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Will Mike Bibby Be a Free Agent?

While some of us look towards May and others pray the lottery isn't imminent, there's a giant cloud hanging over the summer (one that silverace99 kindly pointed out in the diaries). The cloud is the possibility that Mike Bibby might opt out and hit the free agent market.

Bibby is signed through 2009, but he has an out this coming offseason. He can exercise his player options for 2007-08 and 2008-09, earn $28 million over those two years, and hit the market at age 31. Or, he can opt out after this season and hope to sign a long-term deal at age 29.

How much is Bibby likely to get? Let's find out by looking at what similar point guards have been getting on the market the last few years. The 'age' is how old the player was in the season after his contract was signed (i.e. Jason Terry will be 29 for this season). The 'aPER' is the player's average PER over the three seasons leading up to the contract. That's the same way points and assists were figured. The rest is self-explanatory.

PLAYER    AGE    aPER   PPG   APG    $/YR    YRS
S. Nash    30    21.3  16.7   7.9    $13M      5
J. Terry   29    17.7  15.4   4.9   $8.3M      6
M. James   31    16.9  13.8   4.1   $5.9M      4
S. Claxton 28    16.1  11.5   5.1   $6.3M      4
D. Fisher  30    12.5   9.6   2.8   $6.1M      6
M. Bibby   29    18.8  19.7   5.9   $????      ?

Bibby, going into this year, figures to land somewhere between Steve Nash money and Jason Terry money. Of course, PER doesn't seem to translate as well as points and assists do, so Bibby could very well end up with something very close to Steve Nash money. (And yes, I just included Derek Fisher to anger Warriors fans.)

As it is, Bibby is guaranteed to make slightly more than Steve Nash money for two seasons. If he can make "almost Steve Nash money" ($11 million upwards) for five seasons, that's definitely what he should do. If he falls off this season, or the market looks particularly gloomy for whatever reasons, he might be wise to stick it out in Sacramento for the remaining $28 million and try for a mid-level deal in 2009, which would keep him paid until 2014, when he's 36.

Here's the math, with some estimates:

OPTS OUT: $12 million for five years, plus the veteran exception for two years = approx. $64 million over seven years.

STAYS: $28 million for two years, plus the midlevel for five years = approx. $58-60 million over seven years.

It would seem to make sense to opt out. Less risk involved, so long as this season goes according to plan. Bibby seems like a guy the Maloofs would be willing to pay again, too, so he could add an extra year to that big contract to make it more lucrative by staying in Sacramento long-term. Makes me wonder a bit why the team didn't try to extend him a la Paul Pierce this summer. (No, he's not a Paul Pierce caliber player. But he is an incredibly important piece.)

There's lots of other stuff dealing with this to look at in the upcoming months, including Bibby's future's tenuous relationship with what happens with Chauncey Billups in Detroit.