Alternate title "Why FA Signings Rarely Work Out (and what that means for the Cavs) - Part 1"
Deron is clearly going to receive the max offer from some (OK multiple) team this offseason, and dear lord I believe all the thrilled fans of that franchise will have essentially no shot at a championship*, or even a finals appearance, over the next 5 years. This is seemingly counter-intuitive as Deron is extremely good at basketball and should be in his prime for the entirety of his contract, but due to the way the NBA is currently structured it is undoubtedly true.
Reasoning after the Jump
The PG position is stuffed with talent right now and its pretty clear that Chris Paul and D Rose are the cream of that crop, with Deron solidly wedged in the 2nd tier at his position. This post isn't about individually ranking all the PGs and figuring out Williams' position on the list, but about discussing his placement among his peers with respect to the overall cost of signing him.
Lets look at this second tier with their age and (rough) salaries over the life of their current contract
Tony Parker- 29 12.5 mill/year
Rajon Rondo- 25 12 mill/year
Steve Nash- 38 FA- last contract 11.5 mill/year
Westbrook- 23 - 16 mill/year
Given age, production (both defensive and offensive) and contract I think a strong case can be made for Deron being the least valuable player on this list over the next two seasons on a max deal if Nash continues to preform at a high level and makes 10 mill/year or less.
There is also another group of young and talented PGs coming up in Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Ricky Rubio, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans and each of these players will cost between 10 and 15 million less per year than Deron will command this off season. Obviously you would rather have Deron Williams than Jrue Holiday but would you rather have Deron Williams than Jrue + Eric Gordon?
The reality of the PG position right now is that there is a huge amount of cheap talent combined with a good amount of high level talent that is either straight up better than Deron is (Paul, Rose) or as good but cheaper. Whichever team ends up signing him will probably be getting the 8th to 12th most valuable PG in the league in terms of salary cap dollars over the life of his contract. In terms of building a championship team this will put his team well behind and they will need a lot of cheap talent at the other positions to make up for this gap.
Alright- this is a blog about the Cavs, how does a FA they won't ever even discuss signing affect them in the slightest? Well it demonstrates why its rare for FAs to build a championship team. Even player who are terrific and worth their contract in terms of wins can't compete with younger players who, due to the CBA, will essentially always be many millions of dollars cheaper to put out on the floor. The approach of trying to land big time FAs basically only works when the max contract is well below their true value such as Lebron's or Dwight's contracts.
* The exception of course would be if signing Deron means a team also lands Dwight Howard because of the signing, or already has a surplus of talent who are exceeding their current contracts.