To everyone’s surprise, this years’ NBA Free Agency has been the most publicized and scrutinized free agency period in recent memory. This is largely due to the fact that several NBA players have received incredibly large sums of money, even though their career production may not have warranted their increase in salaries. But what are the worst deals made in this years’ free agency? What are the best? Who overpaid? Here are my best and worst deals of the NBA offseason (so far).
GOOD Deal: Jordan Clarkson (Guard Los Angeles Lakers), 4 year, $50 Million
In my opinion, this was a great deal for the Los Angeles Lakers. Clarkson has been a major surprise ever since he got drafted by the Purple and Gold in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft. He made the All-Rookie first team during his first season and continued to shine during his second season. He averaged 15.5 PPG and nearly 5 APG last season. His 6’5 frame allows him to play either the point or the two guard positions. This versatility helped him gain high interest from several teams in the league including the New York Knicks. But he decided to stay with the Lakers on a very team friendly 4 year, $50 Million deal. Keeping Clarkson allows the Lakers to keep the young core of Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and newly drafted Brandon Ingram together, which will definetly give the Lakers a better chance to return back to relevancy.
BAD Deal: Bradley Beal (Guard Washington Wizards), 5 year, $129 Million
The Washington Wizards ridiculously over paid for Bradley Beal. Although the former Florida Gator has a career average of 16 PPG, his durability has been a question mark ever since he came into the league in 2012. Over the course of his career, Beal has missed 81 total games due to injury. He is also the second option on his team, opposite to John Wall. However, at a base salary of $26 Million per year, Beal is set to make $10 Million more than John Wall this coming season. It is hard to fathom how a player with Beal’s injury history is able to get paid mega bucks.
GOOD Deal: Demar DeRozan (Guard Toronto Raptors), 5 year, $139 Million
Although I believe the Raptors’ salary cap took a big hit as a result of this contract, it was still a move that the organization had to make. DeRozan and the Raptors are coming off of their best season in franchise history. It was a season that saw the Raptors go 56-26 during the regular season, eventually making it to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. For DeRozan, he posted career highs in Points and Assists during the regular season. Although they ultimately lost to the eventual NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, the fact that they lost in six games rather than being swept definitely gives the team hope for the future. This hope may have propelled DeRozan’s decision to stay in Toronto for the long term. Keeping DeRozan is both a good deal for the organization and for DeRozan. It allows him to continue playing and building chemistry with fellow All-star Kyle Lowry in the backcourt. For the Raptors, the move makes the city of Toronto a much more intriguing landing spot.
BAD Deal: Andre Drummond (Center, Detroit Pistons): 5 year, $130 Million
In the 2012 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons took Andre Drummond with the ninth pick. During his short time in the NBA, the 22 year old Drummond has fared pretty well for himself. He has been named to the All-Rookie Second team, All-NBA third team, and was selected to the all star game this past season. He will even be playing for the United States in this year’s Olympics. However, it was really hard for me to understand how a guy who shoots 36% from the free throw line is able to make $130 Million. I have no problem with the Detroit Pistons keeping Drummond on their roster; I would have just tried to save a few dollars for other pieces to build around the seven footer.
BAD Deal: Jeremy Lin (Guard, Brooklyn Nets): 3 year, $36 Million
This deal made zero sense to me. Since the wave of Linsanity took over New York City during the 2012 season, Jeremy Lin has had trouble finding a home in the NBA. He signed a 4 year, $28 Million deal with Houston Rockets right before the 2012-13 season as the starting point guard for the team. But, he soon saw his role diminish as a result of the Rockets acquiring ball dominant shooting guard James Harden right before the season. His 2013-14 saw him get demoted to the bench in favor of Patrick Beverly. After a dismal season with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015, Lin signed with the Charlotte Hornets as Kimba Walker’s backup during the 2015 off season. Surprisingly, Lin seemed to flourish in this new role and found that home that he had long been searching for. He led the Hornets bench and played a key part in Charlotte’s return to the NBA postseason. Although they lost in seven games to the Miami Heat, Lin’s ability to keep the pace up when Kimba Walker left the floor made him a perfect fit with the Hornets. That’s why it was hard for me to understand why he would leave that situation to sign with a dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets team.
