Peja’s Money… but is His Contract Too Full of it?

He’s on the wrong side of 30, but on a large New Orleans contract; analysts and fans alike have called his deal a bust, and yet he’s having a terrific year offensively (and in some respects, defensively). Which all prompts the following two questions: 1. How effective has Peja been this season, given the expectations, and given his contract? (In other words, was it worth it?) 2. How well or poorly will Peja age? This post deals with the first question, and a later post will answer the second.

The first question is relatively easy to answer. Last season was obviously as busted as a bust season can be, as Peja managed to play in just 13 games, in which he shot a career low 81% from the stripe, and had his signing continually bashed by the World Wide Leader. We’ve all seen him hit a ton of threes this season, but have his numbers been worth the numbers we gave him?

The answer is an emphatic yes. Not too shockingly, not a single media outlet has mentioned the following stat: Peja is on pace to become the second player ever with 200+ 3’s at a 45%+ rate. Reggie Miller never did it, Mitch Richmond never did it, Ray Allen hasn’t done it… the only player ever to do it was also a Hornet- Glen Rice. Simply put, Stojakovic is having one of the greatest three point shooting seasons in NBA history; he’s not going to reach Ray Allen’s huge 269 3PM figure, or even come near George McCloud’s untouchable 678 3PA figure, but he’s putting up the big 3P figures more efficiently than anyone else.

So now we come to the financial standpoint; how does Peja’s contract stack up with the other great three point shooters’? I’d rather not compare contracts on a SF to SF or forward to forward basis, because the Hornets didn’t sign Peja to play like a “traditional” forward. Everyone knew coming in that he would hang beyond the arc for the majority of offensive possessions. I’d much rather look at players who were signed for the express purpose of jacking up threes, which is why I leave out guys like Dirk, Stephen Jackson, and even Michael Redd. Additionally, I want to focus in on contracts given to guys established as three point shooters. What does that mean? It means I didn’t look at rookie contracts, or minimum contracts given to unknown (at the time) shooters.

Additionally, if a player was injured for the majority of his first season (ie, Peja) I included the stats from his first full year. Here, then, is a look at every “big” three point shooter in the first season of his new contract. Some guys (ie, Reggie Miller) present an obvious problem in that they slowly established themselves with one team. In such cases, I made a judgement call as to which contract year was the first time said player was a significant… uh, player in free agency. Obviously, I ignored Peja’s previous contracts or this exercise would be pointless. Finally, if you disagree with any of my assumptions as to “first contract years,” just point it out, and I’ll be happy to change it.

 

Player

Team

Year

First Year Salary (in millions)

3PM

%

$/3PM

Reggie Miller

IND

96-97

11.25

229

.427

49, 126

Ray Allen

MIL

99-00

9.00

172

.423

52, 325

Quentin Richardson

PHO

04-05

5.80

226

.358

25, 663

Kyle Korver

PHI

05-06

3.63

184

.420

19, 728

Raja Bell

PHO

05-06

4.25

197

.442

21, 573

Rashard Lewis

ORL

07-08 (inc)

14.88

221 (proj)

.400

67, 330

Wesley Person

CLE

97-98

3.50

192

.433

18, 229

Dan Majerle

PHO

93-94

2.98

192

.382

15, 520

Vladimir Radmanovic

LAL

06-07

5.22

40

.339

130, 500

Damon Jones

CLE

05-06

3.60

140

.377

25, 714

Peja Stojakovic

NOR

07-08 (inc)

11.66

225 (proj)

.453

51, 822

 

This chart gives us a good feel for how various players performed in the first years of large contracts; in general, the first year is a very good indicator of future performance for the duration of that particular contract. The chart is color coded to give you some comparison between contracts (green, light green, yellow, orange, red), but let’s quantify the colors to draw some more conclusions. Suppose green is 5 points, light green 4, yellow 3, orange 2, and red 1. If we add up how many points each player gets in the three categories, here are the rankings:

Bell 13, Stojakovic 12, Person 12, Miller 11, Korver 11, Majerle 11, Richardson 9, Allen 8, Lewis 8, Jones 6, Radmanovic 3

Clearly, there are no egregiously bad contracts, save the Lakers’ Vlad one. And Peja ranks right up at the top behind Raja Bell’s contract as one of the best bang for the buck deals, One of this year’s most pursued free agents, Rashard Lewis, was given a “bad” deal by the Magic. The point is, given this snapshot in time, the Peja deal stacks up very favorable compared to history’s previous contracts. Injury independent, many said the Peja deal was a poor one on the basis of dollar/performance value alone, but this chart contends otherwise.

Especially since he sat out so much of last year, Peja’s contract can’t be judged on this season alone, just as none of those other players’ could. The numbers say Peja’s had a season above and beyond what the money requires or that people predicted. Ultimately, though, this deal will be judged on how often he’s hurt, and subsequently, how he ages… discussed next time.

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7 Responses

  1. Wow, fantastic post, awesome to see the breakdown of shooter based on their cost. It’s not something you often see. I’m really quite stunned at how bad the Radman deal is as well as how bad the Rashard Lewis deal looks. And I have to say this really changes my mind about the Peja deal. Every time I watch him hit a three, I can’t help but think we overpaid for him, but perhaps not.

  2. Yup, you have to envy teams like Phoenix and Philly for getting unknown talents like Korver and Bell. Lol at Wesley Person! I havne’t heard his name in so long!

    Can;t wait for part 2!

  3. Great analysis. I think people get on Peja sometimes because he goes cold for streaks, and as pundits who don’t have to be held accountable for anything or to anyone, they just run their mouths. But the fact is, Peja also bursts out on streaks where he hits 75% from 3 point range, which is how he evens out at that 45%. I’ve always felt he was a great pick-up, and it’s good to see in your analysis that the numbers bear out that gut instinct.

  4. and besides figures i think he is a team player which is what this team with young stars needs.

    i hope he stays healthy and he can really help us on the playoffs.

  5. peja is a great player

    he’s won so many games for the hornets this season we might not be in the play off picture right now if it wasn’t for obviously hes not the biggest part of the team but he is a big peice

  6. Yeah, he’s a perfect fit for this team. Other three point shooters like Rashard Lewis might not have fit. Also, the more CP plays with Peja, the more he knows exactly where he’ll be. I can’t wait for the playoffs.

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