The rookie deal non-max extension is one of the least efficient/riskiest contracts in the NBA. It comes when a player is still very young, at a stage when it’s possible to believe he might advance more in the next 12 months than he did in the previous 36 combined — even if history says that sort of leap at age 23 or 24 is unlikely. If a team passes on an extension and that growth comes right away, the team will have cost itself something like $10 million or $20 million by failing to lock up the player ahead of restricted free agency. Saving that kind of money has real roster-building impact; Boston would be short a Jason Terry or Courtney Lee right now had it not locked up Rajon Rondo at an absurdly cheap price at the extension buzzer in 2009.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
Hail the Conquering Hero
Sometimes noise is better than words, so I won't say too many. You heard all the rumors, the Dominican Republic, broke, uncoachable, China, the gambling, the drinking. He's not gonna make the flight to Philly. It'll be a distraction. And then there he was, wearing a Lou Williams jersey, hat to the side, smile on his face and tears in his eyes. The fan with boxing gloves, raised in glory, because even if he didn't practice, he always fought. God, I even love the Joey Crawford hug, for some reason.
For the remainder of the NBA season, The Triangle will be breaking down the biggest games of the week. On Wednesday night, the Sixers, led by Evan Turner, demolished an exhausted Celtics team 103-71 in a battle for the Atlantic Division lead.
What Was at Stake
The division lead in the division no team seems to want to win. With the Knicks taking a nosedive, it appears Boston and Philadelphia will tussle over the Atlantic. The Celtics took a five-game winning streak into the Wells Fargo Center in scenic South Philadelphia, looking to pull even with the home team. For their part, the Sixers had seen the bloom decidedly come off the rose. One of the success stories of the early season, Philly came into the game having lost eight of its last 10.
During the NBA lockout, the narrative unspooled by the vipers on the ownership side was that the league was in danger of being cleaved into two types of franchises. A small number were big-market teams in glittering, spired metropolises that collected superstars with the craven lust of billionaires taking trophy wives. The rest were clubs in backwater cow towns that collectively acted as a de facto farm system, nourishing ungrateful talent that fled to places with sunny weather and Fashion Weeks. It was heartbreaking enough to make Sweet Baby Gilbert cry.
But as we have seen in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles, a clusterfuck of superstars does not necessarily guarantee dominance. With the current salary cap, locking down three players with princely contracts means the rest of the roster will be fleshed out with unproven youngsters, waiver-wire offal, and veterans with one chipped hoof in the glue factory.
Maybe somewhere, though, between the Parnassian peaks where the haves frolic and the swamps where have-nots lurk, a third path exists. Yes, the NBA’s middle-class dream is alive in Philadelphia.