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PBT's Free Agent Roundup, Day 1: When average players get wildly overpaid

Jul 2, 2010, 12:17 AM EDT

Recession? What recession?

After pleading poverty for a year — remember David Stern said the teams would lose $400 million this season — teams went on a spending spree like Paris Hilton with a black American Express card. It was obscene. This will come back to haunt the owners during the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

It was a day of average players getting oversized contracts. Let’s wrap up the entire day of news:

* Rudy Gay — a good small forward with unlimited potential and very limited focus and drive — was given a near max deal, five years and $82 million. Gay is a good player, scoring almost 20 points a game but not all that efficiently (he had a slightly above average PER of 16 last season). But the Grizzlies were afraid of losing him as Minnesota was interested — and they’ve been passing out stupid big contracts for years. New Jersey had him pegged as Plan B. So the Grizzlies bid against themselves and gave him the max deal. He took it. Obviously. We’ll see how this motivates him next season.

* Darko Milicic agreed to a four-year, $20 million deal with Minnesota. Yes, that Darko Milicic. He had three nice months at the end of the season for the T-wolves; he’s the kind of big that is a solid fit in the triangle offense. But that in no way negates the last few years or warrants a $20 million deal. Amazingly, this wasn’t even the strangest big man contract of the day …

* Amir Johnson was given a five-year, $34 million deal by the Toronto Raptors. The fact you just asked yourself “Who is Amir Johnson?” says all you need to know about the contracts given out today. He’s a solid backup big who just got a $34 million deal.

* Just to round out this theme, backup center Channing Frye was given a five-year, $30 million deal by Phoenix, which he accepted. The guy can hit 3-pointers and is a nice fit in the Suns system, but does that mean he worthy of a $30 million deal? Well, yes, today it does.

* LeBron James listened to pitches from the Nets and Knicks. Both teams had fancy power-point presentations. Jay-Z was there. So were a bank of cameras, complete with live remotes from ESPN — of the outside of a building where the meetings were being held. Friday will be more of the same with the Clippers and Heat visiting. But the process is not out of control. No sir. (Will the Clippers even have a power point, or is it a legal pad and a Sharpie?)

* Dwyane Wade had meetings with the Nets and Bulls, but we all know he’s going to stay in Miami and is still trying to recruit help there.

* Chris Bosh sat down with Miami’s Pat Riley, as well as representatives from the Nets. More meetings including Chicago are to come. But the dark horse in all of this is Houston — Bosh met with Daryl Morey, who gave him a personal iPad that had video testimonials from Yao Ming and others. If Bosh is serious about winning, Houston has to be considered (and they have plenty to offer in a sign and trade, maybe the best of Toronto’s options).

* Amare Stoudemire met with Pat Riley and the Heat for a couple hours and now has meetings scheduled with the Knicks, Bulls and Raptors.

* Joe Johnson reportedly has agreed to a max-deal offer of six years, $119 million from the Hawks. Another guy getting overpaid — a good player getting superstar money, and they will regret the last few years of that deal.

  1. E-ROC - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    Insane spending today by mediocre teams. The Lakers offered the full MLE to Mike Miller. Yikes! Lessons are learned through experience…………sometimes. I’m curious to see what Farmar and Shannon Brown get.

  2. harold - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    There is a reason why they are mediocre.
    They spend all that money on players who don’t deserve that kind of money.
    Lakers did offer a lot of dough for Walton and Sasha though, even if the economy was much better then.
    Anyway, it may actually be wise, not sure if there’s gonna be many players left after the Bulls, Heat, Knicks, Nets and other big spenders find out that they’re not getting LeBron and start scrambling for remaining players.

  3. Trikee - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    About as bad as us not knowing who Amir Johnson is – is you not mentioning drew gooden!

  4. Jeff - Jul 2, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    I wonder if I could leave my corporate job and sign a 5 year deal for 1.5 mill. At 300,000 per season, I can shoot about 75% from the line, bring the ball p the court and dish it off. I would bring maturity and leadership to the team and could also provide some sound financial advise. I think it’s a bargain. Now, who do I sign with. BTW, I am 46. They probably only go 3 years for me.LMAO

  5. Casey Truskunas - Jul 2, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    “Sport” has left pro basketball.

  6. jdusaf - Jul 2, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    These teams dont have this money…what was it, something like 18 teams lost real money last year?
    The market will correct this, unfortunately its going to be through some very tough times for the NBA as teams default or start getting sold routinely as owners dont want to hemorrhage money on them anymore

  7. Zack - Jul 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    How anyone can look at Amir/Darko/Channing and say yup, they’re worth 6m a year on BAD teams is mind blowing. I understand a good team that’s over the cap needing a specific type of player (big body, 3pt specialist, etc) giving the full MLE to a guy because that’s really the only the way they can get someone, and plus while it might be overpaying, it might put them over the top or match up better with a contender, but Toronto, Minnesota, and Phoenix?

  8. kevin - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Not clear why everyone is rejoicing over Phil Jackson’s return. Anyone can win with Jordan/Pippen, Kobe/Shaq, Kobe/Gasol.

  9. Jay - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Its sad because Joe Johnson coudlve really won a championship or two if he wouldve went with the right team. In 10 years, we’ll remember the team that won the championship after free agency 2010 not who got the most money. Thats why the Hawks will be exactly were they are.

  10. Show me the Money - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    All that matters is I will be going to my 40 hour a week job with my 2 weeks vacation and holidays. I can not afford to go to pro sporting events and really haven’t been able to for the last few years.
    I will hope my kids schools stay open and they have enough teachers and if I need the police or fire departments may they be staffed well enough to respond quickly. If this comes to be I then hope I can get adequate medical treatment.
    I’m I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture? The best thing I heard this morning, if Lebron leaves Cleveland we will lose 200 million in the economy. Why is it that over the last seven years the city has gotten worse if this kid generates so much for the community. Stop with all the BS to justify this millionaire lottery.

  11. Show me the Money - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    All that matters is I will be going to my 40 hour a week job with my 2 weeks vacation and holidays. I can not afford to go to pro sporting events and really haven’t been able to for the last few years.
    I will hope my kids schools stay open and they have enough teachers and if I need the police or fire departments may they be staffed well enough to respond quickly. If this comes to be I then hope I can get adequate medical treatment.
    Am I the only one that sees something wrong with this picture? The best thing I heard this morning, if Lebron leaves Cleveland we will lose 200 million in the economy. Why is it that over the last seven years the city has gotten worse if this kid generates so much for the community. Stop with all the BS to justify this millionaire lottery.

  12. Really - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    Show me the Money..
    That’s a lame jaded argument. Quit dwelling on your own short comings and let it rest. Just because you don’t deem it necessary or not worth it to buy tickets, others do.

  13. DaLakersRule! - Jul 2, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    You’re an Idiot, did u even watch the Finals?
    Do these guys sound familiar…Fisher, Artest, Vujacic, even Bynum!!!
    Does names like Horry, Shaw, even Fisher, mean anything to you; then the Lakers won their 1st 3-Peat.
    What about the Bulls, was is only Jordan or Pippen that were on the team…do u remember the names of Grant, Armstrong, Longley, Kukoc, Kerr?
    Comment, when u have something else smart 2 say…give Coach Phil Jackson the credit he is due!!

  14. lsanpedro - Jul 3, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    show me the money….i like your point. really.

  15. Neki - Jul 4, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    Hey num nuts Doug Collins, Del Harris Magic Johnson, Kurt Rambis couldn’t win with those players checkyourself Phil is the greatest coach of all time G. O. A. T. hate him or love him

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