What Jeremy Lin's and Ish Smith's Deals Mean for the Nets and Pistons
Two backup point guards got new, multi-year deals within the first 12 hours of NBA Free Agency.
Ish Smith, who finished last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, inked a 3-year, $18 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons will be Smith’s 10th team he’s played for in just six seasons.
What do these signings mean for each team?
Jeremy Lin to the Nets
At first glance, signing a backup point guard like Jeremy Lin for $12 million per year appears unreasonable, especially considering the fact that guys like Kyrie Irving and Goran Dragic made just under $15 million last season.
But the NBA's salary cap is rising, and Lin’s deal will only take up 12% of the Nets’ cap space moving forward. Looking at this signing in terms of the 2015-2016 cap, Lin’s deal is equivalent to a $8.3 million per year.
In Charlotte last season, Lin came off the bench and played 26.3 minutes per game. He averaged 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per 36 minutes, but both his 41.2% field goal percentage and 53.4% true shooting percentages were the lowest of his career.
Some advanced statistics valued Lin’s 2016 campaign as the worst season of his career. His 13.8 player efficiency rating (PER) and .082 win shares per 48 minutes were both career lows.
The Boston Celtics have the Nets’ first-round pick for 2018, again, so Brooklyn is trying to be competitive. However, Lin has been a league-average or below player for the last few seasons, and he probably won’t help the Nets very much.
Maybe, there’s a chance Lin can rediscover his “Linsanity” days now that he is back in New York, but that is unlikely.
We know there is at least one ex-Brooklyn Net who was recently let go who thinks this deal is pretty bad.
— JARRETT JACK (@Jarrettjack03) July 1, 2016
Ish Smith to the Pistons
The Detroit Pistons already have an excellent point guard in Reggie Jackson, so Smith’s role will definitely be as a backup. Smith certainly benefitted from the rising salary cap this offseason, as his deal will pay him roughly $6 million per year over the next three years.
Smith’s deal only takes up 6% of the cap moving forward for the Pistons, and in terms of the 2015-2016 NBA salary cap, Smith’s contract translates to about $4.2 million per year.
Smith has been all over the NBA but had his most success with the New Orleans Pelicans and in two separate stints with the 76ers.
Smith lasted 27 games with the Pelicans last season before being traded to Philadelphia. In those games, Smith averaged 22.9 minutes per game off the bench and posted career bests with a 16.3 PER, .070 win shares per 48 minutes, and a 48.4% true shooting percentage.
Over the last two seasons, Smith played 75 games with the 76ers. He averaged 16.2 points, 7.8 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per 36 minutes, easily the best of his career, but he shot just 40.2% from the field and 32.8% from behind the arc in those games. In addition, his .004 win shares per 48 with Philly show those numbers were mostly "empty,"
Finally, Smith registered a nERD score of -7.2 last year, which was the fifth-worst among all guards in the NBA. In other words, a league-average team would be seven wins better if he didn’t play for them at all.
Smith’s contract is just a small percentage of the new cap, so this contract isn’t too much of a risk for the Pistons.
However, Smith has failed to latch onto any of his other 10 teams in the league for a reason, and if he continues to be the inefficient point guard he was in Philadelphia, the Pistons and their fans are going to wish the team had spent this money more wisely.