Every offseason, it never fails. Some teams reach too far to try and bring talent to their team. That means that some players get overpaid to provide some sort of value to the team. For those teams, the answer works out in the short term, but it royally jeopardizes their future in the long term.
Out of all the moves, five particular transactions made fans around the world raise one eyebrow. These moves might have sounded like a good idea, but in the end, players, coaches, and executives will look back wondering why it ever happened. Three years from now, we will ask ourselves why these moves were done.
5. Kelly Olynyk - 3 Years, $37.2 Million
Last year, the Pistons signed Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee. The team already traded away Plumlee and will likely deal Grant for a first-rounder this year if a contender wants a borderline All-Star small forward. Both deals were questionable, while this deal was as well.
For starters, Olynyk is a journeyman at best in this part of his career. He owns a career average of 10.1 points per game and will be getting close to $12 million in annual salary to fulfill garbage time minutes for a bad Pistons team. The only reason that Olynyk might have been worth this much was because he averaged 19.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 27 games for an equally bad Houston Rockets team.
The Pistons should be playing as many young players as possible to determine who makes up their core. They are likely going to be in contention for a lottery pick again. Why would you guarantee money to someone who is going to eat up garbage time stats when you could be looking at your young pieces?
4. Daniel Theis - 4 Years, $35.6 Million
Those who wanted to win now wanted Daniel Theis. He is another Bobby Portis-like player that would provide excellent effort on both ends of the floor. At 29 years old, he would have been an easy fit in a veteran-loaded locker room that wanted to compete for a championship this season. Had Theis wanted to go title hunting, he could have taken less money, but in the end, he wanted job security.
The Houston Rockets gave Theis exactly the type of security he wanted, but it won’t make the team better in the short or long-term future. The team used four first-round picks on four teenagers. By the time these prospects develop into anything, Theis will be in year three or four in his contract.
The final season is a team option, but it doesn’t matter. The money spent to bring Theis to the team could have been saved. This isn’t going to help the team win now. Also, he doesn’t bring first-round value in a potential trade either. On the flip side, let’s say Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun are superstars by Year 2. That money could have been used to bring veterans on lower salaries that play a similar style of basketball as Theis. Committing $8 million per year to a non-impactful center just seems silly now and later.
3. DeMar DeRozan - 3 Years, $85 Million
The contract and money guaranteed are head scratching. Who were the Bulls bidding against? Themselves? At the time, the Thunder were the only team with major money left to spend and the team wasn’t going to bring DeRozan to OKC. The Bulls could have easily leveraged the situation, but instead got caught up in the moment of their Lonzo Ball deal. Trading a first-round pick, guaranteeing $28 million, and losing Thad Young was detrimental to the team.
The Bulls are trying to follow the Nets formula of forming a Big 3, but the problem is that their Big 3 is a great value version. Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and DeMar DeRozan are nothing compared to the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. You could also say their big three isn’t on the level of the Bucks, 76ers, Hawks, and even the Knicks.
DeRozan has already said he wants to do his part to win. That’s great teammate talk, but he is 31 and his decline could start anytime. The same goes for the 30-year-old Vucevic. LaVine hasn’t even resigned from the team and is a free agent after this year. The finances of DeRozan’s deal could make this run by the Bulls a one-year wonder.
2. Jarrett Allen - 5 Years, $90 Million
What was the point of drafting Evan Mobley if the Cavaliers were going to give Jarrett Allen five years and $100 million? The logic is hard to follow with Cleveland because Allen’s style of play doesn’t warrant a $20 million salary. JaVale McGee is a player that comes to mind when you think of Allen’s style and his cost was one year, $5 million with the Suns.
Allen is younger and has a higher ceiling, but it still clutters the frontcourt with Mobley on the roster. Then, you throw in Kevin Love and Lauri Markkanen into the mix. It feels like the Cavaliers have too many cooks in the kitchen at forward and center.
Mobley is going to likely grow into a center. Once he gets to playing regularly, what will Cleveland do? Will they bench a $20 million player? This contract just reeks of failure in the future.
1. Norman Powell - 5 Years, $100 Million
Wasn’t the point of keeping Damian Lillard because the team was going to make upgrades around their star to keep him happy? Then, how does paying a player that owns a career 10.4 points per game average, who is also 28 years old, somewhere around $90 million? Gary Trent Jr. was just as good and was younger, but the team traded him for Powell.
While Powell has displayed two solid seasons the last two years, which includes 19.6 points per game last year, it doesn’t justify these numbers. Powell will be entering his 30s soon. He was a solid role player for the Raptors during their championship run. However, he is not a superstar and a sixth man at best.
If Lillard is truly staying, then this deal is atrocious, which is why it feels like he will be moved before the deadline. Powell’s salary essentially makes the Big 3 on Portland of Lillard, Powell, and CJ McCollum. That is a first-round playoff exit each year. The Blazers should have saved the money if they knew they had to wait a year to bring in superstar talent.
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