Wednesday , Jul , 04 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Why Some NBA Teams Sign Average Free Agents To Big Money Contracts

Free agency often yields absurd contracts … NBA fans are left scratching their heads and wondering why a team offered an average player so much money … Sometimes a GM signs a player just to prove something to his owner-like Jerry West in Memphis with Brian Cardinal … Click here for news and analysis …

Here’s an excerpt from Mark Montieth’s Pacers Plus blog on the madness of free agency:

Mid-level exceptions are the greatest threat to fiscal sanity for teams, and tend to lead to the most mistakes. They’re available to every team that’s over the salary cap, which is nearly every team, but there aren’t enough worthy free agents available to justify them. Some teams, eager to pacify their eager fans, inevitably reach out and touch the wrong someone.

An exceptionally well-connected league insider once told me the story of how Brian Cardinal got his mid-level. Seems Memphis owner Michael Heisley, frustrated by general manager Jerry West’s lack of activity, walked into West’s office one day and asked why he hadn’t signed anyone yet. So an exasperated West picked up his phone, called Cardinal’s agent and offered the mid-level on the spot. Then he turned to Heisley and said something along the lines of “There, you happy now?”

Now nobody in Memphis is happy about Cardinal’s contract _ other than Cardinal, of course.

My Quick Take: Thanks to Montieth for providing an explanation. You see Brian Cardinal was listed in my recent post Buyer Beware: The Worst Free Agent Contracts In NBA History.

I had no clue how a back-up like Cardinal scored such a payday. Now it makes sense. Michael Heisley, Memphis‘ ‘assertive’ owner, pushed West into making the deal.

Again, I’m from Vancouver, Canada. Heisley is famous around here. Actually, he’s infamous.

Heisley is the owner who moved the Grizzlies from the Pacific Northwest to Memphis. It didn’t matter that the Chicago businessman promised to keep the Grizzlies in Vancouver.

He even sang the Canadian national anthem at the Grizzlies’ home-opener as a show of good faith. Eight months later, the Grizz left Vancouver for Memphis.

Fan support hasn’t been great in Tennessee. With Heisley at the helm, the Grizzlies have been in a constant state of flux. So I’m not surprised he’s behind the Cardinal deal.

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