IN THE MONEY

Del Olaleye: 3 players who stand to get paid based on the NBA postseason

Clint Capela is earning a big contract somewhere. Jason Miller

The NBA playoffs are under way and I could spend time using this space to breakdown matchups or what this postseason will mean to James Harden’s legacy. I could do that, but I won’t. I do enough of that on the radio and so do other people. I’m much more interested in the game inside the game. I’m talking about guys who could cash in on a big postseason. What is Clint Capela worth? Is Kyrie Irving being hurt the best thing that could happen to Boston’s Terry Rozier? Will the Wolves series against the Rockets change the way the NBA sees Derrick Rose?

Who is the next Jonathon Simmons? If you remember back to last year’s playoffs, Simmons became a playoff star for what he did in the Spurs-Rockets series. He helped the Spurs eliminate the Rockets while Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard were injured. He scored 12 points in a pivotal Game 5 and 18 points in San Antonio’s 39-point Game 6 victory that closed out the Rockets in Houston. Simmons averaged 6.2 points in the regular season but scored in double figures 10 times in the postseason. His overall performance led to three-year deal worth $20 million from the Orlando Magic. A modest number by NBA standards but certainly a huge increase over the $874,000 Simmons made in his final season with the Spurs. Here are three guys who have a shot to duplicate the impact that Simmons provided and earn substantial raises because of what they do in these playoffs.

Clint Capela

Capela has done enough regular season work to get a big deal. This postseason gives him a shot to cement himself as a premiere big man in the league. He used Game 1 of his playoff run to dominate a big man with a pretty good reputation. The athleticism difference between Capela and the Wolves’ Karl Anthony Towns was a drastic one. Capela’s fluidity and his ability to get up down the court was evident and the box score reflected the difference between the two young centers. Capela put together a dominant all-around game that featured 24 points and 12 rebounds. Towns finished with eight points in 40 minutes. Capela’s impact on Houston’s success has been well documented throughout the season. Game 1 was just further confirmation of just how important he is to the Rockets. A successful playoff run for the Rockets could potentially put Capela in the discussion for max money this offseason.

Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent ‘18

Terry Rozier

Much like the inspiration for the piece, Rozier has been given an opportunity due to an injury to a star. Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is out for the playoffs and Rozier goes from backup to starter on team that entered the season with title aspirations. As the backup at both backcourt positions Rozier had his best season as pro in his third season. He saw his minutes, points and shooting percentages increase significantly. In his first game as a starting point guard in the playoffs, Rozier scored 23 points, pulled down four rebounds and dished out three assists with no turnovers. Most importantly he made multiple big shots down the stretch, somewhat duplicating Irving’s big shot ability. A strong playoff run by Rozier could place him in high demand for a team desperate for a young and improving point guard. Rozier is set to make just over three million dollars in the final year of his deal. At a premium position like point guard a productive 2018 playoff run could land Rozier a deal worth eight figures annually.

Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent ‘19

Oklahoma City’s Jerami Grant

Grant’s regular season numbers are modest at first glance and they don’t make you think of a guy who is in line for a big deal but there is a precedent for springy bench players getting lucrative deals. Moe Harkless of the Portland Trailblazers used a strong playoff performance over eleven games in 2016 to see his annual salary increase from just over $2.8 million to just under $9 million. The Blazers rewarded him for his increased production over the course of those two 2016 series with a deal worth $42 million. Grant’s role as a energy bench player is important to the Thunder’s second unit. His style is a complement to Russell Westbrook’s frenetic style of play when Westbrook tries to push the pace. Grant’s energy leads to putbacks for himself and second chance opportunities for his team. Paid just over $1.5 million in the final year of his deal, a big playoff performance could see Grant’s annual salary multiplied by six.

Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent ‘18

Shoutout to Matthew Dellavedova, the ultimate playoff finesser. He went from making just over $1.1 million on a one year deal in Cleveland to getting paid $38 million over four years in Milwaukee. That raise was primarily based on a postseason where he scored in double figures seven times in 20 games as Kyrie Irving’s backup for Cleveland in 2015. He became a national story for all of five days when Irving was injured in the Finals against the Golden State Warriors. He’s still in Milwaukee by the way. As I type this he’s playing in garbage time as the Bucks are about to go down 0-2 in their series with the Celtics.

The playoffs can be lucrative for potential stars or the 8th and 9th men in a rotation.

Gerald Green, go get yours.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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