The issue of Matthew Dellavedova’s upcoming contract is an interesting one, as it is not often that former fringe players get 40 minutes in NBA Finals games. In order to properly assess Delly’s value, let’s take a step back and see how this situation came about.
After a stellar 4 year career with St Mary’s, leaving as the all time leader in points, assists, games, and three pointers, Delly declared for the 2013 NBA draft. Despite his notable college career, Delly went undrafted.
The Cleveland Cavaliers picked him up on a 2 year, $1.3 million deal in 2013. In the 2013/2014 season, Delly logged decent backcourt time, giving 17 minutes per game of 4.7 ppg, 2.6 ast, and just 0.8 turnovers per game. He shot 41% from the field and 36% from 3.
The 2014/2015 season, stat-wise, was slightly more complicated. Delly shot just 36% from the field, but raised his three point percentage to 41%. And then the playoffs happened. Delly got some prime time in the playoffs, mostly due to Kyrie Irving’s injury, and provided solid results, including a few spectacular performances against the Bulls and the Warriors.
Unfortunately for the Cavs, Delly is now a free agent, which has created a common and slightly uncomfortable situation: The Cavs gave Delly his first shot in the NBA after no one else wanted him, and due to various circumstances he received a fair amount of playing time. Delly seized the moment and outperformed expectations, both offensively and especially defensively. This now creates the uncomfortable question: how much money is he worth?
During the height of the NBA Finals, after Delly had shut down Stephen Curry of all people, NBA pundits were suggesting that Delly could get upwards of 5 to 6 million a year, proving himself to be either a borderline starter or at worst the 3rd guard in a backcourt.
I personally don’t think that Delly is worth $6 million a year. Yes, he provided clutch minutes in the Finals, and defensively he was rock solid. And yes, he can stroke the occasional three pointer. But his shooting and overall offense is not something which an NBA team can rely on. We saw how the Cavs looked when LeBron and JR Smith were off the floor. There wasn’t a semblance of offense. Delly had opportunities to create, but simply couldn’t create a respectable offense, as he does not possess either the jump shot or the playmaking ability to get to basket and score. (Although, he didn’t have much help).
In the right system, yes, Delly can succeed, and perhaps next year he will get some minutes alongside Kyrie and indeed excel. But overall, I’d say that Delly ideally is a 4th or 5th guard in a rotation, meaning he would only be the 2nd or 3rd guard off the bench. For the Cavs, however, that actually means a bit more, because Kyrie has a penchant for getting hurt, and depending on the matchup, Delly’s defense will be valuable.
So what is the going rate for backup guards who can’t really score but provide hellacious defense and semi-decent playmaking ability? Honestly, it’s very hard to say, in the light of some of the ridiculous contracts we’ve seen bandied about this current offseason. When someone like Demarre Caroll gets $15 million a year, all bets are off.
In reality, I’d say that Delly deserves a 3 year deal for $7.5 million, (and this takes into account the hometown discount since the Cavs did sign him out of obscurity 2 years ago – similar to Danny Green’s recent discount contract with the Spurs). But because of the rising cap, and the lack of other options for the Cavs (they can’t exceed the cap to sign anyone outside the organization), I think Delly will get closer to $4 million per year.
My guess is 3 years, $12 million.