We are living in a time dominated by a nasty global recession, right? Companies are shutting their doors; people are being laid off everywhere you look and signs are that it may continue for some time. There are however, certain people who are sitting pretty during this ill-fated situation - and those people are professional athletes. Many Pacquiao is slated to earn $38,000,000 in 2010. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is due to earn $60,250,000 - even though he's refusing to fight you know who. David Beckham is making so much money stateside they're considering legally changing his last name to Gates. Today I'm going to take a look at basketball's rich list based on salary alone, and trust me it's pretty horrible when you get into it. You'll find guys on this list who would struggle to get on the NCAA All American team, some of these guys probably won't even start for their respective teams next year, and when you factor in that they earn between them more than some countries do, it's sickening. (Salaries over $10million are being used here, with special kudos to Aron Philips)
Getting started, there are six point guards slated to make more than ten million in salary alone next season - Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash and Baron Davis. If you were to take last season's output from those six as a determining factor in salary for this season, and if you were to look at it by assists, Steve Nash earned $11,559 per dime while at the other end of the scale Baron Davis clocks in at a cool $21,739 per dime. Just saying, but Russell Westbrook is at $5,760 for every helper he supplies to Durant and co. Out of the six guards named above, how many of those guys are truly worthy of a salary over ten million for 2010/11? I would argue none of them if I'm being quite honest, but I guess I can understand why they were given contracts of that size. Nash is incredible but surrounded by nothing, ditto Chris Paul and double ditto Deron Williams. I guess the fact that those guys still turn in world class performances night in night with little or no help is why they earn what they do. Billups has been a huge success in Denver, but that marriage is soon to be over if rumours circulating are true. Baron Davis essentially did this (and masterminded a playoff super duper upset of Dallas) and got paid.
As we move to the shooting guards set to make eight figures this year, I set you the question once again, who truly deserves to make that kind of money as a shooting guard in the NBA? Are you down with Gilbert Arenas (I class him as a shooting guard as well, because that's where he'll be with the Wizards with John Wall around) making $17,730,694 in the upcoming 12 months? That's a whole lot of new firearms for ol' agent zero. Ben Gordon at $10,800,000? He basically shot the crap out of the ball against the Celtics two years ago and Detroit threw more money at him than they ever should of done. He's a one-dimensional player who had a pretty bad year last season of doing what he was brought in to do. Sorry too Ray Allen, but you don't deserve $10,000,000 at this stage in your career. Of the 16 shooting guards making over ten million, I see three of them as worthy recipients - Kobe, Wade and Brandon Roy. Even then, I still find it hard to stomach the fact that Kobe will make over $24 million dollars next season. Between them, Vince Carter, Joe Johnson and Michael Redd stand to earn over a combined $51 million dollars. The Oklahoma City Thunder as a team will make $50 million dollars. And people wonder why we face a lockout...
Heading over to the three spot we see some of the biggest donations made by silly GM's in our league - Mike Dunleavy at $10,561,984, Hedo Turkoglu at $10,215,850 and Luol Deng at $11,345,000. They are three very bad deals no matter what way you look at it. Dunleavy cashed in on the fact that he's a white guy who can shoot and plays with the Pacers, Deng is in a pretty good place in Chicago and Turkoglu almost crippled the Toronto Raptors with his crummy deal until Phoenix took him off their hands. If we were ranking the three worst contracts for small forwards though it would go something like this; Rudy Gay in at $13,603,750 despite the fact that that in his career he has never led the Grizzlies to more than 40 wins and has racked up 108 wins in 4 seasons, Peja Stojakovic at $14,256,000 is truly frickin amazing and Andrei Kirilenko earning $17,823,000 - tops amongst all small forwards - beggars belief. Of the 13 small forwards earning over ten million a year, I'd argue that Melo, LeBron, Pierce and Danny Granger are the only ones truly deserving of such lucrative salaries. Andre Iguodala fans can start screaming now, at which point we'll start laughing.
