Basically this was a defense of Chris Kaman's contract, but this also applies to Mek as well. People complain about his deal, but as this article states...it's supply and demand.
~more at the link~When you're dealing with NBA centers, you really have to remember the laws of supply and demand. That's where Dalembert and Chandler come in. As a rule of thumb, NBA centers get 8 figures per year, provided they have a pulse. Now, I realize that I'm being a little unfair to Chandler, who has been hurt (more on that later), but he's been a non-factor in the Hornets' two embarrassing losses to the Nuggets, averaging 6.5 points and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes per game. Dalembert, on the other hand, has barely played against Dwight Howard and the Magic, the Sixers instead going with 36 year old Theo Ratliff, who makes the NBA minimum. (Talk about pendulum swings - Ratliff went from being one of the most overpaid players in the league to one of the most underpaid.) Think about that - you have a 27 year old center who you owe $27.5M over the next two years, and instead you're playing a 36 year old on a one year minimum deal during the playoffs. Ratliff has played 47 minutes in the series to Dalembert's 26. Ouch.
But while Chandler and Dalembert look wildly overpaid in hindsight, it's really just supply and demand. There are not enough quality NBA centers for 30 teams, and consequently almost anyone who shows even reasonable potential gets a nice big massive ridiculous contract. Take a look at the list of NBA centers who played over 700 minutes this season (700 being an arbitrary number that was low enough to get DeAndre Jordan and Chris Kaman to show up). The list is imperfect - it's missing several players who are essentially centers, but who are not listed as such on Basketball Reference (including for instance Marcus Camby). But it's a good starting point.
Of the 34 names on the list:
- 11 of them are on their rookie contracts and have yet to sign an extension, meaning that their salary was mandated by the CBA if they were first round picks, and was even less if they were not a first round pick. When they sign a new contract, they'll no doubt join the ranks of the wildly overpaid.
- 3 of them (Shaq, Yao and Dwight Howard) are maximum-type contracts (I say maximum-type because strictly speaking Shaq is allowed to make more than $20M, but it ain't chicken feed). Of the pseudo-center missing from the list, Jermaine O'Neal and Tim Duncan fall into this category as well.
- 9 of them make $9M per year or more, but less than the maximum. This is Kaman's peer group. It includes the aforementioned Chandler and Dalembert, and a couple of recently extended youngsters like the Andrew B's (Bogut and Bynum). Emeka Okafor, Nene, Al Jefferson and Eddy Curry are all in this category as well. Of this group, Biedrins looks like he might be a bargain at 6/$54M, and of course Nene defied the odds with a huge season, though at the time he signed his deal it looked like one of the worst of the bunch.
- 10 more make between $3M per year and $8M per year. I guess these would qualify as your bargains, and the names include such luminaries as Dan Gazuric ($6.2M this season), DeSagana Diop ($6M) and Zaza Pachulia ($4M). Pachulia and Joel Pzrybilla (a 15.4 PER for a mere $6.4M this season) are the real bargains, such as they are. You could put a few more names like Kwame Brown, Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas into this group.
- That leaves one veteran NBA center who played more than 700 minutes while making less than $3M this season - Jamaal Magloire. Of course Magloire (like Theo Ratliff and Dikembe Mutumbo and Antoino McDyess and Juwan Howard) falls into a special category of players that were once well paid (or wildly overpaid) who are now doing penance on a veteran's minimum contract. Magloire and all of those other names are former all stars, if you can believe that.
Hope Resurrected: "I think I can bring an attitude to a team as far as, ‘All right, no matter what, we are not losing this game'." - Kemba Walker
"Its okay to be bad; just so long as you're bad ass." - Keetch
All this tells me is that you have to pick and choose. If you just dial out big money to an under deserving player you are just feeding the monster and helping cause the problem rather than helping fix it.
If a team feels they HAVE to over pay, let it be some other team that does it. Let the Sixers and the Hornets of the world have to endure guys like Dalambert and Chandler. I'd rather excersize patience and wait for the quality to roll around than paint ourselves into a financial corner.