106 days have come and gone since the Golden State Warriors repeated as NBA champions. As another season is about to begin with training camp, media interviews, scrimmages and five on five, players on vacation are now players who have to work. The business of basketball is about enormous salaries and who can possibly live up to what was negotiated. To be real, some people are stealing money while a few lost souls are still unemployed.
Money You Haven’t Earned.
Blake Griffin. $31,873,932. When Blake Griffin signed his massive extension it made everyone say why? In Detroit, everyone is saying why. Griffin is a nice player but not a number one option, not a leader, not a defender, not an elite scorer. He can’t win games by himself but he is paid like he can. Chris Paul hid all of his deficiencies. Available for everyone to see last year when Griffin couldn’t eek out a 8th spot in the East, he is trying to be the star his talent says he just cannot be. 2017-18 Rank (PF): 11th.
Gordon Hayward. $31,214,295. Hayward hasn’t had a chance to show what his game can be with a mix of very talented players in Boston. The injury was unfortunate but now he gets another shot at being a second option to Kyrie’s #2 or a third option to Kyrie and Jayson Tatum. 2017-18 Rank (SF): N/A
Paul Millsap. $29,730,769. I love everything Millsap brings to the table, his toughness, his leadership, his competitive edge. But it’s not worth $30 million. He couldn’t lead the Nuggets (who have a lot of young talent) to the playoffs because Denver was one of the worst defensive teams in the league. They scored a lot of points efficiently but couldn’t stop anyone. Don’t see much changing in 2018-19. Millsap is going to be 34 before the season ends. 2017-18 Rank (PF): 13th
Chris Bosh. $26,837,720. The last time Chris Bosh played a NBA game, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett were still in the league. Bosh is getting paid like he’s an active player about post up somebody. Credit or blame the NBA collective bargaining agreement that demands guaranteed money, even if you have to walk away from the game because of injury. 2017-18 Rank (PF): N/A
Otto Porter Jr. $26,011,913. Anyone who wants to know why the Wizards are dysfunctional just has to look at the ridiculous amount of money Otto Porter is making. Last season, he was a very boring 15 points and 6 rebounds. He is a third option being paid like a first option who disappears because John Wall is looking for John Wall and then Bradley Beal. Otto Porter is an afterthought. 2017-18 Rank (SF): 2nd
Nicolas Batum. $24,000,000. Batum was never an elite offensive player but he could defend and make open shots. Blame Michael Jordan for paying him like an All-Star when his career high was 15 points. After his injury, he looked like he forgot how to play basketball. Last season was a disaster. 11 points and 5 assists. 2017-18 Rank (SF): 31st
Kent Bazemore. $18,089,897. I’m not mad at Baze for getting what he could get but he’s not an offensive player. His defensive skills, though noteworthy, are not elite. He’s on a bad Atlanta team where he will play games but Atlanta is where careers die. So the money is the money. 2017-18 Rank (SG): 14th
Bismack Biyombo. $17,000,000. He gravy trained one good year in Toronto into a deal that he could never live up to. The first problem is there is a glut at his position in Orlando. The second problem is this mother of all stats: 70% of his shots are at the rim. No wonder he averaged five points last season and just 18 minutes. 2017-18 Rank (C): 76th
Waiting for the Phone to Ring.
Arron Affalo. The 32 year old shooting guard played 53 games last year with the Magic but 12 minutes on the court meant the end was just around the corner. He was only able to contribute 3 points. Affalo has lost quickness and can’t defend his position.
Jamal Crawford. The pure shooter known for dropping buckets from coast to coast is still unemployed. He is 38 years old which probably has something to do with why he might miss the first day(s) of training camp. Crawford has won Sixth Man of the Year three times but he can’t defend anymore; he is a specialist and frankly, he can do what a lot of others can do.
Joe Johnson. The legendary scorer from Arkansas doesn’t have a job yet. Last year in Houston, Johnson who is 37 years old, shot 38% and 27% from three. Under D’Antoni, if a shooter can’t shoot, then he is expendable.
Nick Young. Swaggy without a job means the NBA is boring. Swaggy brings a lot of fun and cluelessness and jokes to the table but his game is suspect and always has been. He doesn’t pass the ball, rebound, create turnovers. He scores from the three point line. He has a ring but he wasn’t lights out for the Warriors because Kerr played lineups dependent upon the situation and Swaggy is a volume producer. He needs lots of minutes to be effective. He’s 33 years old which boggles the mind. Still, he might find a home if a scorer goes down and he can convince someone that last year’s 7 ppg was a fluke.