Free agency is barely 24 hours old and we have stupid setting up residence and planting their flag in the dirt. General managers reeling from the Golden State Warriors dominance are the same GM’s who scream and complain about how money and teenagers are ruining the game, and yet they go out and draft teenagers and spend money on players that aren’t worth it. As free agency enters its first weekend, here is the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal for Dumb.
New Orleans Pelicans.
Jrue Holiday is a nice enough point guard. Above average but not elite. He’s not a 20 point scorer. His best year with the three ball was his rookie year, 39%. He hasn’t averaged 4 rebounds a game in three years. His best season as a playmaker, 8 assists, was four years ago. His 102 career offensive rating is indicative of his mediocrity as a scorer. He has never cracked a PER of 20+, the metric for elite players. The last time he was an All-Star Barack Obama was the president; it was 2013. He was third in assists four seasons ago. He has never been All-NBA or All Defense. This season, he was ranked 14th among point guards. Patrick Beverly and Ricky Rubio were ranked higher. (Real Plus-Minus).
The Pelicans were so overwhelmed by his numbers that they gave him an ungodly contract of $126 million that can reach $150 million with incentives. On paper, it makes Holiday look like the star of the team; he is getting paid like he is Chris Paul. But he’s not Chris Paul. He’s not even Kyle Lowry.
The Pelicans made the most basic mistake GM’s make. Economic theory poor, they bid against themselves forgetting that cap space is a luxury. The Pelicans didn’t allow the market to set Holiday’s price. They established a salary no team was going to offer him, when they already had the advantage of an extra year. So why blink when you’re a small market?
When the Pels need to upgrade with scorers or a small forward, money will be tight, mid-level exception or veteran’s minimum. The Cavaliers are the best example of what happens when you forget common sense, overpay, and have to fill the roster with veterans whose day has come and gone.
Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door but the Pacers wish he would. Kevin Pritchard just handed Paul George over for a bag of chips. The Pacers didn’t even get a draft pick out of it for a team that is officially rebuilding.
The Pacers could have gotten young talent, picks, and a solid foundation of young players for rebuilding. Instead, they are saddled with a don’t even know if he can play Domantas Sabonis and average, can’t make a shot and no leadership genes, Victor Oladipo. There’s a reason why the Magic gladly dumped Oladipo for the older Serge Ibaka, breaking a cardinal rule: trade old for young. Not the reverse. But Oladipo is a consistent no-show when you need him to sell out and be skilled. He gives less.
With Russ Westbrook, Oladipo was asked to be the second option. When Westbrook was being crowded, the plea was basic: please drain a jumper.
Oladipo has a formula that hasn’t really changed. 44% shotmaker. 36% from three. 16 points a game. Defensive rating of 109, meaning he can’t guard anyone on the perimeter. Awful from 3-10 feet, 29% over his career. 39% in his career from the midrange.
He is a role player, not a star, and definitely not versatile. He isn’t special which is the norm when trading a superstar. But those boring players usually come attached to draft picks. The Pacers didn’t get enough for George and now are saddled with the horrible contract Sam Presti gave Oladipo, four more years and no-opt outs, $21 million per year.
Los Angeles Clippers.
Desperate and shell shocked after the Chris Paul running (not walking) out of town, the Clippers threw all of their chips onto the Blake Griffin table. Except Blake isn’t a leader. He has been injured the last three seasons. He is dependent on a playmaker, of which, the Clippers have none. Blake no longer has his patented dunk on your head athleticism. He has developed a jumper but in the 4th quarter, when the Clippers needed a star, Chris Paul took over and Blake Griffin disappeared.
The Clippers felt as if they had no choice but to give Blake the money. They have a point considering their celebrity market only supports winners. The Clips had to do something to let their fanbase know they weren’t in lottery mode, though, with just one offensive weapon the lottery may be their ceiling. It remains to be seen which Blake will show up. Passive Blake. Or everyone needs me Blake. For much of his Clippers residency, Griffin was used to and seemed comfortable in deferring.
The Blake Griffin contract wasn’t horrible, just desperate. Blake has been an All-Star. Before his injury and punching equipment guy in the face, he was a top-10 player. He has elite athleticism and can get to the rim and finish, even if he is not a closer.
Where the Clippers remained the Clippers and deserve all the shade coming their way has to do with aesthetics. And cluelessness. Just think. You can’t blame this on Donald Sterling.
Clippers employees, in Blake’s free agent meeting, wore a t-shirt as a way to show Blake what they thought of him. It was a shout out of support. The t-shirt was a mosaic of legendary faces, men of historical impact whose behavior encompassed fighting for social and racial justice amidst hostility, murder, wrongful imprisonment and hatred. Nelson Mandela was on the shirt. Muhammad Ali was on the shirt. Abraham Lincoln was on the shirt. Martin Luther King was on the shirt. JFK was on the shirt. So was Ghandi.
And so was Blake Griffin.
I must have missed the Blake bio where he shakes off his oppressors and leads his people towards equality and freedom.
It’s the Clippers so you can’t chalk it up to a bad idea. Dumb and Dumber is more like it.
Blake Griffin as the new Ghandi? Who knew?