Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Second 2014 Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament - Sweet Sixteen

(Click image to enlarge.)

From the "screw it, we might as well finish it" archives comes the continuation of this aborted attempt at a sequel to the initial Ridiculous Names Tournament. This series originally ran on another site, but that site decided to close down indefinitely for whatever reason, which halted the series. Nevertheless, we resume it here. Might even open a sportsbook so you can bet on the outcome. <

We've already lost three quarters of the entrants. And now, things start to get tougher.

The Name Is The Window On The Soul Regional

(1) Chastity Gooch v (4) Calamity McEntire:

The Gooch has followed the form book thus far, unchallenged in contests versus Ashley Awkward and Arthur Pervy. Now, she comes up against McEntire, who thus far has over Epiphanny Prince and the sneaky-good Mike Smelkinson. There is probably a "Calamity" pun to be made here, but sometimes you have to be the bigger man.

Chastity Gooch or Calamity McEntire?

Friday, September 26, 2014

How Agents Make Money Out Of Rookie Contracts

(originally posted elsewhere)

The general rule for agents is that their earnings off of negotiated player contracts are capped at 4% of the player's salary. Indeed, 4% is an assumed amount unless otherwise agreed upon, as outlined in section 3(B) of the Standard Player Agent Contract:

If the Player receives compensation in excess of the minimum compensation applicable under the CBA for one or more playing seasons, the Agent shall receive a fee of four percent (4%) of the compensation received by the Player for each such playing season, unless a lesser percent (%) or amount has been agreed to by the parties [...]

In practice, this 4% is rarely deviated from. 4% is the norm, and rarely is it any different, especially in contracts involving the more powerful agents. There was an intriguing case involving Antoine Walker and agent Mark Bartelstein some years ago, in which Bartelstein had agreed the fairly unusual concession upon Antoine's signing of a contract with Atlanta of lowering his standard fee from 4% at the time of signing to 3%, at the player's discretion, if it was felt that Bartelstein 'wasn't doing a good job'. (The case went to arbitration over a disagreement over quite what that phrasing meant, and of how much Walker had to pay him. It was not in dispute that Walker owed Bartelstein, but merely how much, based on the arbiter's findings of whether Walker was entitled to pay only 3% or not. Bartelstein won the case and was awarded a judgement of $671,373.) But this case stands out for its novelty, and is certainly not par for the course.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Second 2014 Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament - Second Round

(Click here for first round matchups. Also, click image to enlarge.)

The first round over, and there weren't too many upsets. All 1, 2 and 3 seeds made it through, although Nelson Mandela only just beat the plucky Sydney Smallbone, and Ivana Mandic only barely squeaked out the legendary World B. Free by a couple of votes. World B. Free was the last named put on this ballot, as, due to his level of fame (and thus lack of surprise element) plus the fact that his name had a small if acceptable whiff of fakery about it, I nearly did not include him. But I did, and he rewarded this reluctance with a near 13 v 4 seed upset over one of what I assumed would be one of the pre-tournament favourites. This was arguably the best matchup of the first round, and yet it shouldn't have been.

For rules, entry criteria, proof that this people actually exist and the like, see the intro to the first round. For now, with the polls now closed, it's time for more polls. Here are some more polls.

The Name Is The Window On The Soul Regional

(1) Chastity Gooch v (8) Arthur Pervy:

The first matchup is a great one. Gooch returned 81% of the vote in a hefty victory over the plucky but overmatched Ashley Awkward, while Pervy was even more dominant in an 83% landslide victory over Jackie Bedwell. For this to only be a second round matchup speaks either to the overall strength of the regional, the overall strength of the tournament, or my inability to seed. Or some combination thereof.

Chastity Gooch or Arthur Pervy?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Second 2014 Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament - First Round

Funny names are funny, and the idea of bracketing a bunch of them is not new. The Name of the Year competition started back in 1983, before the author of this bracket was even a sperm, and that baton has been passed to new ownership, who last year awarded Leo Moses Spornstarr the 2013 winner of the world's ultimate accolade.

Inspired by, and in homage to, this decades long legacy of doing God's work, there hereby follows the second Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament Bracket, featuring basketball players of different sizes and calibre, of players both current and retired, male and female, from all around the globe. The question we ask here, as always: which name is better?

To give some context as to the standards we hope to achieve here, the inaugural Basketball Player Names Tournament was won by Steeve Ho You Fat, who beat Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims in a tense final. Standards are high. Dreams are bigger.

As can be seen in the full draw above [click to fully expand], the bracket accords with the March Madness tournament bracket style, except arguably with less arbitrary divisions for the regionals. Things of note:

* No consideration is given to a player's current status. Some are long since retired, and some never even went pro. Yet it matters not - if you were a basketball player to an organised standard (e.g. college, its equivalents, and above), whose existence, career and name can be found, you count. Anything college and above is sufficient, although this does mean high schoolers and recreational players are not permissible, which is bad news for fans of Sean Sohappy, Tommy Ghost Dog and Rocky Three Irons the world over. But you gotta have rules, even if I do bend and outright break them later on.

* The age cut-off limit is slightly arbitrarily set at 17, due to anything less than that being impossible to verify. This is bad news for fans of Spanish team Unicaja Malaga, who boast in their youth ranks a 13 year old named Golden Dike. When the story of the hilarity of his name breaks in American media in a few years, remember that you heard it here first.

* All names are verifiably true via other internet resources, and links to such are given where necessary. In one instance, there exists only one reference to the person on the entire internet. But it will do. Play along.

* Little consideration is given to how names are actually pronounced. The only criteria used is how the name looks like it would be pronounced by a particularly ill-informed English speaker.

* What constitutes a 'better' name is entirely in the eyes of the voter only. Vote with your own criteria. Different strokes for different folks. The only demand is that names are judged on names alone, irrespective of the skills, life, times and career of the players to whom they are attached.

* The depth of research that went into this is mildly disturbing, but there is always the chance good names have been missed. If you know of a great name not listed in either this pool or the other one, email it in to

* This tournament follows the NCAA tournament bracket style, save for the abolishment of play-in games, because, duh.

* There is no condescension here. We love the names and thus we love the people behind them. There may be occasional amazement as to how such names came to pass, but it is not ever intended to be derogatory. Give me the esoteric over the bland all day. (Also, my own name is basically Dirty Penises, so I have no room to talk.)

* Seedings are somewhat arbitrary and open to much conjecture, as is unavoidable, but were determined via consultation with others (who I supposed you could term a selection committee). Amin Elhassan of, who enjoyed the first incarnation more than anyone should ever really enjoy anything, was not of much use at all really.

To the matchups!

The Name Is The Window On The Soul Regional (a tenuously cobbled-together group of players whose names either contain anything that could be conceived as vaguely descriptive; the regionals get less tenuous later on!)

(1) Chastity Gooch v (16) Ashley Awkward:

Awkward, a one time WNBA player and financial consultant who who wants to fatten up Allen Iverson, boasts an awkward surname and the always beneficial use of alliteration. But she surely stands little if any chance of the 1 v 16 upset against Gooch, one of the best players in female college basketball, who sports all three of a tender body part, a belt and a former England cricket captain in her name. If you don't know where on the body the gooch is, then guess, and you're more than likely within a few inches of being right.

Chastity Gooch or Ashley Awkward?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sorry guys, Carmelo Anthony did not get $62 million in advance

(originally posted elsewhere)

For the most part, NBA players are paid on the first and fifteenth of every month, with a standard of 24 paydays per calendar year. Players earning more than the minimum can agree to 12 payments over six months or 36 payments over eighteen months, yet the norm is the norm.

There is room for some further deviation from these standards. Players can receive both advances on their salary, and receive loans from their teams.

There is not, however, room for the amount of deviation that is currently being reported in the case of Carmelo Anthony.

