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Summer Quandaries #13
Aug 13—48 Days to camp

Bitchy Rich Kids

One of my pet peeves is basketball stars complaining about their supporting cast while demanding a maximum contract. To me it is just crazy for any star to criticize his franchise for not putting more talent around him while he consumes more than a third of their cap. Each of the Miami 3egos consumed 28% of their former team’s Salary Cap (around 23% if you want to talk Luxury Cap as the ceiling). All three opted out of their contracts citing the teams failure to acquire a suitable complementary cast. For years Kevin Garnett was the original poster boy for individual avarice crippling his team’s ability to afford sufficient depth to compete at the highest levels. Then in 2005 he started talking about getting out if “his franchise is not trying to win.” This was after securing his approximately $125M contract that so strapped his team that he played with “filler” for what was looking like the rest of his career.

Every ten years I’d like to see the owners, coaches, and players of the NBA vote for a 4-man All-Greedy team. The following season these 4 (FOUR) players would constitute a team, let’s call them the NBA $uper$tar Buck$, and play a full schedule against the “rest” of the league’s teams. No subs, no fifth defender (wouldn’t need a fifth offensive player because he would never see the ball anyway), but there should not be any complaints about the lack of quality teammates!

To put this in perspective, if a normal fellow made $50K a year for four CENTURIES he would gross about what Pierce, Ray Allen, and Shaq EACH made last year. Our average Joe would still have to work another
60 years to get up to the Kobe or Tracey McGrady 2009-10 level. Too hard to conceive of a single effort, how about ten men working from the age of 20 to 60?

How much is enough? If you are not willing to toil for a mere fifth of your company’s total salary expenditure rather than a quarter, you’re not entitled to moan about not getting enough help. Which brings me to the part about which I feel quite conflicted—strangely appreciative, queasily sullied, and vaguely disgusted all at the same time. The Miami Mercenaries all accepted a pay “cut” giving up some 10% in order to play together and to allow some leftovers for a couple of role players above the veteran minimum. Now I don’t mean they are doing any pro bono work. At better than $175K per game, that’s about $20K/minute, they still qualify as pretty high-dollar hookers. But they did leave some scraps on the table, and considering the self-serving jerks I believe them to be, that is saying something.

I once designed an ideal salary structure for a team where the numbers were in percentage of the luxury cap. My general splits broke out to around 60% for the starters, 30% for the second five rotation player, and the last 10% for the bottom 5 roster slots. I think most teams run closer to 75/20/5. That’s assuming you aren’t paying any Gin Baker’s, Allan Houston’s, or Tracey McGrady’s for not being there. I wonder how a team’s salaries would work out if you put them on a voted shares basis? Use 100 player shares with each share being 1% of the luxury cap. Let each player and each coach submit a distribution for everyone but excluding themselves. Minimum would be 1 share per player, about the league minimum I think, and total must be 100. Average the shares voted and that’s your salary for the year. Better yet use the Luxury Cap if they make the playoffs, and only the Salary Cap if they don’t. Even better yet do it twice a year, before the first game and again after the last (playoffs, if any, included). Each division would be for half of the cap—now there are some performance, value-to-the-team based bonuses!

Want to have some fun? Go back and vote your distribution for this past year’s Celtics. If you want to be complete, do it for each half and include the departed players in the first half’s vote.

Lee Lauderdale 8/13/2010 07:15:00 PM Edit
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8 Responses so far.

  1. ThomasJ says:

    Hey, good article overall and I've been reading and liking your SQ's but I've got to take issue with one point in this one. I know I'm not impartial, but I did watch KG's entire career here in Minnesota and don't agree with the "poster boy for avarice" being the downfall of the Wolves.

    Yes his contract was huge but McHale's horrible GM tenure was more crippling to the Wolves ability to compete. From draft choices to trades, he was a disaster that owner Glen Taylor signed off on and proudly continues with current GM David Kahn.

    Crazy money for crazy numbers and great work on the defensive end. If you want to review crippling unproductive contracts handed out by McHale and Taylor, start with guys like Marko Jaric and Mike James and add them up.

  2. JR says:

    This is a interesting topic as I've thought about this a lot in all the major sports. I saw guys like Baron Davis in New Orleans and Vince Carter in Toronto have a chance to be free agents, but they stayed with their current teams to truly max their contracts. Then it seemed they immediately demanded trades b/c their teams weren't good enough, so they ended up getting their cake and eating it too (getting to move to another team, but getting the max dollars that only your own team could give you.)

    My opinion has changed though over the years. I've seen players take less and their owners not use the savings to better their teams. I've also seen players take less to stay, but then they've become more desirable contracts and traded away. Gilbert Arenas accepted many millions less so that the Wizards could resign Antawn Jamison and within the 1st year Arenas got hurt, the Wiz underperformed and they've been trying to move him ever since (this was before the whole gun fiasco). Baseball wise Bronson Arroyo took significantly less b/c he loved playing in Boston, but then the Sox promptly traded him because his lesser contract could fetch more. Mike Lowell also took less to stay in Boston, but has been being shopped for at least half of this contract.

