Did your favorite NBA team overspend on free agents this summer? Still scratching your head over that $60 million deal for the career backup? Has your team's front office lost it, or is there actually a plan here?
For some big-money free agents, the initial numbers may be a bit shocking based on level of stardom, age, durability or fit with the team. That doesn't mean these contracts can't turn out all right, of course.
Take Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, for example. His four-year, $78 million deal seemed atrocious coming off a 2017-18 campaign in which he played in just 24 games and averaged 16.7 points a night. After putting up 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists at age 23 last season, the Bulls now have LaVine under contract for the next three years for half of what he could have possibly commanded this summer.
While the following free-agent signings didn't exactly scream "bargain," they could all turn out to be quality moves for their respective teams.
Bobby Portis, PF/C, New York Knicks
Contract signed: Two years, $30.8 million (team option in 2020-21)
While a number of New York Knicks signings could have qualified for this list, Bobby Portis' annual money seemed like the biggest overpay.
His $15 million salary for the 2019-20 season was ranked as the second-worst contract by FiveThirtyEight, according to its CARMELO market values.
The former Chicago Bull and Washington Wizard is a poor defender who was suspended eight games in 2017 for punching then-Bulls teammate Nikola Mirotic in the face during practice. He's primarily come off the bench in his four-year career, only starting 49 of 249 career games. His defensive real plus/minus ranked 88th out of 94 power forwards, even behind teammate Jabari Parker, per ESPN.
How This Ends Well
The second year of Portis' deal is a team option, meaning the Knicks can open up $15.8 million in cap space next summer if they'd like. There's no long-term financial commitment.
Portis also won't turn 25 until February, meaning we've yet to see the best of a rising young big man who's already shown a diverse offensive game. He registered a career-high 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds a game for the Bulls and Wizards last season while also hitting 39.3 percent of his threes.
While the Knicks are now loaded with power forwards, Portis could see big minutes as a stretch-5, either starting at center or playing primary reserve to Mitchell Robinson.
In his 28 games with Washington (22 starts), the Wizards were 4.2 points per 100 possessions better with Portis in the game. If he continues to play well now in New York, the Knicks may want to pick up that second year option after all.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Phoenix Suns
Contract signed: Three years, $51 million
A veteran pass-first point guard was a necessity for the young Suns, but they massively overpaid to get one.
The Utah Jazz seemed content letting Ricky Rubio walk out the door in free agency—never a good sign for the next team that player lands on. It's not that Rubio is bad, per se, but rather that Utah craved an upgrade at the position.
Patrick Beverley, while not the passer Rubio is, only got $40 million over the same three years. His impact on a team is arguably greater, especially when factoring in defense, outside shooting and intensity.
By the end of this contract, Rubio will be making $17.8 million at age 31. That's a hefty amount for someone who only gave the Jazz 12.7 points and 6.1 assists on 31.1 percent shooting from three last season.
How This Ends Well
Looking purely at numbers, Rubio won't be worth this contract, and that's OK.
Instead, the Suns should see this as an investment in culture. With so many shoot-first players in Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre Jr., Dario Saric and Cameron Johnson, they desperately needed someone who's primary objective is to get others the ball.
For example, during Utah's first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, Rubio averaged 15.4 points. While this was a respectable amount, his true impact was felt in the team's offensive rating, which plummeted from 109.4 down to 78.1 anytime he went to the bench. This swing of 31.3 points wasn't just due to Rubio's scoring but rather his playmaking and overall job of keeping everyone involved, something the Suns haven't had.
Expect the same now in Phoenix. Rather than analyzing Rubio's stats, look at how he impacts those around him.
Terry Rozier, PG, Charlotte Hornets
Contract signed: Three years, $56.7 million
Giving a player nearly $60 million who's started just 30 games in four years seems like a stretch, especially one with a 38.0 lifetime field-goal percentage.
With Kemba Walker walking out the door and no real cap space left to replace him, getting Terry Rozier in a sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics was perhaps the best Charlotte could do to try to replace the offensive production lost.