NBA Players Likely to be Overpaid in Free Agency

By Evan Caulfield on May 16, 2014

NBA Players Likely to be Overpaid in Free Agency

Every year there’s a handful of NBA players in the free agency market that get overpaid.

9 times out of 10 it’s solely because a franchise is tired of losing and wants a quick solution to their team’s problems, while in other cases, they simply have no choice but to match a contract offer or lose a key player for nothing.

Last year’s signing of Josh Smith was a perfect example of a ‘quick-solution’ scenario, as ex-general manager Joe Dumars believed he could fill the team’s glaring hole on the wing, even though Smith hadn’t really played the small forward position extensively.

Fast forward to a year later and it turns out this move would go on to cost Dumars his job, as Smith posted awful numbers all across the board and showed he clearly isn’t beneficial to his team when playing the small forward position.

So with the postseason wrapping up and the offseason approaching, here’s our take on which players are bound to receive egregious offers that are simply too good to pass up.

 

Lance Stephenson, SG

The runner-up for the Most Improved Player of the Year award raised his stock dramatically this year, averaging career highs in points and assists, while also displaying intense tenacity on the defensive end of the floor, holding opponents to 46.2 percent shooting via 82games.com

Those numbers alone show that there’s serious potential for the 23-year-old, however one cause for concern is his antics off the court, which have been detrimental to the Pacers’ locker room.

“Stephenson is a guy who has talent, but if you have a young team and you’re building up a culture, you have to consider that before you pursue a guy who might affect your locker room negatively” An anonymous GM told Sporting News’ Sean Deveney on Stephenson’s antics. “You have to do your due diligence.”

If Stephenson does in fact get a large offer from a franchise this summer, you have to wonder if he can handle the responsibilities of being a leader. If not, he may be nothing more than a nuisance to whichever team signs him.

 

Gordon Hayward, SG/SF

Hayward should be in high demand this summer given his age and potential to become a bonafide scorer.

At 24 years old, the sharpshooter has already proven to be a solid wing for the Jazz, averaging 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds this season, leading the team in both scoring and steals per game.

And while it appears Gordon’s only scratching the surface of his ceiling, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy feels Hayward may only be worth “a little bit more than the mid-level exception” according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Aaron Falk:

“There are a lot of people out there that seemed to think this guy was going to go for near max money. I don’t see that, myself. I think he’s a very good player, very athletic, can do a lot of things. But I think the way the game is going, a perimeter guy who is not a good shooter, not a real good shooter, I think that limits his value in today’s game.”

Van Gundy’s assessment appears to be spot on. Nearly 45% of Hayward’s scoring production last season was from mid-range jumpers and threes. Throw in the fact that he only shot 41.3 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from downtown and you start to realize this guys not capable of running a team’s offense on his own.

Now tell me. Does it seem wise to pay max money for a second or third scoring option? Didn’t think so.

 

Greg Monroe, C/PF

Monroe is coming off another highly productive season with the Pistons, averaging 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds while boasting an impressive 18.2 player efficiency rating.

But unfortunately even those numbers won’t keep him in the Motor City much longer, as the team has a major logjam in the frontcourt, (Josh Smith-PF, Andre Drummond-C) leaving no room for the promising big man in the rotation.

To no surprise, potential suitors have already started lining up one by one for the former Georgetown product (Hornets, Lakers, Pelicans, Hawks) indicating there may be a team willing to shell out a max contract just to guarantee their chances of landing him.

But is he really worth it?

Monroe has a history of being a notoriously bad defender and his defensive rating of 108 from this season proves he still has a long way to go on that end of the floor.

Shelling out a max contract to a center that’s all offense and no defense honestly sounds a bit steep for his current skill level.

 

Trevor Ariza, SF/SG

Trevor Ariza chose the perfect season to have a breakout campaign, boosting his points (9.5-14.4), rebounds (4.8-6.2) and shooting efficiency (41.7-45.6 FG, 36.4-40.7 3FG) all in the final year of his contract with the Washington Wizards.

And while the franchise has already expressed interest in re-signing the veteran forward, Ariza seems to leave the door open as to whether he would actually consider coming back next season.

“I don’t know. It would be nice to come back here, but again, who knows what’s going to happen,” said Ariza. “That’s not…I don’t have to. Wherever I’m wanted. Whoever wants me on their team, I guess.” via The Washington Post’s Michael Lee

There’s a long list of teams that will be searching for a decent small forward this offseason (Grizzlies, Pistons, Pelicans, Wolves, Hawks, Lakers, Suns). Like the Monroe scenario, you have to believe one franchise is willing to offer an inordinate contract just to guarantee their chances of landing him.

Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops

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