The (Crazy) Overpaid, the (Cautious) Underpaid, The (Cheap) Swaggy Paid

Don’t Blame Phil Jax For Tim Hardaway Jr.

Now that Steve Mills is the man in charge of player personnel, it is on his watch to fix this Knicks mess. If getting rid of Phil Jackson was priority #1, then priority #2 was…pay an average player $17 million a year?

Tim Hardaway Jr. was a restricted free agent on July 1st. Hardaway Jr. signed an offer sheet his old club, the Atlanta Hawks, laughed at. $71 million over four years.

Dion Waiters is a comparable player to Tim Hardaway Jr. Waiters and Hardaway Jr. play the same position. Waiters played three more minutes per game in 2016-17 than Hardaway Jr.  Waiters scored more points. He had a higher three point percentage. But Waiters signed a deal with the Heat for $19 million less than Hardaway Jr. signed with the Knicks. ($52 million, not $71 million).

What his $71 million bought the Knicks if Hardaway Jr.  remains consistent with his 2016-17 season is 14.5 points, 27 minutes, 45%. He’s above average from three but not spectacular, 35%. He doesn’t particularly get to the line, less than three times a game, and he’s not explosive- he doesn’t block shots. But he doesn’t turn the ball over either. His defense is the type of defense that gets you pulled in a close playoff game.

He isn’t particularly efficient on any area of the floor other than the rim. Last season, he shot 40% from 3-10 feet, 40% in the midrange, 39% on long two’s. So another Knick who throws up bricks for $71 million. Nice.

But of course, the Knicks know this. Hardaway Jr. was one of their own. They had him for two years and was so in love with him they traded him to Atlanta. In those two years in New York, he averaged almost 11 points and 1.8 rebounds. Has he improved over time? Or did he just thrive in a Spurs-lite motion offense with elegant ball movement and selfless players and now he is thrust back into the same old iso thing.

The selfless part has the Knicks worried. Before the Hardaway contract, they had no interest in Ryan Anderson. Now they have to get rid of Carmelo post-haste because the chemistry with Anthony and Hardaway Jr. when both need shots is going to create mass tension.

Would the Knicks trade Carmelo to Houston for Ryan Anderson’s pathetic defense and three point shot making just to appease Hardaway Jr.? Probably. The Knicks are desperate, as they have put all their hopes on a 14 point per game scorer who will never be an All-Star.

Just to recap. Among shooting guards Tim Hardaway was ranked 15th in terms of impact, behind Nicolas Batum and Eric Gordon and in front of Wayne Ellington and Nick Young.

Somewhere in Montana the Zen Master is laughing. (Julian Billick)

In Sacramento, Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

Rudy Gay tore his Achilles. Even with a rehabbing foot, the last thing Gay  wanted to do was opt-in to the confusion/mess in Sactown. The front office of Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadive play emperor and king too often for comfort which inspires zero confidence; too much rubble in their wake. To put as much space possible between his old marriage and his new marriage meant taking less money. Goodbye Sacramento dysfunction. Hello San Antonio playoffs.

Rudy Gay left nearly $6 million on the table to get the hell out of Sleep Train Arena. If he opted in, Rudy Gay was due to make $14,263,566. With the Spurs he will pocket $8,406,000.

But you cannot put a price on stability. Or happiness.

Rudy Gay has played in one playoff series and that was five years ago, a series against the Clippers that the Memphis Grizzlies lost in seven games. Since then it’s been a dry spell for Gay who was traded to the Raptors and then the Kings. Gay is frequently maligned and was the answer to a NBA riddle: what player makes a team better after he is traded? Rudy Gay.

The fit with the Spurs is a good one for Gay and a deal for the Spurs who are experienced at getting quality players to take less money for the good of the team. Gay demonstrated how serious he is about the playoffs by accepting a cost-friendly deal and even if he doesn’t regain his pre-Achilles injury form, the Spurs are not expecting Rudy Gay to save them. Nor did they pay him that way. They are the Spurs. (Brendan Gillespie)

Swaggy Doing His Thing With The Champs

Nick Young being the center object is his NBA story. That and smiling just because the sun is in the sky. Despite his feckless career, no one can hate on the always ebullient, never a rainy day Swaggy. He is too live in the moment, too life is short so don’t waste it brooding and being depressed, too filled with joy to ever think the world is either good or evil. Life is happy in Swaggy’s world. That said, Swaggy on a championship team makes you wonder what were the Warriors thinking?

They weren’t thinking as much as they were talking. To Luke Walton. Walton gave Swaggy the thumbs-up, raving about his work ethic, his improved defense and his willingness to be coached. A good part of the second half of the season Swaggy sat on the bench. He had been a starter in the first half. The Lakers wanted to showcase D’Angelo Russell at shooting guard in order to up his trade value. Game after game, Swaggy was a spectator. This after posting career high numbers in three point shooting and offensive rating.

Young was ranked the 17th best shooting guard in 2016-17 (Real Plus-Minus) and while that may not seem like a lot, the year before he was ranked 75th. So he improved big time.

But don’t believe the hype about his defense. It was a catastrophe. What Young did for the first time in his career was give effort. He actually tried. But his defensive rating of 116 would rank dead last on the 2016-17 Warriors, 8 points worse than the defensive rating of Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, Ian Clark, Partrick McCaw.

With Swaggy in town, the days just got a lot more effervescent and fun loving. He was cheap, a one year deal, so no one gets hurt. Swaggy isn’t the kind of person to hurt people anyway. He wants everyone to love (him) and laugh. Even he couldn’t turn down a chance at a title, despite not wanting to leave his hometown.

For the first time in his career, Nick Young will see what real winning looks like. And the Warriors can see pure joy up close and personal. (C.J. Hampshire)