The "toxic contract" argument is a legitimate one for obvious reasons:
No businessman or businesswoman wants to overpay for any part of their business, especially when it eats into a budget that is time sensitive and small to begin with in a competitive market.
However, if you happen to land on a commodity, something your competition covets and is willing to overspend for, you must be willing to overspend for it as well, especially if their market is larger and ultimately more desirable. Why? Because you cannot devalue your own product while increasing the value of your competitions'.
Losing Gordon Hayward to another team will do just that: devalue Utah's current team while increasing the value of another. That's more stupid than overpaying him.
Overpay the man for two reasons:
1. The Utah Jazz don't attract unrestricted free agents of high-market value. Over the past ten years, going all the way back to the 04-05 season, the Jazz have only managed to sign 5 players of any noteworthy value (hope I haven't missed any):
And let's be honest about each of these guys (again, forgive if I missed anyone). Boozer was unproven when signed, although it looked like he would become a legitimate PF in the NBA after his first two years in the league. And he did. Memo worked out and outplayed his contract.Wesley Matthews went undrafted and it was one of those diamond-in-the-rough moments for Utah; it wasn't like we kept him here either. Bell didn't pan out the way we had all hoped and either way he was on the downside of his career. And Foye was a one-way player who only played here a single year. He shot his way into a solid contract with Denver.
The best signing of a "guaranteed" player has been Carlos Boozer. To summarize, 10 years ago, a decade ago when Shaq was still playing in the NBA, the Jazz managed to sign a third-year player who wasn't even yet a second-tier NBA guy yet.
How did they do it? They overpaid him. They took a gamble. They gave him over $10 million in his third year in the NBA after he had made less than $1 million his first two years combined. Boozer would help lead the Jazz to the WCF.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that in order to get somewhere in Utah (I'm not going to generalize us into the "small market" category because it's unfair to the unique nature of the Jazz) you may have to overpay a guy or two.
If you cannot or haven't been able to sign UFAs of high value, you have to keep your own valuable players when they are restricted and you have the rights to them. It's stupid not to.
2. What else are you going to do with the money?
Let it sit there? Pray LeBron James wants to dip his talents in the salty lake? You cannot even attract free agents on the second tier.
Worst Case Scenario
You overpay him and you know it. Oops.
Again, it's not like that money could be used anywhere else (see exhibit 1). He's the most complete player on the Utah Jazz. Losing him is foolish even if you have to overpay him.
Let me be very clear: I don't think he is worth the $20 million that Paul George can opt into when 2018-19 comes around.
Even Larry Bird and his agent knows he isn't worth $20 million. And I'm also not saying that GH is PG or that their market value is the same.
All I'm saying is that you have to overpay guys in this league, especially when you have the rights to their next 4-5 years.
Quin Snyder finds a way to make the most out of Gordon Hayward making $18 million a year. He hits 2.5 more shots per game on slightly less opportunities and boosts his scoring to over 20 a night and he does this while maintaining 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
What else can we hope for, honestly?
The arguments I hear coming from people who don't want to overpay him are about his shooting percentages. I hear that.
The man shot poorly last year. Should we be concerned? Yes...No...Maybe.
The truth is that we were a godawful team last year without a decent coach. We put the ball in his hands and asked him to be a go-to scorer. He wasn't able to do it on a nightly basis while being surrounded with other young players asked to be in new roles as well.
We did learn that he is one of the most overall skilled players at his position. He has a versatility that most wings don't have when it comes to ball-handling, passing, and playing defense. He does a good amount (not a little) of everything. If he does shoot the ball better in the next 4-5 years (if you don't think he will, you're crazy) while the rest of the Jazz team becomes more polished, you got yourself one heck of ballplayer, albeit overpaid.
That's how you contend in this league as a small market (oops, I did it) team: you overpay and you get lucky. If you don't overpay, you can't hope to get lucky.
Pay the man.