Welcome to my first “official” blog. Is everyone excited to see what I have in store? Course you are. As you can tell by the headline, we want to show you the money. The big news this week is happening around the NBA, particularly with whether or not teams are recruiting. Right in the middle of this controversy is self-proclaimed ‘best player in the world’ LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers squad.
Next, we have what Lynyrd Skynyrd would call a “free bird.” Le’Veon Bell is officially a free-agent. Following a season of water-skiing, jet-skiing, and no actual football, Bell is set to hit free agency. There are a few teams that can compensate Bell handsomely, but we will see if money is his true motivator. Note that Bell did turn down a 5-year $70M contract last off-season, which led to the season-long standoff between the two. More into that later on.
Speaking of contracts, Machado just demolished every other contract known to [SPORTS] man. I thought Kirk Cousins’ contract allowed him to have a nice pool but turns out. . . Machado has a bigger pool than him and Kanye.
First and foremost, let us recap the past week’s major events, starting with Zion Williamson. Zion loses his shoe that subsequently leads to a knee sprain, effectively ending his night against arch-rival UNC. Within the first 30-seconds of Zion going down, everyone and their mothers’ was starting to churn the rumor mill’s butter. Will Zion shut down? Should he? What will happen to Nike? The quick answer for all three questions is, no, no, and nothing. It should be noted that Zion does have an insurance policy. Life-changing $$$ regardless.
According to Darren Rovell, Zion has an $8M policy that will kick in if he fails to be drafted within the first 16 picks.
What happened to playing for the love of the game? Charles Barkley went on a tirade during NBA on TNT about Zion’s situation, among other things. I don’t usually agree with Chuck – mostly because I like Shaq more – but he offered some very sound statements that I am inclined to agree.
Barkley said, “When did we get to the point where all people care about is money? Shaq played college for two years — three. Kenny played for four, I played for three, Michael Jordan played for three, Tim Duncan played for four, David Robinson played for four. Some of the greatest players ever — Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson — played. When did we get to the point where you’ve got clowns on television saying, ‘Oh, don’t play.’ That’s what you do, Ernie. That’s what we do. We play basketball.”
I agree with everything that was said, especially since it is all about the money nowadays. There is a reason why the CBB is being investigated by the F.B.I. Corruption is so rampant and deals done under the table are so prevalent, it is ridiculous that it is only now [BARELY] coming to light. Professional sport’s contracts, especially the NBA, have sort of laid the foundation for ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes. Play one-year of CBB and immediately jump to the NBA and make millions.
Luka Doncic summed it up perfectly:
Go play professionally in Europe, get paid, then come back and play in the NBA. Europe has adolescents go pro when they turn as early as 15 years-old. Go overseas and train, play with the professionals in Europe and declare when you are eligible for the NBA. So many times we have higher expectations set forth for players who are one-and-done, followed by a swift ‘bust’ label if they don’t automatically live up to the hype. That can derail a player’s career before it even begins. Michael Beasley comes to mind right off the top of my head..We hear every single year about college basketball’s newest star, a 5-star who is going to set the NBA on fire. I want you to look at the draft class from the past 5 years, i.e., 2013-2017, and tell me the ‘superstars’ from each class. You’ll find in retrospect that this narrative is pushed on us more often than we realize. I came up with two: Giannis and Embiid. Two players who can alter your franchise – who just happen to be international. I didn’t even consider Devin Booker or Karl Anthony-Towns. Booker because he hasn’t done anything for his team to win – they are currently on a 17-game losing streak – and Towns has not proven he can lead a team the whole season to the playoffs. It should be noted that Beasley is headed to China. This is not his first, or second, but his third stint overseas.
Sorry about that. My point took a little longer to make than I anticipated. I promise to be quicker with the rest of this round-up. The MLB has begun its spring training schedule. I do not have to tell you that all eyes and ears will be on Bryce Harper for the remainder of the off-season until he signs with a team. Next, AB hashed out his feelings with Steelers owner Art Rooney II. Even though the two came to a personal understanding, the result is still the same – Brown wants to move on from the steel city. At the age of 31, we will see if he can mimic the same productivity he has had for the past 5 seasons in a new city, with a new team and more importantly – a new quarterback. Finally, Paul George is starting to show everyone that he truly is a superstar in the NBA. According to Basketball-Reference, since becoming ‘the guy’ over Westbrook in OKC, he has career highs in points, steals, assists, and rebounds and his player efficiency rating (PER) is 24.7. This is a different animal we are accustomed too. Sure, we have known for a while that George can ball out, before and after his horrendous injury. However, he has never shown this much swagger and efficiency like this before in his entire career. OKC is one of my dark horses to compete against the NBA’s kryptonite – Golden State Warriors. Watch George be in the conversation for MVP at the end of the year with Harden, Giannis, and LeBron.
