Tag: Erick Dampier

Kevin Durant

Thursday And-1 links: Kevin Durant raps

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Here is our daily look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT).

Kevin Durant is laying down the lyrics — he is in a rap video with Privaledge and sounding pretty good. Normally we’d run the video, but the lyrics prevent it — warning, if you are easily offended this is not for you — but here is the link.

The odd Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields handshake in GIF form.

There is a rumor going around Los Angeles of a Pau Gasol for Rajon Rondo trade. Let me say for the record it is complete and utter BS. Not happening. Figment of a writer’s imagination. I have about the same chance of getting invited to the Oscars by Michelle Williams.

We’re with Ray here — the whole “Kings to Seattle” rumors have about all the weight of those Gasol for Rondo rumors.

Here’s a good breakdown of Jeremy Lin’s game.

Jason Terry went 1-for-9 shooting Wednesday and is battling a hip flexor.

LaMarcus Aldridge says “gimme the damn ball.” But in a much nicer way.

Kyrie Irving was out Wednesday night against the Clippers due to a concussion. (Ramon Sessions started and upped his trade value.)

Bulls players’ reactions to Will Ferrell’s team introductions.

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo says Andrea Bargnani will remain out for an “extended period” of time with his calf injury. He’s already missed eight games.

The Clippers defensive effort bothered coach Vinny Del Negro Wednesday. It should, it was terrible.

The Bird/Magic Broadway play is getting close to opening.

The Hawks are thinking about bringing in Erick Dampier.

Corey Maggette has been cleared for “some” practice following his hamstring injury, and we could see him before the All-Star break.

A Q&A with Alonzo Gee.

The Rockets have signed center Greg Smith. It’s a three year deal but it is only partially guaranteed for next season and the third season is a team option.

The Hornets have signed Donald Sloan to a 10-day contract.

The Nets overpaid Kris Humphries, but so what?


Kris Humphries is set to return to the New Jersey Nets on a one-year, $7+ million deal, and the nation raises a collective eyebrow. That’s a pretty hefty salary for a strong rebounder with otherwise unremarkable offensive and defensive skills, so much so that in a strict d0llar-for-production framework, one could certainly argue that Humphries, for all of his rebounding exploits, will be overpaid this season.

That word — “overpaid” — carries with it baggage upon baggage. It’s loaded and emotional, as it instantly calls to mind other players who were similarly overcompensated for their minimal services and the detrimental effects such a salary had on a particular team. “Overpaid” players have forced their teams to give up on draft picks too early based solely on financial motivations. They’ve nudged fan favorites out of town as a way of cleaning up the team’s finances. They’ve sandbagged promising cores of players from reaching their true potential, as the extra salary burden forever dooms such a team to “one-more-piece” status.

But there are two things to consider when deeming a player overpaid, and especially before lamenting over the unnecessary bloating of NBA salaries:

NBA salaries should be evaluated solely on a team-specific basis.

Player value is far from absolute, as a player like Humphries is undoubtedly worth more to the Nets than he would be to a team with a bloated power forward rotation. For this team at this particular time, he’s quite valuable. He prevents Shelden Williams from stepping in as a big-minute player for New Jersey. He’s a quality rebounder to pair with Brook Lopez, who has been pretty underwhelming in that regard. He’s another target and quality contributor to team with point guard Deron Williams, which — if nothing else — should give the Nets’ star fewer headaches.

The context isn’t that Player X received Y dollars in a deal for Z years, but that such a financial agreement was made between a player and a team with very specific needs and goals. Players could obviously still be overpaid and overvalued within that context, but pretending there’s some universal value for a given player misunderstands a market of individual actors. Other players and teams can obviously impact the terms of a contract by providing a baseline or driving up value through competition, but the final judgment of an NBA contract should always come down to what a particular player meant (or will mean, for predictive purposes) to the team that actually signed him.

Overpayment is not an end in itself.

