It’s been clear for months now how this NBA offseason was going to go down. LeBron James changed teams, some other potentially impactful player movement happened, but for the most part things were a little quiet, all because of the elephant in the NBA room.
No one has any money. The league is doing better than ever, but because of the 2016 cap spike and the monstrous contracts it inspired teams to give out, most teams have no cap space to work with until next year or the year after.
So less cap space means less player movement, but it also means less bad contracts handed out. No contracts have been handed out that will be crippling a franchise for years to come even though the Chicago Bulls gave Zach LaVine 80 million dollars.
With that said, some poor decisions were still made.
DeAndre Jordan, Dallas Mavericks: one-year, 24 million dollars
Photo Courtesy: Yardbarker
The thought process behind this deal is clear, sort of. It’s a J.J. Reddick-Sixers type deal. Get a competent veteran who will catch lobs from Luka Doncic and mop up the defensive messes made by your young guards.
It’s hard to ignore the better options out there, though. Derrick Favors is younger, cheaper, and better than Jordan. Julius Randle is cheaper, a lot younger, and may not be better now, but should be soon. Ed Davis is much better value for a similar skillset.
Favors is the one that really hurts. He’s really good, and could be a key contributor in a few years when Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. are ready to break out. That’s not true of Jordan.
Maybe Favors didn’t want to come to Dallas, even though they could have offered more money and a better role. Maybe none of these guys did. But the marriage between Jordan and Dallas seemed arranged all too far in advance.
By committing to Jordan so early on, the Mavericks handicapped themselves, and brought on a guy who may not be the same player who they nearly signed a few years ago.
Seth Curry, Portland Trail Blazers: one-year, 2.75 million dollars
Nik Stauskas, Portland Trail Blazers: one-year, 1.6 million dollars
If these two contracts were separated and given to two different teams, they would both be fine.
Curry was a decent bench guard for Dallas in 2017, but an injury held him out for all of last season. Stauskas has been on three teams in four years and is probably not an NBA player, but he would be a perfectly worthwhile gamble for a different team.
These two moves come in tandem with the Blazers first round draft pick — guard Anfernee Simons — and their decision to let Ed Davis sign with the Brooklyn Nets for only 4.4 million dollars despite his public desire to return. They also decided not to extend qualifying offers to Shabazz Napier or Pat Connaughton, two guards who proved useful for them as bench pieces last year.
Overall, I just don’t understand what this team is doing. They have absolutely no money to work with, but in a constricted market, there is no reason to rush into deals with two defensively-limited guards, especially when you just burnt the 24th pick on a defensively-limited guard, and you have a roster made up completely of other defensively-limited guards.
The Blazers got swept because they couldn’t hang with the New Orleans Pelicans’ size, especially in the backcourt. The Pelicans went on to lose to the Golden State Warriors in five games, largely because they looked like a bunch of shrimp next to the Warriors.
It’s a huge problem and one with no simple solution. Every team wants big dudes who can shoot, and there’s no great surplus of them available. These moves were not the answer though.
Lance Stephenson, Los Angeles Lakers: one-year, 4.5 million dollars
JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers: one-year, 2.4 million dollars
Photo Courtesy:The Ringer
I’ve been campaigning for months for LeBron James to join the Los Angeles Lakers, mainly for one reason: coming into this summer, they had absolute flexibility.
They had one bad contract in Luol Deng which likely could be moved along with another asset. Other than that, it’s all rookie contracts. So the Lakers could sign James and then bring aboard Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, one of the two, or one of the two plus Kemba Walker. If none of that worked out, they could just attain maximum cap space and fill out the roster with quality veterans.
James followed my advice. The Lakers front office did not.
The only possible explanation here is that James and the Lakers felt the best option for this year was to let The King run with the youngsters — Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, etc. — and see what they have before committing to anything else long-term.
So they decided to bring in some veterans just to fill out the roster. That still does not make these signings acceptable.
It’s not a good idea to bring in actively bad and harmful players just because they’re on short-term deals and playing limited roles. Because it’s the Lakers and because they’re being signed to play with LeBron James, these signings have been analyzed to death from a thousand different angles. There’s only one angle that should matter though: these players are bad and you shouldn’t sign bad players to be on your team. Especially not on July 1st, and especially not when you just signed LeBron James. It isn’t any more complicated than that.