It is being reported in several places around the web, most notably (and I believe initially) the Wall Street Journal, that Melo received 50% of his new $124,064,681 contract in one up front payment. Admittedly, it is not so much expressly stated as it is implied that this is the case, but whichever it is, the idea it spawned that he will or might have already gotten $62 million is wrong. The confusion comes from a misunderstanding about how, when and to what degree NBA contracts can be advanced, a confusion I hope to clarify here.

The first and most important point to make is that salary for a future season can never ever be advanced. NBA seasons begin on July 1st and end on June 30th, so if it is October 6th 2014 and you want an advance on your 2015/16 salary, you are begrudgingly going to have to wait until July 1st 2015 to get so much as a piece of it. This rule alone is enough to show that the idea that Melo received a full 50% of the full life of the contract up front is false.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Jusuf Nurkic revisited

This post from yesterday talks about how Nuggets drafteee Jusuf Nurkic was set to receive less than 120% of the rookie scale, the customary amount. And in doing so, it was mentioned that he would be the highest first round pick to ever do so.

Not quite. It turns out this is a misreporting on my part. Nurkic will receive less than the salary of the 120% rookie scale amount, but he will count on the cap for the 120% amount. Nurkic's buyout with Cedevita was for larger than the amount NBA teams can pay cap-exempt ($600,000 this season), and while teams are eligible to pay more than that amount in an international player's buyout, they must do so by putting any amount greater than that paid into the cap hit in the form of a signing bonus. This is not especially to do in a rookie scale contract, with its fixed parameters, but it is doable if sufficiently small. The figures listed for Nurkic were an even $350,000 smaller than what the full rookie scale would have been, and that is the extra amount of buyout Denver paid, charged as a signing bonus.

These rules were known to me, of course, and the practice is not uncommon. Bismack Biyombo, Andrea Bargnani and several others have been in this same situation, getting less than the full 120% in actual salary yet counting against the cap as the full 120% (and to anyone other than the people signing and receiving the cheques, i.e. us team building fans, only the cap number matters). Nevertheless, it was understood in the instance that the figures given were the actual cap hits and thus included the buyout signing bonus. It was counter checked and passed both tests. And yet now the opposite is said to be true, that Nurkic is signed for the full 120%, and that the whole issue is irrelevant.

There is a process we (I) go through in order to get salary information. It does not always work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Josh Huestis's D-League adventure, a misplaced exercise in loyalty

(originally published elsewhere)

A few days ago, Darnell Mayberry broke the story that Oklahoma City Thunder draft pick Josh Huestis might spend next year in the D-League, collecting a mere $25,000 or so salary, rather than sign in the NBA. This would be groundbreaking, not as the first first rounder to not sign immediately in the NBA (this happens quite often), but as the first to do so who instead signs in the D-League.

It also makes absolutely no sense on the face of it. As useful as the D-League can be, its salaries are extremely uncompetitive. Players are paid by the league in one of three salary brackets, determined by their ability, and even though Huestis would no doubt be worthy of the highest D-League salary possible, that figure is still paltry. It will be comparable before tax with what an NBA 10 day contract pays, and when I say 'comparable with', I mean 'slightly lower than'.

Huestis would be doing so because the Thunder asked him to, in a pre-arranged deal running unnervingly close to the line. Tom Ziller speculated it, and Zach Lowe confirmed it. The projected second round or undrafted player going in the first round was indeed a eye opener, and it follows that, given that they may have been alone in wanting to take him that high, the Thunder felt they had the leverage to lean on him in this way. Apparently, to agent Mitchell Butler, the fact that it is the Thunder makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The amount of cap room teams have remaining

The bulk of free agency is behind us, maybe, but we're far from done. There follows a look at how much cap space NBA teams still have outstanding, which, with the exception of the occasions I blatantly do the opposite, will be presented without analysis as to how the situation came about.

All the teams that have cap space, or have had cap space this offseason, are included in the list. That is a total of fifteen teams and half the league. The other fifteen - Boston, Brooklyn, Denver, Golden State, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma City, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto and Washington - are not mentioned at all.

All salary information is taken from this website's own salary pages. All figures taken from the day of publication - if subsequent trades/signings are made, then adjust accordingly.

It is vital - VITAL - that you understand what a "cap hold" is before you read this. An explanation can be found here.

Players with asterisks by their names are not under contract with the team, and cap holds are separated from active contracts by the use of a simple link break.

    Atlanta Hawks

Committed salary for 2014/15: $48,416,058 (view full forecast)

Remaining cap space: $10,839,436

Atlanta has made only one signing in free agency, facilitated by one trade, and the money jointly spent on Thabo Sefolosha and John Salmons is actually less than the money they were due to spend on Louis Williams. They started with cap space, added more possibly unnecessarily, and still haven't used up the extra bit, let alone dip into the reserves. I say "possibly unnecessarily" because it does not appear as though they have looked to do much with it, got shot down when they did, and the list of candidates is really running out. Here is their current position:

Al Horford - $12,000,000
Paul Millsap - $9,500,000
Jeff Teague - $8,000,000
Kyle Korver - $6,253,521
Thabo Sefolosha - $4,150,000
DeMarre Carroll - $2,442,455
Dennis Schroder - $1,690,680
John Jenkins - $1,312,920
Pero Antic - $1,250,000
John Salmons* - $1,000,000
Mike Muscala - $816,482

Elton Brand* - $4,800,000
Gustavo Ayon* - $2,850,000
Adreian Payne* - $1,546,100
Shelvin Mack* - $1,148,163
Mike Scott* - $1,115,243
Cartier Martin* - $915,243

Renouce Ayon, Brand and Martin, and that's $10,839,436 to spend in cap space. But what on?

They need an extra big and an extra scoring guard. Which they could have had in Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira. Which they traded for a chance at star power. Which they got absolutely no bites on. The decent but low ceilinged Hawks need a great infusion of talent, something they don't have and stand no obvious chance of getting, despite the spending power. They could at least give it a go with Eric Bledsoe, however inevitable a matched offer sheet is. As it is, the Hawks gave up two of their very few assets for what has amounted to no returning assets. Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha don't count. Could a deal to create space not have been worked out after they had found someone to use it on? It's what Cleveland did.

Friday, July 11, 2014

"Consideration In Trades And Trade Structure" - a league instruction manual

At the end of the July Moratorium each year, the league sends out a memo containing all of the findings from the audit it conducted during it. That audit is what the moratorium period is for - the moratorium is one long end-of-season book-keep in which it crunches all the numbers related to revenue, BRI, escrow, tax and the like, and makes determinations on both the past and the future. That memo generally filters through to the mainstream media - it has to, because it contains all the things that will make the league work next year, such as the salary cap numbers and exact size of the luxury tax threshold. It also contains things such as the latest projection of the season after next ($66.3 million salary cap, $80.7 million luxury tax threshold) and the sizes of next year's exceptions.

This year, however, the league sent out a second memo. Entitled "Consideration in Trades and Trade Structure", it is a reminder and/or clarifier to teams about some of the specifics of what they can and cannot do in trades. Seemingly, they felt this was necessary

Considering the presence of this memo suggests that some teams do not entirely understand the rules (or, perhaps, have been intent on pushing them back a bit), it is self-evidently the case that those of us outside of the league will not fully know them either. So, here goes.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Complete History Of NBA Luxury Tax Payments, 2001-2014

This website and its sole proprietor keep a spreadsheet containing to-the-dollar information on all luxury tax paid to date, updated annually. Here is the latest update.

In the 13 seasons since the luxury tax was created, it has been applicable in eleven seasons; in those eleven seasons, 24 NBA franchises have paid over $1 billion in payroll excess. The exact details can be found here.

(Sorted alphabetically - click to enhance.)

(Sorted by expenditure - click to enhance.)

(Orange cells denote the team that won the championship that year.)

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 long time sourcing the relevant information, and in return, I seek only credit and a few page hits for that. Thank you.

