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#pounditFriday, August 7, 2020

Five most outrageous contracts of NBA free agency

Timofey Mozgov

If there’s one thing we’ve seen so far in free agency, it’s that teams are unafraid of making big moves. The salary cap is increasing, and that means contracts are getting larger and larger. Players who might not be good enough to make an All-Star team are getting max deals. Role players are signing multi-year, multi-million dollar deals. What this really tells us is that NBA contracts are starting to get more in line with MLB contracts, where your average player can command around $10 million per season.

Although the negotiating period for NBA free agency is still in its early stages, we’ve already seen some huge contracts that will force you to spit up your drink.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most outrageous contract agreements we have seen so far. Just remember that until a player signs on July 7, these contracts are not yet 100 percent official (we call this the DeAndre Jordan exception).

5) Evan Turner, Trail Blazers – 4 years, $70 million

Evan Turner is a good, versatile player, so we don’t exactly dislike Portland adding him. But Evan Turner making $17.5 million per season is a bit nutty when you consider stars like Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard all made around the same amount of money last season.

The deal even had Turner admitting it blew him away:

Turner, the former No. 2 overall pick by the 76ers, spent the last two seasons with the Celtics, playing less than he was used to with Philly. He averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, and he’ll likely slide into Portland’s lineup alongside the blossoming backcourt of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard.

Turner hasn’t always had the best reputation within the locker room, even going so far as to reportedly fight a teammate, so we wonder how he’ll handle a situation where he may end up sharing minutes with Al-Farouq Aminu. Just don’t expect Turner to start becoming an outside shooter, as he very rarely shoots threes (his career 30.5 percent mark likely explains why). The good news is he always has been considered a strong defender and he likes their “tough” identity.

Beyond just the high amounts of money being paid to Turner, the ripple effect of this deal could mean the team does not match an offer sheet for Allen Crabbe. Many feel that when it comes down to it, re-signing Crabbe rather than overpaying for Turner would be a sounder strategy for Portland.

4) Evan Fournier, Magic – 5 years, $85 million

The Magic had plans to bring back Fournier, who was a restricted free agent, and it looks like they’re doing so on a big deal. The French shooting guard is receiving $17 million per season on his reported deal.

Fournier was a first-round pick by the Nuggets in 2012 and became a top scorer for Orlando after they acquired him in 2014 as part of the Arron Afflalo trade. He averaged 12 points in 28.6 minutes per game in his first season with the Magic, and he increased that last season to 15.4 points in 32.5 minutes per game as mostly a starter.

Fournier is a strong shooter, as evidenced by his career 38.9 percent mark on threes and 78.4 percent mark at the line. But one area where we’d like to see improvement is on his perimeter defense.

With Victor Oladipo traded to Oklahoma City, there certainly will be an opportunity for Fournier to gain an even bigger role with the Magic, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen. He needs to round out his game in order to justify the $85 million he’ll be making.

3) Matthew Dellavedova, Bucks – 4 years, $39 million

Delly has received an offer sheet from the Bucks for four years at $39 million, according to Cleveland.com. Delly is an interesting case because he is a restricted free agent, which means the Cavaliers have three days from the time the sheet is signed (first day to sign is July 7) to decide if they want to match the offer. A tweet from LeBron James indicates the team will not match:

Dellavedova made $1.1 million last season as a backup guard with the Cavs. He saw his role decrease from the previous season when he was asked to step up after Kyrie Irving got hurt.

Delly averaged 7.5 points and 4.4 assists in 24.6 minutes per game during the regular season. He saw more limited action in the postseason, never playing more than eight minutes in a game over the final five games.

But the question is: How will Dellavedova do when given significant minutes?

Dellavedova showed flashes two postseasons ago, scoring 19 in a close-out game against the Bulls, 17 in a win over the Hawks, and his infamous 20-point game in a win over the Warriors. But when Golden State began to view him as a threat, they quieted him down and he shot just 19.2 percent of the last three games in the Finals. Without LeBron James by his side and other talented players, he’ll be asked to do more in Milwaukee, and there are questions about whether or not he’ll be able to deliver. We’re guessing he won’t, so paying nearly $10 million a season for a rotational guard seems like a lot.

2) Solomon Hill, Pelicans – 4 years, $52 million

If there’s one deal that makes me cringe, it’s this one. Solomon Hill and the Pelicans reportedly have agreed on a four-year, $52 million deal. That’s $13 million per season for a guy who struggled to find minutes last season with the Indiana Pacers.

The former first-round pick out of Arizona averaged 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds while playing just 14.7 minutes per game last season. The year before when he started mostly for the Pacers, he shot just 39.6 percent from the field.

But New Orleans was likely impressed with what Hill did in the last month of the season. Hill saw a big jump in playing time in April. He responded by averaging 12.1 points per game on an incredible 54 percent shooting, including 48.1 percent on threes. He continued his hot shooting into the Pacers’ seven-game playoff series against the Raptors, where he shot 57.9 percent on threes.

Was the stellar series against the Raptors just a fluke or a sign of a shooter who’s found his stroke? The Pelicans are betting $52 million on the latter.

1) Timofey Mozgov, Lakers – 4 years, $64 million

Many people laughed when they heard this contract announced. Not only because a guy who didn’t even play in many of the Cavs’ playoff games was getting multi-millions guaranteed, but also because of who was paying him. The Lakers have a legacy of suiting up some of the best centers in the history of the game: George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, Dwight Howard … and now the team is settling for Mozgov.

The 29-year-old Russian is 7-foot-1 and a big-bodied center who can clog the middle. He actually was a bright spot for the Cavs when they switched to him in the NBA Finals in 2015, though he didn’t see much action in this year’s playoffs, averaging just 5.8 minutes in 13 of the team’s 21 playoff games.

Mozgov started to come on during his career in the 2013-2014 season with the Nuggets, for whom he played in all 82 games and averaged 21.6 minutes per game. He put up 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game that season. Then he became a full-fledged starter with the Nuggets two seasons ago, leading the Cavaliers to acquire him in a trade. On the whole, he averaged 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game playing the highest amount of minutes in his career. We expect the Lakers to give him around 25 minutes per game, so fans should expect to see his numbers receive a boost.

The issue for Lakers fans is how Mozgov will fit in with the team. New head coach Luke Walton comes from Golden State, where they play fast-paced and have lots of agile players. Perhaps Walton and the Lakers think Mozgov can give them 20-25 minutes per game as an Andrew Bogut type. Still, $16 million per season for a guy who maybe will play around 25 minutes per game seems like an awful lot, and it signals to many how desperate the Lakers have become.

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