John Wooden noted, “don’t confuse activity with achievement.” But the summer of 2017 was some summer. Many free agents who were NBA starters and were in the playoffs left their teams. Those who stayed did so because the money advantage made sense. Everyone likes to talk about loyalty but loyalty is an empty word. You either want to win, or you want to get paid, or you are talented enough to ask for both and get it.
Steph Curry: Regardless of Joe Lacob shade and not wanting to give Steph Curry the supermax, he eventually did. Curry will make $40 million. He is the reason the Warriors had a chance at Kevin Durant.
Best Season: 2015-16. 30.1 points. 125 Offensive Rating.
Blake Griffin: He has what he wants though it’s not in Blake’s makeup to be vocal like Kyrie. Chris Paul being gone was his summer present, not the $34 million. The Clippers are his team and Blake didn’t try to pretend he wanted to go somewhere else. He’s 24-7 L.A. A no brainer. Blake going to OKC, back home, may happen at the end of his career but not now.
Best Season: 2013-14. 24.1 points. 9.5 rebounds.
Jrue Holiday: The Pelicans were the only team that was going to overpay him. Holiday will make $26 million this year. He has been an All-Star once, four years ago. He has never had an offensive rating over 109, never scored 20 points per game. He took advantage of the market and a desperate New Orleans team needing someone, anyone to be a third option for Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. He got over.
Best Season: 2012-13. 17.7 points. 8.0 assists.
Otto Porter: One good year is all it takes. Porter had a dominant year behind the arc and he gravy trained it into $26 million a year. The Wizards third option who is often forgotten, he was paid for his potential. Sacramento and Brooklyn were suitors before he decided to remain in the district.
Best Season: 2016-17. 51.6% field goals. 43.4% three pointers.
Kyle Lowry: Lowry is the definition of loyal. Toronto believed in the struggling Lowry once upon a time and he has become a star north of the border. No reason to go anywhere else. Yes, Lowry talked about going where he can win and that’s not Toronto, but he is the most important person on the Raptors. Simply put, they need him. It cost the Raptors $33 million.
Best Season: 2016-17. 22.4 points. 123 Offensive Rating.
Dion Waiters: Waiters had a career year replacing Dwyane Wade though he was injury compromised. He signed a very friendly $11 million contract to stay in Miami. There were rumors of the Lakers being interested but Waiters didn’t want a one year deal.
Best Season: 2016-17. 15.8 points. 39.5% three pointers.
Kevin Durant: Like he was going anywhere else. He is making $15 million less than Steph Curry. The second best player in the NBA. Let that marinate.
Best Season: 2013-14. 32.0 points. 123 Offensive Rating.
Andre Iguodala: He almost signed with the Rockets. They key word is almost. He loves the Warriors, the Bay, the titles. $16 million.
Best Season: 2007-08. 19.9 points. 4.8 assists.
They Got the Hell Out of Town
Derrick Rose: The market dried up for Rose and he ended up in Cleveland as an afterthought, making less than Swaggy P. $2 million got the Cavs Derrick Rose. But when they say money isn’t everything, they mean it. Rose got lucky. Kyrie was traded, Isaiah Thomas is injured so he is the starter. For now.
Best Season: 2010-11. 25.0 points. 7.7 assists.
Gordon Hayward: Hayward left the Jazz, as most expected he would, to reunite with college coach Brad Stevens and give the Celtics more depth. Hayward had a career year last year and was an All-Star. His reward was $31 million this season.
Best Season: 2016-17. 21.9 points. 39.8% three pointers.
Paul Millsap: Millsap figured out Atlanta was a disaster. They wanted to rebuild. He got out of there as quick as he could, signed with the Nuggets. He’s making $30 million.
Best Season: 2016-17. 18.1 points. 7.7 rebounds.
Taj Gibson: Taj made a brilliant move out of Chicago and to Minnesota, following teammate Jimmy Butler. Taj is exactly what the Wolves needed next to Karl-Anthony Towns. Expect him to have a monster year doing all the gritty work. Friendly contract for his impact. $14 million.
Best Season: 2013-14. 13.0 points. 100 Defensive Rating.
Jeff Teague: Following good years in Atlanta, he had a not-Teague year in Indiana and ran to Minnesota, taking a three year deal and $19 million. He replaces offensively awful Ricky Rubio. Not so with Teague. Should be a lot of pick and roll with Towns.
Best Season: 2013-14. 16.5 points. 6.7 assists.
George Hill: He had a great year in Utah after he was traded from Indiana. He had a better year for the Jazz, even though he was injured through some of it, than Teague had replacing him. He was romanced by the Lakers but didn’t want a one year deal. He took $19 million and agony in Sac town.
Best Season: 2016-17. 16.9 points. 40.3% three pointers.
Rudy Gay: Who doesn’t want to escape Vlade? It didn’t matter that Rudy had an Achilles injury or that he may have to take less. Anything was better than Sacramento dysfunction. The Spurs will give Gay something he has never had in his career. A shot at a title. Major pay cut at $8 million.
Best Season: 2007-08. 20.1 points. 46.1% field goals.
Tim Hardaway Jr.: Knick fans already hating Tim Hardaway Jr. and his $17 million, particularly now that Carmelo is gone and reality has sunk in. It’s going to be a long, ride to almost nowhere. Hardaway wants the playoffs but doesn’t everyone? He ditched Atlanta, leaving them crumbs. Crumbs is what he gives the Knicks.
Best Season: 2016-17. 14.5 points. 45.5% field goals.
Danilo Gallinari: Gallinari isn’t making anyone miss Chris Paul but he’ll make the Gallinari three and stretch the floor. $21 million for a 7th seed playoff team. Good luck Gallo.
Best Season: 2015-16. 19.5 points. 120 Offensive Rating.
Zach Randolph: At the back end of his career, Randolph left the Grizzlies and signed with Sacramento for $12 million. Then he was arrested. Not a great summer for Z-Bo.
Best Season: 2006-07. 23.6 points. 10.1 rebounds.
photo via llananba