August is a dead period for the NBA and that breeds sometimes interesting and sometimes silly conversations. One such dialogue takes place over whether certain players are overpaid or underpaid and the Atlanta Hawks have a few interesting candidates for both distinctions.
For background, PTH’s own Jeff Siegel provides a salary cap breakdown.
It is important to note that players are “worth” what they get paid from a market sense and, at the end of the day, it is never the fault of the player that he was offered a contract that overvalued his contributions. Still, salary matters in a cap-driven league and Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports recently weighed in with the most overpaid and underpaid player on every single NBA squad.
For Atlanta, he went with Mike Muscala as the most underpaid asset on the heels of his new contract that includes a second-year player option.
We're figuring Muscala likely will play a much larger role with the rebuilding Hawks this season, so his salary becomes a lot more attractive. He has a shot to become their starting power forward, so the 6-foot-11 capable 3-point shooter is a steal.
Muscala making $5 million was seen as a bargain from the moment the ink was dry, even though the Hawks gave back some value by providing the player option. Muscala may not start for Atlanta this season but, at worst, he’ll provide strong play and versatility as the team’s third big and he comes as a big-time value in that role.
Other candidates would theoretically include Dewayne Dedmon (on a similar deal to Muscala) and, potentially, Ersan Ilyasova or Dennis Schröder. The youth and upside of Schröder could bring a breakout campaign in the near future but, for now, he is properly paid (or close to it) and rookie-scale deals were not eligible for this “award” according to the CBS criteria.
On the flip side, CBS chose Miles Plumlee for the more unfortunate distinction.
The Hawks took on Plumlee's salary when they traded Dwight Howard to the Hornets earlier this summer. While Plumlee is an agile, athletic big man who could get more playing time with the Hawks, there's a reason the Bucks traded him only four months into a four-year, $50 million contract.
Frankly, it would be impossible to argue for anyone else. Plumlee has been a competent NBA center in the past but, even if he can recapture that form, his $12.5 million annual salary (for three more years) will be an overpay and the Hawks undoubtedly knew it when they took on the deal as part of the Dwight Howard trade.
Kent Bazemore has famously been a target based on his four-year, $70 million pact and even the staunchest defender of his play would have to admit the deal appears to be an overpay. Still, Bazemore is firmly entrenched as a solid rotation piece, which is something that can’t be said for Plumlee with any conviction.
Do you believe CBS got these choices right? Admittedly, there aren’t too many options given the plethora of rookie-scale deals but, at any rate, there is some room for discussion.