Monday, July 07, 2014

2014 Summer League rosters - Miami

Ivan Aska - Murray State graduate Aska has played two professional seasons, splitting last one between Greece and Puerto Rico. He averaged 15.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.4 fouls in 29.9 minutes per game for Ikaros, then averaged 6.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 fouls in 13.8 minutes per game for Santurce. The 6'7 power forward never really developed at Murray State, saved for an improved free throw stroke he has subsequently lost again, but he brings plenty of athleticism to the table, easily his most alluring quality. There are occasional post ups, straight line dribble drives and mid-range catch-and-shoots in there, but the athleticism doesn't seem to make him a shot blocker, and there are no NBA calibre skills other than it.

How Chicago Can Get Carmelo

(originally published elsewhere)

Pretend for a minute that Carmelo Anthony chooses the Bulls. It's possible until it isn't.

Pretend for a minute that he wants more than they can pay him in free agency. Considering that their best free agency offers would top out at a starting salary of $15 million barring a significant weakening of the roster elsewhere, and that other teams are offering an unconditional max, and this seems a reasonable belief. To join Chicago for an amount of money comparable to what he would get elsewhere, Melo would have to be signed and traded.

Pretend for a minute that the Knicks are willing to do this deal to help out a conference rival. This, too, is realistic. If they want to be proud and/or stubborn and refuse to help a one time rival, instead preferring to let their player walk for free, then....OK. But there's assets in it for them if they do, so they shouldn't be stubborn in this way. They need assets to get good again more than they need to worry about who is good whilst they rebuild. It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business.

With all the previous assumptions in place, Chicago would want badly to acquire Melo via sign and trade while keeping together as good of a team as possible. This means no trading of Taj Gibson, and ideally no trading of Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic. Can Chicago keep all three, acquire Melo, build a brilliant team and do it all within the confines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement?

Just about. Here's how.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

2014 Summer League rosters - Detroit

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - It was a bit of a nothing season for KCP, who was given plenty of opportunity to succeed (80 games, 41 starts, 19.8 mpg) and simply didn't. He averaged only 5.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game, shooting 39.6% from the field and 31.9% from three, looking very awkward on the offensive end of the court. Caldwell-Pope faired better defensively, given plenty of big matchups (especially at the start of the season) and using his athleticism and wingspan to occasionally be a deterrent to any slashing guard, but on offense he mostly looked lost, was unreliable with the handle, and settled for far too many long twos. KCP projects to be a very good three and D role player, which would suffice despite his draft position, but he absolutely needs to spend the summer honing that jumpshot. There is something there to work with, yet a long way to go.

2014 Summer League rosters - Boston

O.D. Anosike - Anosike played in summer league last year with the Nuggets, then split last year between Italy and France. He started in Italy with Pesaro, and averaged 14.3 points and a league leading 13.1 rebounds in 35 minutes per game. He then bought himself out of his contract in May and finished the season with Strasbourg, where he did little in six games, averaging only 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. The 6'7 Anosike is self-evidently an extremely proficient rebounder - strong, relentless, a decent athlete and a tireless worker, he uses his strength and determination to clean the boards, box out and rebound out of his area. The offensive skills, however, are lacking - Anosike posts little, shoots less, has no range and a very poor free throw stroke, good for some occasional pick and roll action but a finisher in the paint at best, and even then not the best one. Given his size, the fact that he is exclusively a paint player and the fact that he does not protect the rim, Anosike has few hopes of joining the NBA level. But Italy will have him back for many a year to come.

2014 Summer League rosters - Indiana

Lavoy Allen - Allen was the third part of the Danny Granger/Evan Turner trade, but has barely improved in three years. He is still one of the most inefficient scorers in the league - he can hit a mid-range shot, but he only takes them, and there's nothing efficient about a mid range jump shot. You have to hit 50% of them just to score a point per possession, with very few foul shots in the process, and Allen has yet to add the three point range to it. On the plus side, the rest of his game outside of scoring is very solid. He picked up his rebounding rate last year, still passes well, and defends through physicality, temperament and IQ rather than length or athleticism. Allen is said to already have agreed a deal to re-sign with the Pacers, which makes plenty of sense, because he is a very solid backup power forward. They can now waive Luis Scola, save money, and lose little.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

2014 Summer League rosters: Philadelphia

Nerlens Noel - Noel will be the best player from the 2013 draft, barring more significant injuries. There is no reason why this as-near-as-is 7 footer with wingspan, athleticism, instincts, anticipation, body control and hustle should not average 10 points and 3 blocks per game at his peak. The offensive end is less certain, as is the fit alongside Joel Embiid, but that's all stuff that can be worked out down the right. As of right now, the Sixers landed the two best talents in back-to-back drafts without a number one overall pick to do so. And the fact that both have been injured sufficiently to keep the tank open is even better.

Friday, July 04, 2014

2014 Summer League Rosters - Orlando

Kadeem Batts - Batts is somewhere in between Mike Davis and Mike Scott. He is a wiry strong finesse power forward whose game is based around the mid-range jumpshot and who rarely creates. Be it through the pick and pop, the pick and roll, cuts to the basket or through running the court in transition, Batts generally only finishes looks others or opportunity created for him. Even when he posts, it is normally only to a jumpshot. He has the frame to do more in the paint, but not the game. He's a finesse player who will take some contact, but hasn't that much power. He just is. So be it.

On the glass, Batts uses his activity and length to keep balls alive and is a good offensive rebounder for this reason, but is less effective on the defensive glass where he can be outfought. Similarly, he defends the perimeter well, but is not much of a rim protector. He struggles to do much in the post on both ends when up against players of true size, and though he anticipates well and hedges hard, he has not the power of a power position player. Batts has good speed and a good motor, and can seal and finish down low on smaller opponents, but there aren't going to be smaller opponents at the highest levels. And while he can occasionally spot up from three and drive the ball from the line, he can also barrel people over and has yet to add consistent three point range.

What separates Mike Davis and Mike Scott? Scott is smarter, tougher, competes defensively even when overmatched and has a little bit of three point range. Batts ought to channel some of this. He could make the league despite his rebounding and his defensive deficiencies, just as Scott has, if he can make enough shots. Scott is learning the three. Batts must too.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

2014 Summer League rosters - Houston

Miro Bilan - The 6'11 Bilan turns 25 later this month, yet this is his first foray into the NBA. He has long been on the radar of clubs around the world, appearing in European championships at various age levels, and finally cracking the Croatian national team this past season. Bilan has never really broken out, however, merely making steady improvements to his game year on year. A brief spell in the Euroleague in 2012/13 coupled with a longer spell in the Eurocup last season to allow him to take on the best European centres at his position, and he held his own on the offensive end at least, where his post and pick-and-roll play helped him to 8.8 points in 18.4 minutes on 58% shooting, alongside 13.3 points in 22 minutes per game of Croatian league play. Bilan is a prototypical European big man - big enough and offensively skilled, but unathletic, and a defensive factor only by the virtue of giving a good hard foul. He can make shots around the basket and from mid-range, but neither his physical tools nor style of play are ideally suited for the NBA and he is probably best where he is. Greg Smith admittedly played a bit like this while being slightly smaller, but Greg Smith was faster and had hands like mattresses. Or like Tim Howard.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Louis Williams/Lucas Nogueira Trade

(originally published elsewhere)

In a trade agreed to last night, and perhaps already to have been made official by the time this sentence is finished, the Toronto Raptors agreed to trade John Salmons and his partially guaranteed contract to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Louis Williams and the draft rights to Lucas Nogueira.

Toronto were previously on the cusp of trading Salmons to Memphis on draft night, along with the #37 pick, in exchange for Tayshaun Prince and the #22, the theory being that they intended to draft Canadian guard Tyler Ennis with their #20 pick and then taking young project Bruno Caboclo at #22. But when Ennis was taken 18th by Phoenix, the plan was scuppered, and the deal pulled. The Raptors would instead choose to wait for a better spot in which to use Salmons's valuable unguaranteed contract. And they have now found it.

