The NBA Finals 2022: How the Celtics Warriors are changing the concept of a bad contract

In the summer of 2019, . was released Houston Rockets Two first-round picks and two first-round swaps were attached to swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, and a number of theories have been advanced to explain the disastrous deal since then. He and James Harden reportedly did not agree. Paul was very old and prone to injury. After consecutive losses to Golden State WarriorsHouston may not see the need to try the same thing a third time and expect a different result. But ESPN’s Tim McMahon gave a fairly straightforward explanation on an episode of “The Lowe Post.”

“This trade was done because Fertitta Tillman wanted it to happen – he thought Chris Paul’s contract was the worst contract he had ever had in business or sports,” McMahon He said. None of this negates other potential explanations for the trade, but there is something profound about this rationale. Fertitta wasn’t just trying to make the right decision about basketball. He was trying to get rid of distressed assets because he considered them toxic. This is not a particularly unique position in the NBA.

Daryl Morey was Fertita’s general manager when Paul’s trade took place. A year later, he moved to Philadelphia to take over management 76ers. What was the first step he took? Using a first-round pick to trade Al Horford — and the remaining three years on a $109 million contract Elton Brand signed just one year ago — to Oklahoma City. Take a look at any list of the worst NBA contracts and the first thing you’ll notice is how many of these players have been traded. John Wall. Christaps Porsingis. Davis Bertans. If Russell Westbrook was transferred this off season, he would have spent all five years of his breakthrough contract playing for different teams. Once a team identifies one of their contracts as malicious, they do everything they can to get rid of it before it gets worse.

However, this season was determined in many ways by players who were previously considered overpaid. pee suns Two championship wins came from last season and he won 64 games this season. I myself Jarrett Allen called for overpaying after he signed a $100 million deal this season, and I wasn’t alone. He made an all-star game. In one of the finals is Horford, who was thunder He was sent off in the second half of last season to avoid the risk of injury that could make his contract less acceptable. Andrew Wiggins, on the other hand, was a previous first general pick who was included in D’Angelo Russell’s trade in part for salary matching purposes. There is nothing in common between these players. They represent the entire age and locus spectra. All that binds them is the unproven idea that their contracts do more harm than good.

There is some irony in considering this a growing market inefficiency because, in theory, market inefficiency is supposed to represent the discovery of value beyond cost. In this specific case, the value is precisely generated Because of cost. The Timberwolves He would never have traded Wiggins if he was a $15 million player. Philadelphia has lacked a proper backup position for half a decade, and if it could justify keeping Horford as a 15-minute backup, it certainly would. Player quality becomes almost irrelevant in these cases. The fact that Horford was making $30 million for teams terrifying he may have put his value at $20 million. Fear of taking on such a contract turns teams into highly motivated sellers. Boston knows this all too well. Horford’s acquisition was driven in part by a desire to part with another big and impractical contract: Kemba Walker. The Celtics The Thunder gave the number 16 pick in last year’s draft to their troubles.

There are lessons to be learned here, but they are somewhat circumstantial. Boston knew Horford would fit into their squad because he had already spent several seasons as a Celtic. How many teams are ever in a position to win back expensive ex-war veterans? In another world, perhaps Walker is healthy, repeating his previous All-Star form and making the Celtics look an idiot. There is no tried and true formula for identifying undesirable people.

However, there is evidence of context. Paul’s stats in minutes without Harden in his last season in Houston were on par with his typical averages. Horford struggled to fit into a restricted frontal role alongside Joel Embiid, but thrived as a centerpiece on the humble Thunder. Find the right player in the wrong situation and you have lightning in a bottle. There will always be an element of risk, and having a current salary slot of this size mitigates it somewhat. Boston wanted to get rid of Walker’s maximum contract. Horford’s success in this sense was almost a bonus. The Wiggins acquisition of Golden State followed a similar pattern. Warriors landed Russell partly to trade him for value, but also to keep Kevin Durant’s old salaries when he left for Brooklyn. When they traded him for the Timberwolves, they did so largely to obtain the pickaxe that would become Jonathan Kuminga. Wiggins was the necessary heavyweight to legitimize the deal, but as it was a really negative salary for Minnesota, he grew into a key player in the Golden State.

There are similar rehab candidates available off-season, but as easy as paying tribute to the Warriors and Celtics now, both acquisitions carry a lot of risk. Gordon Hayward is overpaid largely because of his stamina. I’ve also got Hornets Two years of nearly all-star caliber basketball and he’s proven just as comfortable on offense as he’s a complement to attack. Versatile suites fit any menu, and the Hornets, who are set to expand their Miles Bridges off-season, will start feeling the pressure of luxury taxes soon enough. Mike Conley is the same age Paul was when Houston dealt with him, and the odd guy could easily have been out of a similar bleak situation in Utah. Someone would bet Duncan Robinson rediscovering his shot.

In years past, these decades may have really been a killer of the frontier. Is this concept possible anymore? NBA teams Continue to avoid the cover space As a mechanism for building lists in favor of character, exceptions, and extensions. Salary cap growth often exceeds increases included in contracts, so numbers that seemed huge just a year or two ago suddenly seem more likely. Golden State’s tax tolerance certainly helps. The Warriors can afford to treat Wiggins like their fourth best player because they can pay three top players in front of him. Not every team is so lucky. Not every team needs to be, provided they have managed their books well and are willing to make sacrifices in the future.

The championship race is an arms race, and with titles increasingly determined in July, teams are ready to search more widely for talent. Bad contracts often represent talent available at a price below reasonable price points. Fertita’s said feelings were extreme, but not exactly common. Recent history suggests that teams are usually desperate to let go of contracts they consider excessive, but as we mentioned players like Paul, Horford and Wiggins, these players were once good enough to earn those contracts in the first place. The Suns and Celtics Warriors have proven that and reaped the benefits this season. Don’t be surprised when someone else does next year.