The Tim Duncan Rule

» July 14, 2008 4:29 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

Recently, TrueHoop reported that just eight of the League’s thirty teams were over the luxury tax in 2007-2008.

Six of those teams made last year’s NBA playoffs.  Two of them — the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics  — met in the NBA Finals.  Not coincidentally, the Lakers and Celtics were led by two players who make in excess of or near $20 million per season.  Kevin Garnett made $23,750,000 and Kobe Bryant earned $19,490,625.  In hindsight, Jerry Buss and Wycliffe Grousbeck would agree that their superstars’ salaries was money well spent.  KG won Defensive Player of the Year and led the C’s to the best regular season record in the NBA and the NBA championship.  Bryant was the Most Valuable Player, and the Lakers advanced to their first NBA Finals since 2004.

Despite billion dollar broadcast rights, sky-high ticket prices, and merchandise and apparel sales, few NBA franchises are profitable.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that to win in today’s NBA, an owner has to be prepared to lose money.  Owners operate from a profit and loss statement.  There are limits to what most owners (not you James Dolan) will pay for the price of an NBA championship.

Baron Davis, Elton Brand, and Gilbert Arenas signed less than maximum contracts recently.  Davis opted out of a contract that would have paid him $17.8 million next year to sign a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers at $13 million per season.  For Davis, it was the opportunity to return to Los Angeles and the chance to play with All-Star power forward Elton Brand that convinced him to take a $4.8 million dollar paycut.  Although Brand eventually declined the Clippers offer, he signed a deal with the Sixers that will pay him $8 million less than what the Golden State Warriors offered for a chance at playoff contention with Philadelphia.

Arenas vowed to take a less than a maximum contract extension after the Wizards were eliminated from the playoffs so Washington could re-sign Antawn Jamison.  In a shocking turn of events considering the state of today’s NBA — Arenas stayed true to his word and inked a deal that will pay him $16 million less than what was available to him.

Nearly every NBA player says they want to win a championship.  But how many of those guys are willing to put their money where their mouth is?  How many guys realize that there’s no shortcut to building a team capable of winning an NBA championship?  It’s dollars and cents.  If you really want to win a ring, then sacrifice monetarily for the greater good of your organization and help your franchise build a winner.

Tim Duncan — winner of three of the past six NBA championships — gets it.  Duncan opted out of his contract before the start of the 2007-2008 season and signed a less than maximum contract extension ($11 million less) so that the Spurs could have salary cap flexibility following the 2010 season.  It’s been widely reported that 2010 is the summer of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.  But Manu Ginobili will be a free agent too.  Tony Parker will be a free agent the following season.

Asked to comment on the extension and Duncan taking millions less than he could have received, coach Gregg Popovich said Duncan is “definitely special and that’s just a very good example of how his brain works and what his priorities are.”

That’s how the greatest power forward of all-time’s “brain works.”  That’s where a four-time NBA champion’s “priorities are.”

Before being traded to the Celtics, Kevin Garnett agreed on an extension that will keep him in Boston through the 2011-12 season.  Garnett was eligible for a four-year extension from the Celtics worth an estimated $116 million — but agreed to a three-year $56,600,802 deal.

Kobe Bryant has an early termination option on his contract next season that will allow him to opt out and become a free agent.  Bryant demanded a trade before last season due to the lack of talent surrounding him.  Jerry Buss responded by trading Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol and straying further into luxury-tax territory to appease his superstar.  The Lakers front office rewarded Bryant with a championship caliber team.

If Bryant is serious in his desire to cement his legacy with multiple championships (sans Shaq), he’ll opt out and follow KG and Duncan’s lead by signing for less.

106 Responses to “The Tim Duncan Rule”

  1. Jams Says:

    I don’t get it. Where exactly is the sacrifice in opting out of a two $45M contract to sign a 5 year $100M contract?

  2. Hoffman Says:


    Duncan had an existing three-year deal. He opted out of that to add two years to the deal he had. In doing so, he could have forced the Spurs to pay him $11 million more than he agreed to. The longevity of his contract would have been there regardless, but Duncan chose to sign for less so San Antonio could have financial flexibility.

  3. Jams Says:

    So if Bryant signs for a $11M less with as much pub as possible he will no longer be viewed as selfish?

  4. grizz Says:

    you forgot to mention how shaq took less money in order to resign haslem. Albeit not that much less but still less

  5. Hoffman Says:


    I really don’t view Bryant as selfish right now. But he asked for a championship caliber team and the Lakers responded to his request…salary cap be damned. Due to the addition of Gasol’s contract and the likely Bynum extension, LA is going to have to penny pinch to fill their roster. Kobe could aid in that department by agreeing to a deal that will pay him less than what is available.

    If Kobe demands a max deal and the Lakers have difficulty surrounding him with talent because they’re over the cap, he’ll have no one to blame but himself.

  6. Hoffman Says:


    Shaq did agree to a $7,696,430 pay cut with the Heat. That was admirable. Even though he was nowhere near worth the $20 million per year the Heat signed him to at the time.

  7. King_Kaun Says:

    no matter how you spin it, the Wizards are morons for giving Gil all that money…they should thank the heavens he left some of it on the table. You would think they might have learned after the Juwon Howard, Rod Strickland, Mitch Richmond fiasco…but NOPE. Gil just made sure they will stay a terrible ballclub for many years to come…

    why would you give a player over 18 mil per season when you won MORE GAMES without him…and the same playoff results, a first round exit.

    Washington should have worked out a sign-and-trade with another team. Golden State? New York? Magic? Clippers?

    mark these words: Gilbert Arenas will never win an NBA Championship.

  8. Jams Says:

    I guess what I am saying is that taking $20M per year instead of $22.5M per year is not that much to ask. Even the greediest, most image obsessed player (cough, Agent Zero) would concede that much to his ego. Leave money does not mean that management will spend it on players and will not matter if your team does not win.

  9. Jams Says:

    Plus, who says Bynum is worth Max money? He has to show more than 35 games worth of potential first, right?

  10. Hoffman Says:


    I see what you’re getting at. There are more than a few front offices that have no clue as to how to use that financial flexibility. But that’s not the case for any of the players I mentioned.

    Arenas accepted $16 million less so Washington could re-sign Jamison. I can all but guarantee that Duncan had Ginobili and Parker in mind. In Duncan’s case, it’s not so much what he had, or ended up signing for, as it is what was available to him.

  11. Hoffman Says:


    You’re right about Bynum. But Kobe won’t be a free agent until after next season. If Bynum is worth a max deal, the Lakers will be far above the luxury tax limit. If he fails to make a full recovery, then the Lakers will still be forced to sign someone to a contract to replace him.

    Either way, Kobe would be wise to take less money so the Lakers can surround him with the best team money can buy…within reason of course.

  12. King_Kaun Says:


    Jamison re-signed first.

    Gil accepted less as a “PR” move, nothing more. Though you can easily spin it saying “it allows the Wizards more flexibility and cap relief in coming years…”

    but that’s not REALLY true…this move was ALL about PR for Mr. Zero…

  13. Hoffman Says:


    I know that Jamison re-signed first. That doesn’t mean anything. The Wizards knew Gilbert was amenable to a less than max deal. He made his intentions known shortly after the playoffs.

    They knew exactly how much they could afford on Antawn because of Arenas.

  14. Hoffman Says:


    Feel free to debate whether Gilbert was worth $111 million. That doesn’t change the fact that he was offered $127 million and turned it down so the Wizards would have flexibility.

  15. Jeffrox Says:

    Hoffman, you’re confusing me with your reasoning. In your reply to Jams, you clearly reasoned that Arenas accepted $16 million less so Washington could re-sign Jamison. But you downplayed its (your reasoning) value (knowing that Jamison re-signed first) in one of your repies to Kaun.

