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The longer you pay attention to this league, the easier it becomes to understand why some teams are always bad. 

In the first 24 hours of free agency, teams across the league have shown us their incompetence. Whether it be the Detroit Pistons run on centres, the Charlotte Hornets overpay of Gordon Hayward or the Wizards desperation play with Davis Bertans, it’s not difficult to see why these teams have been so irrelevant the last ten years. 

The signing that’s going to get the most shine in this situation is Hayward’s. 

After declining to pay Kemba Walker a max, one season later the team decided to give Gordon Hayward 30 million a year for the next four seasons. On top of that, they needed to clear cap space to fit him in. To do it, they waived Nicholas Batum’s final year for a nine million hit on their cap the next three seasons. 

If you add Hayward and Batum’s cap numbers this season it’ll be $39 million. Walker in Boston will make $36 million. 

After being hamstrung for years by the Batum contract, Charlotte made him stay in their cap lives for another three years and doubled-down on the small forward pain by giving Hayward an almost max deal. 

Hayward to his credit was better than most people will remember last season. In an almost healthy year, he had flashes of being 80-90% of the guy in Utah. Charlotte has somehow deemed that that player who only showed flashes, not consistency, of being really good again is worth $9 million more next season than Fred VanVleet.

Why they did it speaks to the bad contracts the Pistons and Wizards have joined them in signing so far: desperation.

Feeling the pressure of being a small market or more irrelevant franchise, the three grossly overpaid for guys who probably would’ve taken less to go somewhere else. Washington for example gave Bertans $80 million when he’s never started more than 12 games in a season. 

It was a back against the wall move to hope to convince Bradley Beal to not bail on them. The irony is that will likely be part of the cap issues that lead to Beal’s exit when they can’t put a roster around him. 

I understand that added pressure of being one of these smaller teams in the middle. You’re not bad enough to get a high-lottery pick usually and not good enough to make the playoffs which is the only way most of these teams make money in the smaller markets. 

But a swing on a guy like Jerami Grant for $20 million a year for example who has never averaged more than 13 a game when you have Blake Griffin, Sekou Doumbouya, Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor on your roster is the epitome of small-market stupidity. They paid the Detroit tax for a guy who isn’t going to be worth it and we can all see that the second the deal is signed.

Making the playoffs is a big deal in markets like Detroit and Charlotte and the pressure to keep Beal happy in Washington is obviously understandable however, why these teams remain stuck in the mediocrity of the eastern conference has nothing to do with their market sizes.

It’s due to their own terrible decisions that they continue to not learn from. 

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