Regrettable Contracts Moving Forward

Updated: August 23, 2021

There is a fixation by many outside of the basketball world who feel professional athletes are outrageously overpaid. In a relative sense, they’re right. The job that is performed in comparison to other careers that have a tremendously bigger impact in the world is being compensated exponentially more than say teachers, doctors, or scientists. However, as we know economics and the players involved in specific fields are paid in relation to the total value of the entity and their value in its operations (well not always, but ideally). The billion-dollar industry which is NBA basketball, not only profits off the players who perform, it is dependent on the identities which their games create. Especially with regards to the 8-15 players in the league who are recognizable not only everywhere in the States but Globally, they are the brand, even more so than the basketball itself. One could argue that these superstars who are the face of this global empire should be paid an even bigger portion of the profit than these current super max contracts allocate…but this is a conversation that will be expanded elsewhere.

It is the 97th best player in the league making 20 million a year which is unique to the modern epoch of the NBA and arguably is the most dangerous gambling opportunity available in the GM’ing world. We will observe 3 questionable contracts which vary in degree of uncertainty. They all have their own unique variables built into their equations, and we will analyze their risk-reward-ratio respectively in the subjective space that they operate in.

Jared Allen, Cleveland Cavalries 100 Million Over 4 Years

To many, it may be shocking to add the 100-million-dollar contract for Jared Allen to this list of regrettable contracts. He’s a dynamic young big, above average rim protector, and only 23 years old. And in relation to the other 2 contracts, this is most likely the safest salary signed on the dotted line this offseason with regards to our risk-reward-ratio. However, it all depends on what the Cavs intend to use this contract for. The main reason the contract is problematic begins prior to its existence. The time to trade Allen was last year at the deadline when he was still on his cheap rookie deal.

The reason for this being is that his perceived ceiling and his expected development over this year and the next is to be a modest 14-15 point a game scorer. He hasn’t shown any huge indication that his shot will ever be north of 36% from behind the arc, and even after a handful of years in the league, he’s still quite slight for the position he is being paid so handsomely to play.

He is a good player, but the idea that two years down the road someone is going to hand out a Jrue Holiday size pick-package for him is extremely doubtful. It has a lot has to do with the position he’s playing. There will always be a surplus of 3 to 9 million dollar centers in this league, and the distance between them and Allen is simply not a 20 million difference. When he was still on his rookie deal, it would’ve been easier for a contender to overpay in picks or young talent in a win-now move to acquire Jared to upgrade at the starting center position. However, now he would need significant salaries to match his 25 million per, and the likelihood that he would fetch 2-3 late first-rounders on the trade block just diminished tremendously.

It is a cute idea that he and Evan Mobley could turn into an elite twin towers combo, but even if both of them over perform the rest of the roster is so poor, them being the 6th seed in the East is nearly unimaginable let alone getting themselves out of the first round of the playoffs. The Cavs probably should’ve set up a sign and trade, took unwanted contracts in return to get draft capital, or some young players who matches up with Mobley. But since that didn’t happen, if they are willing to move Allen even when he becomes pretty good, they will get paid off for this gamble. Unfortunately, the minute he averages 16 will be the day that the Cavs will likely become attached to his name.

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls 85 Million Over 3 Years

 This is a contract that I have already detailed in Chicago Calibrating a Playoff Squad if the reader would like additional context. For a team who does not own their own picks, or very many picks at all for that matter, acquiring a contract of this nature could be catastrophic if DeMar were either to get injured or his athleticism simply declined. They are by no one’s expectations a contender and have guaranteed a 34-year-old DeRozan 28 million in the 2023-24 season. Considering Chicago has yet to even get a verbal guarantee of their All-Star guard LaVine that he intends to resign, this new DeRozan deal could become one of the worst contracts in basketball moving forward. This should be clear since San Antonio just tried to trade him and had no value last season on a 28-million-dollar contract and only 31 years old.

Evan Fournier, New York Knicks 73 Million Over 4 Years

Most people are pretty high on all the additions in the backcourt and playmakers New York has acquired, especially since it was clear that having Julius Randle iso-create repeatedly in the playoffs is not a recipe for success. The Kemba signing, at its price, was exceptional, and to be fair to New York, they didn’t know he was going to be bought out before signing Fournier. But Fournier is simply not a playoff player. In a 19 game sample size through his career in the postseason, he averages a pedestrian, 11.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and a massive 1.8 assists a game. He is an 82-game scorer and will never be a starting-caliber postseason player on a title team. If the Knicks are content with another decent regular season and maybe making it to the second round again, they have the talent to do it, but if they think that this Fournier contract might have value later in a trade for an all-star, they need to remember that most trades happen right after the postseason. So unless he somehow shakes of the headspace he goes to when it matters, in a trade his salary would just be a placeholder for picks.

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