Didn’t like the Ben Gordon and and Charlie Villanueva signings? Joe Dumars inadvertently explains why you’re right

 From Keith Langlois’ recent Q&A with Joe Dumars:

KL: Your peers, many of them, have been positioning themselves for a couple of years for this summer’s free-agent class. Eighteen months ago, they were positioning themselves with the idea that the salary cap would be something more than $60 million. Now it appears it could be $10 million less than that. Unless something happens by the trade deadline, you won’t be in a position to be major players in free agency this summer. But do you have a sense of what the free-agent market will be like based on the cap coming down?

JD: I think the top-tier free agents are always going to command and always going to have the leverage. Once you get beyond that, it always becomes a buyer’s market after that. I don’t see that being any different this year. The top-tier guys are going to command what they command. They’re going to dictate and control where they go and how much they sign for, then after that history has shown us that you can cut some pretty good deals.

Here are the five free agents who received the most guaranteed money last summer:

  1. Ben Gordon, Pistons ($58 million, five years)
  2. Hedo Turkoglu, Raptors ($53 million, five years)
  3. Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers Cleveland ($42.5 million, five years)* UPDATE: Thanks to Steve Kays for pointing out $4 million Varaejao’s final year are guaranteed.)
  4. Charlie Villanueva, Pistons ($37.7 million, five years)
  5. Marvin Williams, Hawks ($37.5 million, five years)*

*resigned with current team

So, Joe Dumars says the top free agents can dictate their price. He says the next-level players can be bargains.

He also signs the No. 1 and No. 4 free agents in terms of guaranteed money.

  • Did Dumars not learn this until last summer?
  • Did he not understand the market and think Gordon and Villanueva were second-tier free agents?
  • Did he think Gordon and Villanueva were good enough to supersede the rule?

Something doesn’t add up. And that’s coming from someone who liked (but didn’t love) both signings.