  16. Jeffrox Says:

    Also, you’ll never be sure of what may happen next year. Even if Boston retains all its players, the championship is far from guaranteed. And when that time comes, you will espouse a different mantra or philosophy. As always, winners have the best and last say.

  17. Hoffman Says:


    Arenas did sign less so the Wizards could come to terms with Jamison. I don’t think the fact that Jamison signed before Arenas should be used as a reason to believe that Jamison’s contract wasn’t influenced by Gilbert’s decision to take a less than max deal. That’s what I was trying to get across to Kaun.

    Kaun believes that Gilbert’s contract was nothing more than “PR move” and cited Jamison’s signing before Arenas as proof that it had little effect on Washington’s flexibility.

    I disagree.

  18. Hoffman Says:


    A championship is never guaranteed. But the more flexibility a team has, the better equipped they are to build a winner.

  19. Jeffrox Says:

    I don’t know much about Kobe’s remaining contract (nor do I know the NBA salary structure) but if you say somewhere in the vicinity of 20-25M per year, rising up to 30M in an extension, I do think that’s relatively at par or probably below Arenas’s contract in consideration with the player’s respective real values. Because if you can say Arenas’ sacrificed some money (16M in 6 years) in his latest contract and still not talking about Washington as a championship-caliber team, I think the idea is somehow lost there.

    Garnett’s relative sacrifice (wow! a poor 18M a year fellow for the next 3 years!) along with the other Celtics stars may go up in smoke if they don’t win at least another title before his extension expires. Don’t forget that Ray Allen and Garnett were each paid more than Bryant last season. So that means, any superstar can still get max money and be a champion.

    I always think most players are overpaid/overvalued. Even those that can provide you with a title. Also, I’m not really ok with long and big contracts. YOu’ll never know what happens along the way. Two or three years from now, some teams will greatly evolve. A new batch of coveted players will emerge demanding more money. Worse, your resident superstar no longer shines. And you’re stuck with the situation, albeit with little or no flexibility no matter how much the sacrifice today.

  20. Hoffman Says:


    Washington isn’t a contender. But they would be a lot worse off if they hadn’t been able to re-sign Jamison. I don’t know if Arenas’ deal is frontloaded, backloaded, or a straight line contract, but you have to take into account the penalties for exceeding the luxury tax. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it’s a straight line deal. So Arenas ends up saving the Wizards $2.66 million (16/6) each season. Let’s also assume the Wizards go over the luxury tax and are forced to pay a dollar for dollar penalty. A dollar for dollar penalty on the $2.66 million they saved on Gilbert amounts to this over a six-year period:

    2.66X2=5.32 million
    5.32×6=31.92 million

    As for Garnett, he’ll make $24,751,934 next season. And then his deal decreases to $16,451,934 in 2009/2010, the same year that Ray Allen will be a free agent.

    I agree with your thoughts on guaranteed contracts. I’m not a big fan of the NFL. But I believe the NFL allows teams to cut players and terminate contracts for poor performance. I’d like to see the same thing in the NBA.

  21. Jeffrox Says:

    I have a little reservation about your assumptions with regards to the effect of Arenas’contract on the team. Isn’t the reported max contract of 127M offered to Arenas within the calculated salary caps for those years? I’m sorry I’m not well informed. Im thinking and aligning to your article that Arenas made a sacrifice, in a way to let the team stay within the salary cap. Also, a little sketchy on the Jamison-Arenas connection unless it’s verified/confirmed. I agree though that the Wizards will be worse off without Jamison.

    From what I can deduce in your article, nobody among those mentioned players has yet won a title because of sacrificing. KG’s title didn’t reflect the sacrificed contract. And so did Duncan’s. In other words, it’s still premature or unproven. But I do agree that both extensions can be considered sacrifices relative to today’s NBA salaries. Baron Davis did not actually sacrificed 4.8M. He got a longer guaranteed contract. And so did Arenas. unless you talk strong championship contention for the Wizards. Because there should be reward for sacrifice to work.

  22. Jeffrox Says:

    Okay. Gotta sleep. Thank you for enlightening me. I hope the NBa imposes a strict within the salary cap rule. Players are becoming too greedy. It’s unimaginable that the mid level salary is 100 times or more than the average worker in the US.

  23. A-Train Says:


    Piece of advice–write with an objective in mind. This piece, while in no way bad, and full of good information, doesn’t really drive home a point.

    Is it about Kobe and how he’s going to have to take less money?

    Is it about teams needing to overspend in order to compete?

    Is it about guys like Duncan and Arenas taking one for the team?

    There’s a little bit of all of that in there, but at the end there’s no real focus. What was the writer trying to convey? I’m not sure. I think your story is, “NBA Players Realize Sometimes Less is More,” and it’s about how there might be a new trend starting where superstars realize that in order to win they must make personal financial sacrifices. I’m pretty sure that’s what you were going for–it’s just that it didn’t hit the reader in the head like that.

    With that said, I agree with much of what you said. I do think stars of today understand something star-idiots in the late 90’s/early 2000’s didn’t grasp, and that’s while “me” is important, so is “us.” Who the hell wants to be Shareef Abdur-Rahim? Stephon Marbury? Etc.–the star on the bad team that never goes anywhere.

    Of course it’s not Rahim or Marbury’s fault their respective managers made poor decisions. I think, as someone else pointed out, you can still pay a player what he’s worth and still build a winner without handcuffing the team financially.

    I don’t know. As far the Wizards are concerned, I’m with King Kaun. I really think they’ve made a tremendous mistake throwing money at two wildly-inefficient volume players. What about Caron Butler now? I think he’s their best player. Can’t Caron be like, “hey, I want a new contract too?” What if one of them gets hurt? I just think the risks involved aren’t worth it in this case. Throw Jamison money at a young, promising post player or pass-first point guard.

    Then again, something Kaun didn’t mention is the business aspect at stake. The Wiz sucked for a long time, and then they got good. The people in DC are excited. The Wiz are an up-and-coming team. Now, with the momentum building, to cause any kind of trouble with their nucleus of “stars” would be a mistake. Tell Jamison and Arenas, “we won’t overpay you,” and risk losing them wasn’t an option. The fans want both of them, and like I said, with the playoffs around the corner, etc., you don’t want to take a step back in order to take a REAL (title-contending) step forward.

    But we all know the Wizards ain’t winning dirt with these guys. They’re just not. 46-50 wins and a second-round exit? I mean, that’s great if 2009 promises improvement–but it’s not like these guys are in their early 20’s. I don’t like it, but I understand the Wiz had no choice.


  24. A-Train Says:

    I’m not sure Kobe accepts less money to help the Lakers. I think Kobe is going to go to the team that (a)pays him the most and (b) has the best chance of winning.

    Watch out for the Bulls. Watch out for the Sixers. The Sixers could be really tough next year. And Kobe might say, hey, if I play with Brand and X in the East, not only will I get my dough but I’ll also have an easier time reaching the Finals.

    Andre Iguodala and Thaddeous Young for Kobe Bryant? Maybe get Andre Miller to re-sign at less money? Maybe Louis Williams steps up?

    Duncan knew his best chance of winning was with the Spurs. But if Duncan thought he stood a better chance of winning elsewhere, and the money was better there, he would have considered it. It’s easy to take less when you’re in the ideal situation. In Arenas’ case, he makes $2 mil less per season. Big whoop. That’s worth not having to move your family and deal with a change, etc. That’s worth sticking around where people are crazy about you.

  25. xphoenix87 Says:

    “I hope the NBa imposes a strict within the salary cap rule. Players are becoming too greedy. It’s unimaginable that the mid level salary is 100 times or more than the average worker in the US.”

    Just to let you know, maximum salaries, mid-level exceptions, etc. are determined as percentages of the salary cap, and the salary cap is determined by how much BRI (Basketball Related Income) the league projects to bring in the next year.

