NBA Free Agency 2012: 5 Dominant Trends
Plenty of "NBA Free Agency 2012" headlines have been swirling around the past few months.
Some of them have been rumors, some of them have been actual transactions and others have been hopeful speculations.
Some signings have been a surprise, some have been a much-needed change and some have been downright overpriced.
Now that things are starting to settle down a bit, here are five trends we've noticed throughout this year's free-agency period.
Guys Getting Overpaid
One trend running rampant in the 2012 free-agent season is guys getting paid more than they should be. Here are just a few of the players bringing in oversized paychecks.
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets
Deal: four years, $36 million
Anderson had an outstanding season last year, easily deserving the "most improved" player honors he received. While playing with the Magic, he averaged 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, and the Hornets are expecting these numbers to transfer over to their team.
Maybe Anderson will play just as well in New Orleans as he did in Orlando, but $9 million a year is a big risk to take on a player who didn't really stand out until last season. Also, Anderson played alongside a strong center in Dwight Howard, and the Hornets' system does not match up. New Orleans is taking an expensive gamble on Anderson.
Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
Deal: three years, $25 million
Similar to New Orleans, Houston is taking a huge leap of faith for a player that really only had about six weeks worth of impressive performances. Everyone jumped on the Linsanity bandwagon immediately, but the Rockets are continuing to ride it out... at an extremely high price.
Kris Humphries, Brooklyn Nets
Deal: two years, $24 million
The good news? Brooklyn acted smartly and only signed Humphries to a two-year deal.
The bad news? Humphries will be receiving $12 million per year.
Certain players can get away with acting like prima donnas because of the numbers they produce and the league-wide reputation they hold. Kris Humphries is not one of those people. As a defender, he's definitely valuable. At the other end, however, don't let his numbers on paper fool you—his offensive performance is inconsistent at best.
The Nets are grasping desperately for a big man that will lead them, and Humphries isn't it.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
Deal: four years, $60 million
Some people may make a case for Lopez earning $15 million a year, but those individuals are looking only at his offensive numbers. He certainly produces great offensive stats for a big man—averaging an impressive 19.2 PPG—but his rebounding and prowess on defense is severely lacking.
If Lopez doesn't step up defensively and aggressively grab more boards, he won't be worth the $60 million Brooklyn is shelling out for him.
This season, seemingly even more than others, teams have been in the rebuilding phase and have used free agency to construct new-look squads.
In Miami's case, it's more of a "building upon" case than "rebuilding." The Heat didn't stop with their championship ring this past season. Instead, they've continued to bring in key pieces to add even more depth to the roster.
Miami's two most notable free-agent additions are Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, who will each add veteran experience and stability to the floor.
One of he biggest—or at least most intriguing—free-agent signings of the season has been Jeremy Lin to the Rockets. Houston had a mediocre 2011-2012 season, and it's hoping that Lin will be a missing key to recreating a successful system.
The Suns have been in rebuilding mode since the day Steve Nash signed with the Lakers. They were unsuccessful in signing Eric Gordon, but they did secure Michael Beasley and Goran Dragic. Both additions are question marks, but Phoenix is certainly putting in the effort to rebuild a solid base.
This has been a strange offseason for the Timberwolves, but David Kahn and Co. have done their best to move players in and out in a productive manner. Minnesota said goodbye to free agents Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Martell Webster, while bringing in Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger and Greg Stiemsma.
If Minny's players stay healthy, this could be a very productive season for the Timberwolves.
During the 2012 free-agent period, several players signed with teams for their max contracts. This means that a player is allowed to sign for a maximum amount of money depending on the number of years that player has been in the league and the total of the salary cap.
Under the 2011 CBA, maximum salaries, as expressed as a percentage of the cap, remained mostly unchanged. However, a player coming off his rookie scale contract is eligible to sign for 30% of the cap if he was voted to start in two All-Star Games, was named to an All-NBA Team twice, or was named MVP. This was dubbed the "Derrick Rose Rule" after the 2011 MVP. In addition, newly signed contracts now have a maximum duration of five years for players with Bird rights and four years for all other players (including sign-and-trade acquisitions). Every team is allowed one "designated player" who receives a five-year maximum extension on his rookie scale contract.
Let's take a look at a few of this season's players who have signed max contracts... whether they deserve them or not.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets
Some might feel Gordon isn't yet ready to be signing a max contract, as he's already shown himself to be injury prone. Nevertheless, New Orleans matched Phoenix's offer of a four-year, $58 million deal.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
The Nets eagerly signed the big man to a hefty $60 million deal over four years. Lopez brings the point totals that Brooklyn needs beneath the basket, but his price was a bit steep considering his lack of defensive productivity.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
Center Roy Hibbert signing a max contract with Indiana just doesn't make sense. The problem for a lot of teams, however, is that they become stuck between a rock and a hard place. Another team (in this case, the Trail Blazers) signs a player to an offer sheet for a max contract. Indiana had only two choices: overpay Hibbert, or lose its starting center.
The Pacers chose the lesser of the two evils, but they are now saddled with a huge contract for a player who's simply not worth it.
A Lot of Player Movement
This offseason has been one of the busiest yet, as over half of the 2012 free agents have left their respective teams to join new squads.
Interestingly enough, one of the players to have not moved on, as much as he wants to, is Dwight Howard.
To see an up-to-date NBA free agency tracker, visit NBA.com.
Free Agency Surprises
Some of the most interesting things to watch for during the offseason are those surprise moves no one quite expects, the seemingly established players donning a new jersey. Following are some of the biggest free-agent headlines.
Steve Nash Signs with the Lakers
On July 5, All-Star point guard Steve Nash went to the Lakers as the result of a sign-and-trade deal. According to ESPN, Nash was persuaded to make the switch after talking with Kobe Bryant, and also because L.A. is close enough to Nash's three children in Phoenix.
Ray Allen Signs with the Heat
Despite the fact that Miami was able to offer Allen only half of what Boston put on the table, the veteran guard announced he would be taking his talents to Heat Nation.
Brandon Roy Signs with the Timberwolves
Despite entering retirement in 2011 due to bad knees, Roy returned to the NBA to sign a deal with Minnesota. Not many teams would take a chance on the former All-Star, but the Timberwolves hope Roy will add the experience and consistency the young squad needs.
Jeremy Lin Signs with the Rockets
Only one season after the "Linsanity" craze took over New York, the Knicks must have assumed that Lin wouldn't stay the real deal for much longer, and they allowed Houston to acquire the breakout guard.