Nogueira, the #16 pick in the 2013 draft, had been shopped by Atlanta in recent times. Despite averaging a very solid 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in only 16 minutes per game of Spanish ACB league option last season, the Hawks seemed to have other priorities, and have used those once-valued rights merely to dump some salary. Perhaps prompted to by Nogueira's ongoing tendinitis problems - which are worryingly recurrent and severe for a 21 year old center whose game is largely based on his athleticism - Atlanta soured on this potential piece for the future in order to prioritise their present.

They are not trading for John Salmons the player under any circumstance. Salmons has declined significantly, and despite a big minutes yield for the Raptors last season, he was mostly ineffective, shooting 36% on his way to a 7.6 PER. Nevertheless, his contract, which calls for a $7 million salary next season, is guaranteed for only $1 million if waived by the end of today. Whoever waived him then is guaranteed immediate savings, and while Toronto could always use those savings themselves, they are not overly threatened by the luxury tax and can exploit that in using Salmons's salary as a trade chip from those that are pressured by the tax, or who have cap space ambitions. If they have a bad contract, Toronto will take it for the right price, the price being an additional asset.

It would follow logically from here if Williams was a bad contract that had no benefit to a team. But this is not the case. Williams is a productive player, and always has been.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The fourth and probably final part of the Tim Duncan/Zach Randolph contract saga

Further to this, this and most recently this.

In the last update, I explained how Tim Duncan had had his contract modified, but Zach Randolph had not. And yet what I could not explain was why Tim Duncan had had his contract modified, but Zach Randolph had not. Was it because simply no one had noticed, or because of some other technicality I could not otherwise foresee that made the otherwise identical situations different? Couldn't say.

Can now, though. It certainly wasn't the former.

Apparently the reason why Duncan's contract (which he has opted into, thus transitioning this whole endeavour from being an interesting aside into something with a palpable if not exactly massive affect on the NBA landscape) was modified, but Randolph's was not, is because Randolph's was "too old".

This does not however mean that the fact it was signed under the 2005 CBA (and not the 2011 CBA like Duncan) played a part in this differentiation. Instead, I am told it instead merely means they took that as a legitimate reason for looking the other way, through avoiding the issue altogether, rather than having a technical reason for addressing it in this way. So, yeah.

Zach, if you're out there, and you're planning on opting in and signing an extension.....start chasing this up. There could be a million dollars in it for you.

(The very full details of what is being discussed here can be found at the previous links. Especially the first one.)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tampering, What It Is, And How Not To Not Quite Do It

(originally published elsewhere)

A report from the Chicago Sun Times's Joe Cowley is currently doing the rounds, providing as it does an intriguing look into the conduct of Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, and a fresh perspective on the comprehensively documented possibility of Carmelo Anthony joining the Chicago Bulls.

The report focuses on Thibodeau, and his garnering of background knowledge on Anthony from those connected with him in the past. This is a perfectly acceptable and normal thing to do. What stokes the fire in this instance, however, is that the report uses rather incendiary language that suggests things are not as perfectly acceptable as they ought be.

It starts thusly:

According to one of Anthony’s former coaches, Thibodeau has reached out to him and to several other coaches who have worked with Anthony with numerous calls.

This sentence reads in more than one way, but if the 'him' is assumed to be the former coach that Cowley spoke to, things are all right so far. There is nothing wrong with talking to someone outside of the NBA in an attempt to garner information about someone inside it.

Later on, however, things get more contentious:

That the Bulls are in full-court-press mode on Anthony comes as no surprise, considering center Joakim Noah courted him during All-Star Weekend in February and continued the recruitment throughout the second half of the season.

That is probably not good. Players talk to each other and certainly are permitted to do - a situation by which they could not do so at all would be patently ridiculous. But they cannot talk about certain things.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wildly Unnecessarily Lengthy 2014 NBA Draft Board, Part 2: NCAA Shooting Guards

There follows the second in a series of posts that breaks down the players eligible, either automatically or by early entry, for the 2014 NBA Draft. This list is for the shooting guards.

As ever, the list is about 35 players longer than it needs to be, because one of these days, the NBA draft will be forty six rounds long. Just like it used to be. On that day, we shall rejoice.

Also as ever, some position assignments are slightly arbitrary, yet, because they matter not on the court, they should matter not in their classifications within this series either.

And, as ever, players are listed in no particular order other than the order they were thought of.

Lazy links:

James Young - Maurice Creek - Sean Kilpatrick - Roberto Nelson - Jabari Brown - Markel Brown - Jordan Adams - Nick Johnson - Dalton Pepper - Lasan Kromah - Chris Crawford - Geron Johnson - Terone Johnson - Sean Armand - Leslie McDonald - Brady Heslip - Drew Crawford - Joe Harris - Gary Harris - Nik Stauskas - C.J. Wilcox - Zach LaVine - Roy Devyn Marble - Lamar Patterson - Jordan McRae - Andre Dawkins - Isaiah Sykes - Troy Huff - Chris Denson - Davion Berry - Jermaine Marshall - Marshall Henderson - Preston Medlin - Jason Calliste - George Beamon - Lenzelle Smith - Karvell Anderson - Jarmar Gulley - Stephen Madison - Ben Brust - J.T. Terrell - Luke Hancock - Earnest Ross - Davon Usher - Travis Bader - Austin Hollins - Spencer Butterfield - David Brown - Niels Giffey - Desmar Jackson - Duke Mondy

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wildly Unnecessarily Lengthy 2014 NBA Draft Board, Part 1: NCAA Centres

There follows the first in a series of posts that breaks down the players eligible, either automatically or by early entry, for the 2014 NBA Draft. This list is for the NCAA centres, or centers if you'd prefer.

As ever, the list is about 35 players longer than it needs to be, because one of these days, the NBA draft will be forty six rounds long. Just like it used to be. On that day, we shall rejoice.

Also as ever, some position assignments are slightly arbitrary, yet, because they matter not on the court, they should matter not in their classifications within this series either. This arbitrariness is particularly relevant to the centres list, because if everyone was listed at the position at which they were likely best, the centres list would have about 12 people and the power forwards list would have about 84. So some slight liberties have been taken. All do, have or could play the centre position enough to get away with it.

And, as ever, players are listed in no particular order other than the order they were thought of.

Lazy links:

Joel Embiid - Mitch McGary - Alec Brown - Jordan Bachynski - Aaric Murray - Jordan Heath - Sam Dower - Talib Zanna - Davante Gardner - Chad Posthumus - Daniel Miller - Omar Oraby - Baye Moussa-Keita - Tarik Black - Garrick Sherman - Wally Judge - Rhamel Brown - Ian Chiles - Da'Shonte Riley - D.J. Haley - Chris Otule - Isaiah Austin - Jordan Vandenberg - John Bohannon - Ryan Watkins - Perris Blackwell - Jarred Shaw - Angus Brandt - Asauhn Dixon-Tatum - Alex Kirk - Ben Aird - Sim Bhullar - Majok Majok - Kyle Tresnak - D.J. Cunningham - D.J. Covington - Eugene Teague - Shayne Whittington - Rob Loe

Long thumbs. #advancedscouting

Joel Embiid, Kansas, Freshman, 7'0 250lbs

2013/14 stats: 23.1 mpg, 11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 1.4 apg, 0.9 spg, 3.4 fpg, 2.4 TOpg, 62.6% FG, 68.5% FT

Whenever people talk about Embiid, they like to mention Hakeem Olajuwon. They like to say things to the extent of, "while I'm not saying he's the next Olajuwon - there will NEVER be another Olajuwon - Joel Embiid reminds me of Hakeem Olajuwon", or words to that effect. The point is always to state that Embiid reminds us of Olajuwon without ever risking the blasphemy that automatically seems to accompany comparing anybody to a great one. It is pretty grating.

