Tha Sports Junkies 101

Why NBA Free Agency And Sports Contracts Are Melting My Brain

NBA Free Agency Photo by wutang4life36 via Flickr


Most dreams start in an empty gym on a Saturday morning when you were in grade school. The bounce of the rock, the beckoning of the coach. The sweat, the pushing your body to its absolute physical limits.

For most of us our dreams end in high school. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you play at a small college. A select few make it D1. Making it D1 is an accomplishment of a large dream in and of itself. If you are physically gifted at an otherworldly level, if you bust your tail from the time you are 8-9 years old until your college career, then maybe, just maybe, you have a shot.

There are 60 draft slots in the NBA every year for those of us who live the fantasy of one day lacing them up in the league. Of those 60, about half will make it into the league for more than a season. Extrapolate the next step down the line, and we have 10 to 20 guys every year that will have careers in the NBA. We are looking at minuscule percentages here. Of all the boys, in all the gyms everywhere in the world, there are 10 to 20 every year that will go on to ball in the league for 5 plus seasons. We have a better chance of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning.

Establishing the fact that making it to the NBA is extremely difficult, what is ever tougher to comprehend is how much players are paid for playing the game they grew up on. Every July as Free Agency hits in the league, we are all reminded of just how affluent players in the league actually are. Hearing of the deals as they come down the wire is something like Christmas for NBA fans. One thing that I personally am horribly guilty of is losing all perspective of how much money some of these contracts are actually worth.

Last night as Free Agency hit, I watched as the deals came down in rapid fire succession. Then, the ridiculousness that came out of my mouth was unexplainable: “Oh, Jeremy Lin got 3 years for 36 million dollars, that’s a cheap deal.”

Wait a minute!


$36 million is a cheap deal?! What am I talking about?

More would follow. Al Jefferson signs a 3 for $30 with Indiana. Again, I shrug off the 30 million like it is nothing.

When have I even seen a million dollars? When has anyone, for that matter? Why is it that every time NBA Free Agency comes around I lose any and all perspective of the value of money?

Flipping this argument on its ear, there are a bunch of guys in the league that are getting paid oodles of cash, and it blows my mind. Timofey Mozgov agreed to a $64 million deal last night to go to the Lakers. Mozgov can barely play dead, and he is making $16 million a season.

Mozgov getting that amount of money is the equivalent of the PE teacher at the middle school getting $150k a year. It just makes no sense. But it gets worse!

Kent Bazemore, best known for his days early in his career as a hype man at the end of the Warrior’s bench, reportedly wants north of $19 mil a season.

Joakim Noah, appearing more and more brittle every day, snagged $72 mil on a 4 year deal with the Knicks.

Dwight Howard, an all timer on the malcontent squad, is looking for $24 mil a season. He can’t hit a free throw, is becoming incompetent on offense, and turns on his teammates faster than a Tesla, but he wants $24 milllion a year. Funny thing is, he’s gonna get it.

With all the guys who most experts would consider as marginal players getting paid, how insane will these figures get? The ceiling is high on the salary scale, and we are seeing guys inking deals for $140 mil over five seasons. As the salary cap swells and the TV money comes down the pipeline, where will the maximum number land in five seasons?

The average salary for an NBA player last season was just north of $4 mil. As these numbers increase it seems easy to surmise that the average salary will double in the coming years.

Given all these numbers, and how I (I’m not sure if I am the only one) shrug off these multi million, multi year deals, this is extremely difficult to keep in proper perspective.

If Kent Bazemore and Timofey Mozgov are signing deals in the neighborhood of $20 mil a year, how much is LeBron or Kevin Durant worth by this standard?

LeBron or KD could ink a deal for $60 mil a season, and with the new money flowing through the NBA, they deserve it.

Here’s to hoping that my initial reaction isn’t, “Wait, that’s it?”