The NBA has made a historical mark in that the organization has raised the salary cap to $94.1 million. The new salary cap amassed to an astronomical difference in that, compared to last season’s salary cap, the revised salary cap for the 2016-17 NBA season rose $24.1 million. And, during the modern era, the NBA was apprehensive to raise the salary cap no more than $8 million in previous years. So ever since the historical transition, the NBA teams have salivated at the opportunity by spending more than $2 billion only 48 hours after free agency started. To be absolutely honest, NBA players are tempted most by the team who offers them the most cash (as they should due to the benefactors as well as personal agenda) however some players received very outrageous contracts and also made controversial decisions that left me completely perplexed.
One deal that had my brain in left field was the Knick’s decision to sign Joakim Noah to a 4-year deal at a cost of $72 million. Now, I understand that Noah is a dear friend of Derrick Rose, is one of the premier passing bigs in the league, and in year’s past has had Defensive Player of the Year stat lines. But, the problem is the NBA, now, is not tailored to Noah’s game and, on top of that, for the past couple of seasons, Noah has been posting mediocre stat lines at best. Noah has been an offensive liability (recording record-lows in player proficiency), and to make matters worse he has not lived up to his reputation as an intense interior defender. A lot of questions must be answered of Noah and the Knicks are taking a leap of faith with their investment.
Now, the Hawks have made the decision to invest a 3-year contract worth $71 million to one of the most dominant big men (when he wants to be) in the modern era in Dwight Howard. This deal gives me mixed feelings. I’ll discuss the good first. One, I think Howard abandoning the role as side-kick to offensive guru, James Harden, will give him confidence due to the fact that he’ll be the focal point of an offense again like he was when he was at Orlando. Also, I think Howard will have a rekindled passion for the game now that he is returning back home. To some athletes (*hint* LeBron James), the simplest gesture that motivates them to push forward to be the best is performing in front of family and friends. To add, being home may give Howard great comfort which can potentially translate to him putting up MVP-like numbers again. Knowing things like where all the good restaurants are and the different points of interest are simple things that can lead to positive, impactful changes. However, Howard has a questionable attitude. We’ve all seen it. For instance, we see incidents where Howard neglected his teammates because he didn’t get enough touches down low. There was another case, when Howard was with the Lakers, where Steve Nash, a pick-and-roll God, ripped Howard a new one because he did not put forth great effort on the floor because he did not receive enough touches in the Kobe-Bryant dominated offense. In my eyes, Howard is the most dominant big man that we have seen since Shaquille O’Neal, however, his attitude has been his ultimate demise. If he learns that his God-given physicality can be destructive in a league full of small-guard lineups, then Howard may finally be the Moses for the Atlanta Hawks organization and lead them to the Promised Land.
The Wizards, during free-agency, presented a maxed-out, 5-year contract worth $128 million to Bradley Beal to extend the duration of the back-court nightmare featuring him and John Wall. Now, it did not surprise me that the Wizards resigned Beal, but it did surprise me that they gave him a maxed-contract. Beal is an extraordinary talent and somewhat of a prototypical NBA shooting guard. He does not have the ideal height of NBA shooting guard, but he makes up for it with his lean, muscular build. He also is very athletic and can finish at the rim with the best of them. Plus, he has a soft touch from beyond the arc. I didn’t believe at first, but he shows glimpses of a young-Ray-Allen type of game. On the contrary, I feel Beal does not need a max contract because he has failed to show the NBA world that he can remain healthy for significant amounts of an NBA season. Last season he only played 55 games. How is Beal paid like an NBA star and cannot stay healthy long enough for the Wizards to be considered a contender in the playoffs? John Wall is a fantastic point guard who is a double-double machine and one of the best we’ve seen in recent years, as the general for this squad, since Gilbert Arenas. But, he cannot take the Wizards all the way without Beal by his side.
Since July 8th, NBA free agency has been unpredictable to say the least. The beauty of analyzing and evaluating free agency is predicting how a player will respond to the value that the NBA organization’s hold them accountable for. I am excited for the 2016-17 NBA season to get underway so that I can see the several players I doubted, to some extent, prove me wrong and show their worth.