Otto, To The Max

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Mar 25, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As a capitalist, and an American, I’m at peace with at the recent run of NBA contract news. Even though, the numbers, are crazy. In every direction. The talent is getting paid. Even the mediocre talent. I’m always, pro-talent!

Starting with Steph Curry, who set a new high water mark as the first ever $200M player in NBA history. He is also – unless I’m forgetting somebody – the first team sport athlete in American TEAM sports to clock more than $40M in a single season.

Curry is the co-face of the league right now (LeBron’s on the “heads” side of that coin) and the defacto franchise for Golden State. But he’s not the best player. Durant is, and he took a pay CUT. This makes me sick, thinking about it. But hey, Durant is fine with it. He’ll have to scrape by on about $25M per year, plus that much and more in endorsements.

Like I said, I’m an American. I’m happy for him, sick to myself. Because even though the Declaration of Independence states “Life, liberty… and the pursuit of happiness” – and Durant is both pursuing and achieving basketball happiness – I still think he should make more than Curry.

Last we saw of a Curry led-team in the Finals against a full-strength LeBron led team, Curry was throwing behind the back passes out of bounds and shooting bricks when the game was in the balance. This year, Durant sank daggers. Curry needed Durant, not the other way around. Furthermore, Durant would make ANY team he went to instant contenders, Curry… eh. You’d need to re-assemble a good cast of shooters around him all over again.

This is not me knocking Durant for taking less. This is me simply stating a formal objection to (minor) economic injustice.

Blake Griffin’s deal is absurd. He’s an increasingly injured, dunking show-pony. A guy who has not yet – and likely never will – develop an all-around game. But with Chris Paul busting out for Houston, what choice did the Clippers have? Say “no” and just, well… not have a season? Or a team?

The J.J. Redick one-year deal for $23 million by the Sixers is the definition of stupid contracts. The fact that a simple Google search turns up the following headlines, should be more than enough proof.

“For Sixers, Redick is Worth Every Cent of that $23M Contract” (Sporting News)
“Too Much Is Made Of J.J. Redick’s $23 Million Contract” (Forbes)

The nerds doth protest too much. Of course it’s a dumb deal. But a deal that can be rationalized into “smart” in the current NBA climate of “SuperMax” deals and salary floors. A grossly inflated salary is lauded because it’s “only for one year” and provides cap flexibility going forward.

Redick will give the Sixers a reliably non-embarassing 28 minutes a night, about 15 points mostly by way of threes… and virtually nothing else.

For one year. Then… what?

The Sixers were a full 13 games out of the 8th spot in the god-forsaken-Eastern conference last year. But, in theory, with a healthy Embid, healthy Simmons, a good Fultz… and JJ’s threes and “veteran” leadership….. then.. what?

Now my Wizards are ready to push their own palette of cash out into the sky, Point Break style. They plan to match a max offer sheet for Otto Porter that even THEY know, he does not deserve, and they would RATHER NOT have to pay. How do I know the Wiz and Ernie Grunfeld think this? Because they didn’t run out and give him this max deal themselves. Yet at the same time, send very overt signals that they would match “any” offer for him he might get.

And you still want to do this, why? Oh, right. Because he’s a nice player. Pretty good. Getting better. Sorta young. Works hard. And… (waaaaaait for it….) “you have to pay somebody!” John Wall was reportedly offered a 4/$173 million SuperMax extension, but was reportedly not jumping to sign it because he wants to keep the heat on Ted to keep building a contender around him. Porter would be a very bad signal in the wrong direction.

And yet… Wall could still leave anyway in two years! If it was my team, I’d go to Wall and say: “Hey, YOU are the man. We need you IN, before we go out and make the 3rd option on this team a $26M a year player. You first. Then Porter.”

But that’s not how the modern NBA works these days. It’s all leverage and superteams. Which is good for the players but bad for franchises who are throwing good money after bad trying to stay relevant. When the Wizards push the plunger on the Porter deal, look for a flood of pieces explaining that it was a move the team “simply HAD to make.”

I’m always skeptical of ANY time a team is dubbed by the media as “having” to do something. You never HAVE to do anything.

Otto Porter this spring had 0 points in 36 minutes of play in a critical Game 6 at home against the Celtics. His team won, 92-91 to stay alive. Thanks to a John Wall game-winning jumper. Zero. The NBA Nerds will tell you with an eye roll how dated and irrelevant the “old” stats are like “points” and “rebounds” and “assists.”

Okay. But for $26M a year, I’d kinda want a guy who couldn’t run around an NBA court for that long, and effectively become invisible.

5 COMMENTS

  1. When are you going to post more of more of your B&B appearances? You guys are funny as hell. I love all your “hot takes”. Keep up the great work, I’m a big fan.

  2. Philadelphia 76ers sign J.J. Redick to a one-year, $23 million contract
    Grade: A
    This is a perfect deal for Philadelphia. With $50 million or so in cap space to spend, the Sixers had to do something. And by getting Redick, they acquire a veteran presence for the locker room and add another shooter to put around Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Redick was never going back to the Los Angeles Clippers, and while he had interest from several teams, Philadelphia was always seen as a front-runner. Now Philadelphia can use a chunk of its remaining space to potentially give Robert Covington a raise as part of a renegotiation and extension of his contract.

    I’m with ya Czabe….but this seems to be the way most media thinks……wash Po today

    • The reason for these insane contracts is simple; NBA owners want guaranteed income and are not willing to compete against each other in any meaningful way. All of the salary cap rules and the draft are designed to shield owners from financial risk as much as possible. It also artificially inflates the value of teams in small markets or teams which are not well-run, further entrenching the current pseudo-competitive system. I understand that anti-trust exemption parity is the status quo in American sports but hopefully one day one of the the big sports leagues will abandon this model and move towards a truly competitive league. The NBA as the most player-centric league among the big four could and should lead way but as long as players are willing to have there salaries determined by a slew of arbitrary, anti-competitive salary cap rules, the owners and the league beauracracy have no incentive to change.

  3. I feel like whenever czabe has said he intends to write more like: “My goal, is to write something in the range of 500-1000 words every day. Perhaps even weekends.” …. he writes LESS…. 🙂

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