Jan 11, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT
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?
Mar 14, 2014, 12:55 AM EDT
The rest of this game went pretty much like this play. This steal and slam was the first two of Russell Westbrook‘s 11 first quarter points as the Thunder raced out to a 14 point first quarter lead. Then they really opened it up in the third quarter, making it a 24-point lead and it…
Mar 13, 2014, 10:36 PM EDT
The Rockets came into Thursday night’s contest in Chicago with the league’s best record since Jan. 1, a 23-7 mark that included a record of 15-3 over the team’s last 18 games. But it’s difficult to bring the necessary energy on a nightly basis, and especially against a fiery Bulls team playing at home, not…
Mar 13, 2014, 9:31 PM EDT
Midway through the second quarter of Thursday night’s contest between the Rockets and the Bulls, Mike Dunleavy set up to try and take a charge against Houston’s Chandler Parsons. It turned out to be not the greatest of ideas, as Parsons inadvertently caught Dunleavy with an elbow above the eye that caused a whole lot…
Mar 13, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
Andrew Bynum looked strong in his Pacers debut on Tuesday, scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action against an undersized Celtics front line. Even with three days off before his team’s next game, however, Bynum is going to be held out on Friday — a game that’ll be played…
Mar 13, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT
The Rockets are in Chicago to face the Bulls in a nationally televised contest on Thursday, and Houston head coach Kevin McHale paid the highest of compliments to the best active player on the opposing team, Joakim Noah. That part wasn’t unusual, as head coaches will often times dole out honest and well-deserved praise to…
Mar 13, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT
“I didn’t touch him. All he did was scream. The ref gave him calls all night because he was screaming.” That was from John Wall talking about Kemba Walker after the Bobcats beat the Wizards Wednesday night. The league is not fond of people questioning their officials’ integrity (regardless of cause) and on Thursday came down…
Mar 13, 2014, 4:09 PM EDT
Coaches are micromanagers almost by nature. They want control, they want to set things up. So in crunch time, when their team needs a bucket, they almost inevitably call a timeout to set up a play. Of course, that also lets the defense make substitutions and set themselves up as well, but coaches want that…
Mar 13, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT
LaMarcus Aldridge is out at least a couple games after a nasty fall, but it looked a lot worse.
Mar 13, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
Steve Nash is honest — yes, he wanted that last year and $9 million. Nash also says the obvious — every one of the people commenting on this site or calling talk shows saying he should not have played 10 games this season (too many to get a medial retirement), that Nash should have walked…
Mar 13, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Portland has lost four in a row and is 7-9 in their last 16 games. In a tight Western Conference, that is trouble — gone is home court advantage in the first round as the hot Clippers and Rockets shot past them. Portland is now the five seed with Golden State just 1.5 games back.…
Mar 13, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT
J.J. Redick has missed more than a month and counting with a bulging disc in his back. He’s a strong shooter and underrated defender – the type of role player the Clippers surely want for their playoff run. Or not? The Orange County Register (hat tip: Matt Moore of Eye on Basketball): The team will…
Mar 13, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT
Underrated moment at the the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and Kings owner Vivek Ranadive were on a panel together, and Ranadive basically accused Boston of tanking. “And what are you doing?” Grousbeck jabbed back. Tanking doesn’t exist (says Adam Silver), but if it did (it does), Grousbeck is having a…
Mar 13, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
With the Bobcats clinging to a three-point lead over the Wizards midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday, Kemba Walker rose for a corner 3-pointer. John Wall appeared to contest the shot cleanly, but the refs called a foul. Why? Wall, via J. Michael of CSN Washington: “I didn’t touch him. All he did was scream,”…
Mar 13, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Evan Turner played his way out of the NBA cellar before the trade deadline. Apparently, the only question was which championship contender he’d join. The Pacers traded for Turner, but reportedly he could have been a Spur. Marc Stein of ESPN: It emerged shortly after trade deadline that San Antonio tried hard to make deadline-day…
Mar 13, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT
A month and a half ago, Magic Johnson pledged to stop complaining about the Lakers. He’s almost kind of sort of barely maybe trying to live up to that. Magic: I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers.— Earvin Magic…
Mar 13, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
The Warriors and Clippers don’t like each other, but it seems the Warriors particularly dislike Blake Griffin. Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut went after Griffin in December, and they successfully got the Clippers star ejected. Bogut even made a point not to apologize. Add Jermaine O’Neal to the list of Warriors who’ve feuded with Griffin.…
Mar 13, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT
No word on when Aldridge will return.
Mar 13, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
To quote Cartman: Respect my authoritah. Blake Griffin basically said that with this dunk. He has broadened his game this season, adding a far more consistent jump shot to go with handles and improved defense (which he showed off all night on the pick-and-roll against Stephen Curry), but the man can still dunk. With authoritah. As…
Mar 13, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
There was no way we were going to get through a PBT Podcast without talking some more about Phil Jackson and the Knicks. So that comes up in the latest PBT podcast with myself and Eytan Shander of NBC Sports Radio. But we spend a lot more time talking other things, such as the slumps of…
- Rockets don’t bring the energy, so Bulls bring the pain in securing a 24-point blowout victory 3
- Interesting stat: Teams score better in crunch time when they don’t call timeout 10
- Blake Griffin with as powerful a putback dunk as you’ll see (VIDEO) 11
- PBT Podcast: What is with the slumps of Miami, Indiana? Plus of course Phil Jackson talk. 5
- Extra Pass: Beyond Phil Jackson, Knicks should see Tim Hardaway as instrumental to their future 8