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December 25, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Jordan Hill (27) shoots a basket against the defense of Miami Heat shooting guard Ray Allen (34) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Free Agency 2014: Why Jordan Hill will be a huge bargain

Assuming you only have $1.5 million in disposable income and owning a sports car is a must, would you rather purchase a 2015 Porsche 915 Spyder for $929,000.00 or a 2014 BMW Z4 for $49,000.00?

If you answered the former, you are in effect deciding that the quality of the Porsche is so much better than the BMW that the incredibly large investment cost is worth it. In turn, you are deciding that it would be better for your quality of life to own the Porsche and have just $571,000.00 remaining in living expenses for that year than it would to own the BMW and still have $1,451,000.00 remaining for additional purchases over the course of the year. In other words, that Porsche had better be worth the vast majority of your operating budget.

If, however, you answered the latter, you are making the decision that—even if the BMW is a lesser automobile than the Porsche—purchasing the Z4 and having $1,451,000.00 left over to survive on for the calendar year is the better decision for your livelihood than owning the Spyder but having only $571,000.00 remaining in your coffer.

To a certain extent, NBA free agency is the functional equivalent of a fledgling millionaire deciding between sports cars. And with regard to the center position, if Marcin Gortat is the 2015 Porsche 915 Spyder, then Jordan Hill is definitely the 2014 BMW Z4.

On Tuesday, the Washington Wizards re-signed their unrestricted free agent big man Marcin Gortat to a 5-year $60 million deal. With a projected NBA salary cap in 2014 slated to be at roughly $63.2 million, the Wizards will be allocating $12 million per year to Gortat—or about 20% of their annual salary.

Marcin Gortat is a really good basketball player. Consider his numbers last season for Washington:

2013-14  WAS 81 32.8 .542 .686 2.5 7.0 9.5 1.7 0.5 1.5 1.6 2.5 13.2

In today’s NBA that emphasizes versatile wing play, athleticism, and three point shooting, a reliable double-double threat from the center position is a premium worth paying for—and perhaps even overpaying. But what if a team did not want the Porsche? What if a team did not want to invest 20% of its available money into the center position, especially in light of the importance of perimeter play in 2014? What if a team instead simply desired the BMW?

Like Marcin Gortat was, Jordan Hill is an unrestricted free agent. The former Arizona Wildcat and No. 8 pick in the  2009 NBA Draft finally found his niche in the National Basketball Association with the Los Angeles Lakers. Consider his 2013-2014 statistics:

2013-14  LAL 72 20.8 .549 .685 2.7 4.7 7.4 0.8 0.4 0.9 1.0 2.4 9.7

Hill, while playing backup minutes, managed to tally about 10 points and 7 rebounds per game. That is to say, playing 12 fewer minutes  than Gortat every game, Hill scored on average just 3 fewer points and 2 fewer rebounds every contest.

Jordan Hill is a different basketball player than Marcin Gortat. Whereas Gortat has the skill level and ability to command post ups on the offensive end, Hill is a banger and hustle player—earning most of his points and rebounds on rim runs, offensive rebounds, and broken plays. Consequently, Hill plays a much more physically-grueling style than Gortat, and his body takes much more of a toll as a result.

Could Jordan Hill survive an 82-game season playing 32 minutes per game? I am not certain. But what about 25 minutes per game, just 5 minutes above his 2013 season average, a season in which he logged 72 games played? This scenario is far more feasible. And being given 25 minutes every night, could Hill equal Gortat and average 13 points and 9 rebounds a game? I suspect the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Jordan Hill is the  $49,000.00 2014 BMW Z4 of the 2014 NBA Free Agent pool. Unlike Gortat, Hill assuredly will not command a $60 million contract. What will a team offer Hill? If I am Jordan Hill’s agent, I am asking for a contract similar to the one New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik received back in 2012: 3-years and $25 million dollars.

Omer Asik’s 10 points and 11 rebounds over 30 minutes per game playing time in 2012-2013 is a fair and reasonable projection for Jordan Hill’s upcoming 2014-2015 campaign. As a result, a $25 million shorter term contract could very well be obtainable for Hill. That said, assume conservatively that Hill can fetch only 3-years and $18 million this offseason. That would be approximately $6 million person year, which would only be about 10% of an NBA franchise’s annual salary for 2014-2015.

Signing Jordan Hill will be a tremendous bargain for one lucky NBA team.Whereas splurging for Gortat might provide a franchise with a better player at the center position, investing in Hill will likely yield much better value—specifically in terms of keeping money left over to spend on additional player assets.

Tags: Jordan Hill NBA NBA Free Agency

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