When you talk about power forwards in the NBA, the conversation starts and ends with Tim Duncan in my opinion. He's the Gold standard and possibly the best PF ever. He deserves his mammoth $18,835,381 salary, even if his production is on a steady decline. Rashard Lewis is getting way too much money for a power forward who has averaged 7 rebounds a season oncein a career spanning 12 seasons. And to think before he signed with Orlando our Cavaliers were sniffing around. He's a gifted player no doubt and if it weren't for Dirk he'd be the best shooting big man around, but he's not deserving of $19,573,711 this upcoming season. Of the 16 power forwards topping the ten million dollar mark, only three (Duncan, Gasol, Garnett) have NBA Championship rings in their jewellery boxes. Out of the following guys, you tell me who genuinely deserves to be earning eight figures next season - Troy Murphy, Elton Brand, Kenyon Martin and Antawn Jamison. Some have had great years in their careers, but these multi-year monster deals some guys bag are ridiculous. Chris Bosh is third fiddle on the newly formed Miami team, yet makes more than $14 million dollars?
As we finish off our mind-numbing experience with the crop of centers, I have one more question for you - name me an NBA center not named Dwight Howard who deserves ten million dollars or more next year? You can't can you? Thought so, which is why I'm naming all guys not named Howard unworthy of the salary coming their way. Nene at $11,360,000 is insane; Samuel Dalembert's $13,428,129 salary is "earned" on a career where his best season was 07/08 when he averaged 10.5ppg and 10.3 rebounds. Really? A guy whose career averages are 8.1 points and 8.3 rebounds is getting paid over $13 million dollars? Yao Ming can't stay healthy long enough to warrant the money he's on, though you must feel sorry for Houston and the faith they've put in him throughout his career. Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Erick Dampier combine for a whopping $36 million in salaries, totally deserving too.
With money like this being thrown around it's no wonder the new CBA is expected to be brutal, and it's less of a surprise that a lockout is imminent. Owners are to blame for mistakes they now want to be stamped out, agents have worked organisations to the extent where it's laughable and as the above info shows many NBA players are taking home salaries they have never deserved. I have a few suggestions on how we could improve our league;
1. The longest any potential contract can be is four years - with clauses determining how the salary increases/decreases each season. For example, if a guy signs a four year deal starting off at $6 million in year one, said player will be in line for a 15% pay rise in year two if he meets a number of different criteria - rise in points, rebounds, wins etc. If he doesn't reach those levels and his production drops off, he then faces a 15% decrease in salary
2. NBA teams will only be allowed two players who make $12 million or more in any one year of a contract - think about it here, with 40 players set to make over $12 million this season, if a team were only allowed two per roster it would disperse talent across the league, making it more competitive and more interesting
3. As a result of the new "Two for 12" rule, fan bases would get rejuvenated at the thought of their team having two stars, ticket sales go up, franchises start to make more money, the league as a whole prospers
4. Players, due to new incentives in their contracts, play out of their skins. Could you imagine LeBron or Durant knowing they had to score X amount of points or else they wouldn't get a pay rise the following season? Or Dwight Howard knowing he needs to block 100 shots for that extra half a mil pay rise? Standards would be off the charts - with no dip due to the rule that decreases money in accordance with performances
5. I understand that players at a certain age begin to drop off in production, making that rule unfair so as a result a league wide rule would come into affect stating that once a player reaches age 33, his salary may only be affected by 5% decrease but a 10% increase
I'll be the first to admit that my rules above are pretty flaw laden, but I'm sure with a few tweaks here and there we could nail it. Make no mistakes about it, something is going to change and one side of the agreement - players or management - will be pretty ticked off at the outcome. Nobody wants a lockout - nobody, but we're heading that way and there isn't anything we can do to stop it. It's how we react when it actually does come that will determine the future of our game, for better or worse.