Six and a half million dollars a year might sound like a dream come true for nearly anyone on the planet, but for the average NBA player, it’s just average.
Australian Aron Baynes is in this desirable position playing for the Detroit Pistons, as he signed a three-year contract worth $20 million in 2015, with a player option in the last year. He had the choice of accepting or rejecting the player option to either continue with the Pistons or test the market, and just like Joe Ingles and Patty Mills, he chose to reject that player option and become an unrestricted free agent.
It’s a gamble, one that could come back and bite him in the rear, with only a fraction of teams having more than $6.5 million in salary cap at the moment. That could change once players are renounced or traded but as of this minute, only nine teams are in the black for their team salary, and only five teams have more than $6.5 million to spend. With the likes of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul possibilities for signing, Aron Baynes would be an afterthought.
It could be possible that Baynes saw the insane big man free agent signings from last season and thought that he could get a cut of that. Here are just a few contracts that were passed out last offseason:
- Timofey Mozgov (4 year, $64 million)
- Al Jefferson (3 year, $30 million)
- Joakim Noah (4 year, $72 million)
- Bismack Biyombo (4 year, $72 million)
- Ian Mahinmi (4 year, $64 million)
If you were big and could run up and down the floor, you got paid.
Unfortunately for Baynes, teams have wised up to playing fast and loose with their cash. Mozgov had such an unattractive contract that the Lakers had to attached former number two draft pick D’Angelo Russell to a trade just to get him (and his bloated salary) off the books. There’s just not as much money going around like last year.
In good news for Baynes the Boomer, he’s a quality bench centre. He’s 16th in bench centres in points and tenth in rebounds per game for players who came off the bench for half the season. He was also third for the Pistons in rebound percentage and block percentage, fourth in win shares per 48 minutes while coming second on ORtg and third in DRtg for the team. Simply put, the advanced statistics show that when Baynes in on the court, he’s a positive player.
Another advantageous reason for Baynes’ rejecting the player option is that there aren’t that many good centres in this year’s crop of free agents. Most of the better players at the five position are restricted free agents, which means that their current team has the last say in their contract, which could scare off potential suitors. Guys like Nerlens Noel, Kelly Olynyk and Mason Plumlee might already be off the table before free agency starts.
Then there are the players who are over the hill, with Pau Gasol (36 years old), Zaza Pachulia (33) and Nene (34) who won’t command the same amount of salary to compete with Baynes. That leaves him to compete with the likes of Marreese Speights, JaVale McGee and Dewayne Dedmon for his next contract which isn’t the most intimidating set of names.
If all else fails, Detroit can hypothetically re-sign Baynes for a maximum of $11.3 million, but that would put him fourth in the team for salary. It seems unlikely as the Pistons already forked over $130 million for Andre Drummond, their starting centre. However, with the salary cap increasing at an alarming rate, there is a very good chance that Aron Baynes will have a fat paycheck to go along with his Boomer teammates in Patty Mills and Joe Ingles.