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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bulls might waive Nate Robinson to save money (and possibly for another reason, one for which I have no evidence)



K.C. Johnson reports that the Bulls, despite being a number four seed without having their MVP on the court, are sorely tempted to waive Nate Robinson.

In one of the most unheralded high quality moves of the summer - unheralded because the dominant Bullsean narrative of the summer was rightly one of cost-cutting and player-dumping - the Bulls were able to sign Robinson to not only a minimum salary contract, but a partially guaranteed one at that. Of the $1,146,337 Nate is owed - an amount which, if he's kept for the full season, the Bulls will owe only $854,389 of - only $400,000 is guaranteed, becoming fully guaranteed if not waived on or before January 1st [not the 10th, as reported elsewhere]. In an industry where the permanent goal is to sign as good as quality of player as is possible for as cheap of a price as is possible, this is an incredibly good contract. The institutional maligning of Nate as a player that dates back years cannot (or should not) ignore the fact that he's a hugely talented player who can single handedly turn the outcome of NBA games. And the Bulls should know this, because he's done that more than once for them this season.

The move would be, of course, patently ridiculous. Even if the season was a wash, you don't waive a most vital contributor to save on what, by NBA standards, is a nominal fee, and by no standard is the season proving to be a wash in the first place. Nate is third on the Bulls in PER, the only man who can consistently create a shot off the dribble in Rose's absence, arguably the team's best ball handler, its only creative backcourt player, and one of its best shooters. He's even being masked defensively by the Bulls's meticulous defensive system, and is thus a hugely important player to a team whose season is still important. There are absolutely no basketball reasons why Nate should be cut on the basis of his performance thus far, and the justification offered - that Marquis Teague is showing "signs" - is an unbelievably tepid excuse. Teague has not yet even had the Bulls career of Acie Law, who at least managed three good games to Teague's two. Excited by his future as they may be, there is absolutely no reason why Teague should play ahead of Nate if the Bulls want to win games.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Nazr Mohammed and Trade Kickers

Even though he signed a one year minimum salary contract using the Minimum Salary Exception, Nazr Mohammed has a 15% trade kicker in his current contract.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Addendum to Teague story: the Bulls's salary cap picture, and how it came to be

When the new maximum salary figures came in, Derrick Rose's 2012/13 maximum salary contract went from $15,506,632 to $16,402,500, an increase of as-near-as-is $900,000. Luol Deng's salary went down by $60,000, but that barely offsets the increases, and it's an increase that put the Bulls right up against the "apron".

After all the roster turnover, the Bulls breakdown of 2012/13 salaries currently looks like this:

Derrick Rose: $16,402,500
Carlos Boozer: $15,000,000
Luol Deng: $13,305,000
Joakim Noah: $11,300,000
Richard Hamilton: $5,000,000
Kirk Hinrich: $3,941,000
Taj Gibson: $2,155,811
Marco Belinelli: $1,957,000
Jimmy Butler: $1,066,920
Nazr Mohammed: $854,389
Vladimir Radmanovic: $854,389
Nate Robinson: $854,389

Total: $72,691,398.


Only listed above is committed salary, not any cap holds. Cap holds aren't relevant at this juncture. What is relevant is how much the Bulls have left to spend.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Marquis Teague is still unsigned, and you're probably not going to like why

Of the 30 first rounders drafted in June, 29 have signed their rookie scale contracts. There are to be no international draft-and-stashes in the first round this year; 29 are signed and ready to play in the NBA next year, while the other one should be.

The 30th player, the lone unsigned warrior, is Marquis Teague. He was drafted 29th overall, and while the 28 ahead of him (and Festus Ezeli behind him) have all been signed, Teague still awaits his first NBA contract. He has not been renounced, a la Travis Knight back in the day, but he also has yet to sign.