    “I don’t know. As far the Wizards are concerned, I’m with King Kaun. I really think they’ve made a tremendous mistake throwing money at two wildly-inefficient volume players.”

    Jamison is actually an extremely efficient player. He’s a fairly good shooter, but he gets to the line a decent amount (and shoots a good percentage) and he’s an above-average offensive rebounder. Most importantly, he almost never turns the ball over. Only one guy in the league had a lower turnover rate than him, and that was Peja because all he does is catch-and-shoot. The problem with Jamison and Agent Zero isn’t that they’re inefficient, it’s that they don’t play defense.

  26. A-Train Says:

    Phoenix, you’re mistaken.

    Jamison finished 10th in shot attempts-per game last season and shot 43.6 percent.

    That was the lowest field goal percentage for any forward in the league last year who attempted at least 12 shots per game.

    In addition, he shot 33.9% on three-pointers, which was 7th worst amongst all forwards.

    He shot 76% from the stripe, and attempted just under six free throws per game.

    Then you can say, well, he averaged 10.2 rebounds per game, which was 6th best amongst all forwards. But only two forwards played more minutes than him–Rich Jefferson and Rashard Lewis. Jamison was 12th in minutes played in the whole league. He got 10 rebounds per game because he had more opportunities. Period.

    Per 36 minutes:

    19.9 points and 9.5 rebounds. 44% FG. 34% 3PT. 76% FT.

    To me, he’s an overpaid Al Harrington.

    Harrington per 36 minutes:

    18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds. 43% FG. 38% 3PT 77% FT.

    Jamison: 6-9 235
    Harrington: 6-9 245

    Jamison: age 32
    Harrington: age 28

    Jamison: 4 years, $50 million left
    Harrington: 2 years, $19.2 million left

    These guys are the exact same player.

    I will give you that Jamison doesn’t turn over the ball much. I mean, he doesn’t really turn it over at all. But that’s because he catches and shoots every single time he touches it. Al Harrington barely turned the ball over last year either. Does that mean he’s efficient?

    He’s not a bad player, but he’s certainly not efficient. He’s Antoine Walker minus the turnovers and play-making ability. The only problem is that neither of them can shoot!!!

  27. A-Train Says:

    I should have said, “overhyped,” not “overpaid.” Harrington will make more than Jamison once he becomes a free agent.

    Arenas likes to shoot like a maniac and only hits on about 40% of his shots. Stevenson shot 39% last year. Jamison was just under 44%. Roger Mason, who could shoot, is gone. Butler is excellent.

    I mean, how can this team possibly be good? And yet, I think they’ll win 40+ games.

  28. King_Kaun Says:


    Harrington and Jamison the SAME player? tough statement.

    I like how you compare their “per 36 minutes” stats instead of their actual stats. There is one GLARING problem with using that type of comparison: Jamison actually played 38 mpg while Harrington only played 27 mpg. What does that mean?? Those remaining 9 mpg worth of stats are ESTIMATED/PROJECTED STATS using simple mat…while on the other hand, Jamison ACTUALLY and PHYSICALLY put up those stats…its not a projection based on stats-per-minute reasoning…

    You are comparing physical data vs. projections…which just isn’t very accurate. ever.

    Harrington is known for his poor play in big games. Take, for instance, his playoff averages. In the only two years of playoff action that he played significant minutes, Harrington’s scoring dropped QUITE A BIT each year.

    2003-04: regular season: 15.5. Playoffs: 9.5
    (then he was not in the playoffs again until…)
    2006-07: regular season: 18.9. Playoffs: 10.2


    Jamison, on the other hand, increased his scoring in 3 of his last 4 playoff appearances, including that massive increase in 06-07 when Gilbert was hurt (from 18 ppg to 32 ppg) though he DID have a drop this last post season.

    I would concur that they are similar players, but in NO WAY are “these guys the same player”

  29. King_Kaun Says:

    I also think the NBA needs to do away with guaranteed contracts. In the NFL, if you have a big contract, then stop producing, BAM…you are cut and the money is gone. Just look at former 2006 MVP Shaun Alexander… (who also set a rushing record that season…which has since been).

  30. xphoenix87 Says:

    1) Harrington played on a WAY faster team last year. Golden State played nearly 10 possessions more per game than Washington, that significantly inflates his numbers.

    2) Harrington has been extremely inefficient almost all of his career. Last year was far-and-away his best year. Jamison has played with good to great efficiency for the last 6 years.

    3) Jamison is a MUCH better rebounder, on both ends. He grabs nearly 5% more available rebounds when he’s in than Harrington does (when the league leader gets 20% of available rebounds, 5% is a HUGE difference).

    4) The only area in which Harrington is markedly better than Jamison is 3-point percentage. Jamison gets to the line more, turns the ball over less, and rebounds more.

    He’s high-volume, but that doesn’t equate to inefficiency. A lot more goes into efficiency than just shooting percentages.

    The Antoine Walker comparison is a joke. Walker was a worse shooter, a worse rebounder, a turnover machine and an awful free-throw shooter (and he rarely went to the line).

  31. King_Kaun Says:

    Harrington and Jamison the SAME player? tough statement.
    I like how you compare their “per 36 minutes” stats instead of their actual stats. There is one GLARING problem with using that type of comparison: Jamison actually played 38 mpg while Harrington only played 27 mpg. What does that mean?? Those remaining 9 mpg worth of stats are ESTIMATED/PROJECTED STATS using simple mat…while on the other hand, Jamison ACTUALLY and PHYSICALLY put up those stats…its not a projection based on stats-per-minute reasoning…

    You are comparing physical data vs. projections…which just isn’t very accurate. ever.

    Harrington is known for his poor play in big games. Take, for instance, his playoff averages. In the only two years of playoff action that he played significant minutes, Harrington’s scoring dropped QUITE A BIT each year.
    2003-04: regular season: 15.5. Playoffs: 9.5
    (then he was not in the playoffs again until…)
    2006-07: regular season: 18.9. Playoffs: 10.2


    Jamison, on the other hand, increased his scoring in 3 of his last 4 playoff appearances, including that massive increase in 06-07 when Gilbert was hurt (from 18 ppg to 32 ppg) though he DID have a drop this last post season.

    I would concur that they are similar players, but in NO WAY are “these guys the same player”

  32. King_Kaun Says:

    sorry that got posted twice. Not sure what happened…

  33. King_Kaun Says:

    Hoffman says:

    “I’m not a big fan of the NFL…”

    why is that? Are you just not a big football fan, or just not an NFL fan? I know this is off topic, but I, myself, love the NFL and any form of football. In fact, in recent years I have come to realize that I actually like watching football MORE than watching basketball!! Its close but probably 55-45 in favor of football!

    (though that changes when it comes to watching local teams play…)


    can you believe Camby was sent to the Clippers for a pack of Mentos, a dead parakeet and an old Shaq rap album?? Crazy!! (okay, so maybe it was for a 2nd round draft pick and 10 mil trade exception, but still…he was the only member of the Nuggets who could play defense!!)

  34. NESW Sports Headlines 7/16/2008 | NESW Sports, The Best Sports News Says:

    [...] Baller Blogger presents the Tim Duncan Rule [...]

  35. Jeffrox Says:


    Isn’t the mid-level salary the average NBA salary? I’m just trying to say how much the average player gets ‘overpaid’ in a year that the average American worker will never get paid in a lifetime.

    The Jamison-Harrington discussion tends to be swaying away from the real issue of this article. I do think you guys know a lot about stats and fantasy league which is a good thing because you support your opinion with something measureable. Sadly, this will also be the cause of your misunderstanding.

  36. King_Kaun Says:


    Fantasy league?

