After failing to come to terms on an extension with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, reports indicate that George Hill is seeking a max contract this summer.
Yesterday was a roller coaster of news on the George Hill front.
After a surprising start to the season, even while punctuated with injuries, it was clear the Utah Jazz were a contending team when Hill was on the court. It’s also clear Utah wants to re-sign their biggest offseason acquisition.
“I’m not the type of guy that likes to move around and go from team to team, I really like it here. My family likes it here. I’ve got some friends here. The city’s been great for me so far, and it’s a nice place to raise a family, so hopefully I get an opportunity to re-sign here if they would love me to be here.”
So with the news via Tim MacMahon that the Jazz and Hill were working toward a last-minute deal to renegotiate his current contract and extend it through the end of the 2020 season, morale was high in the Beehive state.
Utah was able to offer all of its cap space this season, nearly $14 million, with over $24 million per year covering an additional 3 years to total $88.3 million. For context, the former San Antonio Spur and Indiana Pacer had earned $45.3 million over his career to this point.
On an annual basis that would have paid Hill more than every point guard in the game outside of Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley and basically the same as Damian Lillard.
However, based on the advise of Hill’s representatives, Hill is seeking a deal similar to Conley’s. His camp reportedly believes he will be able to sign a four-year, $132 million deal via free agency.
Let me be clear, I believe every player should get the most money they can and when they can. Please don’t interpret this as George Hill bashing because he didn’t take a home town discount. With the values of NBA franchises raising exponentially and the TV live rights making the owners billions of dollars every season, the players need to get their share.
Remember last season when everyone lost their minds over the free agent contracts rotation guys were getting? Keep in mind the NBA is currently being paid $2.6 billion dollars each year and the players are supposed to receive 51 percent of that money.
This past season after a crazy $1.1 billion was spent in free agency, the owners had to write a check for over $200 million to the players because they STILL didn’t spend enough. Hill’s people are probably correct and there will be crazy money offered by the usual suspects (Knicks, Sixers, Nets, etc.).
But the issue is with a small market team committing to $80 million annually to Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert and George Hill with extensions coming up for Rodney Hood, Dante Exum and Trey Lyles. Additionally, no one should ignore the impact Joe Ingles is having on the season, and he is also a free agent.
The luxury tax hurts so much more without deep playoff appearances and championships.
Utah will have to pay into the tax if they want to continue to contend in the upper echelon of the Western Conference. The simple fact is really good basketball players cost a lot of money. And in the words of the great American philosopher Jalen Rose “you never get what you feel you deserve, you get what you have the leverage to negotiate”.
Hill’s impact on the Jazz is so glaring, they lose their leverage trying to get a cheaper deal done. While they presumably offered the maximum allowed under the CBA to renegotiate and extend his current deal, the fact he has been playing on such a cheap contract hurt Utah as they could only offer annual raises of 7.5 percent.
In my opinion, there aren’t many players that impact their teams as positively as Hill that also become available. Utah was fortunate to trade for him. Even fewer players are willing to play and stay in Salt Lake City. Especially when that player is so close to the All Star who coincidentally is also scheduled for free agency this summer.
Great teams eventually overpay to keep their core together. Call it a Hayward premium or the cost of getting further into the playoffs. Good teams spend money and the Jazz have been claiming that contending for a championship is what they are seeking.
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It is no coincidence that Gobert and Hayward are reaching new heights of efficiency as players with Hill on the court. If Hayward re-signs and Hill leaves, can Hayward be as efficient? Can Gobert continue to progress as quickly as on offensive player? Spending more on Hill could be insurance for the other two All-Star caliber players on the team.
If Utah wants to continue to rent property in the top half of the playoff seeding, spend the money. The team has been building with talent and reloading for some time. Eventually you have to pull the trigger and take a shot.
If I were Wayne Gretzky I’d say, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”