Nuggets fans the world over are rejoicing in the new 5 year, $43 million contract Arron Afflalo has agreed to with the Nuggets. Now that Afflalo has been retained the Nuggets have fulfilled their vision of re-siging Nene and Afflalo and once again have a tremendously deep team to put on the floor. With the team now in place and Afflalo’s contract ready to go let’s do a little 3-on-3 to see if Denver has spent wisely, or if they will end up back in the financial doghouse.
1. What terms did you expect Arron Afflalo to re-sign for?
Jeremy: Most of you know I expected Afflalo to sign for a deal just over MLE money. Five years starting at $6 million. Sure there were several teams interested in him, but none of them had the money or gumption to make an offer. Because of that Denver had no reason to up the price any more than that. The only leverage Afflalo had was to threaten to sign the qualifying offer thus making him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season at which point Denver could have still offered him more years and more money than anyone else.
Charlie: I thought Al Harrington’s contract would have been perfect for Afflalo. Last season the deadline to extend the 2007 rookie class was in November, right in the thick of the Carmelo soap opera. I was pining for the Nuggets to sign Afflalo to an extension similar to the 5-year, $21 million contract Jared Dudley signed just before that deadline. There’s no doubt as an established starter Afflalo would have commanded more, but by how much? Certainly not over double that which is what the Nuggets just shelled out. Afflalo is the most important player on this team and one the Nuggets could not afford to lose. There are not many players I like more than him from a basketball standpoint, but this is a professional business and business-wise I do not like this deal at all. Keeping Afflalo should have never come to this point, and he would have been locked up and paid perfectly if Denver had the foresight to extend him when he deserved it.
Kalen: There was no doubt in my mind Denver would end up overpaying for Afflalo. This was either going to happen by virtue of matching someone else’s offer, or Afflalo simply realizing how much he could fetch on the open market then basically demanding more. I’ll admit however that I was a little surprised Denver ended up paying close to $9 million per year for him. I thought tings would settle right around $7 million, but the reality is that an extra $1.6 million per year isn’t going to make or break Denver. Remember, Kenyon Martin was getting paid twice this amount for many years with the Nuggets.
2. In year five, who’s contract looks worse – Arron Afflalo or Nene?
Jeremy: In my mind the horror is the two deals combined will pay Denver’s two prize free agents a combined $25 million dollars five seasons from now. Sure the cap will hopefully be $70 million by then, but that is a huge chunk of change for two players, neither of which are a franchise type player who you can count on to carry the load. If I have to pick one or the other, I think the choice is Nene as he will be 33 and making 50% more ($15 million to just under $10 million). Hopefully, he will still be a solid contributor, but the worst case scenario for Nene’s deal is much worse than Afflalo’s. One other aspect to keep in mind with Arron is I think he has pretty much reached his ceiling as a player, but he has always come into the year better than the season before and he I trust he will continue to do that although the improvements will be more incremental.
Charlie: I’m positive neither of these deals will become a Kenyon Martin level of albatross. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that Afflalo must produce like a top five shooting guard to avoid putting Denver in a bad position down the road. Skilled big men of Nene’s caliber are perhaps the NBA’s rarest commodity while three-point shooting and defense are abundant. I am the biggest believer in Afflalo there is, but for this contract to make sense Afflalo cannot just be the emotional leader and glue guy. He’ll have to produce at a near-elite consistently and that means taking a giant leap forward from his complimentary role. I just don’t know what to expect under those circumstances.
Kalen: I think Afflalo’s. The reality is big men are always going to be overpaid and considering the weak free agent class, Denvere actually landed Nene for a pretty decent price. Yes, he’ll be older and more susceptible to injuries near the end of his contract but he’ll still be in his mid-30s which isn’t that bad. Meanwhile, although Afflalo will be younger, I have a feeling Nuggets fans are going to be extremely disappointed with just how mediocre his ceiling is. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because Afflalo will undoubtedly continue to improve, I just think now that he’s cashed in Nuggets fans are going to expect way more than he’s capable of providing.
3. Afflalo’s contract is a good deal, a bad deal or a necessary deal?
Jeremy: It is a bad deal. Of course Afflalo is a very good player. He brings constant energy and provides leadership. He made a couple of big shots last season, although it bears mentioning they were preceded by a run of unclutchness. I believe he is a borderline lock down defender, but the numbers from last season disagree. He is a very efficient scorer, but he can accomplish that largely because he is not relied on to carry the offense. The Nuggets Brain Trust has done a great job of not blinking when they are being stared down, but with this deal they blinked. As I mentioned above, the only leverage Afflalo had was to sign his qualifying offer, which was for $2.9 million after which Denver can still give him more money than anyone else. I would have liked to see the Nuggets call his bluff. By my calculations his deal starts at roughly $7.475 million. What would he had done if offered a $34.5 million offer, starting salary of $6.0 million, and see if he actually would walk away from that and embrace the risk of signing the QO. For a team like the Nuggets who will probably never again dip into the luxury tax, every dollar counts. If Denver is determined to go to war with this current group at these prices they are going to be paying Gallinari, Lawson and maybe even Wilson Chandler roughly the same money.
Charlie: It’s necessary. With Nene’s signing, Denver put a large bet on becoming championship caliber in the next few years. In terms of winning and trying to build on the defensive focus the Nuggets have tried to adopt, Afflalo is more important than Nene. I’ve written this multiple times but last year was a difficult time for Nuggets faithful, and losing Afflalo would be a huge punch in the gut to anyone who has stuck by the team and cared about the franchise in the last couple of years. In fact, I’d have to call it an insult if the front office tried to sell the fans on building a contender without bringing back Arron Afflalo.
Kalen: It’s definitely neither a good or bad deal, so I’ll have to go with “necessary.” Look, were the Nuggets really going to let Afflalo walk just because they didn’t want to pay a few extra million per year to keep him here? That would have been bogus. Afflalo is as important to this team as anyone, especially with former floor generals like Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups out of the equation. Afflalo completes this team now that Denver has Nene back. He was the final piece to the puzzle, and one they simply could not move forward without. Would I have liked to sing him at a cheaper price? Absolutely. But people have to realize the NBA is a league teeming with awful contracts. Overpaying for a rare commodity like Afflalo who’s young, improving, dedicated, focused and actually wants to be in Denver isn’t high on my list of “Things to Complain About.”
Alright RMC readers, you guys have been leaving some great comments lately, keep it going with your responses to our Afflalo 3-on-3!