Every summer the NBA reminds its fans that its owners and GMs are total nutters who like to sign people like Gerald Wallace to twice what the tail end of Gerald Wallace's prime is worth on the open market. Every summer, the NBA's owners remind you why they need protection from themselves, even if it takes a prolonged lockout and the loss of millions of dollars in wages for the thousands who work on the NBA's fringes.
And, once in a while, you get a pair of deals that sound about right. Like second-year forward Lavoy Allen heading back to Philadelphia, signing with the 76ers for two years and $6 million total. Or George Hill, local product, sticking with the Indiana Pacers for five years — terms unreported, so far, but likely to be in a middling range worth a pretty solid shooting guard's pretty solid talents.
This is where you pause to respect sanity. Before some team trades for Joe Johnson. Before Dwight Howard rings up the ACLU to complain that the Orlando Magic "forced" him to be something for Halloween last year that he didn't want to be. Dwight Howard is so sick of being "Shrek," guys. You didn't trade for Glen Davis just so Howard would have to be "Shrek," again.
Allen is a lovely deal. We were pretty "meh" on the local product (who even went to Temple, after growing up in Pennsylvania) before he was taken by the 76ers last year, but the long-armed forward made an impact as a defender and competent scorer. With Elton Brand's giant contract possibly getting the amnesty clause heave-ho this summer, bringing Allen back for about half of the league's average salary for a player sure to play at an above average level soon enough. Allen improved considerably in the postseason when his minutes shot up by 4 1/2 per game. And, in a weird statistical quirk, he shot nearly as many free throws (12, making seven) in the postseason as he did in three times as many minutes played in the regular season (14, making 11).
(He shot 14 free throws, all year. That doesn't seem weird to anyone? Has Joe Johnson been traded yet? Did Dwight Howard just realize that "the girl from Transformers" isn't the same as the one in the first two movies?)
George Hill, by virtue of his four-year status, is far more accomplished than Allen, and his new contract with Indiana will probably reflect as much. Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star was the first to report (as is often the case) on Monday morning that Hill will take in a five-year deal with his hometown Pacers, one that will pay him through his prime and solidify at least one notch in the Indy rotation before the team adds yet another wing scorer (former Trail Blazers Brandon Roy and Jamal Crawford are also being considered).
Hill isn't great guns, and he doesn't have a lot of breakout potential. He's just about average, in terms of 3-point shooting, he doesn't get to the line a ton, and he's not the most startling of finishers. With all that nastiness aside, sorry George, we offer what he does contribute — stability, at a position that for some reason has gone cold in NBA circles. Just 20 years ago it seemed that the shooting guard slot ran five deep in each conference, full of All-Stars that sometimes couldn't even make it to the All-Star team.
In all, though, two proper deals.
(Which is so incredibly boring.)