GOOD Deal: Timofey Mosgov (Center, Los Angeles Lakers): 4 year, $64 Million
Surprisingly, I felt that this was a good move for the Los Angeles Lakers. Mosgov has been a pretty productive player everywhere he has been. In his first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mosgov averaged 10.6 PPG and started each of the Cavaliers 20 playoff games. He even averaged over 15 PPG in the 2015 NBA Finals. But he saw a significant drop his play and minutes this past season. Due in large part to the firing of David Blatt, Mosgov only played 17.4 MPG last season, while only averaging 5.6 Points and 4.1 Rebounds. However, the fact that Mosgov has the ability to score when playing is still a vital piece to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have had big man troubles ever since the departure of Pau Gasol in 2014. Although his $64 Million salary may be a little pricy, the idea of combining Mosgov with youngsters Brendan Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson certainly boosts the potential of the Lakers’ starting lineup.
BAD Deal: Hassan Whiteside (Center, Miami Heat): 4 year, $98 Million
This deal may become more costly to the Miami Heat if the loose Dwayne Wade in free agency over the next couple of weeks. But at the surface, this deal is still a risky one in my opinion. Although Whiteside has been a productive player since joining the Miami Heat in 2014, his behavior on and off of the court are still question marks. On March 2, 2015, Whiteside got into a fight with Alex Len during a game against the Phoenix Suns, leading to him being fined $15,000. A few days later, he was suspended one game for striking Kelly Olynyk during a game against the Boston Celtics. This past season, Whiteside was demoted to the bench after being named the team starting center at the start of the season. Several reports came out during and after the season that Whiteside was late to several team meetings right before games, which may have had something to do with the benching. Although led the league in block shots and was named to the All-NBA defensive team this past season, the idea of the Miami Heat deciding to lowball three time champion Dwayne Wade in favor of the unpredictable Whiteside is certainly a peculiar decision.
BAD Deal: Mike Conley (Guard, Memphis Grizzlies): 5 year, $153 Million
The $153 Million contract Mike Conley signed was the highest paid contract an NBA player has ever received. Most would think that honor would belong to LeBron James or Kevin Durant, guys who are universally recognized as two of the best players in the world. But no. That contract went to Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies. Conley has been an underrated point guard in this league for years. He is a key piece in the Memphis Grizzlies system. A system that has seen the Grizzlies reach the NBA playoffs each of the last six seasons. But Conley has had injury troubles over the past two seasons and has seen his play dissipate as a result. After averaging a career best 17.2 PPG during the 2013-14 season, Conley has only averaged 15.5 PPG over the past two seasons, while shooting just 43.4% from the floor. In relation, with career averages of 13.6 Points and 5.9 Assists, it is hard to see how Mike Conley is worth $153 Million.
GOOD Deal: Joakim Noah (Center, New York Knicks): 4 year, $72 Million
This was a great deal for the New York Knicks and for Joakim Noah. It allows Noah a chance to come play for his hometown team and it fills the void left by Robin Lopez as a result of the Derrick Rose trade. Noah is an energizer bunny when he is on the court and healthy. His versatility at the defensive end of the floor allows him to play up against multiple positions on the floor. In 2014, his defensive prose was rewarded as he was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The one lone issue that I have with this deal is the unpredictability of Noah’s health. Over the past two seasons, Noah has missed a total of 68 regular season games due to injury. This may become a problem for the Knicks especially since they lack a reliable backup should Noah get hurt. But combining Noah with Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony in the front court certainly gives the Knicks a better chance to get back to the postseason this season.
BAD Deal: Dwight Howard (Center, Atlanta Hawks): 3 year, $70 Million
Although this deal allows Howard the opportunity to play in his hometown, it is hard for me to see how getting Howard propels the Hawks past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. For starters, Howard has had major injury troubles dating back to his departure from the Orlando Magic. He played most of his one season with the Los Angeles Lakers with back and shoulder injuries. Then, he missed more than 30 games with the Houston Rockets during the 2014-15 season. This past season, although he played in 71 games, he only scored 14.3 PPG, his lowest scoring output since his rookie season. By default, he is still one of the best centers in the NBA. He can still score in the post and block shots on the defensive end of the floor. But with his body breaking down on him by the year, I do not see how paying him roughly $23 Million/year will benefit the Hawks in the long run.
Pictures Courtesy of Bleacher Report, Dime, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and the NBA