“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, 'It's in the script.' If he says, 'But what's my motivation? ' I say, 'Your salary.'”
– Alfred Hitchcock
Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Psycho would be analogous to Eminem doing a cover album of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison then going on tour with Trisha Yearwood.
There'd be zero upside and nowhere to go but down for 8 Mile.
You'd think studios would have learned the Van Sant Lesson and stayed away from butchering the inimitable classics. They didn't: Planet of the Apes, The Pink Panther, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Karate Kid, Guess Who…
Free agency shouldn't be interesting. It is though, because general managers are like studio execs: Reactive and impulsive. They never learn. Like Nicolas Cage's batting average, for every good contract there are four bad ones.
Here’s a quick gander at a few gems since July 1, for better or worse.
Channing Frye. Four-years, $32 million from Orlando:
Frye is a 6-foot-11 face-up shooter who plays like he's 6-6, loves jumpers more than apple pie and is afraid to enter the paint lest he be asked to post up or melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. Last year he averaged 11-5 in 28 minutes a game for the Suns. He's 31. Hold that thought.
Zach Randolph. Two-years, $20 million from Memphis:
Best bargain thus far. The 32-year-old Randolph will make $16.5 million this season. The extension will kick in through 2016-17. The Grizzlies are only on the books for $36 million in 2015-16, which includes Mike Conley's $9.5 million and Tony Allen's $5.1 million, allowing them to make a max offer to Marc Gasol, an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Randolph's game isn't predicated on athleticism, but strength and skill. His numbers won’t wane too much as he ages.
Would you give $10 million a year to Randolph or $8 million to Frye? Hold that thought.
Ben Gordon. Two years, $9 million from Orlando:
The 31-year-old shooting guard played 19 games for the Bobcats last season before being waived in March. Read that last sentence again. He was waived by the Charlotte Bobcats.
If Norman Bates could hit jumpers, Magic GM Rob Hennigan would give him a three-year, $18 million contract with a team option for a fourth-year if Bates could keep his dissociative identity disorder in check.
The second year of Gordon's contract is partially guaranteed. That doesn't make this right. Was anyone offering Gordon more than the veteran's minimum? No.
Someday, Hollywood will remake Dr. Strangelove. They'll replace Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers with Michael Bay and Johnny Depp. Hennigan will be involved.
Chris Kaman. Two years, $9.8 million from Portland:
Only $1 million is guaranteed for year two. Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey continues his trend of savvy, low-risk high-reward moves.
Last summer, Olshey acquired both Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson for a grand total of four second-round picks. Lopez transformed into a durable starting center. He played all 82 games, averaging 11-8 in 31 minutes a game. Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in 2012, developed into a solid backup after being bounced around the league his rookie year. The two helped the Blazers surprise the NBA by snatching a No. 5 seed and upsetting Houston in the first round; the same Houston who dumped Robinson in order to create cap space for Dwight Howard.
The Blazers gaping weakness is its front court bench. As in it has none, outside of Robinson. Kaman is injury-prone. He's already 32 and appeared in only 39 games last season for the Lakers. If Portland can get 15 minutes a night out of him to spell Lopez, it'll be a success.
Spencer Hawes. Four years, $23 million from the Clippers:
The Clippers and Blazers reportedly offered Hawes the same deal. He chose the bigger city and the contender, while Portland settled for Kaman. After being traded to the Cavaliers at the deadline last season, the seven-footer averaged 13-7 and shot 44.8 percent from three-point range.
Along with the outside shooting the Clippers crave, Hawes gives them lineup flexibility. They can play him with DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin. He won't be a free throw liability in crunch time (78 percent last season).
Hawes is only 26, five years younger than Frye. Yet, he got $9 million less.
Jodie Meeks. Three years, $19.5 million from Detroit.
Who had a worse year, the Pistons or the bankrupt city of Detroit?
Last summer, the Pistons blew $54 million over four years on Josh Smith. They fired coach Maurice Cheeks in February as the team was flaming out. Despite a breakout season from Andre Drummond, they couldn't crack the top eight of an Eastern Conference that allowed the Bobcats in -- the same Bobcats that dumped Gordon. The same Gordon who the Pistons signed to a five-year, $55 million contract back in 2009. Full circle.
The Pistons just gave Stan Van Gundy $35 million to coach a collection of misfits. Now they've gifted Jodie Meeks $19 million to do nothing but hang out on the perimeter and fire off threes.
They could have gotten Jordan Farmer for two years at $4.2 million (Clippers), or Patty Mills for three years at $12 million (Spurs), and then donated the difference to the city to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure.
Hitchcock knew his movies were bigger than any of his actors. The Spurs proved their system was bigger than any individual player. NBA GMs should take note.