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Essay: One Team’s Trash is Another Team’s Treasure

The cycle of a team overpaying a player in free agency and later trying to get rid of them is never ending. The NBA is structured so that mid-tier players get more money than they deserve, while the true stars do not. Thus multiple teams carry several “bad” contracts on them. But a player can be overpaid and still not be on the trade block. A lot of factors come into play such as team market size, player age, and the remaining core.

Rudy Gay was grossly overpaid and the core around him was talented. Thus management decided to go forward without him. Now Toronto is not getting a great player, but they are acquiring talent. Toronto does not attract free agents, and thus they have to build through the draft and trades. But what other players are lurking around the league that are constantly on the trade block due to their contract? And what teams are possible destinations?

Jeff Green (Boston Celtics): 4 yr(s) / $36,240,000.
The Boston Celtics signed Jeff Green to a large contract this offseason, and from the start it was obvious that it was a gross overpay. Oddly enough, Green and Gay are similar players. Green is just worse; he cannot shoot, rebound, or pass very well. His main pluses are his athleticism and length. In all honesty his true value is probably the MLE at best, so his current contract is not ideal. But he still has some value in this league. He is young and exciting, so a bottom-feeder looking for some talent would be interested.

Possible Destination: Washington Wizards
The Wizards are an odd team. They have a young backcourt loaded with potential, and then they have a bunch of overpaid veterans and minimum contracts. They look like they will go forward with the current core, but they could desperately use some talent on the wing. Green’s defense and versatility would definitely be of use. Washington showed interest in Green during the off-season, so there is some history there. Pairing Green with Beal and Wall going forward is an interesting idea, and something that Washington could overlook his contract for.

Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls): 5 yr(s) / $75,000,000
Boozer’s big contract was signed in the summer of 2010, and the results have been middling. Boozer is a talented player, especially in terms of scoring and rebounding, but his poor defense and lackluster playoff reputation has tainted his standing among some Bulls fans. Adding to that, he is not exactly the youngest player.

Boozer is usually the first person named when people bring up amnesty candidates, due to his play and because the owner of the Bulls doesn’t enjoy treading into luxury tax territories. The Bulls also have a good player behind Boozer in Taj Gibson, who they think could step up if anything happened to Boozer. Thus Boozer is an interesting case in these hypothetical situations.

Possible Destination: Houston Rockets
The Rockets are currently rolling with a James Harden/Jeremy Lin/Omer Asik core, and Asik and Lin’s contracts both expire the same as Boozer’s. The Rockets have some nice role players at the power forward spot, but no player nearly as talented as Boozer. Moving forward by adding Boozer would definitely make Houston competitive in a tough western conference. There are several factors that would make a deal like this hard to pull off however.

Chicago has a talented team, and with Derrick Rose coming back from injury they could think that they can compete with Miami. Boozer would obviously be needed in that match-up. Also it is debatable whether or not the Bulls would be interested in Houston’s assets. In Houston’s case, the 2014-15 season would have Lin/Asik/Harden/Boozer making a combined $62 million. That would be a tough pill to swallow. But Houston’s need for a power forward and Chicago’s contract situation make them interesting trading partners.

Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors)/Tyrus Thomas (Charlotte Bobcats): 5 yr(s) for $50,000,000 / 5 yr(s) for $40,000,000 respectively

Possible Destination: Charlotte Bobcats/Toronto Raptors respectively

While a trade swapping the two is very unlikely, I think the potential of such a trade could benefit both teams. In Toronto’s case, Bargnani really has no role there anymore. His only value comes from his scoring ability (which has waned in recent seasons) and the Raptors now have a couple of volume scorers on the wings. There is seemingly bad blood between the Raptors and Bargnani so getting rid of him would be a plus regardless. What would Tyrus Thomas bring? Well Thomas has underachieved greatly since being drafted 4th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. He is very athletic, but brings little in terms of skill. His athleticism and “potential” could be valuable to Toronto, which already has an athletic team with guys like Ross and Gay.

Why would Charlotte do this? Well first off Bargnani’s last year is a player option. While unlikely that he does not pick it up, the possibility is still there. If that happens Bargnani just expires and they get the cap space a year earlier. As for his play, well the Bobcats are talented-starved. Bargnani is not a great player by any means but he still has utility as an offensive weapon. Pairing Kemba with a big that can both roll and pop would give the stagnant offense some life. But a trade like this is very unlikely, due to the reputations of both players.

Bad contracts float around everywhere. But the players behind these contracts may not be playing poorly or below-expectations by their own fault. Players can find new life on different teams, so do not be so fast to write off the “overpaid” guys.

Categories: Essays

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