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View Full Version : Hollinger Grades Free Agent Signings Thus Far



JayRedd
07-05-2007, 03:35 PM
It's Hollinger, so take it for what it's worth, but he seems to agree with some of yall that these role players are getting too much dough/years.

http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&id=2926378



Grading the impact of the early free-agent deals

By John Hollinger
ESPN Insider

Updated: July 5, 2007

Well, so much for this free-agency season being a buyer's market.

Five days into free agency, it's become clear that the laws of supply and demand aren't tilted quite as much toward teams as we had supposed. We've already seen a couple of huge paydays with Rashard Lewis' max deal with Orlando and Vince Carter's package to re-up with New Jersey. Chauncey Billups, Gerald Wallace, Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Andres Nocioni and Darko Milicic all are likely to have deals for more than the midlevel exception before all is said and done.

But even more eye-opening has been what's happened in the middle of the market. Role players such as Steve Blake and Morris Peterson are demanding the full midlevel yet seem to have several suitors, while specialists like Jason Kapono and Matt Carroll already have deals in hand for near that amount.

To help evaluate the league's annual silly season, I thought I'd take a look at the deals completed thus far and hand out two grades -- one for its short-term impact, and another for its long-term impact. By short-term, I basically mean this upcoming season -- how does it help the team immediately? Long-term is anything beyond that, which is where we get into the uglier ramifications of some of this summer's lengthy contracts.

The report cards please:

Rashard Lewis to Orlando (five years, maximum)
Short-term A, long-term C-
I already expounded on the Lewis signing earlier this week so I won't get too deep into this now. Suffice it to say that the beginning of the deal will be a lot more friendly than the end, especially if they go the sign-and-trade route and give Lewis a sixth year with bigger raises.

While we're talking about the Magic, by the way, have you ever seen an agent more upset that his client gained unrestricted status than Marc Cornstein with Milicic this week? Am I the only one who found that a little weird?


Vince Carter re-signs with New Jersey (four years, $61.8 million)
Short-term A-, long-term B-
In retrospect, this was some good poker by Rod Thorn. Carter wanted to stay with the team, so as long as New Jersey didn't make an insulting offer it was going to be able to keep him. Thorn could have overplayed his hand here with a lowball offer, but that would have resulted in Carter's people seeing what Orlando was willing to pay ... and discovering the Magic were ready to fork out the max. Instead, the Nets made a reasonable offer to start things, got Carter at a slight discount, and can stay relevant for the near future.

This deal isn't so bad in the long-term, either. While Carter can be expected to decline over the next few years, the Nets limited their risk by making it a four-year deal rather than five or six. As an added plus, the deal expires at the same time as Richard Jefferson's max deal, so if the Nets want to break out the dynamite in 2011 they'll have plenty of flexibility.


Luke Walton re-signs with Lakers (six years, $30 million)
Short-term B+, long-term D+
Keeping Walton eliminates the sign-and-trade possibilities that many had considered part of the Lakers' trade scenarios, but in truth that was always unlikely -- Walton would have had to agree to go someplace like Minnesota or Indiana. Fat chance.

Instead L.A. keeps him for less than the midlevel exception, a pretty good deal when you compare it to the ones two inferior players got (Kapono and Carroll). Walton can defend two positions and projects to have a PER in the 13-14 range for the next few years, so he'll be a solid rotation player at reasonable money.

The only downside here is the length of the deal -- six years is a risky proposition for any player, but especially with a non-star. This deal pays Walton until he's 33, at which point he's likely to be a shadow of the player he is today. So the first couple years of this deal will be good value, but the last two or three could get ugly.


Grant Hill to Suns
Short-term A, long-term A
What's not to like about this one? Hill comes to Phoenix as a virtual no-risk proposition, signing on for a pittance to get his shot at a ring. The Suns effectively traded James Jones for Grant Hill while saving a few million (once you include the luxury tax ramifications) on the transaction, and the deal is short-term enough that if Hill's injury woes return they won't handcuff the franchise.


Matt Carroll re-signs with Charlotte (six years, $27 million)
Short-term B-, long-term C-
Carroll is an unusual player -- he's a 3-point sniper who also has a knack for getting to the foul line -- and as such that makes him a very effective offensive role player. However, he's a poor defender and his numbers don't project to be overwhelming -- as with Walton, he's likely to have a PER in the 13-14 range the next couple seasons, but in this case without the defense. The money here isn't extravagant, though, so it's not such a bad deal short-term.

As with Walton, the long-term ramifications of this deal aren't nearly as positive. Carroll should fare a little better than Walton because he's half a year younger and his foremost skill -- shooting -- shouldn't decline much with age. But paying role players into their mid-30s is normally a losing proposition.


Jason Kapono to Toronto (four years, $24 million)
Short-term C+, long-term C+
I was a bit taken aback by the money here -- $6 million a year for a player I judge inferior to both Carroll and Walton. Kapono had a good year in 2006-07, but he's also had several duds. His projected PER next year of 12.60 is not impressive (I'll have all the projections out in a little while, if you're wondering), and he's not going to add much at the defensive end either.

The reason the grade here isn't worse is because: (a) Kapono answers a short-term need, (b) he fits the system, and (c) they kept the deal short. The Raptors were running low on small forwards, especially with MoPete headed out the door, and Kapono was the best one available within their means. He also lets them space the floor with four shooters around T.J. Ford (Bosh, Bargnani and Parker being the other three), which should make him a good fit there.

But most importantly, they're not paying for his decline years. Kapono is 26 now and will be 30 when the contract ends; there's a huge difference between that and paying somebody like Walton or Carroll until age 33. So while I don't think Kapono is worth $6 million a year, or anything close to it, at least the Raptors limited their downside risk.