    Isn’t it presumptuous to assume any of us spewing out stats are involved in fantasy sports? I, personally, hardly ever partake in fantasy sports…and when I do, its never something I pay for or even check regularly…

    This article is about contracts and players taking less money to help out their teams. Contracts are about production. Stats, playoff appearances, and championships define production. Toss in marketability and those are the factors teams use to gauge the worth of each player. Two people arguing over stats IS relevant to this article AND relevant in NBA analysis…

    whether or not too many people rely too much on it can be easily debated with good reason…

    misunderstanding? tough statement to make with no backing.

    thanks. KK

  37. Jeffrox Says:


    well, I agree with you on several of your points except that this article is primarily about superstars’ willingness to make financial sacrifices for the teams just to make a strong shot at the title. I don’t know if you’d agree that neither Jamison nor Harrington are in the league of Garnett, Duncan or Kobe. Also, neither Jamison nor Harrington made any ‘reported’ sacrifice.

  38. King_Kaun Says:

    Ah yes…I am with you now. Yeah, in that respect, these debates have gone off on a tangent. Though honestly, that is why I like these comment boards! But I guess that stuff should be saved for the forums, huh?

    It seems to me that talks of Gilbert Arenas taking less led to talks of Jamison re-signing and the rest went from there. But when I see someone comparing Harrington to Jamison STRAIGHT UP I cannot help but point out the glaring problems with such a questionable comparison…

    thanks. KK

  39. Jeffrox Says:

    While i’m not totally discounting the Wizards and the Warriors, it’s a pretty safe assumption that not one of them will figure prominently for the NBA title next year.

    I inserted the misunderstanding statement because you can never truly measure a player’s value to the team no matter how much the stats would play out. Aside from the intangibles, projected or inferred stats are tricky and can be misleading. But then it’s difficult to make a solid and convincing argument/comparison without a common basis especially when talking about production and efficiency.

  40. Jeffrox Says:

    Gotta go KK. Nice and healthy conversation. We can talk players’ stats some other place and time.

  41. Kareem Says:

    I am always a little bit confused when people discuss player salaries, especially the cast of people who exhibit “disgust” at the going rate for star power in today’s leagues. During Bryant’s exit interview, available on the Lakers’ site, he said something to the effect of “I’m not even the richest one in this building.” If we were to guess, Kobe’s comment presumably singled out Dr. Buss, who is currently worth a cool $400 million. That’s nearly double what Kobe’s worth (around $200 million), ostensibly the difference between a yacht and a personal jet–I’m assuming as much, never having shopped for either myself.

    That being said, both Dr. Buss and Mr. Bryant are doing well enough for themselves, and maybe this is an assumption, but I will venture out and say that neither of their salaries or respective worths are on the decline (nor would it matter much if they were).

    Chris Rock put it well when he said, “Shaq is rich. The white man who signs his check… is wealthy.” I feel that there is an underlying class argument made here when people criticize players like Kobe Bryant and their outrageous contracts. Sure the MLE outstrips Average Joe’s salary one hundred times (or more), but the heart of this issue has more to do with old money than it does with anything else; or, rather, it has to do with letting new money in with the old money. I don’t hear anyone vilifying Jerry Buss, though you’ve had to rob SOMEONE to make 400 million dollars.

    Many sports players in the past have spent their money– their inflated contracts– on toys, girls, homes, whatever normal people burn their money on when they have it; but now some face squarely the sheer amount of money available in the NBA, and the potential of equitable distributions of revenue between the laborers and the investors. What Kobe is accomplishing through his negotiations–getting ‘his’–is transcending the capital gap and asserting himself as the dual labor and creative force behind the Lakers’ organizational success. What then is so challenging to people that he utilizes this forum to bridge the gap from Kobe rich to Buss rich.

    Rock finishes that comic bit, “Ah, here you go, Shaq. Go buy yourself a bouncing car. Bling, bling!” And I think it scares people that Kobe thinks beyond ‘Bling, bling!’ What scares me most is this sh*t people parade around about poor owner _____, poor him, poor Dr. Buss, like he’s really got something to worry about, like his 400 million is gonna disappear. The truth is, plain and simple, tickets to Lakers’ games are in such high demand that only two groups of people stand to lose: ticket buyers (or potential ones unable to pay up) and taxpayers (because when it comes to sports teams, we always find ourselves blackmailed.) Forget about poor Jerry Buss. Poor us.

    Truly yours,
    A huge Lakers fan.

  42. Jeffrox Says:

    This may be a little off but I always believe that no player (unless we witness a superplayer – somebody clearly better than Jordan or someone who could score perfectly from beyond the arc every possession) should command more than 30% of the team’s salary. Basketball is still a team game. The rest of the players on the team deserve more than crumbs.

    And teams should be made to stick to the salary cap for two main reasons: 1. eventually owners will recoup the expenses plus profit from average Joes and 2. level playing field among teams which is ultimately good for the league.

  43. xphoenix87 Says:

    The salary cap as constructed is, in my opinion, the best in any sport. It restricts teams so that rich owners can’t build all-star squads (ala baseball), but it still allows teams flexibility to resign their own star players and make small moves to make themselves better. The only real differences between teams willing to spend more and teams who spend less is a) buying draft picks, ala Portland b) signing mid-level guys (and look how far that’s gotten the Knicks).

    If you plot salary and wins from last year together, the r-squared value(representing the correlation) is a mere .027, it’s absolutely insignificant. Even if you take out the two worst wins/salary offenders (Miami and New York), that only grows to .15, again showing barely any correlation between how much you pay and how much you win.

    Spending more money very rarely equates to success in the NBA, and if you can say that then your salary cap is doing a good job.

  44. xphoenix87 Says:

    you’re right on the mid-level being the average salary, I “misremembered” my salary cap facts. However, it comes down to pretty much the same thing. The salary cap dictates how much teams spend, and that will dictate the average salary.

  45. Hoffman Says:



    I agree with a lot of what you wrote. But I think you’re making a mistake by equating the Lakers franchise’s worth to actual profit. Few NBA teams are profitable. Forum Blue and Gold put together a blog that estimated Buss’ income at $30 million during the 2006-2007 season:

    That may be true. I think it’s fair to assume that Buss made more this season. But he also paid more in luxury tax penalties because of the Gasol trade.

    You compared Kobe to Buss and I’m glad you did. Kobe made $17,718,750 in 2006-2007. So the difference between what Buss makes and what Kobe makes is closer than you think.

    Buss is worth as much as he is because of the franchise value of the Lakers, he can’t really cash in that value unless he chooses to sell the Lakers. In fact, that’s where the profit normally comes from owning an NBA franchise. More often than not, owners lose money each season with the hope of recouping that money when/if they sell the team.

    Jerry Buss’ situation is unique. Unlike most owners, Buss doesn’t have a lot outside business interests. He liquidated most of his real estate assets to buy the Lakers. Nearly all of his income comes from the Lakers revenue from year to year. So he can’t afford to lose money and make up that difference like James Dolan (who owns Cablevision) can from outside ventures.

  46. Hoffman Says:


    Yeah, I kind of rambled from time to time in this blog. But I think the last few paragraphs ties everything up. If superstars like Kobe want to win a ring, or retain their surrounding talent, they should take notice of what Tim Duncan did this season.

    Duncan may not win another championship. But he’s put his team in position to acquire/retain the talent necessary to compete for a ring.

    You said, “It’s easy to take less when you’re in the ideal situation.” I agree. But you can always do what Brand did too. And that’s take a less than max deal to go elsewhere.

  47. Hoffman Says:


    Arenas’ deal was made with the intent of staying under the cap. And right now, they are. But if they are forced to exceed the cap in the future, the example above shows the potential savings in luxury tax penalties that Arenas’ deal could afford the Wizards.