As most people are aware of in these days of increased cap transparency, first contracts for first round draft picks are (for their first three years after being drafted, at least) bound by the amounts set forth in the rookie salary scale. This is true no matter what your salary cap situation is. The 29th pick in the 2012 NBA draft has a rookie scale amount of $857,000 in the first year - the only scope for negotiation that teams, players and agents have is being able to sign for as much as 120% or as little as 80% of that.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Omer Asik should still be a Bull (and Landry Fields should still be a Knick)

Omer Asik is now officially a Rocket, his offer sheet (identical to that of Jeremy Lin's) going unmatched by Chicago. This gives Houston an absolute defensive wall at the centre position, someone who last year was one of the best defensive big men in the league. On a par with Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler, albeit in considerably less time. We'll see how well this holds up when he becomes a 25mpg+ player outside of the comfort of Tom Thibodeau's defensive system; nevertheless, by paying him upon a highly favourable prediction of future performance, Houston got their guy, someone who can now break out akin to how Joel Przybilla did at the same age, if not better.

Asik's value to Houston is more than it would ever have been to Chicago, which is why an expense that is difficult to justify for one team is much easier to justify for the other. In a situation very similar to that of Marcin Gortat and Orlando three years ago, Chicago had an awesome backup centre, and knew it, yet the secret was out. And while Houston could pay Asik to be a starter, Chicago couldn't. Their self-imposed budgetary restrictions, combined with the presence of having a better player in front of him (and one with whom Asik has an ill-fitting skillset, making it unlikely the two could ever play alongside each other), made it a tough ask to match. While Carlos Boozer's contract is the problem, losing others is its solution, and with Taj Gibson similarly up for a pay day, the Bulls had to choose between the two. They went for the better two-way player.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Without Looking, Guess Which Seven Teams Have Never Paid The Luxury Tax

......OK, now look.

I have compiled a spreadsheet containing to-the-dollar information on all luxury tax paid to date. In the 11 seasons since the luxury tax was created, it has been applicable in nine seasons; in those nine seasons, 23 NBA franchises have paid over $850 million in payroll excess. The exact details can be found here.


Click to view spreadsheet.


Please use the spreadsheet freely for resource purposes, and feel equally free to suggest any improvements. However, please do not just take it, and if you do cite its data somewhere, please acknowledge its source. While the content is not my IP, I did spend a bloody long time sourcing the relevant information, and in return, I seek only credit for that. Thank you.

Orlando's TPEs

Before the sign-and-trade of Ryan Anderson to New Orleans, Orlando had one TPE, totalling $4.25 million, created in the Glen Davis/Brandon Bass trade of last offseason. That $4.25 million TPE is set to expire on December 12th.

Orlando used some of that TPE in the Anderson deal to absorb the returning salary of the criminally overlooked Gustavo Ayon, who is to earn $1.5 million this season. The Bass TPE, then, is now $2.75 million big, and thus can be used between now and December 12th to absorb incoming player salaries of $2.85 million (as $100,000 leeway is allowed with TPE's).

By absorbing Ayon with the Bass TPE, Orlando were essentially trading out Anderson with no incoming salary. This then meant another TPE was created equal to the amount of Anderson's outgoing salary. The issue is what that amount is.

Anderson signed a deal that will pay him exactly $8.7 million next season - however, whilst the concept of Base Year Compensation (which now isn't called that, or indeed call anything, but which term will suffice here) was largely eradicated in the latest CBA, it does still apply to sign-and-trade deals. The basic principle of BYC is that, if a team signs and trades a player using Bird or early Bird rights, and the player receives a raise in the first year of the new contract greater than 20% in the first year of the new deal over the last year of his previous one, then his outgoing salary is deemed to be only half of his actual salary.

Anderson earned only $2,244,601 last year, so he easily earned more than a 20% raise, and thus is BYC-eligible. His actual salary of $8.7 million was therefore assessed to be $4.35 million for the purposes of the trade calculations, and thus that, as his de facto outgoing salary, is also the size of the TPE created.

Orlando has one year to the day from the date of the original deal in which to use this TPE. Between that and the remainder of the Bass one, they have some trade leverage. And we surely know they'll be making a trade soon.

