Fans tend to get a little nervous when a player has their best season in a contract year. While everyone likes to see one of their favorite players perform, there’s a suspicion that maybe they’re only putting out the extra effort in order to get that new contract. And once their name is inked on the dotted line, the motivation is gone. Goodbye hustle guy, hello dead weight.
I asked Channing Frye, a guy who is coming up on restricted free-agency, about his contract situation. I wanted to know if he ever felt like people thought he was putting in extra work in the offseason just to get a contract.
Center Court: Why does it seem like some guys don’t start putting in work or performing to their potential until their rookie contracts come due?
Channing Frye: I think that, for a lot of people, you’ve got to figure it depends on the situation. For me when I came into the league, I was a center in college, alright? I played center my whole. Then my first year (in the NBA) I was still playing center but I was shooting the ball but I was at the center position doing center things. Then my next year they moved me to the four, which was my natural position in the NBA. So now I’m learning how to face-up, how to guard bigger three men and there are so many things that I had to learn, not only two years ago but last year. And last year they’re trying to find out -- because I got traded -- the limbo between being a five and a four.
So finally this summer I’m like, this is what I do well. This is where I feel like I’m comfortable, you know? And I understand my diet; I understand my body. I understand what position I’m going to play; where I’m at. I found out this works for me, this doesn’t. For me it took me this many years. Regardless if this is a contract year or not; I would have still done the same thing and I continue to do what I’m doing and push myself because this is just who I am and this is what I do.
I can’t speak for anybody else, but I think that’s one of the craziest things to say is that somebody is waiting the year before their biggest year to start hooping. I think if everybody had their wish they would have got their contracts done as early as they can, you know? They’d have nothing to worry about. The fact that it took me this long and it just happens to be a contract year is just how life is. It took me two years to figure out what position I was, a year to get traded, to figure out the city, figure out my team and everything, and now I’ve got the summer to work on something that’s almost etched in stone. This is what you do well, work from this, and go there.
Center Court: Do you think there are players out there that don’t start putting in work until their contract years?
Channing Frye: I think there are but I don’t think those are the smart ones! Those aren’t the smart ones. If you’re going to just chill out and wait until your contract year to really push yourself and find out all those things you’re crazy. I think this summer I’ve worked hard but this summer I’ve worked hard on everything because I didn’t really know. Some players, I don’t even know how to explain it. Maybe some players say, “Well, this is my position and all I need to work on is ball handling. That’s what I’m going to work on.” They finally work on it and then they’re balling.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with this team. It’s not like my position or my time is etched in stone. I got to earn it like everybody else. So for me to wait until this year to start working on stuff would be stupid.
Center Court: We talked about some of the guys from your draft class. Andrew Bogut got a new contract. Deron Williams and Chris Paul got contracts. Other than that, most of the players from 2005 haven’t been locked up. Why do you think that is?
Channing Frye: Those guys were in the right positions. Andrew Bogut’s been in Milwaukee three years. They’ve been terrible for three years, right? Terrible for three and now they’ve just changed because they want to rebuild. Deron Williams went into a great system in Utah. He fit in. He’s a perfect match three years in. Chris Paul: three years, took over and got his stuff done. You can even look at Andre Iguodala: four years he’s been in Philadelphia. They’ve all gotten better each of their years. Their positions haven’t changed. What their role is on their teams haven’t changed.
But you look at the guys like me, Charlie Villanueva, Ike Diogu, Marvin Williams, Martell. Our positions are constantly changing depending on our team and what roles we have and what niches we have. If you look at those guys other than Martell and Marvin Williams, everybody has been traded at least once in the top 10 (except Andrew Bynum, but he’s been hurt).
This is the first of a three-part blog series (read part two and part three). To read more about Channing Frye's offseason, click here.