    You said, “From what I can deduce in your article, nobody among those mentioned players has yet won a title because of sacrificing. KG’s title didn’t reflect the sacrificed contract. And so did Duncan’s. In other words, it’s still premature or unproven.”

    True. But the fact that Duncan and KG took less than max deals will still allow their teams to remain in title contention. It may be unproven now, but if Kobe follows KG and Duncan and the Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics retain the flexibility to retain their rosters and build upon their success, I’m confident that the Tim Duncan Rule will be proven shortly.

  48. Hoffman Says:


    I don’t like the NFL or MLB because their games are too slow for me. I’ll watch the Super Bowl or a Broncos game from time to time, but I don’t look forward to football season.

  49. King_Kaun Says:

    yeah, I cant stand MLB for that very same reason! As for football, yeah, I get bored with run-first, grind-it-out teams, but truth is, they are a dying breed in this modern NFL. Everyone wants to be like the Colts, Cowboys, and Patriots with their high-flying, pass-first attack.

    If its speed you want, maybe take in a Patriots game or two this year. They will have a HUGE chip on their shoulder after that Super Bowl debacle…and a HUGE target on their back for going 16-0 in the regular season last year.

    but back to NBA…

    What do you think the future holds for Allen Iverson?? (whose contract expires after this season)

  50. Basketballogy Says:

    I loved this article, but there is a HUGE component that was left out.

    The “Tim Duncan Rule” actually isn’t a rule, it is an unspoken two-way CONTRACT.

    The reason Tim can sacrifice monetarily for the good of the team is because he believes that the Spurs will likewise be loyal to him. He knows, as we all do, that the Spurs won’t be trading Duncan, nor will they take the money and run and not get Tim help. BECAUSE Tim can trust the Spurs, his pay cut will pay off for all concerned.

    Tim might not be so “special” however, if it were the Lakers’ management he needed to trust, or the Mavericks’ management for that matter.

    The same holds true for Kevin Garnett. Everyone knows Garnett will retire a Celtic.

    Without a reciprocal, TWO WAY LOYALTY — player to team, and team to player — any monetary sacrifice a player might make for the good of the team would be foolish.

    Think about it.

    Why don’t people ever call upon lower tier players like Brent Barry to take pay cuts for the good of the team? Because players like Brent Barry might not even be with the team next season, so those sacrifices don’t make sense.

    If Kobe, and other players for that matter, had a reasonable assurance that their sacrifice would not be in vein, I think you’d see the Tim Duncan contract more frequently.

    The Spurs have earned that trust with Tim, and one of the reasons Tim can trust them is because the Spurs earned the trust with David Robinson before him.

    The Lakers? [Laughing] Well, Kobe’s sacrifice will be a leap of faith, because the Lakers don’t quite have the track record the Spurs do. Just ask fired and re-hired coach, Phil Jackson.

    But I’ve seen Kobe leap; he’s pretty good at it! I bet he takes one for the team, provided the Lakers don’t blow it in the coming year.

  51. Jeffrox Says:


    I actually like the message of your article. As expressed in my previous posts, I’m really against one player taking an incredibly large chunk of the salary cap. It’s just that I didn’t appreciate putting Arenas and Baron Davis as examples of players willing to take a hit financially for a strong chance at the title. We can go on and on with the argument about Arenas (Jamison connection, future luxury tax, flexibility) but it’ll not be convincing enough (unless there’s another new reason for it) that Kobe should follow Arenas’lead.

    KG and TD’s cases are not necessarily good examples. The problem with looking too much into the future is that, along the way, there will be ‘disruptions’. Something or somebody messes up. ‘Variables’ change. An idea now may be revolutionary but before it gets realized there’s a strong possibility that it’ll be overtaken by events (injuries, lessened efficiency, new rules, emergence of new stars, etc.) And poof! Your money is tied to say Duncan, pondering how to move him, and your team has trouble making the play-offs let alone a chance of winning a title. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that planning is bad. Financial sacrifice must equate to a strong probability of figuring in the championship. I’m not even saying an automatic title.

    Funny is, Kobe and the Lakers were title contenders and will be strong title contenders next year (or possibly the years to come) even if they have the same line-up. That means, Kobe need not make a financial sacrifice. I can see a double standard. Duncan’s sacrifice is made an example when the same Duncan/Spurs were demolished by Kobe/LAL. It’s like you want KObe to shed millions for an almost ‘guaranteed title’ on one end while praising Duncan for sacrificing money just for the Spurs to figure prominently in a championship (not necessarily to be the champion). I’m not a Lakers fan and you said you are. Aren’t you too hard on Kobe?

    IMO and so were the majority of the basketball world, the Lakers could have beaten the Celtics with the same line-up. They were the favorites. Just because they lost the series doesn’t mean they have to fix their line-up. Prior to game 4 of that series, even down 1-2, a lot of basketball analysts and fans were putting the Celtics at a disadvantage because of the game sked. Because the Lakers lost game 4 and the series and all of a sudden, it’s time to add an ‘expensive quality’ dude to support Kobe?

    And yet, no one blamed Phil. Perhaps not as strong as tinkering about trading Odom or branding Gasol soft. Maybe, it was just the Celtics’ time to win the title. Not necessarily fate. While teams make best efforts to be as competitively strong as possible which should naturally lead to good results, only the same count of 16 teams will qualify for the playoffs. And only one champion. This year, it just happened that the Celtics got the better of the Lakers.

  52. Kareem Says:

    I want to address the economics that are being displayed in this argument, specifically something that Jeffrox mentioned.

    You said that you dislike players ball-hogging such large percentages of the salary cap room, limiting the negotiations and acquisitions between management and other players. By commanding twenty-five percent(?) of the Laker’s cap space, Kobe might contribute to the dissolution of the Lakers’ team success. As a fan, this is troubling, obnoxious, and greedy; because, as a fan, this potentially ruins our enjoyment of our team. Furthermore, as men, this money is a lot more money than we will probably earn in our lifetimes–hell, all of us combined–so any grievances of two or three million dollars, we think Kobe Bryant should part ways with for “the team”. What is it to him, anyways?

    But Kobe Bryant isn’t just a player on a team, playing a game; he’s a man, too. A man whose efforts supply the franchise with consistent merchandising profits, with jersey sales among the top three for the last several years. Furthermore, lets say that instead of Kobe Bryant at SG, the Lakers had Rip Hamilton. If I were a betting man, I would wager that the average cost of Lakers’ tickets would be less than ninety-three dollars a ticket. Hell, there might even be a precipitous decline in ticket sales. Maybe ten percent? Maybe twenty? And then there would probably be similar declines in merchandising. Sure, Rip only gets ten million dollars a year, but I’m pretty sure that Kobe makes up the difference in what he brings to marketing (especially since he–or his manager– is VERY good at self-promotion).

    Nor, truthfully, can we parade the NBA as a vision of equality, utopian socialism, where players and owners share the wealth among each other. When our teams’ front offices establish a reputation for solid fiscal management, what does that translate to the players? An agreeable front office makes good deals that limit financial burdens while concurrently developing a successful squad and profitable product. From our perspective, this process includes paying players “what they’re worth”. If that means, to a front office, avoiding binding contracts to players–like Luke Walton–which “overpay” them, then so be it. There is a financial and organizational necessity to treat them as a market commodity, whose value fluctuates (regardless of its implications to personal lives). I myself, as a Laker fan, would commend the front office for their adept management of their finances and its translation into team success (even if this is not the case with Walton).

    But, when it comes to a Basketball player (leaving off all the social, racial, and political qualifiers that do have a place in this argument) who commands the same power and business approach that the front office would take to him in a heartbeat, if possible, we complain that he is strangling the organization. Kobe Bryant works just as hard as–maybe harder than–anyone in the entire organization. His success is a testament to that hard work; and his success parallels the organization’s success. The same could be said of Gasol, Bynum, Odom, or any player on any team in the NBA (just the percentage changes). If we are going to be subjective as fans, let it be. But let us be honest as men (and women).