Someone should probably just come out and say that Embiid is going to be the next Olajuwon. There is plenty of reason to think it. Embiid looks to be simply one of the most natural players to have ever played the game. Someone so new to it should not be so good at it.

Obviously, there stands to be more seasoning, hence the foul and turnover numbers. But the skill level Embiid has gained when so young and so new to the sport is incredible. The touch on the hook shot, the positional sense, rotations, already decent jumpshot, discipline so as to not bite on fakes (which could be seen to be improved upon throughout the year), jumpshot form, the whole shaboodle. And his body type was almost designed for the purpose. With the size, frame, speed, footwork, body control, leaping ability, hands and touch, he has the perfect frame for an NBA team of strength and conditioning coaches to hone.

So let's just go ahead and say it. Unless injuries prevent it, Embiid will pretty much be the next Olajuwon. The comparison doesn't have to be perfect to be legitimate, and comparisons to the greats are not blasphemous when they have a basis. Hedging when you only have one year of information to go on is understandable, but it's all we're getting before the draft, and it's been enough to show how good he already is. Let's all hope Embiid's frame holds up, because if it does, a special player awaits.


If not, then, well. We're going to gain and lose a great one very quickly.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tim Duncan did indeed get a pay rise

This post is essentially the conclusion to a post from nearly two years ago, dated July 22nd 2012. That post was itself a follow-up to this post, published three days prior. The two posts combined to document an issue, or was at the time a potential issue, of a mistake in a contract.

Sitting in the crowd at the 2012 Las Vegas Summer League, I was talking to someone about the market value of power forwards today. The discussion followed a fairly predictable route, and before long we got to talking about Zach Randolph, who in April 2011 signed an extension with Memphis that was to keep him with the team through 2015. Specifically, we were wondering how much he was due to get paid.

In accordance with the universally held but entirely unspoken rule whereby no-one in, around, covering or even vaguely interested in the NBA is any good with facts without a computer in their hand, I could not remember how much his extension was for. (Trade secret there. To a man, they/we have nothing.) So I pulled out my mid-90's notebook and had a look for the specifics of Randolph's deal. It was there and then that I noticed for the first time a problem with Randolph's contract, an error which I, and apparently everyone else involved, had not noticed in the fifteen months prior.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Chandler Parsons And The Rare Instance Of The Deliberate Overpayment

(originally published elsewhere)

After they picked him 38th in the 2011 draft, the Houston Rockets signed second round pick Chandler Parsons to a four year contract, one that paid slightly but not significantly above the minimum salary.

Giving three year contracts to early second round picks, or late second round picks that you really like, or undrafted players you really thought were going to be second round picks and are happy to get a chance at signing, is a trend that developed some years ago and continues to this day. It requires either cap space or a chunk of the mid-level exception to do it - the Minimum Salary Exception, the device which allows teams over the salary cap to sign players to the minimum salary, or trade for those who already are, is limited to two years in length. Nevertheless, teams quite regularly do this so as to lock up potential young pieces for three years, partly to give them ample opportunity to develop and partly to gain full Bird rights in preparation for any future contract.

Four year minimum salary contracts, or four year near-minimum salary contracts, are a logical extension of that. It, too, is not especially new - Bill Walker and the undrafted Quinton Ross come to mind as two players to have received this treatment prior to Parsons, and they certainly were not the only two. Lance Stephenson did so the year before Parsons, and his four year deal expires this summer, as the Pacers are all too aware of.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Proportionality Of Fines

(originally published elsehwere)

Last month, the Knicks signed Phil Jackson to a $60 million, five year contract to become their team president, chief roster builder, figurehead and mainstay.

This week, Jackson was fined $25,000 this week for 'tampering' Derek Fisher.

Fisher is still under contract to the Thunder until the end of the month, and while the media are deciding which team he is going to join after this season, and whether it will be in a front office or coaching role, Fisher is still a contracted player. For a member of another team to talk about or at least infer the possibility of luring him to their team, then, is tampering.

Tampering is a not particularly well understood piece of terminology in NBA parlance, at least to outsiders. It is in its basic form the act of a representative of one team coercing a contracted member of another to join their team without the permission of the contracted party's current team. Tampering happens rather a lot, but tampering punishments do not, because tampering is pretty much impossible to prove. Jackson was punished quite easily, because his comments were made in public on tape in front of dozens of viewers. But Jackson was not punished very severely.

$25,000 seems like a lot of money. $25,000 is enough to live on for a year anywhere in the world. $25,000 is about 2,500 times more than what I would get if I sold all my worldly possessions on eBay, even in their original packaging. $25,000 is almost enough for a brand new Kia Sportage, with its nuanced compromise between body control, handling response and ride comfort. But $25,000 is not a lot when you are on a $60 million contract, earning $12 million a year. Even if this $12 million is halved for tax, $25,000 represents 0.42% of Phil Jackson's salary. It is not enough to hurt him. And he probably knew that going in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Max Deal The Way To Go With Irving

(originally published elsewhere)

Cleveland committed their future to Kyrie Irving. They picked him first overall, gave him all the reins, and gave him all the plaudits. And yet now there are reports that they do not want to give him a maximum contract extension.

Whether or not Irving is worth the maximum salary is not really relevant here. The point is loyalty, and, more importantly, the perception of loyalty. It is not automatically disloyal to offer less than the maximum salary in an extension to a player you (rightly) do not feel is worth it, but to the player and his powerful agent, it is perceived as so. Anything less than undivided love is insufficient love, because the assumption - fuelled by perception - is that undivided love is available elsewhere. If you show anything less than undivided love, you do not show sufficient loyalty. And NBA players are driven by loyalty.

Offer them less than the maximum and they will point to all those beforehand in comparable situations who received it. Blake Griffin, for one, or fellow point guards Derrick Rose and John Wall (particularly Wall, who had a long way to go at the time he received his deal, moreso than Rose). It matters not if they are not worth the maximum - the assumption was always that they were going to get it, especially after picking him first overall, openly stating he is the future and the foundation, and when given that they are one of the few bright spots for the franchise in the last three moribund seasons. The fact that the last three years have been poor is partly Irving's fault, of course, but that is not how this particular process works.

It could, then, be a situation headed for a messy divorce. Especially if Pete Vecsey's version of events which state that Irving would not take a maximum contract extension even if it were offered is to be believed.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Declaration Of Sim Bhullar

(originally published elsewhere)

In a post written last month, one armed unashamedly with the benefit of four years of hindsight, I looked back at the decision of one time Oklahoma guard Tommy Mason-Griffin to leave school, declare for the NBA draft and turn professional after only one collegiate season, a poor season that had been mired by underwhelming play and much tumult within the program. In the four seasons hence, Mason-Griffin has missed more than two full campaigns due to injury, yet he has been under contract and thus been paid for his time nonetheless, something which would not have happened had he stayed in college and given his services away for free.

The idea of the piece was in part to repudiate the conventional line of thinking, whereby a player's decision to leave school early and/or declare for the NBA draft is to be evaluated entirely upon their likelehood of being drafted. Mason-Griffin served as a useful barometer for that - he never made the NBA, never came close, and surely never will, yet his decision can be justified on account of what it meant for his earning potential, one the injuries have crippled. Another player who can serve as an example of this is now upon us in the goliath form of New Mexico State centre, Sim Bhullar.

Bhullar has declared for the draft after a sophomore season in which he averaged 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in 26.3 minutes per game. It is widely and entirely correctly held that, despite his size and relative productivity, he is not ready for the NBA. Yet he has declared anyway, as, once again, there is professional basketball life outside of the NBA from which he can earn. And he will earn, because of his remarkable qualities.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Everything I have written this season

Here's a list of everything I have written this season, whereby a year is defined as July 1st - June 30th, the same definition the NBA uses. (An article from June 2013 is also included for the hell of it.) Having written for many different websites with varying levels of efficiency with regards to archiving, I thought it best to chronicle them all in one place. The articles are loosely categorised, but most if not all pieces could actually fit into multiple categories, so the definitions are slightly arbitrary.

