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The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports on what they consider to be some crazy FA signings in the NBA. One of them is Larry Hughes.

"Five years at $70 million from the Cavaliers to Wizards guard Larry Hughes. To put the $14 million average in perspective, consider that Hughes has missed an average of 19 games each of the past three seasons. Then consider that he is a career 42-percent shooter who was exposed as something less than a defensive stopper by Dwayne Wade in the playoffs. A nice player? Yes. A $14 million player? Seven seasons and not a single All-Star berth."

The Sun has valid points. But they fail to mention any possible upside of the deal. Hughes had his best year last year. He's only 26. He came out after his Freshman year. He went to Philly where the expectations were enormous. He was 19 at the time. Larry Brown is definitely not a nurturer. Hardly given a legitimate chance to succeed there--albeit partly of his own doing--Hughes was traded to the Warriors. Golden State not exactly being the bastion of basketball fundamentals or the winning method, Hughes remained raw but showed his skills, flashed occasional brilliance and made progression as a player. At age 22, he had proven he could be a productive, versatile player in the league.

He left GS to move on to the other bastion of basketball know-how--the Wiz. In his 3 years there he showed a lot of progress. He is not: a pure shooter, a good 3-pt. shooter, as careful as he should be with the ball, a "stopper" as a defender. He is: a legitimate scorer, long-armed, fast and dangerous in the passing lanes (2.9 stls last yr.), a good passer, a good rebounder and a good free-throw shooter.

Ripping him for not stopping Dwayne Wade is akin to calling hitters bad for whiffing against Clemens. He made the All-Defensive Team. So he goes to Cleveland to play Pippen to LeBron's Jordan. Anyone who doesn't see the comparisons to Pippen and the early part of his career should look again. Maybe he did have his career year last year. But I doubt it. I think more likely he will continue to improve on an up and coming team that might take over the East soon. Big Z is signed up and hasn't missed a game due to major injury since 2001-02. LeBron is there. Eric Snow is there. They have a very nice starting 5. Hughes may end up being totally worth the money he signed for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As someone who enjoys deriding and laughing in amazement at some of the deals that get done in the NBA -- hey you're tall, here's $50 mil! -- I would agree that the deal is not bad by some of the low standards the league sets for itself (see Foyle, Adonal; and well hell the rest of the Warriors roster (though I take it all back about Mehmet Okur (he had solid numbers for the Jazz (really, it'a true, just look))).

It's the steal stats that really make it okay for me, and while the Scottie comparison may be a bit of a stretch, you've got the right idea. It looked to me last year that Hughes was starting to figure out how to use his length and talents in the league.

Really, as much as I might like Michael Redd and Ray Allen, the max deals given to them, which weren't questioned and viewed as matter-of-course signings, are probably easier to question as both those players got more money and are less versatile and more one-dimensional, even if that one dimension is shooting the freakin' lights out.