Be thankful this wasn’t the Knicks:
John Salmons – 5 years, 39 million dollars from the Bucks
Drew Gooden – 5 years, 32 million dollars from the Bucks
Darko Milicic – 4 years, 20 million dollars from the Wolves
Amir Johnson – 5 years, 34 million dollars from the Raptors
Joe Johnson – 6 years, 120 million dollars from the Hawks
Rudy Gay – 5 years, 80 million dollars (max contract) from the Grizzlies
Some of those are official, others are rumored, and they are all out of this world RIDICULOUS, INSANE, and PREPOSTEROUS. This might very well be worst set of contracts ever agreed to on the same day in the history of any professional sport. That’s pretty impressive since Major League Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap. It’s as though the owners of the Bucks, Wolves, Raptors, Hawks and Grizzlies all got into a contest to see who could spend money the most irresponsibly, and they all tied for first. They all must have gone to the Tom Hicks School of Ownership.
Drew Gooden was CUT, RELEASED, WAIVED, or DUMPED, if you prefer, by the Kings a couple years ago. The Knicks couldn’t give away Darko last year and he was ready to go back to Europe. Amir Johnson averaged less than 20 minutes a game last year, and averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds. Joe Johnson is neck and neck with Gilbert Arenas for worst contract in the league. Rudy Gay is nowhere near a max player, and John Salmons is an 8 million dollar a year role player.
None of these guys are even going to be tradeable in two years. They are going to be anchors hanging around the necks of those franchises keeping them in the doldrums of mediocrity. It’s identical to the deals the Knicks used to have with the likes of Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, Jerome James, Clarence Weatherspoon, Jared Jeffries, and Jerome Williams. Overpaying mediocre players is the fastest way to destroying a franchise.
I know a lot of the experts out there are reporting the Knicks are going to come up empty in free agency. I’d rather come up empty than make deals like those. Making no decisions and maintaining cap space for future flexibility and trades will provide a much brighter future than entangling the team with second tier players at top tier money. So Donnie Walsh needs to continue what he is doing: BE PATIENT.
As players like Johnson and Gay stay with their current teams, there’s going to be a lot of money floating out there with no one worthy of it. Foolish owners are going to use that money anyway, and spend on bad players that are unworthy of it. Walsh needs to be smart, and wait for the right players at the RIGHT price. Mike Miller is a good player and a good fit, but not at 8-10 million a year. Amar’e Stoudemire is not worth 16.5 million dollars for five years. At these prices, David Lee is going to get a max contract.
So, even if things go poorly and the Knicks don’t get some of the A-listers out there, overpaying for the B and C guys will not help the franchise long term. It’s not going to be easy because Knicks fans and the newspapers are going to be pounding him, but Walsh can’t let himself to get pushed into spending unwisely. That is the road to oblivion, and one the Knicks have traveled for the past ten years.