According to Webster’s dictionary, overpaid means to pay too highly or to pay in excess of what is due. In regards to the definition, there was one glaring example in the NBA over the past week involving the Charlotte Hornets and Kemba Walker. To make things clear, the Hornets are building something down in Charlotte and seem to be on the right track. The city is excited about the team, the fans are back in the fold, and the team is coming off a playoff appearance last season. Momentum has definitely swung their way. All that being said, the Hornets may have just done something they wouldn’t of had to do in overpaying Kemba Walker.
First of all, he’s not a point guard. Walker is not the guy you want distributing the ball and running your offense. He is a decent player who would probably be better suited in a role coming off the bench similar to what Ben Gordon used to do back in Chicago at times. Sixth man yes. Starting point guard, absolutely not. This year Walker is averaging 3.3 assists and the Hornets are 1-3. Yes, it’s early. Still, 3.3 assists? That’s three entry passes to Al Jefferson. That’s three fast breaks. A good point guard can get 3 assists in a pick-up game going to 12 by fours and this guy has 48 minutes of game time and can barely manage 3 assists. His average over the last two seasons is 6, a better number but still you would like to see your $48 million dollar point guard get close to 8 assists. Did I mention the fact that Jeff Teague makes $32 million over 4 years?
Passing isn’t Kemba’s only issue – Sure the guy can put up points, but last year he shot under 40% from the field and this year he is shooting a horrid 32%. With a post player as dominant as Al Jefferson on your team he should find himself with better shots. Maybe it’s shot selection. Maybe it’s Steve Clifford’s system. Whatever it is, it’s not worth $48 million. And let’s not forget the three ball. This is Walker’s fourth season and his best shooting percentage from beyond the arc is 32%.
When did 15pts, 3rebs, and 3asst and 32% become worth $48 million dollars?
Kemba Walker would have been a restricted free agent after this season. Why was there a rush to lock him up in a deal? Did the Hornets think there would be another suitor to drive up the price? If so, that should’ve been perfectly fine. Look at what the Knicks did with Jeremy Lin. The Rockets came in and over paid him and they were stuck with that terrible contract until the Lakers helped them out taking it off their hands. After the season there would’ve been more options. If this year didn’t end on a positive note, the Hornets would’ve possibly had Al Jefferson and Walker coming off the books with a chance to retool with a different set of guys around Lance Stephenson, or they could’ve made the decision to pay guys at that time instead of jumping the gun as they have now. Goran Dragic, Monta Ellis, and Rajon Rondo are three point guards that would be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. They should all see $48 million before Walker. Even if MJ couldn’t lure one of these guys, he could’ve let Walker hit the open market and realized that he was worth 4yrs at $32 million and that no one else was going to pay Kemba that ridiculous amount of money – he would’ve looked like a genius. Instead, he comes off as desperate, showing that he has to overpay to keep any type of talent here in Charlotte, when that shouldn’t be the case. He has exactly what a free agent is looking for, a chance to play in a growing city for a buzzing (no pun intended) franchise and play for an owner that’s the greatest basketball player that ever lived.
Oh and Lance, Jefferson and Walker do not form a “Big Three.” They form the three best players on the Hornets roster. There should be a rule that if you haven’t made an all-star team (none of these three have) you can’t be a part of a “Big Three.” There is a difference people.
Read more of Nick’s writing at NBAOnlineBlog.com.