Paying for promise rather than production in a one-team auction
The four-year, $38 million deal, barely signed before a midnight deadline, is all about paying for promise rather than production, in my opinion, and that’s a dangerous idea, one that’s all too prevalent in the NBA but dangerous nonetheless.
What Bryan did, basically, was bid against himself for the services of a good – not great, just good – 23-year-old shooting guard who may or may not develop into something special as the years roll on.
DeRozan wasn’t going anywhere if the Raptors didn’t want him to – he’d have been a restricted free agent next summer, giving Toronto the right to match any free agent offer he got – and if the price went up then, well, the price would have gone up because he’d played well and then a decision could be made.
Look, I see some of the logic behind it.
They get some financial certainty for a few more years and, frankly, getting a player under contract who’d professed love for Toronto and a desire to stay is a pretty good message after the Raptors had been rebuffed and shirked by others in the past.
It gives Bryan a chance to say to all others “look, we take care of guys who want to be here” and he hasn’t a chance to say for a while.
And, who knows, maybe DeRozan blossoms this year, maybe his fourth year is his best and the contract doesn’t look as bad when next summer rolls around.
But maybe what happened was Bryan thought he had to do something and he did it. He paid a lot of money for a guy who remains a better athlete than a basketball player against an artificial deadline.
You know I don’t mind general managers taking chances, you make the moves you think will work and fix them as quickly as you can if they go south. I’d much rather that than have someone who just plods along trying hit singles when home runs win games.
But this is an unnecessary gamble. He’s paying for the future when he didn’t have to, he’s hoping DeRozan keeps getting better – and to the kid’s credit he did everything they asked him to do last summer – without knowing whether he will. DeRozan’s a pretty good player right now but there are flaws in his game that have to be addressed. He’s a solid kid, good in the locker room, liked by his teammates and coaches laud his work ethic. He’s a solid citizen but you don’t pay for citizenship, either; you pay for production instead of promise, or at least you should.
The money’s not crippling; it does reduce some of Bryan’s vaunted “flexibility” but there are other ways to free up room and even if you do, it doesn’t mean anyone will take it if your teams not any good.
It is overpaying? Probably, but that’s not the biggest point.
The biggest point is that they didn’t have to do it, there’s not an awful lot of track record that says DeRozan is going to be anywhere near special. He’s good, not great; and I don’t see great in his future.
Again, they bid against themselves when they didn’t have to.
The things you learn on opening night.
The Sheepdogs were in the audience – and having a beer so that moves ‘em way up in the charts in my opinion – I’m told in the IGBT that they’re good and the Irregulars right.
This stuff I like.
My Man Mike Wells walks over to me in the press room as we’re about to start scribbling and says, “what a giveaway.”
Let’s get at some mail, okay?
Figure we’ll do a big mailbag Saturday because of the game that night so get in what you can. You know I love to hear from you.
So, New York.
Or wherever the heck it is I’m going tomorrow, if I go.
LaGuardia’s barely open, half of Manhattan and the hotels there are without power – including the one the team’s staying at, as far as I heard last night – and it’s the weekend of the marathon so not only are hotels stupidly expensive, there’s a few tens of thousands of extra people trying to get to the city and stay there.
Oh yeah, this has got “good trip” written all over it, doesn’t it?
It was a wise decision the city made to postpone tonight’s scheduled Knicks-Nets game in Brooklyn (Bloomberg must have read this space yesterday) and, frankly, if they had made the same call about Saturday, I’d have been fine with it.
Stevie Boy Russell had some help at the opener from Carlos, here’s the photographic evidence.
What else did we see last night?
Couple of things.
They played hard, couldn’t buy a basket in the final four minutes – and they all kinds of good looks – and couldn’t catch a break when they needed it most.
They weren’t strong enough defensively to handle David West despite running three different guys at him when he posted them up repeatedly and not double-teaming him is fine; it’s not what they do, defence is a man’s game and some men have to play it.
But Valancuinas was active and aggressive and good; Lowry was outstanding and the more I see of Lowry and Calderon on the floor for short spurts, I like it.
The Pacers tried a handful of times to post up the guards and every time, either Calderon or Lowry were good enough not get beat, they got some help, were physical and it wasn’t nearly the issue – last night at least – that I thought it would be.
All in all, more promising signs than negative ones, we’re 1/82nd into a long, long season, if they keep playing like that, they’ll win their fair share of games.
Okay, was way late today (rolling over after the 5 a.m. alarm for 90 minutes will do that) so we’ll have to figure out some new day-after-game stuff for after Saturday.