Corbin Smith writes at his Biscuitball blog which we highly recommend. He also contributes to Portland Roundball Society. We were thrilled when Corbin offered to take an all-too-in-depth look at what Amir Johnson's contract incentives are for next season.
Welcome back! If you missed part one yesterday, do yourself a favor and catch up here. We pick right back up with our very important private detective story in which Amir Johnson was hot on the trail of a mysterious man in a custom made MOOSE jacket.
Greg "Moose" Monroe and Amir struck up a friendship during Greg's second year in the league.
The battles between big men in the post forms a bond that the perimeter players just don’t understand.
Greg had been in Johannesburg for a few weeks and was looking for a new house. The climate agreed with his training regimen. After dinner and a cigar, Amir subtly worked his compadre for answers.
"So, Greg. Cop any new pieces lately?"
"Huh? Nahh, nothing big. Money’s a little tight with this whole qualifying offer thing."
"I know how that can be. Maybe there’s a way to make extra money?"
"I did sell some land I own out in East Texas to get me enough liquid for the year."
"Oh, really? Who was the buyer?"
"Some shell corporation. They were paying with cash, so I didn’t care that much."
"Cash… or gold coins?"
"Amir, I don’t think the particulars of my financials are any of your business."
Johnson was at a dead end.
So he rang his friend, exemplary NBA big man and former private eye, Al "Big Al" Jefferson.
"I’m stuck, Al. You need to help me think through this."
"Alright, man. Let’s meet out in Santa Barbara. Maybe we can get a few shots up, too."
Oh, yeah. Basketball. Amir had almost forgot: he was going to work on his post game this summer.
"East Texas, huh? Digging up those documents would be a nightmare." Al worked real estate cases before his big contract with Charlotte. "Especially if it was a gold or cash transaction. Deed transfers in the Lone Star State are notoriously laissez-faire. I know a guy in the Houston land management bureau, maybe I can hook you up."
With that one word everything snapped into focus. It was all laid out, like a quilt made from the finest silks draped on the back of a couch.
"I don’t think that will be necessary, Al. I think I know what happened."
Amir pulled out his phone out of his gym bag.
"What are you doing?"
"Reserving a plane ticket to Houston. I think I have to see a man about some post moves."
(On his way to LAX, Amir bought a hot dog.)
Amir’s workout with Hakeem was standard Dream stuff. Footwork, drop steps, mastering the use of the glass.
He always forgets to tell his charges how to access the spirit world and let it work through your legs, but one supposes that he can only tell so much.
"Hey, Dream, you played in Toronto, right?"
"Yes, the end of my career. A strange time. It was a long time ago: the particulars of my finances from 14 years ago are sort of hazy to my mind."
"I’m sure. After all, you made a lot of money in the Houston real estate boom."
Hakeem laughed. "Yes, yes, I’ve been very lucky."
"Say, during your time in Toronto, you ever break bread with a hockey player named Bryan McCabe?"
Hakeem’s disposition changed.
He caught a basketball from one of his assistants and pump faked. Amir went for it. Even after all these years, Dreams can fool even the most attentive private eyes.
Olajuwon took a dribble to the rim and gently laid it in.
His back was turned to Amir now. "McCabe. McCabe. Oh, yes I remember him. White fella. Widow’s peak. Van dyke."
"Maybe you heard about his gold, too? Huh? Basketball legend about to retire, looking for one last score? Maybe you heard the hollow floorboards one day and looked out of curiosity. What happened? Why did you slip up!?"
Hakeem turned around and unleashed his deep, raspy laugh. "I don't make mistakes, Mr. Johnson! The coins I used to pay for Monroe’s land were a pump fake and the Toronto Raptors fell for it!"
At that moment, Masai Ujiri, stepped into the gym.
"Masai. The Raptors stole something from me, and it’s time you gave it back."
"The Brace? That technology was bunk!"
"I know what works! The primitive nanorobots in that knee brace were the only thing that got me through that year without dying. I know the Raptors stole it and I know they’ve been trying to replicate Dr. Wilson’s groundbreaking underground science ever since. But I have a buyer, an old man at the end of his career, so I am going to need it back!"
"What about the gold toonies you stole, Hakeem?"
"Feh, ‘Stole.’ You were paying McCabe under the table with gold bullion. I got him his money and took a little for myself. It was ten years ago! Here." One of Hakeem's assistants, dressed heads to toe in a black Etonic track suit, walked across the gym, and dropped a dufel bag in front Masai. "My cut of the gold toonies. I’ll trade you for the brace."
"You’re going to need to reimburse us for the portion you spent to buy that land from Monroe."
"Fine. I’ll more than make up for it with the money I am going to make off my buyer. He’s a desperate man looking for insane solutions to the problem of a human body breaking down to the point of uselessness whose coffers are overflowing with extra money."
Conclusion: I think it's safe to assume making the All-Star team triggers the incentive. It was fun imagining otherwise though.