It's official: The NBA has lost its mind.
Every year, teams carefully tend to their books, slashing salary, attaching picks in deals to rid themselves of unfavorable contracts, pursuing deals where they shave their payroll sometimes by mere hundreds of thousands of dollars to drop under the tax threshold, and conduct cap machinations to line their ducks up in a row to be in a position of optimal cap flexibility. They evaluate talent year-round, identifying possible future fits expected to hit free agency, watch countless hours of film and meticulously come up with comparable contract negotiations from years past to craft the perfect proposal. They are aware of alternatives available via trade or free agency, they draft replacements, they have five-year plans of progression.
Then July 1 happens, and all hell breaks loose.
This year, the madness began with a three year, $19 million offer by the Detroit Pistons to Jodie Meeks, which was followed in short order by an offer by the Boston Celtics to Avery Bradley worth $32 million over four years, and then a five year, $60 million agreement between the Washington Wizards and Marcin Gortat. Did these teams really have these players valued this highly? Or were they compelled by new information, by agent pressures, or simply by the desire for certainty?
Fear not, frugal spenders: There are still some value deals left on the market. Here's a look at some of the talents who can be had for less-than-exorbitant prices:
Al-Farouq Aminu | SF | UFA
2013-14 Team: New Orleans Pelicans
2013-14 Salary: $3.7 million
Suggested AAV: $2.0 million/year, 3 years,
nonguarantee on third year
Aminu had an under-the-radar season playing in New Orleans, but he showed marked signs of improvement this year, playing on a one-year deal after he originally had the fourth-year option of his rookie scale contract declined. While he hasn't fulfilled the promise that so many had for him out of Wake Forest as a versatile wing, he has carved out something of a niche as an athletic, defensive combo forward. His length and quickness allow him to act as a disruption in pick and roll coverage, and his size helps him in defending some of the bigger face-up players in the league. Best of all, he's a high-level defensive rebounder, which can give a team some lineup flexibility. His perimeter shot is abysmal, but that's part of why he comes for cheap.
Gustavo Ayon | C | UFA
2013-14 Team: Atlanta Hawks
2013-14 Salary: $1.5 million
Suggested AAV: $1.5 million/year, 3 years,
nonguarantee on second and third year