Charlotte was home for this year’s all-star game but did it, in fact, serve as a premonition of the league’s future? It is no secret that LeBron is recruiting for fellow superstars’ to take their talents to the city of Angeles – most notably Anthony Davis. Unfortunately for the King, the Brow was not traded in time, even with the Laker’s prospectively gutting their roster to expedite the process. If you have followed the NBA for the past five years, or happen to occasionally watch/listen to a sports-related show, you know it is the Warrior’s world and everyone else is just living in it. Golden State has been to the finals four straight times – winning three. The roster boasts arguably the greatest shooter (Steph), backcourt duo (Splash bros), and scorer (KD). This past offseason, Golden State enlisted the help of superstar big-man and enforcer DeMarcus Cousins. From a professional’s perspective, it was a great move. Prove you can still play coming off an Achilles injury and [MOST LIKELY] get paid next off-season. However, from a fan’s perspective, this ruined the NBA to almost beyond repair. Just look at Space Jam. I’m serious. This fictitious movie created an unbeatable starting lineup until the Warriors 2018-19 starting lineup came along.
If I had all the money in the world, I would bet that the Warriors are not pushed to a game six throughout the entire playoffs. No team in NBA history can beat this squad in a best-of-seven. No team.
Despite all the criticism, the team’s success was built through the draft. Steph was taken 7th overall in ’09, followed by Klay being taken 11th in ’11, and Draymond selected 35th in ’12. This young core worked their way to the top of the league and earned a championship against LeBron and the Cavs in ’15. After blowing a historic 3-1 game lead in the finals against the Cavs in ’16, which was headlined by a regular season record of 73 wins, the Warriors did what anybody else would – they took a shot at KD. Can you blame them? Absolutely not. Now we can argue that KD accepting the deal to become a warrior, perhaps selling his soul for a championship, is one of the softest moves ever in any sport (it is for me). That is a whole different argument that we can dive into later on. The fact is that the Warriors and KD haven’t looked back since, winning two straight championships and presumably their third one at the end of this year.
This all comes back to my initial point: Charollette served as the central hub for brokers (players) to recruit impending free agents to their teams. We make a bigger deal than ever nowadays about players’ hanging out and talking amongst themselves in public and private settings. It used to never be a big deal and almost never caused so much speculation. Why does it all the sudden? The answer is the Warriors. Every team has to think differently than in years’ past due to the simple fact that the Warriors are seemingly unbeatable. If you don’t have two or more superstars, you are looking to redesign, reallocate and restructure your whole team in order to trade for or sign another superstar to compete. Chris Paul to Rockets, Paul George to OKC, Cousins to Pelicans (LOL). Franchises do not usually trade their cornerstone but today’s NBA is a different mindset. It is all about competing now. At one end of the spectrum, you are a contender who is looking to add pieces to compete now against Golden State. At the other end, you are a struggling team looking to sell veterans for draft picks, cash considerations, etc and are looking and praying for a future generational player to turn your organization around. Middle of the road teams are becoming obsolete.
Despite players’ reactions to the media, most notably Kyrie Irving complaining about the media blowing his conversation with KD out of proportion, you are telling me there is not any talk about teaming up? None? LeBron and AD talked about how Rich Paul will not leave either of them alone? Or how about the allure that New York brings players who want the big-city lifestyle? I am telling you right now, there is not a chance in hell that there was zero talk of players teaming up. Zero. LeBron said it himself – rules do not apply during the Allstar break. KD, Klay, Kawhi, Kyrie, Butler, Kemba, KP, Boogie, and Middleton highlight this year’s free agency market buffet. My gut says Klay will re-sign with the Warriors, along with Butler and Kawhi leaning towards staying put for now. It is hard to really predict where KD will end up. Part of me thinks he is going to the Knicks to have his own team to try and get out of LeBron’s shadow and usurping him as the greatest player in today’s game, along with getting away from the ‘cupcake’ moniker. The other part thinks he will re-sign for a short-term deal again like in past years – why break up a good thing. I see Middleton resigning with the Bucks, along with KP to Dallas (Doncic and he will be a force-to-be-reckoned-with in a few seasons). Watch out for Kyrie, Kemba, and Boogie jumping ship – Kemba for more obvious reasons (lack of team success and that he is actually from NY) and Boogie to capitalize on his new-found health. Kyrie is interesting because he has shown us that we do not really know what is going on in his head. The trade request out of Cleveland took a lot of us by surprise and him openly acknowledging his past mistakes in handling the exit, along with how he treated players – mostly LeBron – had us wondering if he is thinking about a rendezvous in Los Angeles. Time will tell, but I promise you this: LeBron will talk to Kyrie this offseason, with the past being the past, and it will come down to whether or not NY gets a big-time free-agent over LA. If Magic can deliver on his promise of signing a big name player this off-season, I believe Kyrie will sign with LA over re-signing with Boston (all of this contingent on whether or not NY gets a big-name guy). We will have to wait and see where these guys end up and most notably who does not re-sign with the Warriors.
