2016 free agency is underway in the NBA, and so far it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
In a typical offseason the salary cap rises roughly a couple million bucks — nothing to spit at. This offseason we’re looking at a rise of roughly $24 million, setting the ’16-’17 cap at about $94 million.
Needless to say, we knew money would be flying around in free agency. But so far money is FLYING around even more than we may’ve thought.
Here’s what throwing around all that cash means:
NBA Contracts Just Became King
There’s nowhere better in sports to get paid than the NBA right now (an I’m excluding top-end talent in MLB since there’s no cap). The face of Charlotte sports is Cam Newton, who signed a 5-year/$103.8 million deal with the Panthers.
Move over, Cam — Nicolas Batum is coming back to town for 5 years on a $120 million deal to be the Hornets’ second-best player (wait until you see what Kemba makes). The NBA almost feels like there’s no salary cap anymore.
There’s Never Been A Better Time To Be A Role Player
You can say this over and over again as many times as you want. That’s what Timofey Mozgov is doing while he counts his SIXTY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS out in Los Angeles. Although Mozgov is a good rotation player, he wasn’t even good enough to be on the floor for the Cavs in the postseason. His 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in the regular season are now worth $16 million per season over the next four years (according to the Lakers).
Mozgov is the prime example so far, but just consider the trickle down effect — from Jeremy Lin’s 3-year/$36M deal with Brooklyn all the way down to Ish Smith’s 3-year/$18M deal in Detroit.
Reasonable Contracts Become Even More Important
Lin’s contract isn’t necessarily an overpayment, the initial shock is there, though. Realistically under the new cap, it’s actually a very solid deal. But the Pacers appear to be the only team thus far to strike on a real steal. Keep in mind what Mozgov got paid. Keep in mind that Joakim Noah is looking at $72 million from the Knicks for four years.
And then react to Al Jefferson (a big that actually scores) signing with Indiana on a 3-year/$30M deal. Did Big Al forget to check the news? Unless you have a LeBron or Durant type talent on your roster, teams are going to need to find steals like this to win.
We Get To Create Fun Facts Like These
Hassan Whiteside became the first player ever to go from a minimum contract ($981K) last season to a maximum contract the next season (4-years/$98M). That’s a pay raise of about 25 times what he had been earning.
LeBron James has made roughly $169 million strictly in NBA contracts through the first 13 seasons of his career. DeMar DeRozen will make roughly $145 million over the next five seasons alone.
Timofey Mozgov will make almost $4 million more than Steph Curry next season. This one takes the cake.
Any Contract Signed Before July 1, 2016 Is Now A Good Contract
Players like Whiteside, Beal, Batum and DeRozen are are now making in the $24-29 million range next season alone, with totals as high as $145M so far. Role players like Lin and Mozgov will be making $12-16 million. Now consider the following contracts signed in the last couple years:
Kemba Walker — 4-years/$48M (2015)
Jimmy Butler — 5-years/$95M (2015)
Kyrie Irving — 5-years/$90M (2015)
Reggie Jackson — 5-years/$80M (2015)
Kyle Lowry — 4-years/$48M (2014)
John Wall — 5-years/$85M (2014)
Klay Thompson — 4-years/$70M (2014)
Draymond Green — 5-years/$82M (2015)
Kawhi Leonard — 5-years/$94M (2015)
Isaiah Thomas — 4-years/$27M (2014)
Yes, DeRozen will make more next season than Isaiah will make over his entire four-year deal.
These contracts are freaking gold. Some of them were considered bad signings just a year ago. Now a “horrible” deal like Tristan Thompson’s 5-year/$82M seems easily tradeable just one year in.
Just Wait Until Next Summer
And it’s all going to happen again. The cap is expected to shoot up another $13-16 million next season, potentially reaching a total of $110 million. If that happens, some of the wild contracts we’re seeing this offseason will shift into valuable deals (and the ones signed pre-summer ’16 will become Godly assets).
So you’ve heard Kevin Durant may just want to sign a one-year deal this offseason and become a free agent again in 2017. Why’s that? If the cap does indeed rise to where it’s projected, Durant would be eligible for a 5-year deal worth nearly TWO-HUNDRED AND THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS next summer. That’s why.
All hail the NBA.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.