    Let's say a player like Kendrick Perkins is offered next Summer a 3 yr contract from Boston for 22 million and a 3 yr contract from Denver for 28 million. Who's to say that if he took the Celtics offer how long he would even stay in Boston. If he gets traded he just gave up 6 million for nothing. Also who's to say that the Celtics would use that 6 million to improve the team?

    So my opinion has changed on this topic. If I was offered a teacher contract for 80 thousand or I could accept 40 thousand with the hpe that that additional 40 thousand would be used for another teacher to reduce class sizes, what would I pick. Definitely the 80 thousand. B/c the truth is you could accept the 40 thousand and they could end up not reducing class sizes, but all of a sudden increasing them. I don't blame George Clooney or Julia Roberts for taking 50 million for a movie role or KG for accepting $25 million to bust his ass for the Wolves each year. The Wolves could have won with better drafting or maximizing the assets of Gugliotta/Marbury. They could of won if money spent on Kandi or Jaric was spent on a better player or if they weren't the only team in sports history (at least to my knowledge) to get busted for a wink wink deal that is common in all sports (see TB' WTHHT Mike Stewart or what just happened with Udonis Haslem this Summer in Miami).

  3. JR says:

    (wow my comment was actually so long winded I have to break it up into two according to blogger. lol)

    Truth be told the megastars in the NBA make less than want they proportionately deserve. That sounds funny to hear, but you'll see in Cleveland splitting Lebron's what was it 15 million among a bunch of players will turn them from a mid 60's win team to a lucky to win 25 games team. Or the Bulls missing out on Wade but splitting that money up between Korver, Brewer, Watson and Thomas. I understand the reason for the institution of the max contracts. It was for owners to save themselves from paying 100 million to guys like Tim Thomas or Jalen Rose. They still overpaid them, but not as much as they could have.

    The super stars (in their primes) like KG, Lebron, Kobe, Shaq, Wade, Jordan, etc despite making sometime what appears to be obscene amounts of money have always made more back for their teams. They're not the overpaid guys.

    Thanks bballee for this SQ. It's a great topic like I said earlier. I'm sure many (or the few who actually read my whole rambling) will disagree with some of my points, but its a though provoking topic. The only way I could see the ratinale for a superstar taking less is if he received a no trade contract and it was in writing what exactly the savings would go to. The latter is kind of what happened in Miami. Wade took less b/c he knew the saving would be used on Lebron and Bosh. I have a suspicion that if KG was told back in the 90's that if he took less Shaq would join him in Minny he would have done it. There were no such assurances bviously, so I don't blame him one bit.

  4. Jenda says:

    I totally agree with JR. Especially on the point of the players making more for the team than their cost is. I mean would you watch Minnesota back then if KG didn't play there? I'd say nobody would, not even ThomasJ.
    And to the "regular Joe comparison", well the difference is obvious. There's not too much players, let alone superstars in NBA that are just "regular Joes". They're the best of the best. At least in a way.

  5. ThomasJ says:

    JR - great thoughts on a topic that isn't as simple as a lot of sports fans want to make it when they bitch about greed. I wasn't disagreeing with the SQ, I just didn't think the KG example was appropriate. Like you said JR, it's how you use the money on other players and in hindsight if KG would have taken less $ to stay in Sota, the facts don't give much evidence they would have spent big on great talent around him. Boston fans should know you aren't going anywhere with Wally Szerbiak as your 2nd best player

    Right Jenda, as a hoops fan in Sota, KG was the reason to watch the Wolves and not just for his skills. The fire, leadership and nightly defensive effort made the team watchable from a competitive standpoint. So as a fan of the green, I was excited just to see him become part of the Celtic culture. And it didn't matter how many players the Wolves got in return, it couldn't replace what KG brought. Even Big Al, as impressive as a 20/10 guy is, has yet to be a factor without the ball in his hands.

    Check out the Yardbarker column on Garnett and Bosh if you haven't already, it is on point.

  6. Jenda says:

    I have checked it earlier, it's been up for quite a while. Truth is you can blame KG for being psycho, you can say he's aging (say that in his face if you don't have any relationship with your teeth) but you can never blame him of mailing in the game. He's always been as intense as possible. Name one guy from the "new Big three" in Miami you can actually say the same about. Wade would be the only one worth mentioning and he'll never be close to The Kid as far as sheer passion for the game is the concern. That's also why 'Sheed pissed me off so much last season.

  7. JR says:

    Loved your teeth line Jenda. Lol

  8. ThomasJ says:

    I hadn't seen that Yardbarker story before today but was glad to read a comment on Riley's dumb statement. Yes Bosh has done the 20/10 season but if he was even near KGs level in other facets of the game(defense,passing,leadership...) and half as intense, we could hand the trophy to Miami right now.

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