The 2013 period of NBA free agency is upon us, thus leaving 30 franchises in hot pursuit of the top names on the open market. While certain players have earned their current distinction as a max contract player, other players are elite talent, but not yet worth the financial risk.
Plain and simple, there are top tier players on the open market that are not worthy of a massive deal.
Certain players have carved out their status as an elite player, producing at a superstar level. Others have displayed flashes of world-class ability, but have seen their market value inflated by team needs or the absence of alternatives.
One way or another, this year's class of free agency is walking a thin line when it comes to which players are actually elite.
Andrew Bynum, UFA
Experience: 7 Seasons
2011-12 Season Averages
23.00 PER, 18.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.9 BPG
According to a report via Yahoo! Sports, former Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum will not work out for teams this summer. This comes after Bynum missed all 82 games of the 2012-13 season due to recurring knee injuries.
It appears as if the only thing teams will have to go off of is how Bynum played when healthy—more than a calendar year ago.
Bynum's agent, David Lee, said his Bynum will begin training in July in Atlanta in preparation for next season after completing his rehabilitation from knee surgery...Lee said there are a "half dozen teams" interested in Bynum and they will be given MRI and other needed medical reports. Bynum, however, will not work out for teams.
To paraphrase, Bynum could receive a max contract based off of what he did in 2011-12 and medical reports.
Injuries aside, Bynum's elite ability and build is far from the only topic of conversation in this instance. While Dwight Howard receives flack for his off-the-court antics, Bynum has seen his effort questioned on the hardwood.
With a criticized work ethic, an inability to remain healthy and no proof that he's ready to return, Bynum simply isn't worth a max contract.
Tyreke Evans, RFA
Experience: 4 Seasons
2012-13 Season Averages
18.16 PER, 15.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.4 SPG
Before we proceed, let it be known that I have long stood by Tyreke Evans as a franchise player. Not only was his Rookie of the Year award a sign of his ability, but it proved that, when used properly, he can be an elite player.
With that being said, I'm a part of the majority that is shocked to see the New Orleans Pelicans offer Evans a $44 million contract.
The potential to create a core of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Evans, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis is certainly intriguing. For that reason, the lucrative deal the Pelicans have reportedly offered is slightly lessened.
After the Pelicans made a max contract offer to Gordon last year, however, it's rather surprising to see this risk be taken.
No one expected Evans to see a low base salary, but even fewer expected a max contract. While he may play up to that level in New Orleans, as a change of scenery is certainly needed, there are reasons to debate the reasoning behind this offer.
As I said, I stand by Evans becoming a franchise player, but the cost of this deal is beyond surprising.
Nikola Pekovic, RFA
Experience: 3 Seasons
2012-13 Season Averages
20.26 PER, 16.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 52.0% FG
This one is all about market perception, not necessarily true elite ability.
When it comes to available centers in 2012-13, a case is being made by ESPN and Sporting News that the next best option after Dwight Howard is Nikola Pekovic. At 6'11" and 290 pounds, the 27-year-old certainly has the powerful frame that teams love to place down low.
With that being said, it's rather mind-boggling that Pekovic is in the range of a max contract player.
Pekovic is a strong offensive force that finishes well around the basket and cleans up the glass as well as any on that end of the floor. He's also a strong low-post defender, thus proving to be quite the valuable two-way commodity.
With that being said, Pekovic is not going to make an impact as a shot blocker or rim protector, thus failing to provide the help-side defense that smaller teammates may need.
Al Jefferson isn't much better defensively, but when it comes down to it, he's a significantly more complete package. With Bynum—albeit unwisely—bound to receive a heavy contract, it's hard to justify Pekovic being in that same price range.
The ability is present, but paying elite money to a center that will give you a solid, rather one-dimensional performance—26 percent shooting from outside of the paint—simply doesn't make sense.
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