Manny Machado is going to be bigger than the Zoo in San Diego. This guy is a sensational fielder and outside of Javy Baez in Chicago, I do not know of anyone else who can field like this man. My biggest knock against baseball is that it has a 162 game regular season and each game is approximately three hours long. Not a lot of people can devote that amount of time for 162 games a year, which means we miss a lot of the awesome plays that our team may make. Thank God for highlights I suppose. Anyway, take my word for if you have not seen him play – he most certainly is worth the money. However, how do know if someone who signs a 10 year, $300M contract, is actually worth all that money?
The answer is you do not know until a couple of years into the contract. It is increasingly becoming commonplace for players to negotiate for an “opt-out” clause – which Machado has as an option following his fifth season (he will be 31). Machado has progressed mightily this past season posting career highs in HRs and RBIs and his glove work has been constant as well. This is a man who has proven he has the ability to be a golden-glover at both third base and shortstop. According to Bleacher Report’s Jon Reuter, San Diego has the #1 farm system in the MLB – headlined by star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. With this future prospect joining the MLB-level team most likely this season, it will set up a nice duo between the two.
Reuter writes, “The Padres have the No. 1 farm system in baseball, and with a number of their marquee prospects residing in the upper levels of the minors, an influx of dynamic young talent is coming, starting next season.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of this deal is not the actual signing but the precedent it sets. This deal could potentially change the landscape for future negotiations and free-agency deals. Will this long-term high-wage contract become the new norm for superstars? What happens when Mike Trout or Mookie Betts become free-agents? Mike Trout has been regarded as the best baseball player in the league since his breakout 2012 season and Betts right behind him in regards to production. Will this pair of five-tool players possibly garner enough consideration by organizations’ to receive perhaps 10-year $500M? Has the threshold of paying superstars increased with this deal being done? I think we are going to see a lot more late off-season signings like Machado and Harper – who has not even signed yet – going forward. Professional sports is becoming a ‘players-league’ meaning the players want to play to win for a team, as long as they are being handsomely compensated. Players want to get paid first and foremost. If they can win while they do it, great. I am starting to believe there is no loyalty to an organization anymore in any sport. It will be interesting to see if small markets can counteract this narrative going forward. All signs will point to superstars going after the most amount of money – which typically points to larger markets. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.
Finally, let us focus in on America’s sport – FOOTBALL. All this talk about the NBA free agency, the NFL is not getting the love it deserves. Le’Veon Bell is free. Free from Pittsburgh’s tyrannical contract negotiations. They are terrible, hard to turn down a 5 year $70M contract. Disgusting. However, if you can get past the fact that you probably will not ever make or see that amount of money in your lifetime, you are afforded the ability to breakdown this contract offer. Was Bell making the right move by declining and ultimately sitting out for a bigger payday?
Before the season started, Bell made it clear he wanted $17M for his new contract, which Pittsburg countered with a 5 year $70M – which would make him receive $14M per season. With some simple arithmetic, we figure that to be $3M apart from both parties. Pure wizardry. That salary gap was worthy enough to make him sit out the entire 2018-19 regular season.
Bell tweeted during the football season “Just about everybody has an opinion on my life & worried about what I’m doing. Don’t judge me off my decisions because maybe this isn’t what you’d do but most people don’t take the time to just simply read between the lines & that’s clearly on them. I’m not apologizing for what I believe is right for myself, family, and rest of my peers, period. Also, if you’re really finding the time to figure out what I’m saying, you’ve proved my point.”
What is important to remember in contracts is the amount of money that is actually guaranteed – which in this case, was $33M.
According to Ian Rapport, the contract included $33 million in guaranteed money, which was going to be paid out over the first two years and that the first three years of the deal would pay out $45 million (or $15 million per season), but didn’t note if all of that money was guaranteed.
You see where we are going with this. The final two years of the contract did not guarantee Bell any money. So in retrospect, Bell did make the right career move. Like I have mentioned numerous times prior to this moment, it is all about the money. Todd Gurley received a four year $60M contract with $45M guaranteed. This bodes well for Bell who has been arguably the league’s top three running back in his tenure. Bell will be turned 27 years old this February and is still in his prime. Bell is a competitor and does not like to lose. I believe he will sign with a team he feels that can contend for a Super Bowl.
With that being said, let us take a look at the teams with the most cap space:
The Colts are my clear favorite to sign Bell simply because they check all the boxes. Contender, money available, and no one on the roster with his skill set. With a healthy Luck, Indy can make things interesting in the AFC. We will know more about his feelings regarding other teams as free agency looms closer and the draft is completed, but watch out for the Texans and Raiders as well.
Well, this completes my first “official” blog. I want to thank you all for taking the time to read it. Share your thoughts about what you think. Am I missing something? Am I overlooking a particular aspect? Leave a comment at the bottom and as always please feel free and follow me at the bottom. I appreciate you guys more than you know. Like I have said before, these are just my opinions and my thoughts on these particular subject fields. Love you guys. G