With a healthy smattering of up-and-coming and veteran centers hitting the free agency market this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers didn't waste any time in getting their man.
They just probably overpaid him.
While that number sounds huge, the per-year figures are relatively tame—at $16 million annually, that's roughly the equivalent of a $12 million salary in 2015-16.
But it's not the per-year cost that's the problem. It's the years.
After 2014-15, this deal would look like a steal. The Cavs traded for him midway through the season, and in 46 games he averaged 10.6 points on 59 percent shooting to go with 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 25 minutes a game. The seven-foot Russian was a key cog in the playoffs as well, as Cleveland fell short of the championship in a six-game series.
Then 2015-16 happened.
Before the season, Mozgov had knee surgery. He responded by falling way the hell out of the team's rotation, averaging 1.2 points in under six minutes per game in the playoffs as the Cavs won the championship.
“Mozgov had a bad knee and he shouldn’t have started the season when he did,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported in April. “He should have been more worried about rehabbing his knee.
“The surgery that they performed last summer was not a success but he felt pressure to play really well because he saw a massive paycheck coming his way. It was the combination of worrying about the contract and an unhealthy knee and a changing role on the team that all contributed to him having a down year.”
Which led to a lot of this …
Apparently none of that was enough to discourage the Lakers.
Giving a guy coming off an injury a short, "show-me" contract is one thing. But committing to him for four years without knowing how long he'll hold up—or if he'll ever get back to the player he was—is quite another. The Lakers would have been better off if they'd paid him more annually but over less time, something like a two-year, $40 million contract.
Los Angeles might have made up for the move with another early on Friday. The team re-signed young scoring guard Jordan Clarkson to a very fair four-year, $50 million contract.