It has been difficult to keep track of unprecedented spending this NBA free agency -- and we're only four days in. A mind-boggling graphic shared by ESPN's SportsCenter puts the spending in context.
Through these first four days, we have seen: the Memphis Grizzlies give Mike Conley $153 million, the biggest NBA contract in history; the Atlanta Hawks sign Dwight Howard to a $70.5 million deal; Jermey Lin returning to New York after signing with the Brooklyn Nets for $36 million; and much more. The common theme throughout these early days of free agency, though, is that the money being spent has exceeded anyone's expectations.
As outlined by ESPN Stats & Information, four NBA contracts signed this offseason (Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal) equal the guaranteed money of ten NFL quarterbacks' contracts (Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Jared Goff, Sam Bradford, and Kirk Cousins).
The amount of money spent this offseason can be somewhat explained by the rise in the 2016-17 league salary cap. As explained by David Aldridge of TNT, this season's cap is set at $108 million, almost double the $58 million salary cap four years ago. Now, with the higher spending threshold, teams are required use 90% of "the cap, either on salaries or refunds to players," tweeted Aldridge. Thus, many franchises are simply signing free agents to fill the large cap.
Still, though, some of the contracts don't feel quite right. For example, a number of mediocre recent signees will make more money than Stephen Curry next year. Curry, the two-time reigning MVP, will make $12 million in 2016-17. Jeremy Lin will also make $12 million; Timofey Mozgov will make $16.25 million; and Mike Conley will make $30 million next year. No player of the three has appeared in an All-Star Game; Curry has three times. Fortunately for Curry, he will be a free agent next offseason, so his chances to cash in will come in due time.
In the end, though, it is good to see athletes being compensated for making the NBA one of the more profitable and popular American professional sports leagues. With just four days since the start of free agency, though, there's no doubt more is to come for NBA players.