Jan 11, 2013, 10:00 AM EST
The Extra Pass is a new daily column that’s designed to give you a better look at a theme, team, player or scheme. Today, we’ll put together a squad featuring some of the league’s most valuable contracts.
Signing players to any substantial contract during the offseason free agency period is like tap dancing through a minefield — the chances of overpaying for a player or being stuck with a crippling long-term contract is very, very high. Those brave souls that have tried to build a team with above mid-level but below max players have more often than not put their teams on the treadmill of mediocrity.
Still, those players get signed every year, usually by teams who have false illusions of grandeur. That’s how Drew Gooden goes to the Bucks for $7 million dollars a year, or how Ben Gordon gets $58 million over five seasons with the Pistons.
The best value contracts in the NBA are players on their rookie deals, and super-duper stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant for however much you’re allowed to give them. That’s generally how it works.
But for the sake of this exercise, we’re leaving off those max stars and any player still on a rookie deal to identify some of the real bargains pulled this offseason. Here’s my All-Value Team:
Jason Kidd – $3 million a year – 17 PER – 8th in the NBA in true shooting percentage
Everyone laughed when the Knicks signed the 39-year-old aging point guard to a 3-year deal, but Kidd just keeps on adapting and producing. It might be surprising that the Knicks have a 23-12 record, but it’s even more stunning when you consider that Kidd has been their third best player in terms of net plus/minus, PER, and win shares. That’s some incredible bang for the ol’ buck, especially when you consider that Kidd is shooting 44 percent from behind the arc and turning the ball over pretty infrequently (4.2 assists to 1.3 turnovers a game). With pure scorers like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith on the roster, Kidd has turned himself into the perfect sidekick — a mistake-free, spot-up shooting fiend. He’s a whole new player.
Matt Barnes - $854,389 a year – 17.9 PER – 4th in the NBA in effective field goal percentage
Here’s the story. Barnes was playing pickup ball one day at the Clippers training facility, and apparently, he was really tearing it up. Chris Paul was in attendance, and he asked Barnes who he was playing for. Much to Paul’s surprise, he found out Barnes was still available as a free agent. So CP3, being the go-getter that he is, immediately ran upstairs to the front office and told the Clippers brass to go sign Barnes right away. That turned out to be a pretty good move, eh? Barnes was the 15th man added to the roster and was treated like an afterthought with Caron Butler and Grant Hill already on the roster, but he’s quickly become the most integral piece of “A Tribe Called Bench” — the nickname for the Clippers second unit that has been destroying benches (and starters) with no impunity. Barnes ranks 13th in the league in plus/minus, using his brilliant cuts off the ball and instincts in transition to give the Clippers the glue guy they’ve lacked for years.
Carl Landry - $4 million a year – 18.4 PER – Leads Golden State in win shares per48 minutes
How did everyone forget about this guy? How could a player with such a proven history of being an effective scorer — even on horrible teams — fall in the laps of the Warriors for below the mid-level exception? Whatever the reason was, it sure seems silly now. Landry has proven to be a physical, hard-nosed player that hits the offensive glass (17th in offensive rebounding percentage), gets to the foul line a bunch (20th in the NBA), and shoots the ball incredibly well (9th in True Shooting Percentage). Landry and Lee working the high-low game in Golden State’s smallball lineup (Jack-Curry-Thompson-Lee-Landry) has been truly beautiful basketball. If Landry keeps this up and doesn’t get 6th Man of the Year consideration, we should all riot.
J.J. Hickson - $4 million a year – 20 PER – 3rd in the NBA in total rebounding percentage
What a strange journey. After being tagged as the guy Cleveland wouldn’t acquire Amare Stoudemire for, Hickson has had somewhat of a resurgence with Portland. While he’s still an awful, undersized defender at 6-foot-9, Hickson has helped account for his shortcoming elsewhere by becoming one of the best rebounders in basketball. Hickson is 3rd in total rebounding percentage this season, trailing only Anderson Varejao and Reggie Evans. Hickson’s glass eating mentality and decent scoring instincts (9th in field goal percentage) have helped the Blazers fill the gap at center while Meyers Leonard figures the game out. With Hickson next to LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, the Blazers very quietly have one of the best offensive frontcourts in basketball.
