With Elton Brand about to come off the market and Luis Scola about to go on the market, we’re reminded of why there is an NBA amnesty process in the first place: because of large-scale contracts that were shortsighted.
And then we have Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert and Eric Gordon getting maximum-scale offers this summer and we’re left to wonder whether anyone has learned their lockout lesson.
The reality is the new max-level deals are decidedly less cumbersome than the previous, Joe Johnson-level deals. But the third and fourth years of those contracts nonetheless quickly can turn cumbersome if those players don’t turn into perennial All-Stars.
The difference this time is there will be no second chance, no amnesty allowed on contracts signed after the lockout. This time, teams have to live with the luxury-tax consequences.
All of which leads to the debate of max contracts themselves, and the uniqueness of the NBA marketplace.
Sports, especially leagues with salary caps, are the only place where you go shopping, ask how much something costs, and the answer comes back as, “How much you got?”
Lopez, Hibbert and Gordon all found suitors with maximum salary slots available.
This by no means is advocating any sort of statistical metric, with so much in the NBA still non-quantifiable, be it the pass that leads to the assist, stepping out to disrupt the pick and roll, setting crushing screens.
But there sure seem to be enough experts around these days, between the statistical set, the executives and coaches who act as if they invented the game, the recently retired, the Hall of Famers, that perhaps the NBA needs to move to some sort of free-agency tier system, where the most deserving still could max out, but where others couldn’t hold teams hostage just because cap space happens to be available.
Each time a team amnesties a player, it is acknowledging a mistake, no matter how the press release is issued.
We’re currently in the latest round of mea culpa, teams acknowledging they either offered too much money or too many years or simply put too much faith in their medical staffs.
To a degree, amnesty is a market correction.
But the reality is that while amnesty allows for luxury-tax savings, the dollars still are being spent, teams fully on the hook for the balance of those contracts.
When the process is over, when every team utilizes its one-time amnesty allowance in coming years, the NBA needs to analyze each of the amnesty releases, crunch those numbers, establish statistical, medical and age profiles of those players . . . and then hopefully learn going forward.
Because if there’s another league-wide round of amnesty, it will mean there will have been another lockout.