Crazy Contracts Part III: Kyle Lowry and Jodie Meeks

Lowry should be smiling because his new deal includes $48 million. How much is that in Canadian Dollars though? (I don’t take credit for the photo)

In the first few days of NBA free agency, there have only been a few sprinkles. The torrential downpour is still yet to come. But that doesn’t mean teams haven’t been over-paying for players.A lot of people might think that the Toronto Raptors got a great deal when they re-signed point guard Kyle Lowry to a brand-new four-year, $48 million contract. A deal is far from what the Raptors got.

Lowry is coming off, by far, his best season as a pro. He averaged 17.9 points per game (7th among point guards), 4.7 rebounds per game (2nd among point guards) and 7.4 assists per game (8th among point guards). But his field-goal percentage of 42.3 ranked 20th among point guards and 108th overall in the league.

His new salary will make him the eighth-highest paid point guard in the NBA behind Chris Paul, Deron Williams, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, and tied with Ty Lawson. Besides Paul, Williams, and Parker, Lowry is also the fourth oldest point guard. That’s not bad, actually that’s about spot-on. However, at 28-years-old, Lowry just had his best season. His Player Efficiency Rating suggests that he is a little better than average for his career (16.9; 15 is average). While he didn’t see a lot of playing time early in his career, he has averaged 33 minutes-per-game over the past four seasons, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.8 assists, but has shot a sub-par 41.7 percent from the field over that time.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: Superstars are the only players who deserve making between 20 and 30 percent of a team’s salary cap. Lowry is at 20.4 percent and will be the highest-paid player on the Toronto roster. I think the Raptors over-paid, but I suppose it’s better than letting the Miami Heat have a chance to get him, right? It will be a wait-and-see contract because Lowry will be 32-years-old when this contract is up. If the Raptors are only able to get one productive year out of Lowry during this contract, it will clearly be a waste of money.

Still, I don’t think it was a good investment, because the Raptors are missing two big pieces when it comes to being a title contender. They don’t have a superstar, and I’m not sure they can lure one across the border. They basically signed him so they can continue to mediocre and somewhat relevant.

Jodie Meeks is another player who has benefited from having a solid season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Meeks averaged 15.7 points-per-game and shot 40.1 percent from the three-point line. However, the Detroit Pistons treated the situation as if Meeks averaged 25 points per game when they signed him to a three-year, $19 million contract.

Over the course of his five seasons, Meeks, a former second round pick, has averaged 9.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. Now he will be making more money per year than he had made in his first five seasons combined. Of the 355 games Meeks has played in during his career, he has started only 194 including 70 last season for the Lakers.

And he will likely return to the bench next season in Detroit.

Detroit figured to be in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference last season, but they disappointed largely because of poor defense (104.7 points allowed per game). They were one of the worst shooting teams in the league (27th in field goal percentage) despite averaging 101 points per game. But really? You’re going to give $19 million to a guy who only scores, and doesn’t even score that well? It’s like the contract they gave to Josh Smith last season. It makes no sense. Smith had one of his worst seasons, if not the worst, of his career last season. They also drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to develop and start at shooting guard.

I don’t know Stan Van Gundy, but does it make sense to bring in an offensive player when defense was the biggest issue?

You tell me.


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