Jonathan Abrams takes a look at Corey Maggette’s future in today’s Los Angeles Times. It’s no surprise that the lede states, “…the signs are that he will opt out of the final season of his six-year, $42-million contract after this season, to test the free agent market.” The general gist:
Maggette is expected to be an attractive player if he becomes a free agent this summer. The Clippers can offer him a larger contract than any other team and tack on an additional year. The Miami Heat -- who may also target Elton Brand, if he opts out of his contract -- and the Memphis Grizzlies are among the few teams expected to have enough salary cap space to make a decent bid.
"The [salary] range is already set for him, and no matter what happens to him, that range is going to be pretty good," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "The only thing he has to worry about, really, is injury."
Abrams collected some good quotes:
The 6-foot-6 Maggette has averaged 20-plus points a game in three seasons, but he's never been an All-Star and various coaches and players say privately that he is not a "max" salary player. One Western Conference coach said of Maggette: "His defense is below average, and he is a 'crash' player on offense -- he just throws his body at the basket and tries to draw a foul."
… A Western Conference scout cited Maggette's quick first step and athleticism as his major strengths, but that teams can play off him because his jump shot isn't steady. "He sees the game through his concerns first," the scout said. "It's fairly common among NBA players, but dangerous if taken too far with your leaders of the team. He's been better this year than in past seasons and this says a lot, since they needed him more with Brand out."
The piece points out that, as is true most offseasons, few teams will have the cap room to back up the money truck in free agency. Miami and Memphis will have the most cash to spend.
Given Al Thornton’s development and the max extension the Clips will have to offer Brand, it seems improbable that the Clippers would offer Maggette market value. On the other hand, Donald Tokowitz’s preference for Maggette is widely known.
Whether you like Maggette or not, there are a few external factors that need to be considered. The most important one is that, under the NBA salary cap, every team needs to have a couple of productive contributors playing at below market value. So here’s the question the Clippers have to answer:
Given Kaman’s contract, a pending max offer to Brand, Mobley with two years/$18.9M remaining, etc., which do you prefer at the starting small forward?
A. Corey Maggette at 4-6 years/$35M-????
B. Al Thornton at 3 years/$6.5M total
In the context of the NBA's financial realities, there's a correct answer to this question, irrespective of how you feel about Corey Maggette.