    More so than in many other industries, Kobe Bryant is earning his keep AND paying Dr. Buss’s salary. Plus Buss bought the team for 20 million dollars. Now it’s worth over five hundred million dollars, which needs to be written out long-hand to realize how astronomical that number actually is.

    You mention that Buss only made 30 million in 2006-2007. Only. Only double what Bryant made. Only 30 million last year. Maybe 20 million this year. Maybe 10 million each year since 1979. Maybe 300 million in the last 30 years? The guy’s got a fat piggy bank and I feel no need to defend his pockets.

    Hell, I’m a socialist and I’m down angry that I can’t even make enough money to pay any of these bastards any of their inflated salaries, let alone dream of Beverly Hills homes and that night in Monte Carlo. But lets be real. Kobe’s got the system by the balls, and I feel fine keeping it that way. If he can keep Buss paying for a championship team, get his, and play quality ball, I’ll be as satisfied as I’ll be until the revolution comes. Then I’ll watch Dr. J and Jordan versus Bryant and Magic in my backyard, for free.

  53. Jeffrox Says:


    I must admit, I don’t know much about NBA finances. I don’t know how many teams are losing real money, amount of these losses, earnings if there are any, rate of return, etc. Im talking purely on logic in most if not all of my statements. Here goes, if you want to discuss all the economics, then why did you not include the risk of losing money for Mr Buss? He’s a businessman. There’s a lot of risks involved in that. High risk translates to high return. Kobe is guaranteed positive income as oppose to Buss. YOu seem to be ‘inclined’ in believing that if there’s no Kobe, there will be no profitable Lakers to speak of and benefit from. Look at the bigger picture. A lot of arguments can be made here but even you know that it will only lead to endless debates. It’s almost useless to enumerate our points if all we discuss are only perceived ideas.

    You, me and Hoff have interestingly contrasting ideas. My idea is pointing to Hoff’s reasoning as somewhat flawed. Not that I strongly disagree with his article’s message.

  54. Kareem Says:


    Financially, the Lakers’ organization stands pat. They’ve had an annual appreciation of twelve percent for the past thirty years, and that’s only considering the franchise value. The Buss has done well on the side (and ten million plus from Magic in ‘94). Yes, Buss has risked for the organization, and we must reward him for that risk. And we have. If the appreciated value of the franchise is not enough, what is? Where do we draw the line? When does value of that initial investment no longer entitle him to an undisputed, unchecked returns? When do other creative forces and risk takers get returns for their investment in the team’s financial success?

    If I were to paint things my way, I would say that players invest quite a bit in basketball and their pay day. What do you call the dedication it takes to become an NBA player? The amount of attention, training, discipline necessary to make it to the pros? The NCAA calls it 3 in 10,000 or .03 percent of high schoolers. I’m pretty sure if you took a sample of the top .03 percent (in earnings) businessmen from high school, they would earn as much or more than basket ball players. Jerry Buss is one of them! If you want to make an argument that Buss’s education is “worth more” than Bryant’s dedication, I think it would be difficult and hopeless. And to speak of risk as if owners are the only one’s risking themselves, as if basketball players share none of that: what about injury? What about the possibility of NOT making the pros and earning nothing with your degree in communications (or barely a high school diploma)? What if your career only lasts five years? Ten years? What if you only earn middle-NBA-income?

    Sure Buss risked (and continues to risk) money, but what about the players who sweat? What if Kobe’s career ends next year? He’s gonna be pretty happy he made twenty-two million that year. Right?

    Now we could debate forever, right. But these are not perceived ideas. These aren’t regular sportswriter topics, but they need to be discussed. Why? As bloggers, thinkers, people acting on ideas, how do we inform our actions if we do not inform our thoughts? Now I like the article. It is tangible, informed, maybe shaky on a couple points, its very readable, and I agree with the force of the argument. But maybe next time he writes this article, he makes the point that Buss can afford the money; that Kobe is acomplishing something in the business that few people in sports have ever been able to do. Sure the article would be less about basketball, but I’m sure for many of these players and their respective organizations, basketball is less about basketball and more about life. Why can’t our sportswriting reflect those ideas and the happenings of the game. I’m not asking you to Free Darko things, but it’s good to have a philosophy behind things you say. Said things usually become more substantial.

  55. A-Train Says:

    Kareem, you socialist bastard, why don’t you move to China and live off of acorns! (I’m just busting your chops).

    A lot of good points from a lot of people–sorry for going off topic with Jamison (by the way, I really do feel he and Harrington are comparable)–but I want to touch on something else.

    What about the number of teams? I mean, the more teams, the more the talent is thinned out, the greater discrepancy between good players and bad players. Think about it.

    If there were six fewer teams (roughly 90 fewer players) eliminated from the picture, the “average player” would be better. If the “average player” is better, then there’s less of a drop-off in talent across the board from one level of skill to the other. This lowers the premium paid for the best players, because the line between the best players and the “next best” group of players is grayed a bit.

    For example, take Allen Iverson. If he’s on a Philly team that sucks, he’s going to stick out more. He’s going to shoot more, score more, etc. Furthermore, the club is going to market him out the ass because he’s their selling point. Come to the games to see Allen! He’s a better commodity, an attraction, etc.–his value skyrockets.

    But if Iverson goes to the Nuggets, a better team that already has a “star,” his individual value decreases a bit. Why? Because he’s not the ONLY guy on that team. The team doesn’t put all of its money into him. That money is more so split amongst the good players. It goes from “Come see Allen” to “Come see Allen AND Carmelo.” The club has to market them both, or if the team is doing well, market THE TEAM, and not just the guy who puts asses in the seats.

    Look at the Spurs. They’re a good team with good players. When they come to town the media doesn’t just talk about Duncan, but also Parker and Manu. Also even Popovich. By spreading that attention, the individuals are devalued in a marketing sense. They take shine away from each other.

    Take Amare away from Nash and put him on, say, the Bobcats, and you’ll see Amare’s name come up regularly in the “who’s the best player in the league” discussion. The media will be talking about him being so great, and he’ll sell more jerseys, and he’ll command more money. He’s an attraction. He’s less of an attraction in Phoenix, however, because he has to share the shine with Nash.

    SO… if there were fewer teams, teams would be better, they would be more “stacked”–going five really good players deep instead of just two really good players deep–and the salaries would come down.

    You know, if the Lakers have Gasol, Joe Johnson, Marcus Camby, etc., then there’s no way Kobe signs for some ridiculous amount of money. That money just isn’t there. The money is divided a bit more evenly across the board.

    But if it’s just Gasol, then retaining Kobe is everything, and the Lakers will throw the house at him to keep him.

    I’m not sure I did a great job of explaining this, but those of you who followed, I think will agree.

    Fewer teams mean the bottom-feeding talent gets pushed out. The competition gets better. The average player is better. Stars don’t shine as much. Salaries come down. And you have a better product.

  56. A-Train Says:

    Kevin McHale is arguably the best power forward ever. But he played in Bird’s shadow. They also had Parish. A bunch of other guys. Imagine if McHale were on a bad team. We’d be talking about how incredible he was because he averaged 30+ points and 15+ rebounds. He’d go from a status of “great complimentary player” to a guy who wins a few MVP awards.

    There are just way too many teams. They should do four divisions of six teams. The best six from each conference go to the playoffs.

  57. A-Train Says:

    Lastly, this relates to the post because, I’m saying the players and owners are not the problem. The NBA is the problem.

