The summer in the National Basketball Association is all about the franchises that have the deepest pockets.
In order to land one of the biggest names on the open market, an organization needs a lot of money. And I mean A LOT of money. But teams need to be careful as to how much money they’re spending and whom they’re giving it to. It’s never surprising when a team gives a free agent a ton of money and it’s a complete failure.
Let’s take a look at a quick example. Last offseason, the Nets gave Gerald Wallace a four-year deal worth $40 million. In 69 games for Brooklyn, the forward scored just 7.7 points in 30.1 minutes per game. While he’s now Boston’s problem, it still wasn’t the brightest move.
Which organizations are going to be paying too much for “top-tier” talent this summer?
Well, here are three franchises that are bound to be handing out millions and millions of dollars in the coming weeks with hopes of improving. But by doing so, they’ll be overpaying for talent that might not get them any further than they already are.
The Pistons still have a good amount of work to do this summer. For one, they need to determine if Brandon Knight is truly the right fit at point guard going forward. He wasn’t very impressive last season, only averaging 13.3 points and four assists per game. Detroit could do much better with a big-name free agent.
Detroit also must add a small forward in the coming weeks, and its bound to overpay for someone. If the franchise doesn’t address the need, there’s a strong chance that Kyle Singler—who didn’t average 10 points in more than 28 minutes per game in 2012-13—is going to start. The Pistons can’t afford to have that happen.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that, aside from bringing Jose Calderon back for next season, the biggest goal for the Pistons is landing Josh Smith—one of the stars on the market. Sources tell Wojnarowski that Detroit is going to make a substantial four-year offer.
Chris Broussard of ESPN reports that Andre Iguodala is another top target for the Pistons this summer. Clearly, Detroit is aware of its current lack of a key starting forward and is doing whatever it can to add one to a frontcourt that already includes Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
In order to attract either Smith or Iguodala to come to Detroit, the Pistons are going to have to compete with some of the more lucrative teams in the league. That means they could end up paying top dollar for a player who might not be able to get the team to the postseason.
New Orleans Pelicans
New name, new mentality.
The Pelicans have approached this offseason like it’s their last. New Orleans is attempting to bring as much talent as possible to the Pelicans for the upcoming season. It all started on draft night when the Pelicans sent Nerlens Noel to the Sixers in exchange for Jrue Holiday and a draft pick, per Wojnarowski:
New Orleans is also one of the teams with its eye on Iguodala, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. As you can see, there are a lot of organizations interested in the small forward, and it could turn into a massive bidding war. If the Pelicans were to win, they’d be paying a ton to fill a massive hole at small forward.
But small forward isn’t the only position that New Orleans is trying to improve this summer. As Amick also reports, the Pelicans have made a large offer to restricted free agent Tyreke Evans, who would play shooting guard. There seems to be some confusion as to how much the offer is, but Amick’s final sentence is what you should focus on.
Evans is a fine solution at shooting guard, but that’s a lot of money for a player who’s been declining each season. Ever since getting drafted, Evans’ scoring averages have dropped. Last season, he was only averaging 15.2 points per game. Paying $11 or $12 million per year for roughly 15 points per night seems high.
New Orleans has the second-lowest payroll for next year, according to HoopsWorld.com, but it’s unclear as to how much the Pelicans are going to end up spending. Could they find a way to land both Iguodala and Evans? That would certainly cost a ton and likely wouldn’t be worth it in the long run.
Dwight Howard is the primary target for the Mavericks this offseason, but there are several other players on Dallas’ list as well, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas. The most the Mavericks can offer Howard is four years and $88 million, per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
For one, that’s already a ton of money for a big talent. The Mavericks will be spending basically every last penny in order to land Howard. But Dallas may be emptying their pockets in the scenario where D12 signs elsewhere. Here are some of the players that Dallas is considering, per MacMahon:
- Darren Collison (RFA, DAL)
- O.J. Mayo (UFA, DAL)
- Brandon Wright (UFA, DAL)
- Jose Calderon (UFA, DET)
- Mo Williams (UFA, UTA)
- Andre Iguodala (UFA, DEN)
- Chase Budinger (UFA, MIN)—re-signing with Minnesota, per Wojnarowski
- Kevin Martin (UFA, OKC)—signing with Minnesota, per Wojnarowski
Yeah, Mark Cuban has quite the Christmas list.
But the Mavericks will need a bit of help if Howard doesn’t come to Dallas. Without the prime-time center, Dallas basically has the same team from a year ago, and that team won just as many games as it lost in 2012-13—missing the postseason. Cuban isn’t happy with playing .500 basketball and is trying to do something about it.
If Howard comes to Dallas, the Mavericks will be paying him a lot to win a title in a very short amount of time. Dallas is a very old team—or at least the primary stars are all aged—and after around two more years, Howard will be by himself. There’s a real chance that the Mavs unload for Howard and they never go anywhere.
No matter what happens with Howard, it’s clear that Cuban will be paying one or a few players whatever he has left in the checkbook. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him go after Iguodala and then try to bring back Mayo as well. But like we’ve talked about, there’s no guarantee the Mavericks will be better in 2013-14.