NBA Free Agency: Comparing the New Deals of Hassan Whiteside and Timofey Mozgov
In an NBA universe dominated by small-ball lineups and player versatility, centers -- in the traditional sense of the position -- aren't what they used to be.
To say traditional centers are extinct would be a reach, but neither of the two teams who made this year's NBA Finals possessed a big man capable of being a consistent back-to-the basket scorer or of taking over a game defensively down low. That in itself would suggest that true centers are no longer in high demand.
But, with the amount of money being dished out to seven-footers in the last few hours, you surely couldn't tell that there's a definitive trend away from dominant big men a la the Shaquille O'Neals and Dwight Howards of yesteryear.
In the earlier hours of this morning, Timofey Mozgov signed with the Lakers and Hassan Whiteside re-signed with the Heat, both inking four-year deals a piece. And with the Pistons re-signing Andre Drummond to a five-year, $130 million maximum contract and Al Jefferson joining the Pacers for three years and $30 million, that brings the total to $322 million between the four
Outside of the fact that each of them got paid, in terms of value, there really isn't much to compare between Mozgov and Whiteside.
.@WojVerticalNBA: Lakers, Timofey Mozgov have agreed to four-year, $64 million deal.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) July 1, 2016
You got it. The very first #WojBomb of the 2016 NBA Free Agent class was more like a #WojGrenade if you ask me.
With Roy Hibbert headed elsewhere in free agency, and his contract off the the Buss' books, the Lakers had a need for a big down low. So, signing Mozgov makes a ton of sense. Plus, he brings a championship mindset to Los Angeles -- something they've been lacking since the Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol days.
He will also come into the new year with fresh legs, having played just 17.4 minutes per game in the regular season and 5.8 per game in the playoffs a year ago. Whether that's a plus or a minus remains to be seen.
One truth that can't be denied is that Mozgov has shown that he is highly skilled. In his two years prior, Mozgov tallied identical advanced numbers, posting back-to-back player efficiency ratings (PER) of 16.7 and 16.6 on true shooting percentages of 58.4% and 59.4%, respectively.
When given the opportunity, Mozgov has been consistent, that much is certain. At 29, can he gel with the youthful roster in L.A. and help to turn the franchise back around? We'll have to wait and see.
Hassan Whiteside showing us free agency in the social media age pic.twitter.com/IL5QbJRqe0
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) July 1, 2016
The 27-year-old went about his announcement in a very unconventional way, but either way, earlier sources indicated that the deal is for four years and worth a maximum of $98 million, for an average of $24.5 million per year. But, others have recently discovered that Whiteside agreed to "some wiggle room" in order to allow the Heat to entertain Kevin Durant.
Understandably, having played for eight teams since college, Whiteside finally decided to settle down in South Beach. Pat Riley, the man who took a chance on him in late 2014, certainly hasn't (and won't regret) that gamble.
In 73 games and 43 starts this season, Whiteside averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and an NBA-leading 3.7 blocks in 29.1 minutes per game. He was very efficient with his offensive game, earning an offensive rating of 117 points per 100 possessions on a true shooting percentage of 62.9%.
His PER of 25.7 and his nERD of 12.4 ranked seventh and ninth in the Association, respectively.
Whiteside has put in work both on and off the court, and as a result, will match his previous career earnings 12 games into the 2016-17 season.
It's nice to know that there will be a lot more block parties in Miami this season.
As you might have already assumed from the tone of each player's signing, there really isn't a big comparison between the two players. But, there's also a decent gap in terms of the cash commitment to each ($8.5 million, according to reports).
With that, comes different expectations, and rightfully so.
|Win Shares Per 48 Minutes||2014-15||2015-16|
By taking each player's average Win Share per 48 output over the last two seasons, and stretching that across a full 82-game season -- therefore accounting for a completely healthy season where they play every single minute possible -- before dividing that figure (WS per 48 x 82) by that player's yearly salary, we can find out what a win from that player costs.
By using this formula (WS per 48 x 82/$), a Mozgov win (win share) in the upcoming season would cost about $1.47 million for the Lakers. On the flip side, a Whiteside win in Miami would cost about $1.32 million for the Heat.
You might be saying that's pretty close -- and it is -- but Whiteside is two years younger than the Russian and has given reason to expect more from his upside and potential than the more established and consistent Mozgov.
Even though the Heat might be telling Dwyane Wade he once again won't be the highest-paid player on the team, it might be worth the risk. Dollar for dollar, and number by number, Whiteside is a great value.
As for Mozgov, it's hard to tell how good the deal is in the brand new NBA marketplace. It looks like a weird deal, at this point in time, mainly because Mozgov played so little a year ago. But we're going to have figure out what the going rate is for a consistent center.
Maybe it's a good deal. After all, the Lakers haven't had much consistency lately, and (especially after getting a more than reasonable deal on Jordan Clarkson) they have a ton of cap space to throw around.