  58. Jeffrox Says:


    You’ve said the Lakers has been enjoying this profitable trend for a long time now doesnt that only strengthened the notion that it’s not Kobe’s attraction alone that the Lakers are profitable? You talk like a socialist but ignored the values of the other members of the Lakers team.
    When I suggested that you look at the bigger picture, I was insinuating more than just Kobe and the Lakers. Just because a handful of teams are profitable already makes the whole league of teams profitable. So, who take the financial hit in the not-so flourishing markets? Their owners and fans? Didn’t it hit you that perhaps KObe is just in the right market? It could have been Lebron, Wade or Duncan. Sure, KObe deserves a zillion more if you compare the Lakers and the Knicks. Even if you insert Chicago, Boston, Orlando, HoustonBut the league is now limited to them. Perhaps, you would suggest for other lowly teams to shape up and invest more by disregarding the salary cap/max money/luxury tax. It’s not gonna solve the problem because you have the same players in the league. Because you cant stop one player to compare his salary in relation to another (it’s a highly relative appreciation of their values). What you’ll get are more bloated salaries. And we’ll be right back to where we started with here. It then becomes a circular problem. Just like our discussion becoming more cyclical. So tell me, what are your suggestions, profit sharing?

    You talked about dedication and risk as if only Kobe is capable of that. I’m from the poor Philippines and most likely I know a lot more about unrewarded dedication and risk than most Americans. Even the lowly American G.I. sticks out a lot more of his life and body than Kobe does but at just a negligible fraction of the rewards (if you can even call it a reward) Kobe has been reaping. Who knows, others may insert the idea that rape is a dedication. That prison term is a risky ‘reward’ for such dedication. But not to Kobe. Socialist, huh? I’d like to know how much Kobe or even the NBA makes our world more productive and efficient? We can continue with more rhetorics but it’s not getting into a healthy on-topic discussion anymore

    To Kobe, Im sorry I brought up your ‘misdemeanor’. I promise to stick by the topic next time. :)

  59. Jeffrox Says:

    Part of my post should have appeared this way: ‘Even if you insert Chicago, Boston, Orlando, Houston in the equation. The league is not limited to them.’

    I inadvertently press enter while inserting this line.

  60. King_Kaun Says:

    wow…this post has really grown in comments. Baller Blogger record? yahoo!!

  61. Kareem Says:


    The markets are still ripe for the profits, and cities desire sports franchises. To limit these franchises solely to “perfect the product” is provincial and antithetical to sports. This is entertainment, not an art form above human desires. Why does a franchise exist in Los Angeles? Because people desire a basketball team and it is profitable to the producers.


    I Think you are confusing my argument with something else. I am isolating Kobe Bryant and the Lakers because Kobe Bryant and the Lakers deserve to be isolated. He is in a unique position as an athlete: he can demand compensation commensurate with his value as a market force in Los Angeles, nationally, and abroad.

    Jeffrox, I provided for you an average appreciation of the value of the franchise. That does not mean that there there is no fluctuation year to year. The fluctuation is especially exaggerated when considering “successful years” and “unsuccessful years”. When Divac, Jones, and Van Exel lead the team, the club made less than when Kobe and Odom lead the team. Furthermore, I don’t know Buss’s yearly salary, I was simply estimating for the sake of an argument (although I feel I was a little conservative in that estimate).

    The question here is a little deeper than ‘what is fair for all basketball franchises’. It boils down to this: if a franchise can pay, why don’t they? If a player will bring such success to that franchise that the initial investment (however large and however deep into the luxury tax a team goes) is returned and exceeded, then why will that franchise not supply that player with an adequate compensation?

    The road block we’re hitting is that you’re returning to the question of “fairness” in terms of other teams in the league. Every single owner of a basketball franchise has business on the mind. Why shouldn’t a player? Very few owners are masochistic: they invest in a team usually because they will at least retain (or gain) money. Whether that pays once they sell the franchise or in yearly income (as is the case with Buss) is an entirely different matter. These businessmen are not investing in teams simply to lose money. And when they do lose money, that is the risk of a business venture. Simple as that. Business is business.

    As far as profit sharing, I don’t really know if its that simple. I think that many things are f**ked up about NBA economics, and without a radical redistribution scheme or alteration in the dynamics of the finances of basketball, little will change. I’m all for equity, fairness, and socialism. But if an owner is making bank, and that is the way it is, I want my favorite player to make bank too. After all, that is the way it is.

  62. Jeffrox Says:


    Well, I have to cut short my argument with this – if a team like the Lakers can afford the US Dream Team without anyone sacrificing their salaries, would you be amenable to that? Yeah, sure LAL fans will be reporting in throngs even at exhorbitant ticket prices. Everybody loves a winner (except probably for the underdog lovers and spoilers). LAL fans will go gaga over their dream team. Title is without doubt guaranteed. Will that be entirely good for the league? You tell me. I rather not talk about sales and marketing stuff because it’s goin to only muddle the discussion even more.

  63. Hoffman Says:


    I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on “TWO WAY LOYALTY.” The Lakers don’t have San Antonio’s track record when it comes to talent acquisition. But they’ve been pretty good. Andrew Bynum, Turiaf, Farmar, Ariza, and the trade for Gasol. That’s pretty impressive. I think that’s more than enough reason to sacrifice financially for the betterment of the team.

  64. Hoffman Says:


    You said, “Funny is, Kobe and the Lakers were title contenders and will be strong title contenders next year (or possibly the years to come) even if they have the same line-up. That means, Kobe need not make a financial sacrifice. I can see a double standard. Duncan’s sacrifice is made an example when the same Duncan/Spurs were demolished by Kobe/LAL. It’s like you want KObe to shed millions for an almost ‘guaranteed title’ on one end while praising Duncan for sacrificing money just for the Spurs to figure prominently in a championship (not necessarily to be the champion). I’m not a Lakers fan and you said you are.”

    I don’t want Kobe to shed million for a chance at “guaranteed” title. I don’t think a championship can be guaranteed. The 2004 Lakers should have taught us that. I just want Kobe to give his team the best chance of winning a ring. To me, that means shoring up their remaining weaknesses and assuring that the talent they have, remains with the franchise.

  65. Hoffman Says:


    I didn’t say that Buss “only” made $30 million in 2006-2007. And he didn’t make “double” what Bryant made. My point was that Buss doesn’t make that much more than Kobe. And is it too much to ask that Buss make more than his highest paid employee? I can assure you that there aren’t too many owners who make more than their highest paid player.

    Should Bryant expect the owner to make less than him? Should Kobe feel that the franchise owes it to him to build a winner, despite luxury tax concerns?

    Where does Buss draw the line?

  66. Hoffman Says:

    Kareem & Jeffrox,

    Here is some financial data that you guys might find interesting. Business of Basketball:

    The valuation of the Lakers as estimated by Forbes:

    Los Angeles Lakers salaries:

    Kobe Bryant’s career earnings:

    Scroll to the very bottom.

    Sports Illustrated’s 50 highest-earning athletes in the U.S.:

    Kobe is 5th at $35,490,625 per year.

  67. Kareem Says:


    You know and I know that that would ruin any enjoyment that most have watching the sport and signal financial disaster for the league. You don’t need to fashion an argument of extremes to discuss this. Obviously there are parameters that allow the NBA to function as a profitable form of entertainment. The Lakers always having the Dream Team is not within those parameters (but for one failed experiment of a year).

    My argument is very simple: If Jerry Buss can pay, why would Bryant take a pay cut? I would assume its an obligation of Bryant’s to press for what he is worth to the organization–easily twenty-two million next year. The product of the NBA doesn’t dissolve if he earns 22 million, or even 25 million. Obviously the FO holds some of the cards in determining how far they’ll go, but Kobe is doing a brilliant job of making what the market will bear; AND he’s utilizing that as a conduit of major upward mobility. That’s called the American thing, right?