This post will be updated between the date of publication and 30th June 2014. Not listed in any particular order, not even by date, except where obviously so.

It is perhaps worthy of mention that, with the exception of the ShamSports pieces, I didn't write any of the titles.

Salary cap rules related

Why Cleveland's Scotty Hopson signing doesn't make much sense (The Score, 1st April 2014; detailing a mistake by the Cavaliers)

Why the Pelicans signed Ely and how they learned from the Cavs (The Score, 15th April 2014; something of a follow-up to the above, showing how it could have been done)

Bobcats gain much-needed outside shooting, Bucks do something (SB Nation, 21st February 2014)

Why the Rockets waived Greg Smith to sign Dexter Pittman (The Score, 11th April 2014)

Why don't NBA teams make more preseason trades? (The Score, 17th September 2013)

Why Al-Farouq Aminu can veto a trade, but LeBron James can't (The Score, 10th September 2013)

Why the L.A. Clippers are unnecessarily paying the luxury tax (SB Nation, 21st February 2014)

How the Grizzlies wiggled under the luxury tax (The Score, 17th April 2014)

Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin's contract situations (ShamSports, 8th July 2013)

2013/14 Luxury Tax Payers, as it stands at 11.52am GMT on 13th January 2014(ShamSports, 13th January 2014)

The value of late second-round picks (SB Nation, 25th October 2013)

How buyouts affect the trade deadline and the postseason (The Score, 25th February 2014)

It's official - Keith Bogans will earn $5,058,198 next year. All guaranteed. Keith Bogans. (ShamSports, 15th July 2013)

The repeater tax is going to transform the NBA (SB Nation, 21st November 2013)

There IS a difference between "team option" and "unguaranteed", and it DOES matter (ShamSports, 3rd July 2013' using Kyle Lowry as an example)

The False Allure Of Multi-Year Contracts (Originally Hoopsworld, 15th October 2013, reposted on ShamSports, 8th May 2014; borrows slightly from the above but with another pertinent real life example, Omri Casspi)

Why NBA Teams Sign Players They Don’t Want (Originally Hoopsworld, 29th October 2013, reposted on ShamSports, 8th May 2014)

This post is no longer relevant (ShamSports, 20th February 2014; a post written after the Spencer Hawes trade to be published on SB Nation, but later made redundant by the Danny Granger trade, which I didn't want to delete as it took quite a while)

The right and wrong way to float in the NBA's middle class (SB Nation, 25th September 2013)

The Steve Blake trade is really confusing (SB Nation, 20th February 2014; tackling the remarkably intricate subject of how TPE's are used and created)

Marquis Teague trade a pointless, expensive deal for Brooklyn Nets (SB Nation, 20th January 2014)

How do you solve a problem like Taj Gibson? (ShamSports, 7th February 2014)

How do you solve a problem like Taj Gibson? A follow-up. (ShamSports, 9th February 2014)

The amount of cap room teams actually have, updated (ShamSports, 25th July, 2013; a post written partway through the free agency period trying to clear the muddy waters of cap space information)

Anthony Tolliver earned $273,697 and counting for one day of work, and it's all thanks to Sasha Pavlovic (ShamSports, 11th June 2013)

December 15: When the NBA trade game can really begin (SB Nation, 13th December 2013)

Did Milwaukee pick up Gustavo Ayon's option? Yes. Will they have to do so again in a week? Also yes. (ShamSports, 15th July 2013)

Complete History of Luxury Tax Payments, Updated for 2012/13 (ShamSports, 10th July 2013)

A short sharp examination of how paying luxury tax does not necessarily correlate with winning (ShamSports, 27th February 2014)

The same thing again if you take the Knicks out of it altogether (ShamSports, 27th February 2014; follow-up to the above)

The tax paid by title winners (ShamSports, 28th February 2014; another follow-up to the above, containing a wee snippet of information that the Complete History post should have already had in it, and that it will do from now on)

Salary Bookkeeping, 2013 (ShamSports, 1st July 2013; everything that happened with regards to options, qualifying offers etc at the end of the previous season)

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Truth About “Parity” in the NBA

[Originally posted on Hoopsworld, 5th November 2013.]

In February 2010, NBA commissioner David Stern spoke ominously of the league’s forecasted $400 million loss that financial year, as well as hundreds of millions more in losses over the previous few seasons. His words were one of the earliest warnings of an impending lockout, a threat that became a reality 16 months later. Financial inequalities and a broken system supposedly saw 22 out of the 30 NBA franchises losing money, and something had to be done to install some parity.

Three months after Stern spoke, the NBA ratified the sale of the New Jersey Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov.

Parity, it is said, is supposed to level the playing field between the large- and small-market teams. The reality of this market inequality is an unavoidable one, founded in socioeconomic factors far outside of the NBA’s control. It is what it is. The NBA’s self-imposed duty is to level the playing field within its control as much as possible.

They do this in various ways. The draft, of course, is one – parity is not just financial remuneration, but also the opportunity for all teams to compete on the court. There is also, as of the new CBA, a new revenue sharing system ostensibly designed to make big brother pay for little brother, a significant development in the NBA’s hitherto limited revenue sharing history.

And there’s the concept’s most public weapon – the luxury tax.

Since its inception in 2001, $923 million has been spent in luxury tax by 24 franchises. Of that $923 million, some $568 million has been spent by only four of those franchises – the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers. That is one seventh of the teams spending three fifths of the money, and they’re about to be joined by another.

Why NBA Teams Sign Players They Don’t Want

[Originally posted on Hoopsworld, 29th October 2013.]

The vast majority of players signed for training camp are signed to contracts without any guaranteed compensation on them.

This, certainly, is no surprise, as it has long been known that most players signed for training camp are not expected to make the team. A few players have fairly nominal guaranteed portions – for example, Dee Bost received $50,000 from Portland, Dewayne Dedmon $25,000 from Golden State, and Trent Lockett $35,000 from Sacramento. Most, however, do not. Teams are not involved in bidding wars for the Trey McKinney-Jones and Carlos Morais types, and thus there is no incentive to give any guaranteed money away.

Not all unguaranteed contracts are the same, however. Some utilize a contract provision called Exhibit 9. Unless you’re an agent, it is a little known device of potentially huge importance.

Exhibit 9 of the Uniform Player Contract is applicable only to those summer contracts fully unguaranteed and for only one season in length. Its purpose is to reduce a team’s liability in event of injury to a player it intended to sign only for training camp. It states thusly:

if the player is injured as a direct result of playing for the team and, accordingly, would have been entitled but for this Exhibit 9 to compensation, the team’s sole liability shall be to pay the Player $6,000 upon termination of the Player’s Contract.

The operator ‘sole liability’ is vital here. Without an Exhibit 9, the Uniform Player Contract normally calls for teams to pay any ‘reasonable hospitalization and medical expenses’ for players injured whilst directly participating in team activity, whilst also guaranteeing the payment of their compensation, however unguaranteed it was, until such time as they are fit to return to play, up to a maximum of the end of that season.

The False Allure Of Multi-Year Contracts

[Originally posted on Hoopsworld, 15th October 2013.]

Unguaranteed or partially guaranteed final seasons are quite the trend nowadays in the NBA, and they have these days almost completely superceded team options. In fact, excluding rookie scale contracts, there are only eight team options in the entire league, belonging to Chauncey Billups, Darius Morris, Timofey Mozgov, Marreese Speights, Carrick Felix, Chandler Parsons, Jae Crowder and Rodney Williams.

All other contracts referred to in the press as ‘team options’ are, in fact, unguaranteed salaries.
There are very few instances in which contracts must be guaranteed. In fact, there are only two; the first year of a signed-and-traded contract, and the first two years of a rookie scale contract (which must be guaranteed for a minimum of 80 percent of the scale amount). Nothing else has to be guaranteed. It is self evident why so many contracts are nonetheless fully guaranteed – players want that, and teams want players to want them. Yet the unguaranteed contract fad has its basis in logic.

