Friday night’s Mega Millions jackpot was projected to be about $415 million but the real lottery winners were the NBA free agents cashing in all those eye-popping, mind-boggling, are you fucking kidding me deals.
What we witnessed on the first official day of free agency was a long time coming for those who follow the league and knew the NBA was about to be flush with cash. But it still doesn’t make the numbers any easier to swallow.
Seriously? Mike Conley got $153 million? Mike Conley?!?
In a league that already features too many certified legends to list here making the kind of money you and I can’t even comprehend, it’s hard to fathom that Conley is now the proud owner of the richest contract in the history of the NBA.
Whether or not you’re a Conley fan and think he’s one of the better point guards in the league or overrated is besides the point tonight. Conley was going to get paid this off-season, just like all the rest of the guys now earning nine or high eight figures like…
DeMar DeRozan: five years and $139 million.
Andre Drummond: five years and $130 million.
Bradley Beal: five years and $128 million.
Nicolas Batum: five years and $120 million.
Chandler Parsons: four years and $94 million.
Really excited for this opportunity and new chapter with the @memgrizz !! This is a perfect fit for me and I can't wait to get started!! I want to thank the owner RP for believing in me, Coach Fiz, JB, and everyone else involved!!
A photo posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on Jul 1, 2016 at 1:45pm PDT
Remember when Tristan Thompson’s deal was the absurd one last year? Me neither.
Are those guys who signed these mega deals Friday really worth it? Not in 2015-16 dollars, but July 1st ushered in a new era of the NBA where everyone can get filthy rich and earn like you’re LeBron, Kobe, or Carmelo for a percentage of their production.
So why the insane numbers? As David Aldridge said on NBATV, "It’s math."
Folks. Four yrs ago, the cap was $58M. Next year, it’ll be $108M: close to double (TV $). 35% of 58 doesn’t sound as bad. This is just math.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 2, 2016
Depending on a player’s experience, the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that they are eligible to earn a certain percent of the cap. And with the cap rising around $24 million this off-season to a record $94 million, general managers had no choice but to spend to fill needs.
So that’s why Timofey Mozgov will earn more than Steph Curry next season. That’s why Evan Turner will make about as much as Klay Thompson. That’s why Drummond’s bank account can now run circles around Draymond Green’s. Life’s all about timing, and the guys who were free agents in the summer of 2016 gloriously took advantage of the system.
if you think this year has been nuts, just wait until this time next year when the greatest collection of free agents officially hits the market.
But Conley is the guy everyone is talking about and he just might forever be the face of the NBA’s new period of wild and crazy free agency. Five years and $153 million for a point guard coming off an Achilles injury, who never made an All-Star team and, if you subscribe to analytics, has steadily seen his value over replacement player rating (VORP) drop since peaking four seasons ago? In today’s NBA, yeah, that’s the going rate.
And this isn’t about shitting on Conley. Good for him and all the other good to above average players getting paid like gawds. The NBA is raking in billions from its new media agreement with Turner and ESPN and the trickle-down effect has officially reached the players.
Of course, if you think this year has been nuts, just wait until this time next year when the greatest collection of free agents officially hits the market. Expect LeBron and KD to opt out—after they both sign astronomical one year deals over the next week or two—and join Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kyle Lowry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, to name just a few. And those are just the stars. There are a ton of role players—name role players, like really good role players—that just started looking at real estate in the Hamptons and securing off-shore bank accounts after witnessing what went down today.
Start preparing yourself now. Next year’s salary cap is projected to be as much as $110 million and a guy like Durant will be eligible to receive roughly 35 percent of the cap from any team that can afford him. LeBron, KD, and a few others could be $200 million men.
So just know that today was only the beginning. The numbers are only going up from here. And up and up and up. So calm down and come to terms with the fact that you bricked your life by not becoming a professional basketball player. Who needs to waste money playing the rigged state lottery when you can average 15 and 6 and earn roughly as much per year as Jordan did in '98?