The Jeremy Pargo trade was a salary dump

Whatever you may feel about Jeremy Pargo - personally, I'm quite shocked at how poor his rookie season was and firmly believe he could do considerably better given a faster paced team with better spacing - it is only important to know that in today's trade featuring him, he was merely a salary. So too was D.J. Kennedy. In trading Pargo, his $1 million guaranteed 2012/13 salary and a second round pick for Kennedy (whose minimum salary of $762,195 is fully unguaranteed), Memphis does a salary dump and nothing else. Even the $1 million TPE they open up in doing so (created as Kennedy's salary is absorbable via the minimum salary exception) is of little use, being so small.

The Grizzlies are trying to dodge the tax. They did so last year, managing to dip under the threshold upon trading the redundant Sam Young to Philly, and are now threatened by it again. This, to their credit, has not stopped their spending this summer - they paid to re-sign both Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights, giving them a strong frontcourt with good depth, and were similarly unashamed to spend what it took to upgrade their big hole at the backup point guard spot. Dodging the tax again is unlikely to happen, though. The $3,006,217 given to Arthur, $3 million to Jerryd Bayless, $4.2 million to Speights and $1,110,120 to Tony Wroten has put them back above the $70.307 million tax threshold - after today's trade, Memphis has $73,053,277 committed to 12 players, not including the unguaranteed salary of Kennedy. It is more than likely the case that Memphis will not be able to avoid a small tax penalty this season. But if it only costs a mid-to-late second round pick to lessen that hit by $2 million, on a player who was being pushed out of the rotation anyway, then the reason for the trade is apparent.

Cleveland, meanwhile, essentially pays $1 million for a second rounder, even less if cash was also involved, and gets a look at a possibly viable backup along the way. There's no need for the team to keep both Pargo and Donald Sloan, and they may yet opt for neither, but the inclusion of the second round pick makes it a worthwhile exercise to bring in both and have them fight for the spot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2011/12 Luxury Tax Payers

Here is the official list of tax paying teams, and their amounts paid, in the 2011/12 NBA season.

Los Angeles Lakers: $12,557,264.
Boston Celtics: $7,365,867.
Miami Heat: $6,129,340.
Dallas Mavericks: $2,738,843.
San Antonio Spurs: $2,514,275.
Atlanta Hawks: $666,199.


Total: $31,971,788


By opting to keep Jerry Stackhouse for the full year, then, Atlanta paid the price.

It is of note that that is the smallest amount of league-wide tax paid in any season since its inception, and by quite a long way. The previous lowest was the $55,564,006 paid in 2006-07. And in that season, $45,142,002 of that bill was New York's.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tim Duncan also may or may not be about to get a pay rise

This post is essentially an addendum to this previous post. That post talked about an NBA contract that had accidentally been created and ratified in violation of a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Specifically, it talked about Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies.

It appears now, however, that that is not the only instance of the rule in question being violated. The rule in question - whereby the salary in a player option year cannot be for less than that of the year immediately preceding it, explained at much greater length in the previous post - also appears to be broken in the case of Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.

Per official league salary figures, Duncan's new contract, signed this month, calls for salaries of $9,638,554 in 2012/13, $10,361,446 in 2013/14, and an even $10 million in 2014/15. The final year is a player option year, NOT a year immediately following an early termination option (again see previous post), and thus the salary in the 2014/15 season should not be any lower than the $10,361,446 of the season before it. It appears, however, that it is.

It was previously said that it is very rare to see the league make a mistake on a matter such as this, and it still is. But to make the same one twice is even more so.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Zach Randolph may or may not be about to get a pay rise

In April 2011, Zach Randolph received a four year, $66 million extension that will pay him through the 2015 season. Notwithstanding the very valid arguments that a man who doesn't have any athleticism in the first place is going to decline slower than most, and that Memphis have to pay particularly big dollars in order to retain quality their quality players, it is unmistakably a big contract.