Essentially, unguaranteed contracts function much like team options do. However, there are some significant advantages to doing it in this way, which is why it happens. The differences:

1) Non-rookie scale team options have to be decided upon by the final day of the previous season. Seasons change over on July 1st, and thus team options must be decided on or before June 30th. This is not the case with unguaranteed contracts, which either have guarantee dates that can be negotiated to different dates, or which have no guarantee date at all. A lot of unguaranteed contracts have some guaranteed money, becoming fully guaranteed upon a certain date, or no guaranteed money at all becoming slowly guaranteed upon several dates; for players earning the minimum salary it is often the latter, while bigger contracts are usually the former. Common dates include July 15th (two weeks after free agency starts, giving teams times to analyze the situation), August 1st (ditto, but including summer league) and August 15th (for the very tardy). However, in practice, anything goes. In this way, these contracts serve as delayed team options.

Sometimes, such as in the case of Austin Daye’s second season, the contract is fully unguaranteed if not waived on or before June 30th, thereafter becoming fully guaranteed. Contracts with guarantee dates such as those are basically exactly the same as team options; however, the reason they are not done with team options is because of the additional reasons below.

The Value of Minimum Contracts In The NBA

[Originally posted on Hoopsworld, 7th October 2013.]

The most fun part of preseason is being able to get wildly carried away with the results and performances in the mostly meaningless games. This is particularly true of the performances of individual players who simply were not expected to shine, but did.

Two such players have already shown their faces, in Houston’s Omri Casspi and the L.A. Lakers’s Xavier Henry. Casspi shot 9-10 for 20 points on his debut, whilst Henry topped that with 29 in his, an impressive amount for a player whose career high to this point is only 19.

Whilst this level of production is obviously not sustainable, Casspi and Henry are set to earn only the minimum salary next season. Casspi’s is fully guaranteed, but Henry’s isn’t even guaranteed for one single dollar. These two players, then, have shown they could potentially be valuable contributors for as good of as value as is possible.

Casspi has struggled since his rookie season when he showed true promise as a free roaming off-the-ball offensive player, but who started to succumb to similarly free roaming tendencies defensively. Henry, meanwhile, was nothing short of poor in his first three seasons, struggling badly to make a shot from any portion of the court, not being able to create any, and not being consistent with his potentially good defense. There’s a reason these players were available for so cheap – they weren’t working out, and multiple teams had given up on them ever doing so.

Ten Of The Worst New Contracts This Offseason

[Originally published on Hoopsworld, 30th September 2013.]

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed to save teams from themselves, and make reckless spending far harder to do. It works – most free agency contracts are now, frankly, well priced.

But not all of them.

After taking a look at the best contracts of the offseason last week, here, in no particular order, are ten of the worst ones from this past offseason:

Al Jefferson – Charlotte Bobcats

The harsh but undeniable reality is that the Bobcats, regardless of the presence of Michael Jordan, have to pay over the odds on the free agent market to compensate for their franchise’s position. They’ve done that with Al Jefferson, paying him three years and $40.5 million, including a player option in the third year.

That player option makes Jefferson extremely difficult to trade until the summer of 2015. And while they haven’t necessarily signed him to trade him, a team with such little foundation as Charlotte must position themselves to permit that as soon as possible. They haven’t. Instead, they’ve paid Jefferson to be the cornerstone of the team for at least the first two years of the deal, which he simply isn’t. Jefferson, a poor defender, is also an inefficient volume scorer who contributes on only one end and leads on neither.

It looks like a strong commitment to the present, just as Jefferson looks like he is a centerpiece to his team. But appearances can be deceptive.

Ten Of The Best New Contracts This Offseason

[Originally published on Hoopsworld, 23rd September 2013.]

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed to save teams from themselves, and make reckless spending far harder to do. It works – most free agency contracts are now, frankly, well priced.

Here, in no particular order, are ten of the best ones from this past offseason:

Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks

Millsap signed with Atlanta for two years at $9.5 million per year, a significant chunk of cap space for a team who have worked so diligently to cut as much payroll as possible. Reversing the direction of the franchise is initially tough to reconcile, yet it is worth it because of how good of value his deal represents.

Millsap is signed to an amount comparable to his talent, for a short period of time. His deal only being two years long is of big help to the Hawks, both on their court and potentially on other teams. He provides Atlanta with the talent boost that will keep them out of the cellar – if you want bums on seats, you need that – while this contract makes him extremely tradeable. Millsap is a valued commodity around the league as a quality, versatile, two-way role player, and by getting him at the right price, Atlanta put themselves in a position to take advantage of that. And as long as they do, he’ll help them significantly as a player.

Even rebuilding teams need that.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

NBA Coaches & The Effects Of Likability

(originally published elsewhere)

Three weeks ago, a story came out that the New York Knicks were determined to land Steve Kerr as their next head coach. Despite Kerr having no coaching experience of any kind at any level, it appears he is the white hot candidate for the vacancy - so eager are the Knicks in their pursuit that the story broke even before they had a vacancy, having not then announced the future of the incumbent lame duck coach, Mike Woodson.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that the Knicks were accelerating their pursuit of Kerr, trying to tie him up before the first round of the playoffs were over in anticipation of other vacancies becoming available later on.

Last week, the Lakers parted company with former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.

And this week, the Warriors fired former Knicks point guard Mark Jackson.

In his time with the Lakers, nothing went right for Mike. In the best part of two years with the team, D'Antoni went 67-87 on a team that, the summer before he was hired, was thought to have a two year title window. The team were rolled out of the playoffs easily in 2012-13, swept aside by a Spurs team that made a laughing stock of the one time rivalry, and worse came with this season's 27-55 record, the second lowest winning percentage in franchise history.

On paper, that is a terrible return. In reality, however, there was not much he could do.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Another Unnecessarily Exhaustive Guide To The NBA Prospects Of The Unsigned NBA Draft Picks, Part One

If your NBA team drafts a player, and yet never signs him, the chances are that they'll still own his draft rights. The presence of those draft rights means that that player can sign only with the right-holding NBA team, and not with any others. Such draft rights can also be traded, either to a recipient team who values the player and thus gives something of value for them, or as arbitrary filler obliging the NBA's rule that all partners in a trade must trade something outbound, however menial.

In theory, there exists multiple uses for these draft rights, both as players and trade pieces. In practice, however, they are often of no use whatsoever. They exist as technicalities, for use in trades or for no use at all. Unless you actually want the player concerned, of course. The chances of that being the case are what this post seeks to document. If only it was something we could bet on. In fact, sportsbooks around the nation too watch these developments closely. It impacts the NBA Betting odds for the teams at play, not so much from a game to game perspective but in regards to a team's chances come playoff time.

This is something of an update to the previous such list, now three years old and in need of sprucing up. A quick check of that link will find much more detail about the player's career to date than this one will contain - such is the needs of the update format. Additionally, a breakdown of the usage of these rights in trades can be found here, a link which also contains a much shorter-handed version of this list). The update of the whereabouts of the players concerned follows this picture of Kevin Garnett.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

And the winner is.....

Steeve Ho You Fat!

Yay Steeve!

Thank you all for playing. There will indeed be another competition: 84 names are already being parsed for the 64 spots available, and should more be found, an NIT may even be possible. Well, unless it's overkill.

And now back to basketball operations matters.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The 2014 Ridiculous Basketball Player Names Bracket, CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

[Previously: First round, second round, sweet sixteen, second round, elite eight, final four.]

This is it, the final showdown. After a long, fiercely competitive, hit-count friendly month of titanic struggle and mesmering battle, we have eliminated 62 competitors in the first annual Ridiculous Basketball Player Names competition, and are down to the final pair. So established already are their names in basketball player folklore that it is beyond tricky to think of a single fresh and funny thing to say about them. And thus we need only provide their stories so far.