Andray Blatche - $854,389 a year – 23.7 PER – 8th in the league in PER
Just like the Knicks did with J.R. Smith, the Nets got the knucklehead discount on Andray Blatche this offseason. After wearing out his welcome in Washington in a serious way, the Nets were the only team really brave enough to take on a reclamation project, and the talented 26-year-old big man has rewarded them by playing his butt off. Blatche is 8th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage, 16th in total rebounding percentage, and 17th (!) in usage percentage. The last stat is particularly interesting — it’s not very often you’ll see an offense sculpted around a player making the league minimum, but Blatche has proven worthy of the touches, averaging nearly 20 points per 36 minutes on career-high percentages across the board. Thanks to the great play of Blatche and Brook Lopez, the Nets can firmly stake claim to having the best center rotation in the NBA. Who could have predicted that?
Dec 4, 2013, 6:35 PM EST
Is it too late to join the Eastern Conference? Asking for a friend.— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 04, 2013 That is just classic. Sure, it’s been easy for fans and the media to pile on the Eastern Conference, where the 9-9 Wizards are the No. 3 seed and the 8-12 Celtics lead the Atlantic Division.…
Dec 4, 2013, 5:59 PM EST
Larry Sanders has been out since early November when he got involved in a bar fight and tore ligaments in his thumb so badly it required surgery to repair the hand. Sanders has since apologized to fans and the team for the incident. But it’s not over yet. Sanders has been cited twice for his…
Dec 4, 2013, 5:14 PM EST
The Washington Wizards have gone 7-3 in their last 10 and have moved into the No. 3 seed in the East (at 9-9, but still the three seed) all without having the No. 3 pick in the last draft Otto Porter, who was supposed to be the starting three on this team. But they could…
Dec 4, 2013, 3:58 PM EST
When TNT worked with the NBA to set up its Thursday showcase schedule, this Thursday seemed like a ratings spike — the defending Atlantic Division champion Knicks with Carmelo Anthony against the new Kidd on the block in the Brooklyn Nets. Then a showdown between Derrick Rose‘s Bulls and the two-time defending champion Heat. The…
Dec 4, 2013, 3:15 PM EST
It’s the most anticipated game on the NBA calendar, a battle of powerhouse franchises fighting for the heart of America’s biggest city… Or, it could be a big steaming pile of… that stuff you have to scrape off the bottom of your shoe sometimes. It’s the Thursday night showdown between the 3-13 Knicks vs. the…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:28 PM EST
Nate Robinson often gets plenty of run for the Nuggets in the fourth quarter of games. For one thing, he is the human proof of the hot hand theory and when he gets going can change a game (or he can be Mr. Snow Miser, everything he touches turns to snow in his clutch… he’s…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:04 PM EST
DeMarcus Cousins sat out the Kings loss to the Thunder Tuesday night with an ankle injury. When asked if he would be ready to go Friday, he decided to play comedian. Don’t tempt fate, DeMarcus. Derrick Rose may not think it’s funny but Cousins’ comments sounded like a lot of people on twitter who have…
Dec 4, 2013, 1:14 PM EST
Got to hand it to Turkish Airlines — they are willing to pay for two of the most expensive sports sponsors in the world, then they have put together some pretty clever ads for them. The latest has Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi — apparently both having time on their hands as they try to recover…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:48 PM EST
We use the phrase here regularly: Kevin Durant is the second best basketball player walking the planet earth right now. Durant is sick of having that title. He has said it before and he said it again in an interview set to air on “60 Minutes Sports” which will air on Showtime tonight (10 ET).…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:04 PM EST
Omer Asik will be out for at least a week after suffering a right thigh contusion, reports Jason Friedman of Rockets.com. Asik will be re-evaluated at that time to assess whether or not he’s able to return. Asik’s injury could leave Houston pretty shorthanded for Wednesday night’s contest against the Suns. Jeremy Lin is out…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:42 AM EST
