Spurs, Celtics Show Class in Signing Aging Duncan, Garnett to Lucrative Deals

Argun UlgenAnalyst IJuly 10, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 06:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs boxes out against Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 6, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, not everything is about maximizing economic value. For these two organizations, loyalty, class and legacy are contracts in and of themselves. 

According to ESPN.com, the San Antonio Spurs have agreed to sign 36-year-old future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan to a three-year deal worth $36 million. 

In 2011-12, Duncan had a very solid season, averaging 15 PPG, 9 RPG and 1.4 blocks per game.  However, his numbers have clearly been in decline since 2009 due to age and injuries. 

Kevin Garnett's contract with the Celtics mirrors Duncan's.  Garnett was also a marginal double-double player in 2011-12. 

Having recently turned 36 years old, Garnett last made an All-NBA team in 2008 when he lead the Boston Celtics to an NBA title. 

Still, like the San Antonio Spurs did for Duncan, the Boston Celtics extended to Garnett a generous three-year offer also worth $34 million.

Some may argue that the two organizations economically overvalued each player.  Yes, both Duncan and Garnett will most likely have productive seasons next year.   One may expect some drop-off from each player simply due to age, but a $12 million fee for either players' services is reasonable. 

However, by the time Garnett and Duncan enter the last year of their contracts, they will each be 38 years old and will be facing a crop of athletic forwards and centers in their prime. 

Factoring in the potential for injuries, age and their team's plans to rebuild, the likelihood of their productivity being at even 80 percent of what it was in 2011-12 is low. 

The inflated third year of each player's contract has other issues.  A $12 million-a-year salary for either player may put their teams in danger of exceeding the NBA's luxury tax penalty threshold in 2014-15.  

These consequences may seem like glaring deterrents.  However, one has to appreciate that the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs are both old franchises that put a premium value on team history and legacy. 

Having Kevin Garnett finish his career in Boston will add to the city's rich basketball history.  The same can be said for Duncan, who won four championship rings with the Spurs between 1999 and 2007.

The two organizations also placed an emphasis on applying championship culture to their squads.  That culture includes—first and foremost—consistently disciplined and tenacious defense.  Garnett and Duncan will serve as invaluable mentors to young players in this regard.

Granted, in terms of player productivity, these two contracts are overvalued.  However, there is something to be said about maximizing intrinsic and cultural values.   

In this regard, the Spurs and Celtics came out as clear winners in the 2012 free-agency market.