In an offseason of exorbitant contracts, nearly every top free agent has been able to sign a contract to their liking as teams seem willing to overpay for top talent.
Amir Johnson received $33 million, Drew Gooden managed to get $32 million, Joe Johnson parlayed a terrible offseason into a $120 million contract, and even Darko Milicic walked away with $20 million.
Surely a free agent power forward who had sixteen points and almost nine rebounds per game in a featured role could find a $50 million deal out there somewhere, right?
The answer is no. Despite his solid back-to-basket game, ability to space the floor with his mid-range shot, and his impressive rebounding skill, Luis Scola has only received middling interest from the New Jersey Nets and little to no other activity thus far in the free agent process.
So why is Luis Scola receiving such little interest while other players are getting handed checks they never deserved?
The first reason is the team that holds his restricted free agent rights.
Over the years, the Rockets have been notorious for keeping their restricted free agents, as losing them without compensation is not their style. Additionally, while other teams like to show interest in their restricted free agents to let them know they are wanted, the Rockets typically do not make offers to build a market for their players, knowing that they can match any bid that the player receives.
Instead of giving Scola a starting point for any negotiations with other teams, they instead wait, knowing that this will only help them as they attempt to get the best bargain. For this reason, it is difficult for Scola to get any traction in talks with other teams as the Rockets refuse to bid to keep him, unlike teams like the Grizzlies who bid against themselves and end up overpaying for their talent.
Unfortunately for Scola, another reason why he finds himself in this dilemma is his age. At 30 years old, many teams believe that his best years may be behind him as big men typically tail off once they hit the wrong side of 30. While this is likely not the correct assessment of Scola considering his game is not predicated on athleticism or quickness but rather cunning and smarts, it is nonetheless a reality in this climate.
With teams looking for that next young stud in the free agent marketplace, few look to Scola, a sage veteran who may have hit his peak despite his consistent production in his three years in the league. He proved he can be a starter in the league and for whatever team that signs him (he will likely return to Houston), they will get a steal.
His game will likely age well as he depends on touch rather than speed, and he is as hard a worker as you will find in the NBA. Unfortunately, he finds himself in a league where ceiling touching big men are constantly lauded which masks his true value to a team.
Perhaps it is no surprise that he would be getting so little interest at this stage of the game given Daryl Morey's philosophy of not bidding against himself, but still it seems a bit ridiculous that a player of his caliber could be so overlooked while players without half of his basketball skills are getting exorbitant contracts in this process.