The Spurs will face the Timberwolves in Mexico City on Wednesday as part of the NBA’s 2013-14 Global Games schedule, which included eight preseason games played internationally and one more to be played in London on between the Hawks and the Nets on Jan. 16. San Antonio’s players celebrated the occasion by taking on some…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:01 AM EST
Imagine being in a management position at your job, and supervising one of your better employees for a somewhat extended period of time. Then flash forward years later, when for a variety of reasons, you accept a position working for your former employee, who now has your old job. And while your former employee knows…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:22 AM EST
When the Golden State Warriors start raining threes there is no show like them in the NBA. The Warriors were down 27 points in the third quarter night at home to the Raptors. The Raptors were ahead 18 entering the fourth quarter and every Toronto fan still awake and watching the game back home was…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:08 AM EST
We told you yesterday Mike Woodson’s seat is getting hot in New York — The Knicks are 3-13 and have lost nine in a row, owner James Dolan has a Nets obsession, the Knicks play the Nets on Thursday and if the Knicks streak reaches 10… let’s just say Dolan is unpredictable. The fact Woodson…
Dec 4, 2013, 8:43 AM EST
The night before Paul George did the same thing for the Pacers, this time it was Arron Afflalo — scoring 43 points in a losing effort. Afflalo was overshadowed by the two rookies notching triple-doubles (Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo) but this was a career high for the former UCLA star. He had 14 in the…
The Extra Pass: Chemistry clicking in Denver as Nuggets beat Nets to win seventh straight, and Tuesday’s recaps
Dec 4, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
NEW YORK – If it was a fight, they would have stopped it. To say the Nuggets beat the Nets on Tuesday to earn their seventh straight win wouldn’t at all be an accurate description of how Denver came out and destroyed Brooklyn in the third quarter, and then continued the assault against a depleted and…
Tuesday night NBA Grades: Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo with dueling rookie triple doubles
Dec 4, 2013, 2:13 AM EST
If you were busy exploring our galaxy online and not watching hoops Monday then you missed the first time in NBA history that two rookies recorded triple-doubles in the same game. We’re here to help you out with our nightly grades from around the league. Michael Carter Williams, Philadelphia 76ers. The early leader in the…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:25 AM EST
Bobcats forward Michael Kidd Gilchrist suffered a left hand fracture against the Mavericks on Tuesday, the team announced. Kidd-Gilchrist left the game in the third quarter and did not return. X-rays revealed the fracture, and he will be re-evaluated on Wednesday when the club returns to Charlotte. Paul Pierce and Anthony Davis both suffered similar…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:42 PM EST
You got to be the programmers for the latest edition of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk Podcast with myself and Eyton Shander of NBC Sports Radio — I asked you to send me twitter questions (@basketballtalk) and we tried to answer a bunch of them. We start off talking Trail Blazers and their hot start, then move on…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:16 PM EST
We’ve seen shots launched over the backboard from behind it made before, but none of them were quite like this. Midway through the first quarter following an airball from Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley chased down the rebound as the ball was seemingly headed out of bounds. Not only did he corral it, but he had…
- Milwaukee police release video, cite Larry Sanders for bar fight 1
- PBT Extra: Focusing on “epic showdown” between Knicks, Nets 3
- Carmelo Anthony: “We are the laughingstock of the league right now” 14
- Joe Johnson says players noticed friction between Jason Kidd and Lawrence Frank 23
- ‘Melo says Knicks players “worried” Woodson could lose job if losing continues 12
- Report: Dion Waiters accused Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson of playing “buddy ball.” (53)
- LeBron says Wade is “getting that Kobe deal” in next contract. Should he? (53)
- With game in balance, Jason Kidd tells player to “hit me,” spills drink, gets psuedo timeout to draw up play (39)
- Michael Beasley finding a role, groove in Miami (38)
- Jason Kidd fined $50K for intentionally spilling drink on the court to stop play in loss to Lakers (37)