SQ #13--Bitchy Rich Kids

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.