The contract called for a $15.2 million salary in 2011/12, a $16.5 million salary in 2012/13, a $17.8 million salary in 2013/14, and a $16.5 million salary in 2014/15, which is also a player option year. The vast majority of contracts around the league increase in their every year, yet, aside from a couple of particular instances (contracts signed with either rookie scale exception or the minimum salary exception), this doesn't have to be the case. Contracts can go up, down, stay flat, or some combination thereof, as freely as the signing parties so choose and if done in accordance with the acceptable parameters. (The maximum increase percentages are the same as the maximum decrease percentages.)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

2012 NBA Draft Diary


Somehow, we salvaged an NBA season out of that lockout. It was good, too. Whether you liked the outcome or not, the storylines - the good guy/bad guy Finals, of LeBron finally winning, the brief Celtics resurgence and the unflappable-until-they-were-flapped Spurs - wrote themselves rather nicely. As soon as that weren't supposed to happen go, that one was pretty good.

Of course, to get to that point, we have to suffer through a lot. The lockout burned and burned badly, a scarring months of indecisiveness and stagnancy that sullied reputations and left thousands out of pocket. Worse still, the party stopped. The NBA and the Players Union refused to give up their seats to pregnant women, gave Chinese burns to school children and punched puppies in the face, so determined were they to ruin everyone's fun. After achieving a great high in the 2010/11 season, the NBA decided it had to hurt itself.

Regardless of what happened in the past, though, we now get to look forward. The NBA Draft of last year had something of a Thelma and Louise feel to it, yet despite driving itself off that cliff, the NBA still lives on. This year's draft will be more of a Disney epic, or a Steve Carell comedy caper. Men and women will fall in love. Anthromorphic animals will smile and embrace and then go on impossibly happy jaunts to soothing walking away music. Everything will resolve itself in the happiest possible way from the most unlikely scenario. And no one will die.

Maybe.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What does amateur football do right that professional basketball can't?

On New Year's Day, I stood in a field and got rained on for two hours, in what must have been most rainswept match in the history of football that was somehow never called off for a rain. In a pitch so waterlogged that sliding tackles went on for upwards of 15 metres, Tonbridge Angels drew 1-1 with Bromley FC in a tight, competitive and bloody soaking Blue Square Bet South proverbial six pointer, amidst a day-long rain storm that saw the car park get flooded, the pitch get destroyed, and my shoes get slightly soggy. The link to basketball will follow shortly.

Some 905 of us foolhardy, brave, somewhat heroic souls braved these horrific conditions, and paid our £12 for the privilege of watching a game which neither team won. (And 904 of us manage to do so without being hit by the ball and knocked on our arse. No prizes for guessing who that was.) The travelling Bromley faithful had come all the way from Bromley for the occasion, a distance determined to be 25.5 miles by the AA Route Planner, while half the town of Tonbridge made the walk across town to watch their beloved Angels, just as they did the week before, just as they did the week after, just as they will do next week. All to watch a bunch of amateurs, who double on the side as manual labourers and management consultants, play a determined but unattractive style of football that culminated in nobody actually winning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Creative Financing in the NBA, 2011

The only beardless picture of Rashard Lewis I could find. It's a part of him now.


"Creative financing." A fun term, one that's actually employed by financiers and accountants, yet one brought into the world of the NBA when it was used, once, in a pre-emptive justification for one of the least creatively financed transactions of a generation. Nevertheless, even if the man who gave reverence to the phrase isn't the role model for its usage, creative financing does exist in the NBA.

Or at least, it did.

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"The brain behind ShamSports could have been featured in a number of these Twitter lists, but because his website often spends our entire working day lodged in one of our browser tabs we decided to take the boring route and place Mark amongst the professors. Deeks might be the funniest man you've never met, he does exhaustive work with the NBA's salary minutiae and transaction follow-ups, and he's a stone-cold must-follow. Stone-cold fox, too, ladies. Or, some gentlemen."