8 Classic Fusion Haute Joaillerie watches. A spiffy 700 horsepower Maybach Excelero. Michael Finley’s “22.6-6.3-5.3″ gem of a 2000 season. Kanye West’s engagement ring to Kim Kardashian. Six points and 2.8 assists nightly in 2012 from then-Atlanta Hawk Kirk Hinrich. One of these iced out iPhone 4s.
One common thread binds these random, seemingly ridiculous, mismatched … things. What do they all have in common?Price tag. To acquire any of these, you’d have to (or had to) pony up a cool $8 million dollars.
In the NBA, the value of the dollar as it applies to players’ salaries varies wildly. Just last season, Gerald Wallace’s five points a night in the 58 games he played for the Celtics earned him $10.1 million, while another Gerald Green–was a general manager’s naughty dream for the Suns, dropping almost 16 points a game, providing high octane energy, and hitting 40 percent of his 3s for a measly $3.5 million.
There are no guarantees of production when your favorite team inks their target to that lucrative deal (we’re looking at you, Jerome James), but in the modern NBA, scouting, technology, and advanced analytics are weapons at every front office’s fingertips. No GM wants to be saddled with a “Bobby Simmons is making $10.6 million for averaging 7.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg on the Nets in 2009″ type contract; if they hope to compete with the San Antonio Spurs or the Cleveland LeBrons, they simply can’t afford that type of financial dead weight.
So eyebrows were raised and heads were scratched when the Celtics announced inking 23-year-old Avery Bradley to a four-year, $32 million contract. Hoops Habit has already covered some of the pros and cons of the Bradley contract here.
The questions about his durability and and offensive limitations are valid, as are the praises heaped upon him for his lock down on-ball defense and steadily improving shooting. But the question here: is $32 million for a guy who’s missed almost 44 percent of his regular season games worth it?
Looking at the make up of the Celtics and where they are in the stage of rebuilding, re-signing Bradley actually makes a ton of sense. Consider this:
- Veteran Presence
Don’t laugh. Sure, Bradley is only 23, but by all reports he’s been a consummate professional, a hard worker, and a great teammate.
Veterans on bloated contracts like Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, and Joel Anthony don’t figure to get much burn this season while Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, and Jeff Green, and yes, Avery Bradley, look to be the active elder statesmen. The next four guys in minutes played last year (and the newly drafted Marcus Smart and James Young Make six) have an average age of 21.2.
With the Celtics maneuvering themselves back to being competitive and striving to forge a foundational culture and identity, they’ll need positive guiding influences in the locker room. Bradley got to witness first hand the work ethic and dedication of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, and surely can pass on the lessons learned to his young(er) teammates.
Boston is banking that, similar to Nick Collison in OKC and Derek Fisher to the mid-2000s Lakers, Bradley can evolve into a stabilizing presence, as valuable to the team’s off-court persona as he is to the on-court success.
Along with a healthy, long armed Rajon Rondo (6’4″), Marcus Smart (6’7″), James Young (6’7″) and Jeff Green (6’9″), retaining Avery Bradley gives the Celtics a ton of lineup flexibility. In Rondo, Bradley, and Smart, Brad Stevens can deploy three guards who can ratchet up the on ball defensive pressure over 94 feet, seamlessly switch on both, and in some cases all 3, perimeter positions, and create opportunities for themselves and others.
Or ask Dwyane Wade about his timing after this despicable block. Seriously, take a gander at those videos.
Toss in his knack for knowing when to slice to the rim off-ball to get behind the defense and his rapidly (as somewhat inconsistent 3-ball (he DID shoot 39.5 percent from downtown last season, improving markedly every month) , Bradley is turning himself into the epitome of what today’s coaches covet in a “3-an-D” wing player. Envisioning lineups of Rondo-Smart-Bradley-Green-Kelly Olynyk or Jared Sullinger if the C’s want to go small has fans salivating for the season to start.
The four-year, $32 million price tag made the NBA world double take, but upon closer inspection, it’s extremely decent. What exactly should you expect for $8 million a year?
Players like Dirk Nowitzki ($7.9 million in 2015) and Manu Ginobili ($7.5 million) are the exceptions, not the rules. Guys like Mike Conley (five years, S45 million for a top-10 point guard is absurd) are anomalies.
Let’s take a look at how other guards who make about the same coin produced last year:
- Rodney Stuckey, 28 (2011, 4 yr/$35 million): 13.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 14.04 PER
- George Hill, 28 (2012, 5 yr/$40 million): 10.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.5 apg, 13.42 PER
- Jeremy Lin, 26 (2012, 3 yr/$25 million): 12.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.1 apg, 14.31 PER
- Jeff Teague, 26 (2013, 4 yr/$32 million): 16.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.7 apg, 17.16 PER
Bradley’s 14.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 1.4 apg last season matches up nicelywith the older, more established guys listed above, and here’s the kicker: again, he’s ONLY 23. He’s still improving.
Considering that only Hill comes close to his defensive impact, it’s fair to say that the Celtics did well to lock up the young defensive dynamo. Just $8 million a year for a starting quality shooting guard/heavy rotation first guard off the bench is very reasonable.
The Celtics can’t even see contention over the horizon yet, but Danny Ainge has made all the right moves so far to put them on the right path. Building a winning franchise is equal parts good luck, shrewd planning, smart signings, and hard work: Avery Bradley looks to prove in 2015 that he and the Celtics have the last two parts down.