The Al Harrington free agent story, which I discussed previously HERE and HERE, has finally come to a close. According to ESPN, Harrington has signed a four year contract worth $35.3 million. Towards the end of the ESPN story was the following paragraph:
“Atlanta’s reluctance to deal with the other teams chasing Harrington maintained Indiana’s position as the favorite to land the versatile forward, with the Pacers hoping the increasingly fast pace in today’s NBA will permit Harrington — at 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds — to play plenty of power forward in an athletic frontcourt setup alongside Jermaine O’Neal and Danny Granger.”
If it is true that Indiana is planning on playing Harrington at power forward, then basically the Pacers are committing close to $9 million per year for a power forward who scores inefficiently and can’t rebound. To put this in perspective, Harrington played nearly 37 minutes a game last season and averaged 6.9 rebounds per game. The average power forward in this time would have collected 8.7 rebounds per game. Given the value of an additional rebound in terms of wins, Harrington’s failure to rebound at the average rate cost his team nearly five wins over the course of an 82 game season. When you add Harrington’s inefficient scoring to the mix, it is hard to see how Harrington is going to help the Pacers win many games next season.
And if it is the case that the draft pick the Pacers sent the Hawks is Indiana’s pick in 2007, the trade can turn into quite a good deal for Atlanta. Not only did Atlanta lose a player who was not producing wins, it has given this unproductive player to a conference rival for a draft pick that will only be enhanced when the Pacers play Harrington night after night out of position.
All in all, Atlanta – a team with a great deal of turmoil in its ownership circle – seemed to do quite well in this deal. Al Harrington also is doing quite well. The Pacers, though, do not seem to be helped by this move.
Now the Pacers have made a number of other changes, so it is still possible Indiana could still do well next year. It just seems unlikely that adding Harrington is going to help the team achieve much success in 2006-07.