretty damn good, but far short of “elite”. Same with Stoudamire. Over the past two seasons, I mark him as producing winning percentages of .802% and .791%. Again, very nice, but maximum dollar worthy?
And I don’t even want to get into the sheer lunacy of “maxing” Rudy Gay, a player I see as — at best — slightly above bench level.
Something has to be done. Or I guess my fear is that something will be done. Its called a “lockout”. Its called “No Basketball”. That’s gonna suck.