NBA Free Agency 2012: Separating the Overpaid from the Underpaid

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIJuly 11, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Separating the Overpaid from the Underpaid

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    When the NBA offseason rolls around, the sport takes a backseat to the business. As a result, players let out their inner agent and begin to pick and choose their destinations based on a multitude of factors. As we've seen in the past, there is rarely a more enticing option than the money they are offered.

    As a result, there will be players who negotiate their way to a higher salary than they deserve. There will also be the humble ones who accept a deal simply because they want to play for a certain team at any cost.

    Regardless of how you cut it, there will be injustices. The question is, who got robbed and who hit pay dirt undeservedly?

Ray Allen, Miami Heat

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    Offer on the Table: $9.5 million over three years

    If you're looking for a person to blame in this situation, choose Ray Allen.

    Allen passed up an opportunity to sign a two-year deal worth $12 million with the Boston Celtics. The decision was justified, as Allen would have been splitting playing time with both Avery Bradley and Jason Terry. What he chose to do next, however, has to come as a surprise.

    While many believed Allen would sign with the Heat, no one thought it would be for a three-year deal—not for half of what he'd make in Boston on a yearly basis.

    Final Verdict: Underpaid

Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets

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    Offer on the Table: $34-36 million over four years

    In all likelihood, this choice will spark the same comment being posted 15 to 20 times: "Are you crazy? He's the reigning Most Improved Player of the Year!"

    He's also the same guy who disappeared in Dwight Howard's absence and contributed virtually nothing in the 2012 NBA playoffs. Averaging 9.6 points per game in the postseason after putting up 16.1 in the regular season is a nice way to pad the resume.

    Anderson spent all of 2012 working off other talented scorers. Most specifically, he spent his time working off scoring big men. Considering Anthony Davis is the furthest thing from such a label, Anderson is set up to struggle in New Orleans.

    Worst of all, he's set to struggle for a ridiculous amount of money.

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Omer Asik, Houston Rockets

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    Offer on the Table: $25.1 million over three years via Houston Rockets

    I like Omer Asik as much as the next guy, but an average of $8 million-plus a year? Let's slow things down for a second.

    Asik is one of the best effort players in the NBA. He's active on the glass, a very talented shot-blocker and a much-improved offensive player since 2011. Nevertheless, his fundamentals certainly need work, and his tendency to foul opponents is rather concerning.

    With all of this aside, just one thing can be said: Omer Asik has never displayed the signs of a franchise center. Why pay him as if you believe he can become one?

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Michael Beasley, Phoenix Suns

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    Offer on the Table: $18 million over three years

    Unlike a majority of the names on this list, Michael Beasley has proven what he's capable of. The only thing holding him back just so happened to be a terrible situation in Minnesota.

    I'll take questionable character over a long history of injuries any day of the weak.

    In terms of talent, Beasley is an elite player. He's a 6'10" small forward who is not out of position on the perimeter. He has the power to attack the basket and pick up the two, as well as the finesse to work off an opponent and hit a mid-range J.

    In all likelihood, we'll be reminded of that fact in 2013. Expect a major contract to follow in three long years.

    Final Verdict: Underpaid

Landry Fields, Toronto Raptors

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    Offer on the Table: $20 million over three years

    Landry Fields is a very likable player. He's a hard worker with a great motor and an uncharacteristic level of defensive effort for a New York Knick. With that being said, Landry Fields is not worth a $20 million contract.

    In all likelihood, the deal will be closer to $19 million. Nevertheless, this has Fields making upwards of $6 million a year, on average, which is more than all but three players on the squad.

    While the Raptors are hardly an intimidating unit with great talent, one would be foolish to call Fields one of the best players on the team. Considering Jose Calderon is in the final year of his deal and Andrea Bargnani was the first overall draft choice, the two players paid higher than him have some justification.

    Fields does not.

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Eric Gordon, Phoenix Suns

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    Offer on the Table: $58 million over four years

    The Internet loves Eric Gordon. You know who doesn't? The basketball court.

    You can claim irrelevancy if you'd like, citing his point-per-game averages and athletic ability. You can even note his excellent series of performances at the 2010 World Basketball Championship. No matter what you do, just remember this one statistic.

    Eric Gordon has missed 107 games in his four-year career. He's only played in 205.

    An important note from his breakout 2011 campaign is that Gordon's 22.3 points per game came on an average of 37.7 minutes per contest. He also shot 5.2 three-pointers per game, connecting on 36.4 percent of them, and finished with the lowest true shooting percentage of his career.

    Don't forget, he also missed 26 games due to injury.

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Jeff Green, Boston Celtics

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    Offer Accepted: $36 million over four years

    After a mediocre 2011 campaign, the world discovered what can only be described as shocking news: Jeff Green would undergo heart surgery.

