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A message to DeShawn Stevenson

Take this contract offer.  Seriously.

Over the weekend, Ernie upped his contract offer to Mister 50 to 4 years and 15 million.  This is an increase, both in years and money, over the 3 year, 10 million dollar deal Stevenson rejected from Orlando last season.  Of course, we all know how that turned out.  Stevenson got no better offers and was forced to sign for the minimum with the Wizards.  I'm sure that wasn't his plan.

This year, a similar story is transpiring.  For five months, it appeared DeShawn's plan was working.  He was having the best season of his career on a good team, and had become a fan favorite of sorts.  But once Arenas and Caron Butler went down, his production took a nosedive.  Given a chance to show what he could do when he got more chances to score, he failed, miserably.  Yet despite that, he wants a 5 year deal for the full mid-level exception.  

And he's not the only one that thinks he's getting shafted in these negotiations.  Blog friend Winning the Turnover Battle noticed the deals handed out to Jason Kapono and Matt Carroll and asks, why not Stevenson too?

So two other players with nearly identical stats to Stevenson, with less starting experience in the league, who are the same exact age as Stevenson, are getting $6 million and $4.5 million a year respectively while Stevenson is being offered $3 million a year from the Wizards. It seems to me that the Wiz probably need to move that deal up to at least the value of Carroll's contract for it not to be an insult to Stevenson.

There's no doubt that Stevenson's agent is driving home that point in negotiations, as he should be.  The problem, though, is that Stevenson isn't nearly as valuable as Carroll or Kapono.

Basketball is a game where specialists are essential to team success.  With few exceptions, NBA champions are always built around a couple stars and a number of specialists.  Just look at San Antonio in the past five years.  Their role players beyond the Big 3 have all been guys who have very specialized skills.  In 2003, their role players were David Robinson (the old David Robinson), Stephen Jackson, Malik Rose, Bruce Bowen, Speedy Claxton, and Steve Smith.  Each had a specialty, whether it was Robinson's rebounding, Rose's post defense, Jackson and Smith's shooting, or Claxton's playmaking.  Collectively, their different specialties made up for each specific players' liabilities.  The same thing happened in 2005, only the rebounders were Nazr Mohammad and Rasho Nesterovic, the post defenders were Robert Horry and Rose, the shooters were Brent Barry, Devin Brown, and Horry, and the defender was Bowen.  This past year, the rebounders were Fabricio Oberto and Francisco Elson, the post defenders were Elson and Robert Horry, the shooters were Michael Finley and Barry, the playmaker was Jacque Vaughn, and the defender was Bowen.  Specialists make better role players, even if they lack great all-around skills.

Kapono and Carroll classify as specialists, especially Kapono, who's arguably the best shooter in the league.  Stevenson, frankly, doesn't qualify as a specialist, because he has no outstanding skills.  He's a decent shooter, a decent playmaker, and a slightly above-average defender, but he's not great at any of those things.  In short, Kapono and Carroll would make better role players, and for that, they should be paid more money.

Additionally, looking at advanced numbers, Stevenson simply doesn't compare.  These all come from Basketball Reference.  

Stevenson in 2006/07: 15.2 points/40, 3.6 rebounds/40, 3.6 assists/40, 54.2% true shooting percentage, 12.9 PER.

Kapono in 2006/07: 16.5 points/40, 4.1 rebounds/40, 1.5 assists/40, 61.3% TS%, 13.8 PER.

Carroll in 2006/07: 18.5 points/40, 4.4 rebounds/40, 1.7 assists/40, 58% TS%, 14.6 PER.

With the exception of assists, Stevenson ranks dead last among the three in every category, and often times by a wide margin.  His PER is nearly two full points lower than Carroll's and one full point lower than Kapono's.  His true shooting percentage is well below Kapono's.  

Granted, Stevenson is a better defender than either Carroll or Kapono, but is it really by that much?  Again, the consensus here is that Stevenson's defense is closer to average than spectacular, and I have yet to see any evidence that suggests otherwise.  

The other thing is that the Wizards are seemingly bidding against themselves here.  I have not heard one report that suggest any other team is interested in Stevenson.  If that is indeed the case, what incentive does Ernie have to not lowball Stevenson?  That's not disrespect, that's just smart negotiatng.  

In the end, Stevenson's awful postseason should kill his chance at getting an offer of anything more than 3.75 million per year.  If Ernie goes too much higher, I'll be very disappointed.  With Nick Young and (potentially) Juan Carlos Navarro joining the fold next year, paying Stevenson more than what's currently being offered simply makes no sense.

Agree?  Disagree?  What's fair market value for Mister 50?