When I was growing up playing NBA videogames like NBA Live and NBA2K (I still play NBA2K), I occasionally played a season on draft mode. For some of the kids out there today, they may not realize just what draft mode was (do NBA games still have it?). It essentially let you and the rest of the teams draft every NBA player in the league to create completely customized roster.
In a way, that is what the 2019 NBA offseason feels like as teams trade and sign players with more freedom than ever. The NBA free agent market is just 18 days old, yet it feels like teams are hell bent for leather signing players and making trades.
Big names have changed places. Whether or not the teams that acquired these big names got great deals is debatable. Regardless, the new faces in new places should excite NBA fans.
The Houston Rockets ended their Chris Paul experiment this week by sending the guard to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It ended a two-year stint in Houston that was more miss than hit for the former Los Angeles Clippers guard.
Paul played 58 games last season and averaged 15.8 points per game and 8.2 assists. While his numbers were decent as Houston’s No. 2 behind James Harden, Paul missed 24 games due to injury. In total, Paul missed 48 games for the Rockets during his two years in Houston. In his final year with the Rockets, he averaged three fewer points than he did the previous year.
Paul will be tasked with helping rebuild the Thunder who sent Russell Westbrook to Houston the week prior. Westbrook will reunite with Harden in the Houston backcourt. Debates are ongoing if rival teams will need to guard any of Houston’s front court players next season.
Money Down the Drain
According to The Ringer, Westbrook has one of the two worst NBA contracts and Houston is about to take it on. Westbrook, who, we must remember has never won an NBA ring, is on a five-year, $206.8 million deal.
The Thunder signed the guard in an attempt to compete. The supermax contracts were invented partly to give “small market teams” a chance to contend with the bigger franchises. Supermax contracts actually prevent small market teams from competing because they invest so much money into one player.
That money could be spread amongst other players to make a team more competitive rather than relying on a Westbrook. But OKC’s strategy of building around Westbrook has backfired after trading him to their Western Conference rival.
Now, with Westbrook gone, the Thunder are a shell of the team they were, and they weren’t anything special to begin with.
According to Hoopshype, Westbrook will earn over $38.51m in 2019-20. Westbrook is coming off of a season in which his points declined from 25.4 to 22.9 ppg. That decline was mostly due to Paul George’s career high 28.0 ppg.
At 34, and missing 48 games in the last two years, Paul’s bloated contract of $159,730,592 over four-years looks incredibly ridiculous. He will earn over $38m next season, just like Westbrook.
NBA teams, especially small market teams, are giving money away to top players but still not seeing the benefits of deep playoff runs or rings. Due to the eagerness to pay top dollar for talent, players are on the move like never before this summer which could make next season the most intriguing in some time.