The prospect of playing time — whether it was injury-driven or managerial decisions — was something foreign to Smoak, and the importance of getting regular hacks was reaffirmed by his Blue Jays teammates.
“It’s just him getting the opportunity to play every single day, getting consistent at-bats,” Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin told SN. “I know that he wasn’t playing regularly at first base (last season), he wasn’t playing every day. It’s tough. It’s tough to be consistent when you’re not getting consistent playing time.
“Now, it’s just him making the best of the opportunity. What we’re really just seeing, how much talent, how consistent he really is. It’s like every at-bat he’s hitting the ball hard. And that’s impressive. It’s hard work.”
It is far too early to make projections on a team-by-team basis for next summer, but it could be dramatic if the Bulls, 76ers, Kings, Nets or Knicks take on salary for future seasons either by signing free agents or acquiring undesirable contracts in exchange for assets. Remember that 2018 looks like a fascinating free agent class, potentially including Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge, Avery Bradley and Derrick Favors, plus possible restricted free Cheap Quality NBA Jerseys agency for Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine and Rodney Hood.
That list does not even include Russell Westbrook, the newly Cheap Reversible Jerseys crowned MVP, who could singlehandedly change the league landscape if he refuses to agree to another extension with the Thunder in the next few weeks.
After years of anticipation, the 2016 spending bonanza is now behind us, and the league is already feeling the far-reaching ramifications of those contracts. This summer will be the first in a series of summers reflecting a new economic reality, and the front offices that most quickly adjust to that new paradigm will reap those rewards.