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How the NBA’s 2016 cap spike drastically impacted 2018 free agent for big men

Nerlens Noel, Miles Plumlee, DeMarcus Cousins, Bismack Biyombo, Brook Lopez

The NBA salary cap boomed ever since the billion dollar TV deal was signed a few years back. The new structure gave average players a very good chance to secure the bag. However, did they deserve their massive paychecks?

Tommy Beer perfectly captures the irony and somewhat ridiculous aftermath of the current NBA salary cap. In his tweet, he notes that centers during the summer of 2016, including Timofey Mozgov, Joakim Noah, Ian Mahimi, Meyers Leonard, Bismack Biyomobo, and Miles Plumlee, combined to sign for a total of $365 million. This summer, big men including DeMarcus Cousins, Brook Lopez, Nerlens Noel, Greg Monroe, and JaVale McGee have signed for a combined total of just $17 million.

It’s hard to fathom how the likes of Mozgov, Noah, Biyombo and Plumlee are taking home bigger paychecks than All-Star big men Cousins, Lopez and Monroe. But this is part of the reality that continues to shape the landscape of players getting signed today.

As mentioned by Beer in his Twitter posts, 2016 was a crazy year of signings for centers. On the other hand, the start of the Small-Ball era, where the bigs are required to shoot everywhere from the floor and run during transitions, decimated the value of back-to-the-basket centers. This is one of the reasons why traditional big men do not demand massive pay hikes these days.

Of course, there are back stories how some of these bigs are signed. Cousins took a one-year deal with the Warriors worth $5.3 million, after considering his injury that could sideline him for a good part of the regular season. In Noel’s part, he shunned a $70 million lucrative offer from the Mavericks after betting on himself that he could land bigger paycheck last summer. That did not turn out well due to various instances. So to redeem himself and to hastily move on from that costly mistake, Noel took a 2-year deal to play with the Thunder next season.

As the NBA salary cap continues its historic hikes, weird signings and undeserved contracts will probably be a norm in the near future. It is up to the players now to prove they are worth their paychecks.