The absence of activity in NBA free agency can be boring, but the Milwaukee Bucks might end up getting a bang for their buck.
The biggest bit of NBA free agency news on July 4 was Gordon Hayward pump-faking and then reportedly signing with the Boston Celtics via a max contract. That’s big and important news to be sure, but it wasn’t the most insightful news item of the day, in a league-wide sense.
Casspi and Scott, both power forwards with legitimate shooting touch (Casspi is a 36.7 percent career three-point shooter, while Scott has made 33.6 percent of his career threes) were signed for the veteran minimum.
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Patterson, a starting-caliber power forward who’s been proficient at nailing corner threes over the last two seasons, went on a three-year, $16.4 million deal, which just so happens to be the exact amount of a three-year deal using the taxpayer mid-level exception, a collective bargaining agreement tool utilized by teams over the cap and, in this case, over the tax apron.
The Milwaukee Bucks could make that exact same offer at any time. A few days ago, getting a player like Patterson — or even Casspi, a proven marksman — at such a low price didn’t seem all that feasible.
After all, some players are getting paid, as per usual this time of year. The annual NBA free agency spending spree has died quickly this season, though, mostly because teams just don’t have much money to spend.
As ESPN front officer inside Bobby Marks tweeted a few days ago, half of the NBA is set to potentially be in the luxury tax next season. Even more teams will be over the cap but under the tax. Most of the teams with actual cap space seem more interested in acquiring draft picks in salary dumps than signing expensive veterans.
As with any market, supply and demand is everything in the NBA. For example: the supply of wing players who can shoot is typically lacking. This is why players like Allen Crabbe and, soon, Rudy Gay, get paid a lot of money.
However, right now, thanks to the salary cap coming in at $99 million for the 2017-18 NBA season, nearly $10 million lower than teams projected it at last year around this time, the supply of players is flooded, and the demand for them is down.
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Teams are locked into big, often ugly contracts. Every NBA team would love another impact player, but there’s just not enough money for everybody to get paid this time around. Hence quality players like Pat-Pat going for less than $6 million per season.
This could work out in the Milwaukee Bucks’ favor. By holding steady this whole time, Milwaukee could end up signing a skilled played to a very affordable deal. Getting a nice veteran on a three-year, $16 million contract would be great for the Bucks. As long as it isn’t Derrick Rose, that is.
As the amount of roster spots and money teams have to spend decreases, more and more players will be forced to take less than they would like, and much less than they might’ve gotten last season.
Playing this new field smartly will result in more teams making out like the Oklahoma City Thunder did by signing Patterson. Hopefully the Bucks can get a player of that caliber below market value as well.