The Louis Williams/Lucas Nogueira Trade
June 28th, 2014

(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 […]

Posted by at 1:31 AM

The fourth and probably final part of the Tim Duncan/Zach Randolph contract saga
June 24th, 2014

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.)

Posted by at 4:26 AM

Tampering, What It Is, And How Not To Not Quite Do It
June 22nd, 2014

(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. Tampering is not an especially well understood concept amongst fans and media alike, yet it is clearly defined. Section (e) of Exhibit A of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement defines […]

Posted by at 1:32 AM

Heat: What went wrong and how they can fix it
June 17th, 2014

Let us begin with the great unspoken truth about the Miami Heat over these last four years – they have done nothing to their roster. Obviously, they did quite a bit in the summer of 2010. They re-signed half the team, traded for LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and painstakingly crafted all of the other ludicrously well-documented cap wrangling to create the Big Three and add some role players. And yet in the time hence, they have added very, very few impact players. Since then, the most impactful players they have signed have been Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen. They signed veteran role players to play veteran roles, and it briefly worked. But those veteran players, specifically Battier and Andersen, ran out of gas. More worryingly, Dwyane Wade ran out of gas too. And with them went Miami into what might be a terminal decline. In these past four years, the Heat have had only one first-round pick, Norris Cole, who is frankly one of the most overrated role players of a generation with a career best PER of 8.8. They have garnered nothing with multiple second rounders (the only one they still have, 2012 second rounder Justin Hamilton, they already waived once), and they have almost entirely held off signing young non-drafted players, save for a brief flirtation with Terrel Harris, whom they did their best to convince the fan base was a prodigal young all-around combo guard talent despite him never showing it before or since. Teams do not have to go young for the sake of going young. But almost universally, young players bring with them a hunger. A change of speed. A dynamicism and a fire, a need to impress and get paid that manifests itself in winning possessions. They bring more mistakes, generally, but such is the trade-off. That is why there must be a […]

Posted by at 4:13 PM

Wildly Unnecessarily Lengthy 2014 NBA Draft Board, Part 2: NCAA Shooting Guards
June 17th, 2014

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 James Young, auditioning for a job in a pizzeria. James Young, Kentucky, Freshman, 6’6 215lbs 2013/14 stats: 32.4 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.8 […]

Posted by at 10:39 AM

Wildly Unnecessarily Lengthy 2014 NBA Draft Board, Part 1: NCAA Centres
June 16th, 2014

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 […]

Posted by at 7:08 PM

Tim Duncan did indeed get a pay rise
June 14th, 2014

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. Randolph’s extension called for base compensation of $17,800,000 in 2013/14, and $16,500,000 in 2014/15. (The contract also contains a ream of bonuses that make it deviate from those exact figures, yet they change not the general principles to be espoused here.) The 2014/15 is a player option season. This all looks like standard enough fare. However, a piece of CBA minutiae states that the salary in a player or team option year […]

Posted by at 1:21 AM

The evolution of the mid-level exception
June 7th, 2014

Last season, I wrote about a development within the NBA’s middle class, about how we were seeing more contracts given out within an admittedly slightly arbitrarily chosen band of mid-range salaries, and about how the players being signed within this band were of a higher caliber than they had been previously. This season, no stars moved in the first few days of free agency, only middle classers. As is the case every year, some of the early signings were deemed surprising, not only because of who the signees were but also because of how much they signed for. Players such as Jodie Meeks, CJ Miles, Spencer Hawes and Shaun Livingston were getting contracts for non-taxpayer mid-level exception amounts, be it via the MLE or equivalent amount of cap space. And despite the aforementioned trend for better and better players receiving mid-range deals, these players were now getting those deals without being of the same calibre. Those were MLE-sized contracts to a bunch of fifth starters, and was a cause for concern and scorn from many parties, myself included. However, the value of new player contracts should not be explicitly tied to the amount of an exception they most resemble. And even if they are, perhaps we should re-examine what the value of those exceptions is. The mid-level exception was introduced in the 1999 Collective Bargaining Agreement, and to start with, it was not very big. Also known as the ‘middle class exception’ in its early days, its inclusion was a key piece of the negotiations, and one of the disputed points during the ugly, terse lockout of 1998. The players union ultimately got their way on this issue, the union making concessions on other issues elsewhere to compensate, and a salary cap exception larger than the NBA and owners had desired was created. That is not […]

Posted by at 4:11 PM

Cramp Hurts More Than Pride
June 6th, 2014

All throughout game one of the NBA Finals last night, we were treated to a commentary about how hot it was in the AT&T Center due to the broken air conditioning system. It was forced upon us as a storyline – we had to wonder about how it would affect substitution patterns, players’ shot-making abilities, their ability to even catch the ball, et cetera – consistently and irritatingly hyped up as being a key factor on account of basically just being a novelty. And then it actually was a key factor when the normally unquestioned hardiness of LeBron James exited the game with a cramp. Now, we are being treated to a discourse about that cramp. It is going to be wildly overwrought. Everything LeBron does is overwrought, especially anything that can be perceived as a weakness. James left the game with 4:33 left to go, and did not return, the absolutely undeniably pivotal moment that swung the game. And, obviously, there has to be something wrong with this. LeBron is not hardy enough. He has had cramps before and should have taken necessary precautions. He should have drunk more water, gotten massages at every opportunity, Ray Allen managed, and all that standard fare. Most of which misses the most important issue here. Cramp really, really, really hurts. It does, and we must not overlook this. I imagine it especially hurts when you’re that big, and when you run and jump for a living like an NBA player does. As someone who is quite prone to night cramps in the calves for reasons that have yet to be determined, I find when I have a cramp that I cannot stand up without significant pain (not just discomfort, but pain) for the best part of the next day. Sometimes for two days, […]

Posted by at 4:24 PM

Chandler Parsons And The Rare Instance Of The Deliberate Overpayment
June 5th, 2014

(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. Parsons’s contract contains a slight difference to those others mentioned. Specifically, the final year of Parsons’s contract (2014/15) is both subject to a team option and an unguaranteed portion. This, too, is not unique – Gustavo Ayon was in the same situation last summer, Jamario Moon a better known recipient a few years ago, and […]

Posted by at 1:34 AM

The Proportionality Of Fines
June 4th, 2014

(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 […]

Posted by at 1:44 AM