    Returning to “The Tim Duncan Rule”, Hoffman says, “If Bryant is serious in his desire to cement his legacy with multiple championships, he’ll opt out and follow KG and Duncan’s lead by signing for less money.”

    There is no reason for Kobe to opt out of his contract and take less money for his team. The market can bear it. Buss can bear it (trust me, Buss can bear it). The NBA can bear it (they’re loving the international sales right now). Buss can resign everyone if he wanted to, and he doesn’t need an excuse like Tim Duncan’s valiance to cry poor. If this team falls apart, its not the 3 million a year Bryant potentially saves this team.

  68. Kareem Says:


    The 35 million is plus 15 million of outside sales. If I worked as a waiter and an ‘extras’ actor, and somehow made more money than my supervisor, would their be unfairness in that? The basketball team is a market, but there are also other markets where players can make money–like shoes and other advertising. But you can’t lump them together and compare salaries.

    According to Forbes, Philip Anschutz is also part-owner. He’s got 7.6 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. I wonder how much of the Lakers he owns.

  69. Jeffrox Says:


    Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a guaranteed title. What I said was – almost guaranteed title with quotations. But weren’t you alluding to it on the basis that the Lakers ended up short in the recent NBA championship? What you said about that in order for Kobe to cement his legacy of multiple championships excluding those won with Shaq, he has to make a financial sacrifice to make way for a piece or two (and with the expected return of Bynum) sounds to me like you’re insinuating an improvement to say the least if not the title. Im sorry if I screwed up your message. On the other hand, how do you assess or qualify if a team has improved its chance of a title? The Lakers are already runners-up. So would anything less than a trip to say the Western Conference finals next year an indication of a deterioration even with Bynum and a new quality guy in tow? Hmm.. tough question. Maybe you would question next if indeed the new quality guy is really the missing piece. because if he were then they would have advanced further? but then again, what is further? The title? Then we go back to the guaranteed title discussion.

    With the expiring contracts of key players after next season and the Lakers not ‘improving their position’ in spite of shoring up their line-up, would we not hear rebuilding, trading of key players or perhaps axing the coach? Compare that to the Dallas Mavs story.


    I have no problem with Kobe getting a raise or not sacrificing. Relatively, his salary is not outrageous. Percentage-wise it’s not large (due in part to the fat contracts of the other Lakers). But to command a hefty percentage and let your teammates settle for the left-overs is also not good. Is that how you treat your ‘demanded’ quality supporting cast? Kobe is an elite player but the recent finals proved that he’s not unstoppable. Basketball is still a team sport. If he had been in a perennial lottery-bound team, his stature will not be as big as it is now. He became big because of the three championships he’s had albeit largely regarded as more of Shaq-powered than his. In any sport, you’ll only gain elite prominence if you have reached the centerstage, the Finals that is. He owes this renewed comparison (well.. kinda short on this) with the great Michael Jordan to his teammates and his team in general. Kobe is certainly better than Paul Pierce. Pierce was suffering from near-obscurity before his first taste of glory. In the finals, he upstaged Kobe and now he appears to be as large or larger than Kobe (ask the Boston fans). That’s what championship success can bring. In short, Kobe (just like MJ was without Pippen and the gang) can’t do it by himself. You seem too engrossed on the idea that Kobe is almost everything of the Lakers’ success both as a title-chasing team and as a marketed product. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry has a rich history. I know you know that. But one thing you may have neglected was, the basketball world lusted for a Celtics-Lakers series, not a Celtics vs Kobe finals.

    My point is, there’s no compelling reason to give your resident star player an enormous percentage of the team’s salary. I did not say outright for Kobe to take the paycut. I did mention here about max of 30%. And I also suggested the teams must stick to the salary cap. thus, eliminating the gross disadvantage of poor markets. The fact that there were teams who failed miserably in spite of exceeding the salary cap is more of the exception rather than the rule.

    My LAL dream team scenario is an extreme or perhaps unfair argument but what better way to highlight a message? What if the Lakers successfully bidded for Elton Brand, Josh Smith and Maggette by just throwing away Odom, Turiaf, Radmanovic and Walton? Sure, the trio of Brand, Smith and Maggette can be convinced for less money than they can get from the free agency market as long as they don’t sacrifice so much and they get to play for a championship-caliber team and Mr. Buss wouldn’t mind committing say another $10M. Is still that extremely impossible? What did the basketball world say with the Gasol trade? Even Popovich was a little resigned to the idea of anyone beating the Lakers after that. If getting a talented player for a bunch of low-class is already being sneered upon what would those I enumerated result to?

    When I followed the link, I’m surprised to find out that the average NBA team EBITDA in 2006 was only $6.9M, likely not even 1.5 times the MLE. Minus the paper appreciation of the team’s value, it’s not entirely a rewarding venture. tsk! tsk!

  70. Hoffman Says:


    I really didn’t intend to compare Kobe’s salary AND endorsement money to Buss’ total income. Whatever Kobe makes from endorsements is separate from his earnings with the team. But that doesn’t change the fact that he makes nearly $20,000,000 from the Lakers.

    Philip Anschutz is the largest minority owner but I don’t think he owns more than 20% of the team.

  71. Hoffman Says:


    I think the Lakers have glaring weaknesses at center and small forward. My hope is that Ariza and Bynum can shore up those weaknesses. If that’s the case, both players will be eligible for large contract extensions. Which will put the Lakers farther into luxury tax territory.

    But the Lakers need a bench too. Because of their payroll now, they might not be able to re-sign Tufiaf. Who’s next? Do you see what I’m getting at?

    The 2002-2003 Lakers taught us that you can’t expect to win a championship on the backs of one or two great players. That’s why we went out and got Karl Malone and Gary Payton. But both of those guys signed for less than market value. That isn’t likely to happen again.

    So our best chance of building a winner is if guys take less than max deals. Contrary to popular opinion, there are limits to what Buss can spend and make a reasonable profit (more than his highest paid employee).

  72. Hoffman Says:


    I put this together today:

    It touches on the Nuggets salary cap situation.

  73. King_Kaun Says:

    this is some good stuff

  74. Jeffrox Says:

    Oops! I forgot to write about Kareem’s comparison of Kobe’s non-NBA earnings as equivalent of him doing double duties. The entertainment industry is a unique business. It’s unique from one sector to another (from acting to sports) and as different even within that particular sector (e.g. golf vs basketball). It’s not easily comparable to common people and ordinary jobs. Well, while many may easily find Kobe’s endorsement income as a separate business/income, I on the other hand don’t TOTALLY VIEW it that way.

    In fact, much if not all of that endorsement income is NBA-induced or basketball-related. While the comparison to Mr. Buss may be a little difficult to align without contrasting bases/arguments, we all agree that Bryant’s extra income was a result of him playing in the NBA and for the many-time champion Lakers to which he played a pivotal role.

    Would Nike pay that much had Kobe not won a title or him playing on another team overseas? I guess not.

    NBA income was the result of Opportunity and hardwork/dedication. The NBA/Lakers provided the opportunity and Kobe provided the next. Same goes for Sponsorship income. Sponsors presented the opportunity, Kobe did what? Hardwork and dedication? Hmmm… must have been a double count here. If signing sponsorship deals is hardwork, I wonder what tantamounts to serving drinks is. So, if you drive a cabbie during the day and serve drinks at night, that mine friend is totally different.

    Another case study is Michael Jordan. I’ll let your creative mind do the analysis.

    It can be largely argued that endorsement is a job. If Clinton convinced a lot of people that oral sex is not sex, I think that statement on endorsement as not being a job is very legitimate.

  75. The 10-man rotation, starring the Celtics new bling | TOP NBA Says:

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  76. AlexM Says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  77. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Thanks Alex. I look forward to talking hoops with you.

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    This is my first time visiting your blog and i must say i like it alot.
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    Thanks hooka!

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