If you enjoy FreeDarko
It's because we're in a contract year.
I know that many people think NBA players are lazy, greedy, unmotivated ne'er do-wells, who come out of the womb able to play the game at a world-class level. These same people believe that, any time there's any marked improvement in a player's performance, be it for a single game or over the course of a year, it's solely motivated by their looming free agency. As idiotic as this whole Jerome James saga was, at least it gave the media something to ascribe his first-round dominance to BESIDES his contract year.
Then today on ESPN radio, a reporter from Sacramento says their series was "Ray Allen's coming out party. . .for his contract year." I appreciate that he was trying to dig his way out of a semantic hole, having just accidentally called a perennial All-Star unknown. But to say that Allen is playing for a contract is absoolutely insane. Anyone who needs to be informed of Ray Allen's ability has no business spending a dime for a professional sports franchise, and the notion that Allen would think he had something to prove smacks of opportunism. Like no matter how good he's been all these years, he's really been saving it for the home stretch of his contract year. It's an intriguing strategy, especially if you try to apply it to politics (I seem to remember a rumor that Rove was trying to work something like this last year). In sports, though. . . really, how mercenary could NBA players really be? They have so little competitive spirit that they can hold back for years, hurting their team, just to boost their free agency stock with some last minute, blindsiding fireworks?
Larry Hughes: anyone who follows the NBA knew it was just a matter of time.
Whether players go to shit after they sign their deals is another matter altogether; personally, I think guaranteed, lifelong contracts are a cancer unto the league. Definitely guys fall off and never come back; yes, some of them have benefitted from sudden improvements in a contract year. But that doesn't mean that anyone has to cynically suppose that it's the only motivation players have to step their game up, or that there's no such thing as a natural arc of a good career, money or no money. That can be sabotaged by a contract, but the good part would probably happen anyway.