One of the strongest trends of NBA free agency so far has been perfectly average players getting bigger-than-expected contracts.
The three prime examples:
- Channing Frye (199th out of 337 qualified players in PER) signed a four-year, $US32-million deal with Orlando.
- Jodie Meeks (143rd in PER) signed a three-year, $US19-million deal with Detroit.
- Avery Bradley (211th in PER) signed a four-year, $US32-million deal with Boston.
You could also point to Darren Collison (three years, $US16 million) and C.J. Miles (four years, $US18 million) as examples on a smaller scale.
The simple explanation for this that is that teams have an unexpectedly large amount of money to spend.
The salary cap went up 7.7% to $US62.3 million between 2013-14 and 2014-15. That gave every team about $US5 million more to spend. Since the salary cap is directly related to basketball-related revenue, it’s fair to take this as a sign that the league is in good financial health right now.
There’s also going to be a big windfall coming after the 2015-16 season from a new TV deal. Live sports rights are booming right now, which means the league stands to see a significant revenue increase after the 2016 season. That will automatically bump up the salary cap. The ~$8 million Channing Frye makes in 2016-17 will look smaller in 2016 than it does now.
Even without the unexpected salary cap bump, there are just a lot of teams with money to spend this summer. Almost half the teams in the league are under the salary cap, and there are 10 teams with at least $US15 million to work with in free agency. When so many teams can afford to overpay for a guy, he’s going to end up getting a favourable contract.
The big free agency dominos have yet to fall. Once that happens, teams are going to start making moves like crazy. With so much free cap space around the league, we should expect even more deals like this in the coming days.
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