November 17, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Jodie Meeks (20) shoots a basket against the defense of Detroit Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Lowe believes Jodie Meeks got overpaid but lauds Detroit's front office for thinking outside the box

Grantland’s Zach Lowe analyzed the big money deals struck on free agency’s first day. In regard to Jodie Meeks, he had the following to say:

The only justification for paying Meeks nearly $7 million per season is a paranoia that some contender over the cap needing a touch of extra shooting would have tossed Meeks the full midlevel. Perhaps. But if that turns out to be the case, you move on to other things.

The Pistons clearly designated Meeks a go-to target, and they’ve decided the abundance of cap space leaguewide means they have to chase any target aggressively and early. Stan Van Gundy needs shooting around Andre Drummond pick-and-rolls and (if he’s here) Greg Monroe post-ups and elbow touches, and Meeks can certainly shoot — 40 percent from deep last season on a bundle of attempts in Mike D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds Till Getting That Paper system…

In a broader sense, the Pistons are doing interesting stuff. They’ve reportedly inquired about Isaiah Thomas, a bold move for a team that just locked up Brandon Jennings last summer. But Jennings was mostly bad, and creative front offices don’t just shrug and give up after allotting significant money to a guy at one position — especially when that contract only runs two more seasons…

The Meeks contract is a bit much, but Detroit is thinking creatively. Let’s see what it does next.

I largely agree with Lowe. There is a reason to give Meeks so much money, but it’s not a very good one. However, picking less heralded targets early and aggressively acquiring them while other teams are busy looking at bigger, flashier names is potentially a good strategy–provided you don’t follow that up by overpaying said targets.

Lowe’s fellow writer at Grantland, Bill Barnwell, posted an excellent piece recently about free agency. His was looking at NFL free agency, not NBA, but many of the same principles apply:

If there were a particularly bold-yet-rational NFL team out there, it might very well be smart to use the first week of free agency as a mandatory vacation. The first day of free agency often produces a dizzying number of terrible contracts, and with the extra $10 million unexpectedly handed out by the league just before the market opened, this year looks like no exception…

If history is any guide, it seems to take about a week for the bargains to start showing up. Players who are desperate to avoid losing the real-life game of roster musical chairs call their agents in a panic, insisting upon taking an offer that might have seemed anathema just a few days earlier…

They’re also usually signed with the league’s smarter teams, organizations that leave themselves just enough money in their budget to add a valuable piece or two once those pieces’ prices have come down. Some of the best free-agent signings of the year come after the first week has come and gone.

And don’t give me the perspective of “we don’t have a superstar so we have to overpay to get anyone”, that’s like saying “well, I’ve got a bum wrist, so I better twist my ankle so I can compete”. Being at a disadvantage doesn’t mean the smartest course of action is to compound said disadvantage. And that’s what a team is doing when it’s already bad and it decides to overpay more players to “lure them in”.

I’m glad to see that the Detroit front office is willing to try unorthodox strategies, I just don’t think they got it right this time.

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