2016 was the year of bad contracts. It was the year of the cap spike, and players like Evan Turner, Chandler Parsons, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Ryan Anderson, and so on. Players like Nicolas Batum got $20+ million and it was referred to as “Taking less money to help the team.” Time and again, bad contracts like Ian Mahinmi would appear out of nowhere. Apparently spending their cap space on decent players because of a one-time anomaly was more important to teams than future flexibility, because teams like the Lakers spent $34 million dollars per year over four years to get two veterans, one of whom (Luol Deng) is a bench warmer on a bad team, while the other (Timofey Mozgov) took a bright young player (D’Angelo Russell) to offload.
Time and again, these contracts have proven terrible for teams. And yet they continue to be given. The Hawks gave Dwight Howard $18 mil/year and had to take on Miles Plumlee, another bad 2016 deal, to offload him. Bismack Biyombo got $17 million/year over four years to back up Nikola Vucevic. Rondo got two years with $17 million guaranteed. Jeff Green got 1 year/$15 million. Courtney Lee got $48 million/4 years, from the same team that gave Joakim Noah $72 million/4 years. And that was just thinking off the top of my head!
2017 is the year of bad trades. Sure, there are and will be bad deals. Allen Crabbe (4 years with $18 million/year) and Tyler Johnson (max Arenas) have set the market for RFAs like Otto Porter and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who don’t deserve $26.5 mil/yr but will get it anyway. But holy cow, the trades have been bad. So this offseason’s poor signings, though not as bad as last year’s, the overall moves are about the same due to the absolutely awful trades. Here are the top five worst moves this offseason.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves Sign Jeff Teague
This could look really bad really soon. Wiggins is extension-eligible this season, as his rookie deal expires after the season. He will be an RFA. Towns will be the year after, with Butler being a UFA that same offseason. That offseason Teague would, in theory, be expiring, but he has a PO for the next year that he will almost certainly exercise. What that does is give Minnesota a near-max player and three full max players, eliminating flexibility. No, this isn’t a bad deal now - he’s a great fit, and is just three years - but it exponentially hinders their ability to get free agents next offseason, their last real shot. Of course, Dieng’s contract is much worse, but that was an in-season signing, so it doesn’t count.
4. New Orleans Pelicans Sign Jrue Holiday
They had no choice here. You know how sometimes a dog looks at you with those puppy eyes, and you have no choice but to give them the deed to your home? It’s like that, only Jrue wasn’t begging - he was demanding it. They only had ~$10 million in space, so they couldn’t really replace Jrue with anyone anywhere near his talent level. Then Boogie, sensing his team crumbling around him, likely would have left next year in free agency. And Davis would be an expiring deal at that point, with even less talent than he had pre-Boogie. But regardless of whether they had to do it or not, this was a terrible contract. Right decision, terrible contract. [My computer told me to “Please consider revising” that sentence. I’m telling New Orleans to “Please consider revising” Dell Demps.] Demps put them in this situation in the first place. Asik, Hill, Ajinca, Moore (who is actually pretty ok), Pondexter- the list goes on and on and on.
Yes, he got Boogie, but a great move taking advantage of a bad front office does not make a bad GM good. Giving a non-all star a 5-year/$126 million contract, with a 5th year PO and incentives that could raise it to around $150 million, is not good front office work!
3. Los Angeles Clippers Sign Danilo Gallinari
Gallo plays about as much D as an AFK NBA2K player and creates shots for others like a wall-ball player. i.e, throwing stuff against a wall to see if it sticks. “How many times do I have to tell you Danny, tennis balls aren’t sticky!” “Tell that to my Velcro shoes!”, Gallinari says as he and Tyler Zeller start teasing each other. Mrs. Wiggle, the first-grade teacher, rushes in and separates them before they begin to tussle. Gallinari is sent from his school in Denver to boarding school in Los Angeles, and this metaphor has gone way farther than I meant for it too. Anyway, LA spent $65 million on a one-dimensional player, which means they still have remaining to pay over $285 million to just their starting frontcourt on a team with the ceiling of perhaps a five seed. If Lou Williams is a starter for you, you need to rethink signing Gallo to a deal this rich.
2. Chicago Bulls Trade Jimmy Butler
Well… at least no one besides me is talking about this anymore! Jimmy was traded for an athlete coming off of an ACL surgery and coming into the final season of his rookie deal; A point guard who is seemingly a bust and can only play defense; and the ability to move up from #16 to #7 and take everybody’s favorite Niko Mirotic clone. Am I being too rough on these guys? Probably a little bit. But this was a massive underpay, especially for an All-Star who seemingly wasn’t disgruntled and had two years remaining on his bargain basement deal. It seems as if GarPax was feeling the pressure to deal Butler, and decided to pull the trigger prematurely on an unworthy deal. Or perhaps they are simply irrationally high on Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, specifically Dunn. Remember, they proposed a Jimmy Butler-for-Dunn and LaVine swap at last year’s draft and were turned down.
Apparently, their opinions weren’t swayed by the new information provided by last season, which is terrible and they should be fired for that (As well as their other inept moves). Am I just salty because they didn’t send him to Boston, and because our bodies are mostly comprised of salt water? Yeah, pretty much. But also because they are inept and incapable and are ruining one of the most storied franchises in the NBA.
1. Indiana Pacers Trade Paul George
Well, umm… where do I start with this one? They managed to TAKE ON salary by trading away a star, something nearly unheard of, especially for a deal as bad as the one they got. As a GM, you have to ask yourself: Can I turn this down today and still have it on the table tomorrow? Or will it fall off the table at first declination like that cheesy meatball that got sneezed off of the table and out the door? I already got most of my Domantas Sabonis slander out of the way here, but here we go with Oladipo. Yes, he’s just entering his first non-rookie deal, but he left after three years, so he’s already 25. Yes, he is, in theory, a 3-and-D wing with some creation ability, but in reality, he shoots under 35% from three in his career and had a -0.9 DBPM last year, and only +0.1 on his career.
If Pritchard made this deal as a means to acquire Indiana alumni Victor Oladipo, just because he went to IU, that makes this way worse. If you only have a twenty dollar bill and want one little thing of bubble gum, here’s some advice: DON’T SPEND THE TWENTY ON BUBBLEGUM.
Trade George to Boston for more assets that you can use some of to acquire Dom & Vic, but Paul George is, even on an expiring deal, so much more valuable than the two OKC guys. That offer, unlike the meatball, won’t roll off the table. Wait until after free agency, and if you still have nothing and are that desperate, at least get a pick out of it! You’d think that you would at least be able to get Smart and Crowder for George, and that deal is miles better.