This silly season is different. Unlike those of every summer past, the 2016 free agency period was marked by most every team in the league possessing the flexibility to add impactful contributors. That’s what happens when the salary cap jumps 34 percent from one July to the next.
But all that flexibility only increased the chance that some teams would overpay for guys who don’t deserve their new sky-high contracts. And along those same lines, the player-movement frenzy made it inevitable that a few meaningful contributors would fall through the cracks and get less money than they surely deserve.
These are the single worst and best deals of free agency so far.
Worst Deal: Evan Turner, Trail Blazers
It’s pertinent to factor in the $24 million rise in salary cap from this year to last when assessing contracts signed in free agency. The vast majority of new deals, you’ll find, aren’t nearly as outlandish as the dollar bottom line makes them seem. Evan Turner’s four-year, $70 million agreement with the Portland Trail Blazers is different.
The former Boston Celtic has clear value as a big lead guard who can initiate offense, break down his defender, and check multiple positions. That last attribute is of use to the Blazers especially considering the physical limitations and heretofore defensive ineptitude of star backcourt pairing Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Both players are adept working off the ball, too, and Portland lacked a viable creator when one of its jitterbug guards hit the bench last season – limiting the offensive flexibility of both Lillard and McCollum and the team in the process.
If Turner was brought in to be the Blazers’ first perimeter option off the bench, basically, his addition would make perfect sense. But not only is the No. 2 overall pick of the 2009 draft getting paid like a starter, but he’s apparently going to actually be one, too.
Turner playing major minutes next to Lillard and McCollum presents a problem for Portland. He’s a complete non-threat from beyond the arc and doesn’t mitigate the sweeping effects of that weakness with canny cutting ability like some other shooting-challenged smalls. Turner just isn’t a useful offensive player without the ball in his hands, making him a troublesome fit for Terry Stotts’ flow-based offensive attack in a vacuum, but even more so given the vexing fact he’s been promised a starting role.