The Charlotte Bobcats made an awful decision on Tuesday, giving Emeka Okafor a six-year, $72 million contract.
Seventy-two million dollars? For Okafor? For a player who averaged 13.8 points and 10.7 rebounds in 2008? To quote Lebron James from the amazing "The Lebrons" commercials, "Them ain't numbers."
Okafor is a nice guy, doesn't get into trouble off the court and, by all accounts, is a pretty good teammate. He speaks four different languages and received two bachelors' degrees from the University of Connecticut in only three years.
His demeanor, smile and personality alone are worth a few million dollars in a league where perceptionâ€”and false perceptionsâ€”is everything. That's all fine and dandy for the media relations' people, but on the court he's a marginal talent at best.
I'm not trying to diss. I'm just saying what you're all thinkingâ€”he's an undersized, out-of-position center and an underwhelming power forward with absolutely no skill facing the basket. Watching him attempt a jump shot is like watching Simon and Paula interact on American Idolâ€”awkward, forced and uncomfortable.
Now, with oft-injured swingman Gerald Wallace, shooting guard Jason Richardson and Okafor locked into high-dollar, long-term contracts, the cap flexibility that made Charlotte a powerful player in the free-agent and trade market has vanished faster than David Duke at an Obama campaign rally.
The NBA is littered with teams that, instead of persisting and fighting through public desire to resign players like Okafor, folded under the pressure and gave bad deals.
Look at the Denver Nuggets. They have so many bad contracts for players similar to Okafor that they had to give away two-time Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets received one of those ever-so-coveted conditional second-round picks for a guy that has led the NBA in blocks per game and rebounds per game during his career. They had to do this because they are so far over the luxury tax. Remember Kenyon Martin? The former No. 1 overall pick got seven years, $92 million from Denver. What about Nene? The behemoth Brazilian center got six years and $60 million for doing what exactly? Averaged 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds for his career? Awesome.
It's not just the Nuggets, who finished eighth in the Western Conference last season, that are strapped with awful contracts that make the team less competitive. The Isaiah Thomas-induced New York debacle comes to mind. Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson, Jared Jeffries and Zach Randolph will cost the Knicks a combined $90.6 million next season.
Great job Zeke!
Assets are just as important as your actual players. Besides, it's not like Charlotte is going to win with their current unit, regardless of Larry Brown does or how good a coach he is.
In the last 30 years, the only team to win an NBA title that didn't contain a hall-of-famer or someone who will be soon was the 2004 Detroit Pistons. Yes, they were coached by Brown, but they also possessed superior talent. If you go to a game at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, the only hall-of-famers you'll see will be Brown and Bobcats VP Michael Jordan. Of course, that's if he actually ever attends a game of the franchise he is runningâ€”poorly, I might add.
Flexibility is ever so important in the ever-changing landscape of the association. With NBA players getting guaranteed salaries, one bad signing can hinder a team's chances at success for year's to come.