    While we've all collectively pulled for a strong recovery, one simply cannot justify what occurred in the coming months. After Green played a grand total of zero games in 2012, the Boston Celtics extended an offer of four years for $36 million.

    Forgive me for my pessimism, but have we forgotten how serious heart surgery truly is? Have we forgotten how likely it is that Green never recovers from a basketball standpoint? While the world will be in Green's corner, the Celtics should not have signed him to a long-term deal worth that kind of money.

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Jason Kidd, New York Knicks

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    Offer Accepted: $9 million over three years

    Jason Kidd is a 39-year-old point guard coming off the worst year of his career. While one could blame the lockout-eliminated offseason, this goes beyond his production. Kidd simply cannot hold his own against the athletic point guards of the NBA today.

    Not at 39.

    Kidd will still give you as well-rounded a stat line as any player in the NBA. He'll facilitate, rebound and even swipe some steals before it's all said and done, offering the Knicks a legitimate second-unit leader. You know, for 2012-13.

    Not for three years.

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets

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    Offer on the Table: $28.8 million over four years

    There is no denying how marketable Jeremy Lin is based on his name alone. For that reason, there is justification behind a deal of this magnitude.

    The fact of the matter is—and there is no "hating" involved in this statement—Jeremy Lin is a 23-year-old who played in 35 games and suffered a severe knee injury. While he may have dazzled the world, there's no proof that he'll continue dazzling.

    We build athletes up to be invincible forces of an unbreakable stature. What we seem to forget, however, is that the injuries they suffer alter a human's capabilities from a physical standpoint. Nevertheless, we all predict a recovery that includes said player coming back and picking up where he left off.

    That simply isn't how it works. 

    Hopes are high that Lin will recover adequately and come back to perform at the same level that made him a global superstar. There is a chance, however, that he joins the countless who simply couldn't fully come back from their surgeries and the rigorous process of rehabilitation.

    While we wish the best for Jeremy Lin, there is no rational way to justify paying a player $28 million coming off a 35-game season and knee surgery.

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets

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    Offer Accepted: $61 million over four years

    Why Brook Lopez is being involved in max-contract trade talks is simple. The Brooklyn Nets want to threaten the Orlando Magic with a "now or never" situation for a potential Dwight Howard trade.

    After all, why in the world would the Magic want to take on Brook Lopez for anything near a max contract?

    The fact is, Brooklyn does. If the Dwight Howard trade talks truly do fall through, the Nets will be left with Lopez on their roster and a major contract to explain in five years when the Stanford alum still can't rebound. No matter how much you dislike or appreciate Lopez's abilities, there's no way he's worthy of a deal like this.

    Final Verdict: Overpaid

Steve Novak, New York Knicks

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    Offer Accepted: $15 million over four years

    With all due respect to fans of Ryan Anderson, Steve Novak is the best three-point shooter in the NBA. For the record, it's not even a close debate.

    Steve Novak led the NBA by shooting 47.2 percent from distance. He ranked third in the NBA with 133 three-point field goals. He ranked second in the NBA with 2.5 three-point field goals per game.

    To put this into perspective, let this be known: Only one other player who finished in the top 12 in terms of three-point field goals shot better than 40 percent from three. That was Kyle Korver, who shot 43.5 percent from distance and connected on 118 shots. That's 3.7 percent lower and 15 made threes less.

    Steve Novak deserved at least $5 million a year. Instead, he's making an average of $3.75 million a year.

    Final Verdict: Underpaid

J.R. Smith, New York Knicks

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    Offer on the Table: $2.8 million over one year with Player Option via New York Knicks

    J.R. Smith is one of the most polarizing figures in the NBA. On one hand, Smith is as great as any at scoring the basketball. He'll take over a game and drop 30 before you know it, leading his team to victory.

    On the other hand, Smith is a player who often looks uninterested and plays in a way that reflects his body language. As great as he would be with any sort of consistency, that just hasn't existed at any point in his career.

    Just don't question his effort. Mike Woodson has solved that puzzle.

    In the second half of the 2012 NBA season, J.R. Smith was doing something that we'd never seen of him: playing defense. Smith was smothering defenders with his athleticism and quickness, which was lost in the midst of Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert grabbing the hearts of Knicks fans.

    Nevertheless, Smith began to live up to his potential in the second half of 2012. He's a superstar talent who, when on his game, is as unstoppable as any player in the NBA. For that reason alone, Smith is worth more than $2.8 million over one year.

    Throw in his elevated level of defensive effort, and you've got yourself a long-term deal in any other situation.

    Final Verdict: Underpaid