NBA Free Agency Period: It Pays to Be a Center in the NBA

Ronnie HampstonCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Tyson Chandler #6 of the Dallas Mavericks argues a call with referee Steve Javie #29 against the Miami Heat in the first half of Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The free agent period has been going at a rapid pace this week. Teams are attempting to make improvements to their roster to achieve the goal of obtaining the Larry O'Brien Trophy. One disturbing thing that happens year after year during the free agent period is the market for big men (centers). 

Teams go overboard in Free Agency when it comes to acquiring big men. The NBA is not what it used to be when it comes to the big fellas. In the 1990s you had Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and serviceable big men like Kevin Willis and Vlade Divac. The big men who play in today's era can't hold a candle to their predecessors. 

Bad contracts have been a part of the NBA for a very long time. In the 1990s Jon Koncak and Jim McIlvaine were the "poster boys" for marginal big men getting paid big money. In the 2000s guys like Anderson Varejao, Andris Biedrins,  Jerome James and  Brendan Haywood are just a few who have received bloated contracts that did not equal their impact on the basketball court. Jerome James was probably the worst free agent acquisition of the 2000s. James had  a nice 11-game run in the playoffs during the 2004-05 season which led to him being paid. Like many players in a contract year James played his basketball, but it was only for a short period of time. Did they forget about the previous 82 games and the years before that? The New York Knicks gave James a five-year deal worth $30 million.  We all know that James' tenure in New York was about as short as Verne Troyer, but that is besides the point.

 This offseason NBA officials complained about contracts and how players are paid during the lockout. It seems as if the general managers have not learned so much since the lockout has been resolved. The New York Knicks' Tyson Chandler was signed to a massive contract worth $56 million over four years. Chandler was the defensive anchor for the Dallas Mavericks during their championship run. Chandler played great ball while playing for Dallas, but Chandler played with a chip on his shoulder because it was a contract year. Tyson Chandler is a solid player and all, but $13 million per season, c'mon now!

I can't hate on players getting money that they don't deserve. I blame the owners. If a GM or owner wants to give you an absurd amount of money why not take it?!  Memo to the owners: Spend your money wisely and rather than complain, man up to bad contracts.