Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dumb Money

While the focus of this summers NBA free agency period has been on LeBron James and the Miami Heat teams not involved in the LeBron Sweepstakes were busy giving away over-sized contracts like candy. In one day Darko Milicic, Drew Gooden, Channing Frye and Amir Johnson signed for a combined $114 million. Madness.

General Managers seem to be throwing money at just about everybody and although many people are convinced there will be a lockout next year guys are still getting paid big bucks for their mediocre talent.

Here are just a few of the brutal contracts that were handed out since NBA free agency officially kicked off on July 1st.

Case #1 Darko Milicic, Minnesota Timberwolves, 4-years for $16 million

The Human Victory Cigar was the #2 overall pick in the 2003 draft and will no doubt go down as one of the biggest busts in NBA history. The Pistons selected Milicic 2nd ahead of Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh and haven't stopped kicking themselves since.

Since he was drafted he has played for 5 different teams (Pistons, Magic, Knicks, Grizzlies and now the Timberwolves) and has been a disappointment everywhere he's been. To see he is awful would be like saying Rachel Bilson is decent looking. Dude sucks ass.

For his career he is averaging a pathetic 5.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 0.8 APG. Also I can't forget to mention he is a 58.6% career free-throw shooter. Yet he somehow managed to get himself a contract where he would be earning $4 million a year.

Maybe Milicic has some compromising photos of Timberwolves GM David Kahn because how else could this have happened?

Case #2 Drew Gooden, Milwaukee Bucks, 5-years for $32 million

Gooden is a decent enough player but he is a 28 year old headcase that has played for 8 teams over the past 8 seasons. How is that not a red flag? Last year he played for the Clippers and this off-season they were all too happy to see him go. If the Clippers don't want a guy then you shouldn't either because they will literally sign anybody.

However the biggest reason I don't like this deal is because of the team that signed him. Last season the Bucks were a mediocre team until they brought in John Salmons midway through the season. Salmons brought some energy and a scoring touch to a team that ended the season strong and looked like a darkhorse going into the playoffs. Then Andrew Bogut blew out his knee and the season was lost.

The reason the Bucks were so successful was because they had balance and solid chemistry. Bringing in a guy like Gooden is going to upset that chemistry and in the end will hinder the team. Dude rocks a beard on the backof his head. He can only be bad news.

Case #3 Amir Johnson, Toronto Raptors, 5-years for $34 million

This deal really pissed me off. Johnson was signed last year to a 1-year deal worth less than $1 million. His role was that off a bench player who could be brought in and provide some energy and a defensive boost. He filled that role admirably and endeared himself to Raptors fans with his gritty play and likable personality. I loved Amir Johnson.

But for $6.8 million a season I hate him.

Here is a guy who came into the league right out of high school and managed to make no impact. His best season was last year where he put up 6.2 PPG and grabbed 4.8 RPG. He is a solid bench guy but he is not a replacement for Chris Bosh. He is not worth almost $7 million a year. I understand Raptors GM Brian Colangelo was under pressure to sign someone after Bosh declared he was leaving but this was a panic move.

Johnson played well at the end of last year when Bosh was hurt but a strong performance over 7 games shouldn't merit a contract of this size. Raptors fans will look back at this deal and label it as one of the many moves what will eventually cost Colangelo his job.

Case #4 Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks, 6-years for $123.7 million

Hard to believe that out of all the big name free agents out there Joe Johnson walked away with the biggest contract. His decision to re-sign with the Hawks was great for his wallet but not for his trophy case as his contract will make it hard for the Hawks to bring in any more talent to try and compete with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

Unlike the other players on this list Johnson is very talented and deserving of a big contract but his skills don't merit $20 million per year. No team is winning an NBA Championship with Joe Johnson as their best player. In fact ESPN columnist Bill Simmons summed it up perfectly when he wrote, "Atlanta offered Joe Johnson $120 million to thank him for leading the Hawks to a four-game sweep in Round 2 in which they were outscored by 25 points per game.)

Thanks Mr. Simmons.

Case # 5 Travis Outlaw, New Jersey Nets, 5-years for $35 million

No that is not a typo, Travis Outlaw actually found a team willing to give him $7 million a year to 9.5 PPG and sit on the sidelines in street clothes due to an injury. Outlaw has been in the league for 7 years and has played more than 67 games only twice. He averages 57 games a year and has never lived up to his potential.

Granted he is only 25 years old but I just don't see him breaking out for a big season in New Jersey. The silver lining here is that the Nets owner is a Russian Billionaire who probably spends $35 million a year on vodka, caviar and hookers.

Did I mention he shoots less than 40% from the floor and doesn't pass, rebound or play defense?

Case # 6 Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks, 5-years for $100 million

Speaking of guys that don't pass, rebound or play defense how about Amare Stoudemire! The Knicks told their fans for the past 2 years to be patient and wait until the summer of 2010 when LeBron James would join the team and save them from irrelevancy.

That didn't happen so Donnie Walsh went out and got an injury prone forward who's solid career offensive numbers are due solely to Steve Nash. Without Nash on his team Stoudemire is sure to be a bust. Who on that Knicks team is going to pass him the ball? Their team doesn't have a true point guard and opponents will be able to double Amare because no one else on the team is an offensive threat.

How many games do you think it will take before Amare calls Steve Nash to let him know how much he misses him. My bet is during halftime of the first game.

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