Ah yes, the beautiful time of year of underperforming players getting all-star money. Every free agency we see more and more money being thrown at subpar talents. However, it’s not always the Luol Deng’s that get overpaid. As you will see in this article, even superstar talents can be given too much money for too many years.
News broke late Saturday evening that guard Will Barton will sign a four-year, $54 million dollar deal to remain with the Denver Nuggets. The seven-year veteran has averaged just over 10 points a game while shooting around 43% from the field throughout his career. Now obviously he’s improved since his rookie season and career stats don’t tell the whole story, but Barton has averaged double figures only four times throughout his seven-year stint. And in 2018, he scored about 15 points per game while shooting 45% from the field and 37% from behind the arc.
Substantial numbers no doubt, But let’s not forget that Barton will be the third or fourth option for Denver heading forward. Obviously, behind Jokic and Millsap, Barton also trails fellow guard Jamal Murray in shots per game. So to sum this signing up, the ninth-seeded Nuggets just locked themselves into four years of the fourth best player on their roster. Oh yeah, and Denver also just signed Nikola Jokic to a 148 million dollar max deal. With virtually no cap space, the Nuggets have basically decided they are perfectly fine with being a mediocre team that will linger around the 8th or 9th seed.
I get it, Marcus Smart is that one player whose impact can’t be measured by the stats. But if you walk into free agency expecting 15-20 million per year, you have to have somewhat respectable stats. In 2018, Smart averaged 10.2 points per game while shooting 36.7% from the field and 30.1% from behind the arc. Appalling numbers, Even with Smart’s “it” factor and defensive efforts, 20 million per year is way too much for a player that can’t be trusted to knock down an open jumper. However, looking at the market right now, it seems that if the Celtics are dead set on bringing Smart back, they’re going to have to break the bank for a less than efficient offensive talent.
Late Saturday night, Chris Paul agreed to a four-year 160 million dollar max contract with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets, who were just one half away from reaching the NBA Finals have clearly decided they can win it all with Paul and Harden leading the way. However, despite Paul’s ability to continue to perform at a superstar level, the veteran point guard is now 33 years old. And although his age hasn’t affected his performance on the court, it has apparently made him more prone to injuries, and likely cost them an NBA championship last year. So as Paul continues to get older and his body begins to break down more and more, Investing four years and max money into him is a perilous move.