Over the past decade or so, some NBA offseasons get marred by negative-skewing storylines that quickly go from titillating to trite. There was overreaction to Allen Iverson, a.k.a. Jewelz, dropping “40 Barz” in 2000 and the ugly 2004 Kobe-Shaq-Phil Jackson divorce. There was The Decision and then The Lockout. This offseason, it’s Dwight Howard sullying an otherwise charming summer for the NBA.
Anyone else sick of the D12 saga? We are going on a full year of this wack two-step dance between Howard and Orlando. We spent last season getting bludgeoned over the head by grating Howard trade rumors, only for the dude to improbably and puzzlingly opt-in to the final year of his contract, ostensibly giving Orlando another season to make things right. Except that now, Howard’s back to demanding a trade – to one team (Brooklyn) and one team only – while claiming the Magic bamboozled him into the opt-in.
LeBron James won his first championship, Team USA is prepping to defend its gold medal in London; but this hackneyed Howard-Orlando story is holding NBA chatter hostage. You’re jacking up the runs, Dwight.
So, in an effort to avoid adding more noise to the yacking, let’s look at five more interesting happenings and developments from the past few weeks...
KG – PAID IN FULL
If Kevin Garnett plays out the three year contract he just signed with Boston, he will retire having made $325 million, making him the highest paid player in NBA history. For some context, Michael Jordan made less than $100 million for his career, Magic less than $50 million. So, word, shoutout to KG for getting that paper. He deserved and deserves every penny. Here’s a serious question, though: Why does Garnett want to play three more seasons?
KG will be 39, finishing his 20th season, when this new contract ends. He has made it abundantly clear that media naysayers keep him motivated. But – even with his generation of stars playing unprecedentedly well, this far into their careers – it’s going to be tough to watch KG getting his Robert Parish on during in 2015.
JEREMY LIN – PAYED BY FOOLS?
And, now for a TSL Word Of Caution: Here’s a list of point guards that would either surely or probably play Lin onto a bench -- Derrick Rose, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley, Chris Paul, Ty Lawson, Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry. Oh – and Houston’s Kyle Lowry.
So, go ’head, Houston, drop that $30 million contract on Lin, pay him as much as $10 million in his third and fourth seasons. I wonder what sabermetrics Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is using to rationalize this decision. Thankfully, for him, the Knicks will likely match that offer, which makes more sense. So long as Linsanity -- a phenomenon that briefly rivaled the frenzied Tebowmania -- stays in effect at the Garden, Lin’s value as a money generator for the Knicks is greatly increased.
Just know that, after Lin’s incredible, historic February, he came back down to earth in March and averaged a solid (and only solid) 15 points on 40 percent shooting and six assists against four turnovers. That’s who the Knicks (or Rockets) will be paying $10 to $12 million in 2014 and 2015.
HOW TO MOVE THE UNMOVABLE
With all due respect to ridiculousness of Lin’s contract, the max contract Portland offered Roy Hibbert is more ridiculous. Hibbert will always be one of the five best centers, a double-double guy, and a significant asset on a playoff squad. But he’s not dominant, not a 20-10 candidate and, with the inevitable rise of small-ball, he’s rendered even less valuable. Thus far, Hibbert’s contract is the chief head-scratcher of the offseason. But, with all due respect to the ridiculousness of Hibbert’s contract – which, we’ve determined, out-ridiculouses Lin’s contract – Joe Johnson may have had the most ridiculous contract in sports.
Somehow, though, newly hired general manager Danny Ferry was able to get the Brooklyn Nets to ingest the nearly $90 million left to pay Johnson. In the last year of Johnson’s contract, he will be 35 years old, making $25 million. It helps that the Nets are owned by a gachillion-zillion-majillionaire, but don’t front on Ferry’s Jedi move. Not only did Ferry move Johnson’s ball-and-chain deal; hours later, he shipped Marvin Williams off to Utah, undoing – in just a few weeks on the gig – several seasons’ worth of Rick Sund fiscal negligence. Clap for him.
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM
Last week, LeBron tweeted “While watching the Draft my son Bryce ask "Is Ray Allen gonna play for the Heat". I said ‘I don't know. I hope so’" First of all, that conversation probably never happened. Nice one, Bron, but stop creating fictional conversations and using family as recruiting proxies. More importantly, though, how could Ray Allen take less money to go play for his rivals?
It was interesting that, after Miami beat Boston for the Eastern Conference crown, KG and Rondo skated off the court without even acknowledging anyone from the Heat, while Allen stuck around to do the handshake/hug/ear-whispering thing with a few Heat players. So, his competitive disdain for Miami doesn’t run as deep as his fellow future Hall of Famers. Still, something isn’t adding up. There is neither a longer, more lucrative contract nor a starting position waiting for Allen in Miami. This would be like Slim Charles going to work for Marlo while Avon was still on the streets running the Barksdale crew. Don’t do it, Ray.
SPEAKING OF WHICH…
Steve Nash is going to look awkward in purple and gold, like Dominique Wilkins in the Celtics jersey. Still, for all the “Kobe and Nash can’t coexist” naysayers, let me offer a slightly forced analogy. Do you think Danger Mouse (Nash) and Kanye West (Kobe) could come together and make a dope, critically acclaimed, chart-topping album? I think so.