Legend at the Bank or the Court?

With the NBA making a huge TV deal over the past year the salary cap has risen 24 million dollars, from 70 million to 94 million. This means one thing for both the NBA players/owners and fans, the players and owners will get paid. Owners will make more money from just the cap rising as well as the revenue they can get by possibly signing a big name free agent to a max contract now that almost every team has the opportunity to. There have been, and will be, a lot of huge, and somewhat unwarranted, contracts handed out by the league over the next few days with varying results.

Some deals that have already been done are Nicolas Batum with the Hornets and Jeremy Lin with the Nets as well as Timofey Mozgov with the Lakers. Both of the first two deals, Batum and Lin, are somewhat good deals with Batum getting 120 million dollars over 5 years while being a key part of that Hornets team. Lin also was a decent signing as he has shown the ability to produce at a high level and warrant the 3 year, 36 million dollar deal he got. The one that I question is the Lakers giving Timofey Mozgov 64 million dollars over 4 years. I knew that the Lakers were desperate after not recieving a sitdown with star free agent Kevin Durant but wow. No one else would give a guy that averages 6.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, 16 million dollars a year. Yes he is 7’1 and the Lakers whiffed on the better center Hassan Whiteside, but 16 mil for 6 points a game? The Lakers really are in full rebuild, they better hope they can entice Harrison Barnes to come now.

This just shows that players see LeBron and Klay Thompson and all the stars of the league getting a lot of money and think they are worth close to that. Thats totally fair, they would rather be a legend at the bank than on the court, I get that. But what I dont understand is what these guys say “I came here to be a winner… This team is great and I expect to win a lot here.” Quit that. You went there cause they offered the most money and said you could be a star there. Yes, some of these players probably will be the number one option and adored by fans but some will be exposed as role players or in other words not live up to the contract they think they deserve. The best thing for these players to do it be like Tim Duncan, you know the guy who has won 6 rings during his time in he league. He took a “pay cut”, at least in this generations standards and put a star team around him. That is why this Spurs team is so good, they are unselfish they do not go out and look for the biggest contract but rather the best chance to win while also getting theirs. Duncan is the prime example for the Spurs he made 17 million a year instead of 30 million, so he got his and got good teammates also. Then we have LeBron out here making 23-30 million a year and all the analysts’ making excuses of “He has no help” when his only chance is making others take paycuts, a la Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, or drafting a star, like Kryie Irving in Cleveland. The latter is harded to do because his teams are always one of the best so they have a high draft pick and do not usually get great picks, and if they do have draft picks they usually trade it for help now. If every star/franchise player took a pay cut down to 15 million, which is still severely overpaid in my opinion, and built a actual team around them they might not be enticed to leave.

Now onto some speculation about free agents, Harrison Barnes is the key tipping point of this free agency period because where he goes may tilt the decision’s of both the Warriors and Kevin Durant, whom I will get to in a minute. If Barnes decides to chase the money in Philly or LA he will be exposed as a not great player and just a player of the Warrior system. On the other hand if he stays in Golden State he will ask for a lot of money (17-23 mil range) and the Warriors can not give that out and expect to keep that core together. Saying he goes, however, that frees up the Warriors to release/trade another player, maybe Iguodala or Bogut and sign Kevin Durant while also keeping some money to resign Curry when he hits the market next year. So everything depends on when, where and how much he signs for so the rest of the dominos fall.

Keving Durant, on the other hand, is the kingpin of the free agency market this year, as he is a top three player in the league currently and everyone wants to get him. Durant basically has to choices, as I do not seeing him getting that magical mind changing pitch from the Heat, Celtics or any other team than I will say. He is really choosing between the Thunder and Warriors, the two teams that met in the Western Conference Finals. What I believe Durant is really doing is trying to get the best deal not only for him but Russellw Westbrook as well next year. He knows that he will resign with the Thunder for another shot at a ring that he was so close to having. Durant knows that the Thunder team is his best chance to win and star on this year, maybe not in the future but just this year. If he can get a pitch from a team that says “We have the pieces but we need you and Russell next year” kind of pitch then he will move next year when most every team will have the room to sign both. Nonethless I forsee Durant resigning with the Thunder for one year and leaving next, barring a banner raising in OKC, with Russell to chase a ring.

A last point about these guys taking less money and adding star power, they all have endorsement deals. They are still legends at the bank because of those, and if they stay a legend on the court well after retirment they can become like MJ and have shoe deals, endorsements all of that.

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