A lot going on in the NBA since the draft, with trades and free agency. Some thoughts about what we've seen lately:
- Zach Randolph signed a two-year, $24 million deal to join Sacramento. All over the internet I've read people hailing this as a great move for the Kings, bringing that "veteran presence" to the Kings' young squad. Well, maybe. The Memphis Z-Bo was, by all accounts, a community contributor and a team leader -- a beloved player in that town. But we've seen the other side of him in Portland and when you talk about a player on the downside of his career signing with a team for the money, rather than for a chance at a championship, I'm not sure if you can depend on Randolph to be a leader or an example of how an NBA player should handle himself. But who knows? I do know they don't want the Portland Z-Bo in Sacramento.
- When you win, you can often retain your players at a lower cost, quite obviously. I've never been able to convince many people that a big part of playing in the NBA is the day-to-day culture and atmosphere on a team. Yes, championships are the thing -- but it's just as important to be able to get through the marathon 82-game season with a minimal amount of drama and sadness. The Warriors have a great culture where players are unselfish and play hard. And they win almost every game they play. If you think that's not important, try to picture yourself on a team that loses more games than it wins and features selfish players who don't want to share the ball. I wouldn't want to spend time in a situation like that. Golden State got Shaun Livingston back at $8 million a year, Andre Iguodala at $16 million a season and Kevin Durant at two years for a total of $53 million -- about $9 million a year under what he could have gotten with a max deal. Durant declined a player option and become a free agent to allow the Warriors to retain Iguodala and Livingston.
- Blake Griffin got $173 million over five years to stay with the Clippers. I've always liked Griffin and wondered what he'd be like away from the Clips, but I don't think I'd ever give him that kind of money. He's missed 79 games over the last three seasons and I've always felt that when players start to break down, they can go downhill in a hurry.
- Paul Millsap got a three-year, $90 million deal with the Nuggets. Millsap is a steady player who grinds every night. But should a guy who has averaged 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game over 11 seasons in the league make 30 million bucks a year?
- Maybe so, if Danilo Gallinari is going to get $65 million over three seasons from the Clippers. He's a very good shooter when he plays -- but this is another guy who spends a lot of time on the bench in street clothes. He's averaged about 50 games a season over his last seven years in the league.
- Mason Plumlee has still not signed a contract but the Nuggets have reportedly extended him a qualifying offer of $4.9 million. This is a good guy, good teammate and I hope he finds a team that appreciates his unique skillset. And to while away the time until he signs a deal, Plumlee has been active on his website at masonplumlee.com -- where you can buy your Mason Plumlee logo T-shirt.