Claiming that a player is overpaid isn’t exactly a complete thought. There’s a statement and possible justification involved, sure, but overpayment isn’t some great evil that must be eradicated from this NBA world. It’s a means to an end, and only with that specific end can we actually determine what overpaying a player really means.

As a singular act, giving Erick Dampier a seven-year, $73 million contract was not some horrible crime. It wasn’t kind to Mark Cuban’s wallet, but it was also lacking in terms of intrinsic evils.

What makes any albatross contract a truly bad one are the effects a team faces as a result. If a bloated contract prevents a team from signing another key free agent? That’s costly. If it prevents a proper rebuild after the core of a contender has withered away? That hurts. But if it’s just a deal on the books for a bit more of a financial commitment than it should be? Barring objection from ownership, I fail to see the problem.

Teams overpay players for a variety of reasons all the time — some sensible and some less so. Sometimes a team will overpay a player for the sake of positional security, as the Dallas Mavericks did with Brendan Haywood last summer. Sometimes a team will overpay a player for the sake of adding a significant piece at a key time, as the New York Knicks did with Tyson Chandler earlier this off-season. Sometimes a team will overpay to retain a player in a competitive market, as the Denver Nuggets just did with Arron Afflalo. Three cases of three overpaid players, and yet all three decisions were made from logically defensible positions. The dollar values may not quite jive with the collective assessment of each player’s worth, but in the free agent binary of either having a player or not having them, each signing makes some sense.

If a case were to be made in any of those instances that a free agent signing were actually detrimental to the team, you’d need a fair bit more than simply pointing to a contract total. Shelling out extra for a player is certainly worthy of note, but without that next-level impact — the financial logjam, the tax trade-off that forces the departure of another player, etc. — it’s just more money in the pocket of an NBA player.

Such is the case with Kris Humphries. He may not be worth $7-8 million a season, but his contract is an unimposing one-year affair. The Nets needed players to fill out their rotation now (not to mention bound over the salary floor), and they got a very competent one to fill a position of need. Tomorrow isn’t an issue; by then Brooklyn’s books will be just as clean as New Jersey’s were a few days ago, and this signing will prove to have been rather inconsequential. Player acquisitions are evaluated on the basis of roster fit, but contract fit is an essential consideration, both in this case and all others. The Nets can afford to rent Humphries for the season, and given their current situation, it would be silly for them not to. That doesn’t make Humphries any less overpaid, but it also doesn’t mean his inflated, one-year contract has any legitimately negative repercussions.

Dexter Pittman is Joel Anthony’s biggest fan

Joel Anthony
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Joel Anthony averaged just 2.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Miami Heat last season. Yet if you ask the right people, they’ll preach of his on-court value. Anthony is considerably undersized for the center position, but his smart decisions, constant activity, and impressive lateral quickness make him an excellent team defender. Anthony has some rather glaring flaws (Erick Dampier is envious of Anthony’s true mastery of the fumbled pass), but he plays well in spite of them and has won over a certain subset of hardcore basketball fans as a result.

But even the most hardcore of the known Anthony supporters pale in their zeal next to Heat center Dexter Pittman. Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com’s Heat Index caught up with Pittman at Miami’s unofficial workout on Thursday, when he apparently needed to get a few things off his chest about the Heat’s center position and Anthony’s play last season:

As a big man on the roster,  [Pittman] has taken it personally when people claim that the Heat lack inside presence, calling it “a slap in the face.” Pittman thinks very, very highly of his teammate Joel Anthony. “We’re big guys. You saw what Joel Anthony did. He altered a lot of shots and blocked a lot of shots. He was one of the best players in the NBA last year.”

Pittman had one of the best seats in the house for Miami’s games last season, but he seems to have taken his enthusiasm for the defensive pick-and-roll read a bit far. We’re all guilty of exaggeration from time-to-time, but let’s all just take a deep breath before we start submitting Anthony’s name for All-NBA consideration, Dex.