(1) Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims

First round: Won 359-40 v (16) Indiana Faithfull
Second round: Won 125-39 v (8) God'sgift Achiuwa
Sweet Sixteen: Won 85-37 v (5) Solomon HorseChief
Elite Eight: Won 40-34 v (3) Typhoon Dusk Nurse
Final Four: Won 38-24 v (1) Gang Wang

(1) Steeve Ho You Fat

First round: Won 289-51 v (16) Jose Antonio Alcoholado
Second round: Won 121-32 v (8) Gregor Fucka
Sweet Sixteen: Won 83-22 v (5) Lior Lipshits
Elite Eight: Won 50-20 v (10) Stanley Titsworth
Final Four: Won 39-28 v (10) Scientific Mapp

We have made no effort to reach out to either player, and thus neither has any comment.

Vote now. You have until the end of the actual national championship game.

Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims or Steeve Ho You Fat?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The 2014 Ridiculous Basketball Player Names Bracket, Final Four

[Previously: First round, second round, sweet sixteen, second round, elite eight.]

60 down, four to go.

(Click here for full size version)

As always, these names are completely genuine. If you don't believe it, Google it.

(1) Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims v (1) Gang Wang

Journeys so far:

(1) Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims

First round: Won 359-40 v (16) Indiana Faithfull
Second round: Won 125-39 v (8) God'sgift Achiuwa
Sweet Sixteen: Won 85-37 v (5) Solomon HorseChief
Elite Eight: Won 40-34 v (3) Typhoon Dusk Nurse

The previously unassailable Chief finally hit trouble in the form of Nurse. He won anyway, but the pre-tournament favourite is fallible.

(1) Gang Wang

First round: Won 237-59 v (16) Storm Clonch
Second round: Won 104-41 v (8) Hunter Dick
Sweet Sixteen: Won 59-39 v (5) Chubby Cox
Elite Eight: Won 38-31 v (2) Ebenezer Noonoo

Odd thing is, it's not that uncommon of a name.

Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims or Gang Wang?

Monday, March 31, 2014

The 2014 Ridiculous Basketball Player Names Bracket, Elite Eight

[Previously: First round, second round, sweet sixteen.]

Due to an administrative error whereby I accidentally set the Sweet Sixteen polls to run for a week longer than they were supposed to, the 2014 Ridiculous Basketball Player Names Tournament is still going on, having lost all its previous momentum. Nevertheless, we are down to the Elite Eight. Here are the matchups!

(Click here for full size version)

As always, these names are completely genuine. If you don't believe it, Google it.


(1) Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims v (3) Typhoon Dusk Nurse

Journeys so far:

(1) Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims

First round: Won 359-40 v (16) Indiana Faithfull
Second round: Won 125-39 v (8) God'sgift Achiuwa
Sweet Sixteen: Won 85-37 v (5) Solomon HorseChief

The Chief has not even flinched in his run to the Elite Eight thus far, not even batting an eyelid in the expected-classic Chief v HorseChief Sweet Sixteen matchup he ultimately won comfortably. This is a shame for Solomon HorseChief fans everywhere, including myself, and frankly I'm starting to wish I had fixed it.

(3) Typhoon Dusk Nurse

First round: Won 257-83 v (14) Drake U'u
Second round: Won 118-33 v (6) D'Awvalo Turnipseed
Sweet Sixteen: Won 77-39 v (7) Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje

Boumtje-Boumtje was something of a people's favourite, yet he was no match for TDN, one of three remaining non-US competitors.

Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims or Typhoon Dusk Nurse?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kings to sign Chris Johnson

Tomorrow, the Sacramento Kings will sign former LSU Celtics, Blazers, Hornets and Timberwolves big man Chris Johnson. It is not known at this time whether it will be for the remainder of the season, multiple seasons, or a 10 day deal.

Johnson has spent this season in China, averaging 20.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 29 games for Zhejiang Guangsha Lions. The 28 year old is known for his length, athleticism and shotblocking.

With a roster spot already open after the waiving of Jimmer Fredette, and with Orlando Johnson's 10 day contract having expired, Sacramento has only 14 players under contract and will not need to make a move to accommodate Johnson.

EDIT, THE FOLLOWING DAY - Johnson's signing was cancelled the following day for unknown reasons. The Kings signed Willie Reed instead.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The 2014 Ridiculous Basketball Player Names Bracket, Sweet Sixteen

The results are in from the second round, and so it's Sweet 16 time!

(Click here for full size version)


(1) Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims v (5) Solomon HorseChief:

Vote wisely. Vote HorseChief.

Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims or Solomon HorseChief?

(3) Typhoon Dusk Nurse v (7) Ruben Boumtje Boumtje:

Should Nurse lose points on account of his decision to mostly go by "Ty Nurse", instead of the full glory that is his name? And with that in mind, does Ruben earn points for embracing the double boom?

Typhoon Dusk Nurse or Ruben Boumtje Boumtje?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The 2014 Ridiculous Basketball Player Names Bracket, Second Round

The results are in from the first round, and there were upsets. It's almost like a proper bracket.

(Click here for full size version)

In accordance with prophecy, the number one seeds made it through unscathed, Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims and Steeve Ho You Fat putting up dominating performances in securing 85%+ of the votes in their matchups. However, the same can not be said of the #2 seeds, where a 2 v 15 upset went down. It was nearly two - in the Compounding The Problem Regional, the underseeded and underrated Staats Battle almost overcame B.J. Banjo, leading for much of the way before a late rally saw Banjo win in a captivating 50%/49% split of the vote (no word on where the missing percent went), while Galal Cancer comfortably handed it to fellow number #2 seed Patrick Willybiro, a name that Americans presumably do not see the funny side of due to transatlantic slang differences, in the What The Hell? Regional. If transatlantic humour divides lead to upsets, this might be a good thing.

With the exception of the Compounding The Problem Regional, where all top eight seeds made it through, there were upsets all throughout the bracket. There were four in the Brilliant First Name Choices Regional alone, not least of which was the comprehensive win of Semen Antonov over Jordair Jett, a man seeded as high as he was due only to the internet's insistence that his name was really, really great. Once again, then, it is proven that people love Semen. SirValiant Brown was similarly comprehensive in his 4 v 13 upset of the always overrated Deuce Bello, whose close association to a man called Bummy was rightly not overvalued by the voters. And in what to many was the choice tie of the first round, the immortal God Shammgod was beaten by a dogged and determined Scientific Mapp, who would have taken on the similarly upstart Battle were it not for the rousing late comeback by Banjo.

Some matchups oscillated quite significantly. For example, Qavotstaraj Waddell made a late charge on D'Awvalo Turnipseed's once unassailable lead and lost by only a mere handful of votes, while Cathy Cockrum - once down 70-30 in the vote - made a similarly late run and squeaked a tiny four-vote victory over the once dominant Brianne Boner. Between that battle, the aforementioned Battle/Banjo thriller, and the steady but compelling Fat Lever/Fabulous Flournoy matchup, three of the votes were decided by only five votes or less, which is pretty remarkable. Exree Hipp and Vonteego Cummings, meanwhile, shared a remarkably close vote for the first six days, often times separated by one or two votes only and at one point embroiled deeply in a tie, before a late surge for Vonteego, tallying about 50 extra votes in the final day, blew it open late. I hope somewhere a "Vote Vonteego" movement was created to make this happen. This would be a nice thing to have happen.

With the polls now closed, it's time for more polls. Here are some more polls.


(1) Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims v (8) God'sgift Achiuwa:

God'sgift started strong and ran well from inside position in his opening game, and has the religious vote on his side. Unfortunately for him, the Chief has the Indian vote, was dominant in the opening round, and has lived up to his preseason billing as a contender for the title. However, given the damage his presence is inflicting to the ability to fit the picture of this bracket on one page, I could do without him.

Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims or God'sgift Achiuwa?

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