Utah releases Derek Fisher for personal reasons (three years, $21 million)
Short-term C-, long-term A-
Losing him will likely hurt the Jazz this season, as they scramble to find a capable backcourt replacement while armed only with their midlevel exception. But long-term, Fisher did them a big favor. Despite the heartwarming playoff performance against Golden State, Fisher did not have a good year, and he doesn't figure to improve as he gets deeper into his 30s.

With his deal off the books, the Jazz will be able to extend Deron Williams next summer without going over the luxury tax a year later, and in the meantime they'll have a lot more flexibility to use their exception money the next two summers.


Fabricio Oberto re-signs with San Antonio (three years, $10.5 million)
Short-term B, long-term A
Retaining Oberto is nice, but it doesn't really move the dial much compared to the signings of players like Lewis and Carter. Where this deal really pays off is in the following years. Look at the deals that other teams are giving to quality big men; heck, look at the deal second-tier perimeter players are getting.

Oberto's contract is much more reasonable than those, continuing the Spurs' trend of being an oasis of fiscal sanity in these otherwise crazy times. That's going to pay huge dividends next summer, because depending on what the '08 cap figure comes in at, the Spurs could have enough cap space to go above the midlevel exception in pursuit of other free agents -- in what appears, at the moment, to be a loaded free agent class.


Matt Bonner re-signs with San Antonio (three years, $9 million)
Short-term B-, long-term B+
I'm not sure how much Bonner will play this coming season, but at some point he's going to succeed Robert Horry in the 3-point-shooting power forward role on this team, and he should do a pretty good job of it (though worse than Horry in other respects, he's a much better shooter). As with the Oberto deal, the real benefit comes further down the road, as the Spurs don't have an ugly final year or two of the contract to deal with.


Jacque Vaughn re-signs with San Antonio (two years, $2.5 million)
Short-term B, long-term B+
A rotation player for a championship team signing for the league minimum? Believe it. Vaughn is likely to come back in the same role as he did a year ago, and by not splurging on a backup point guard the Spurs have more dough available to go after higher-priority needs. The only way this comes back to bite them is if Tony Parker has an extended injury absence.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.

bulldog
07-05-2007, 03:57 PM
Wait, how did Fishers contract get just taken off the books like that?

I didn't realize a team and player could just part ways like that with no cap ramifications. Is it because Fisher retired, or just agreed to give up all his money?

Dr. Goldfoot
07-05-2007, 04:01 PM
Both sides agreed to nullify the contract. I think it's all on the up and up. If the league or players association wants to dig into it they can feel free to be branded as not caring about little girls with eye cancer.

avoidingtheclowns
07-05-2007, 04:08 PM
Both sides agreed to nullify the contract. I think it's all on the up and up. If the league or players association wants to dig into it they can feel free to be branded as not caring about little girls with eye cancer.

isn't fisher the leader of the players association?

idioteque
07-05-2007, 05:24 PM
I don't think Hollinger gave the Nets enough credit for coming to terms with Carter the way he did. Although this contradicts Hollinger's information, VC seems to be the kind of guy with an ego to demand a 6 year, max deal, and the Nets now only have him on the books for four years, and by then he'll command less money.

Vince won't be the player he is now in 4 years, but then again how many of these players will be the same player they are in the next few years when these contracts expire? Hollinger seems to damn every team for the same thing, when in fact it seems like when you're taking the chance on signing one of these middle aged players to long term, high dollar deals you're more likely to want to be winning now as opposed to trying to rebuild. If you're in that situation the long term isn't as important.

Also it's funny that Hollinger assumes that a guy with the caliber of Luke Walton could have a huge factor in deciding where in fact he wanted to play. I think that's a option that should be reserved only for the league's superstars, but even then I don't like it at all.

bulldog
07-05-2007, 06:09 PM
Both sides agreed to nullify the contract. I think it's all on the up and up. If the league or players association wants to dig into it they can feel free to be branded as not caring about little girls with eye cancer.

I didn't mean to insinuate it wasn't all proper and everything, I was just wondering what the rule is. And Fisher is players rep prez, so again I'm sure it was all dealt with.

I'm just surprised I've never heard of this happening before. So all that time Artest was sitting on his rear, if we had just wanted him gone, he could have just said, fine, forget my contract I'm gonna go and sign for whatever team I want. I guess we still wanted him as a trade chip, so we wouldn't let him out of it, I'm just surprised its a mutually agreed upon decision so rarely.

JayRedd
07-05-2007, 07:29 PM
Also it's funny that Hollinger assumes that a guy with the caliber of Luke Walton could have a huge factor in deciding where in fact he wanted to play. I think that's a option that should be reserved only for the league's superstars, but even then I don't like it at all.

Luke Walton was an unrestricted free agent, so the only way LA could of moved him to Minny or Indy was in a S&T. That means he did have complete say over whether or not he would agree to go somewhere or not.

skyfire
07-05-2007, 09:43 PM
John Hollinger - Providing arbitrary rankings for stuff you dont care about.

avoidingtheclowns
07-05-2007, 10:49 PM
i'm shocked kareem rush didn't make the list of grades. shocked i tell you. a major signing like that... for shame world wide leader.

Kegboy
07-05-2007, 10:58 PM
i'm shocked kareem rush didn't make the list of grades. shocked i tell you. a major signing like that... for shame world wide leader.

It's such a slam dunk move they felt it'd be redundant to try and explain what everybody knows anyway.

If you really need to see for yourself, it would go something like this:

Kareem Rush to Indiana (one year, minimum)
Short-term A+, long-term F-

82-0, baby! Major demerits for not locking him up long term, though. Idiots.