In the NBA, who just got overpaid? And who got underpaid?

In the NBA, who just got overpaid? And who got underpaid?

With free agency period underway, some guys getting more than they deserve, some less

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One of the best things about NBA Free Agency is witnessing the many athletes who have spent years toiling on blacktop courts in ignored corners get paid. Nothing wrong with hard-working people getting money legally. Isn’t that the American Dream? Playing armchair quarterback in group chats, comment threads, and message boards about “spoiled, entitled athletes” raking in millions for bouncing a ball is easy. But these same Jabronis continue to watch the league while discussing it non-stop.

With this in mind, July 1 is the ultimate meltdown day for these contract Karens. With streaming deals inflating the cap, teams are spending record highs to retain and steal talent. Yet, even though the market is dictating players’ worths at all-time highs, there’s still enough data to discern a value deal from a gross overpay.

Let’s break down the first day of free agency and parse out the good, bad, and ugly.

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OVERPAYS: Jalen Brunson signs with New York Knicks for 4-years/$104M

OVERPAYS: Jalen Brunson signs with New York Knicks for 4-years/$104M

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Let’s get this out the way. Yes, Leon Rose and the Knicks overpaid by a few million per year to solve a 20-year hole at the most critical position in the game. However, the proper roast deserves to be placed on the Dallas Mavericks and their bum ass General Manager Nico Harrison for letting their second-best player and only other young core piece besides Luka Dončić walk for nothing. Harrison had two opportunities to extend Brunson, but he passed and, in the process, destroyed the team’s relationship with their best trade asset and second-best player. So instead, the Knicks bring in an above-average point guard who thrives in the playoffs on a contract that’s only the 14th highest paid for a point guard. Not bad. Any Knicks fan would rather pay Brunson that $26 million annually than Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel. But they would also admit a $27 million price tag is steep for a 16 ppg non-All-Star player. Brunson hasn’t earned that high of a payday yet, but by being “the man” in New York, he just might.

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OVERPAYS: Karl-Anthony Towns re-signs with Minnesota Timberwolves on 4-years/$224M

OVERPAYS: Karl-Anthony Towns re-signs with Minnesota Timberwolves on 4-years/$224M

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The slow and slogging path toward Towns becoming a superstar has ended. He has shown us, through his play, that he is, at best, a very good second star on a championship team, a Pau Gasol with the Lakers, if you will. But Minnesota had little option but to extend him if he was the first option. The deal comes out to around $56 million a year. Yeesh. That’s a lot of dough for a guy who has consistently come up short in the team’s two playoff series since 2004. Towns is a stat-stuffing big man who has an inflated sense of self. The payday will only maximize this fantastical self-image. Hopefully, the Timberwolves’ new ownership holds Towns accountable for his play on the court, especially in the playoffs, now that he’s being paid as a franchise player.

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OVERPAYS: Gary Harris re-signs with Orlando Magic for 2-years/$26M

OVERPAYS: Gary Harris re-signs with Orlando Magic for 2-years/$26M

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We had veteran guard Gary Harris as one of our underrated free agents. It wasn’t expected Harris would re-sign with the Magic. Many contenders could use Harris’ ability to play and guard multiple positions. Harris re-signing gives the Magic another veteran to surround their burgeoning young core with. Harris will look to provide leadership and scoring off the bench, something he was used to doing in Denver, where he was higher in the pecking order. His contract stays tradeable at $13 million per year should the Magic pivot toward a continued rebuild later in the season. But after adding Paolo Banchero with the first pick overall, the Magic should build on their momentum and try for the Play-In tournament, where Harris is sure to contribute.

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OVERPAYS: Devin Booker re-signs with Phoenix Suns on a 4-year/$224M extension

OVERPAYS: Devin Booker re-signs with Phoenix Suns on a 4-year/$224M extension

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Devin Booker went from emerging superstar to meme-worthy bum in a single second-round playoff series. His decline wasn’t just about the statistics, which were lacking. Against Dallas, it was about his overall arrogance and lack of respect toward his competition. In the Western Conference Finals, even Draymond Green sang Luka’s praises after beating the Mavs. Booker stayed arrogant till the end. Now he’s getting paid like a top 10 player in the league when he’s not even the most important player on his team. The Suns are old, their ownership is toxic, their most valuable player is rapidly declining, and their center is likely gone. There are rumors that Kevin Durant wants to go to Phoenix. The irony is Booker would probably have to be included in any deal for him. Insert Booker agony-face meme.

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OVERPAYS: Anfernee Simons re-signs with Portland Trailblazers for 4-years/$100M

OVERPAYS: Anfernee Simons re-signs with Portland Trailblazers for 4-years/$100M

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“Knicks for Clicks” clearly dominates the media airwaves, but the Blazers deserve roasting for overpaying their young stud Simons almost the same amount as the Knicks paid Brunson. Simons is a good player and the only real asset worth keeping around Lillard after the tear-down but at $25 million per? After averaging 17 ppg last season at 30 minutes per game, Simons doesn’t look to have a much higher ceiling. How good can he be alongside an aging Lillard? Will the increased attempts he had post-teardown last season change now that Jerami Grant is there? If the averages stay the same as last season, this contract might be an overpay for whatever ceiling awaits.

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UNDERPAYS: Lu Dort resigns with Oklahoma Thunder on 5-year/$87M extension.

UNDERPAYS: Lu Dort resigns with Oklahoma Thunder on 5-year/$87M extension.

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In the age of superstar divas, Lu Dort is a breath of fresh air. The kid is hell-bent on giving his team 110 percent every damn minute he’s on the court (see above). He fights over screens to stay on the opposing team’s best players. He sacrifices stats, touches, and ego-based histrionics for the team’s betterment. In short, he’s perfect for this post-Westbrook rebuild GM Sam Presti has been building. You can’t put a cap on the intangibles and bulldog defense Dort brings, which reinforces the high-value contract he signed with the Thunder. The big payday is a thank you for the incredible $1.3 million he was on for the last four years. One could argue he deserves more. If his shooting splits can improve, Dort has the makings to be more than just a Matisse Thybulle-like lock-down defender. He can be one of the best two-way players in the league.

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UNDERPAYS: Kyle Anderson signs with Minnesota Timberwolves for 2-years/$18M

UNDERPAYS: Kyle Anderson signs with Minnesota Timberwolves for 2-years/$18M

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When pundits and scribes talked about the rich depth of the Memphis Grizzlies last season, Anderson was probably the guy they couldn’t identify. Anderson has never been a household name, but he was part of the Grizzlies’ 10-man rotation of switchable athletic, two-way wings. Now with the T-Wolves, he will fill in the minutes left by the franchise gutting their perimeter depth to acquire Rudy Gobert. Anderson should slot in as a starter immediately at the small forward spot, where his 6-foot-9 frame, alongside Gobert and Towns, will give the team the largest frontcourt in the league. Anderson’s career 33 percent from 3 stat probably held him back from receiving a bigger payday, but playing alongside such massive bigs should draw defenders away from him on the perimeter, helping him get wide-open looks, and increasing his percentages along the way.

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UNDERPAYS: Lonnie Walker IV signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 1-year/$6M

UNDERPAYS: Lonnie Walker IV signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 1-year/$6M

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After the Spurs traded Dejounte Murray, the feel-good overachiever of last year gave way to the first proper rebuild for Greg Popovich in nearly 27 years as head coach. Walker was seen as the next best player, but at 23 years old, one to hold on to. The Spurs inexplicably rescinded their qualifying offer, making Walker an unrestricted free agent. He will be injecting youth and upside into a Lakers roster in desperate need of both. He will have a chance to start while setting himself up for a bigger payday next summer. His $6 million deal allows the Lakers to keep fishing for talent within their limited budget while giving Walker a chance to start.

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UNDERPAYS: Joe Ingles signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 1-year/$6.5M

UNDERPAYS: Joe Ingles signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 1-year/$6.5M

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It felt like only yesterday when the Aussie was a key cog in the Utah Jazz’s playoff-bound starting five. During the 2020- 2021 season, he was in the top three running for Sixth Man of the Year, losing out to teammate Jordan Clarkson. After a devastating ACL injury last season, Ingles was subsequently traded to the Portland Trailblazers before the deadline, where he remained inactive. With the Bucks, Ingles returns to a contender while building up his value to re-enter free agency next Summer. Ingles is a career 40 percent 3-point shooter and has the on-ball ability to create his shot. He will be a great addition to a Bucks’ lineup whose offense went anemic last playoffs after Kris Middleton went down. Ingles will join the plethora of scrappy, long-range shooting wings Milwaukee’s front office has surrounded Giannis Antetokounmpo with.

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