If you are the kind of person who has trouble having money in your pocket due to wasteful spending, do not fret. This article will make you realize that your financial faux pas’ are trivial compared to the mistakes NBA general managers make with the money they are given to build a team. In the NBA this year, five out of the top 15 contracts this season are being paid by teams to players not playing for them. Former Knicks’ shooting guard Allan Houston is collecting $20.7 million from the NBA’s Mother Teresa: Knicks General Manager and Head Coach Isiah Thomas. Gauard Michael Finley is getting paid $20.2 million by Dallas while helping the Spurs compete with them for a title. Forward Chris Webber is a bum and receiving $19.4 million to help Detroit make sure Philadelphia stays in the Greg Oden hunt. Retired NBA forward Brian Grant, probably the most overpaid player in NBA history, is struggling to live off $17.4 million from the Lakers and Celtics. To close this infamous group is everybody’s favorite, forward Jalen Rose. Isiah was kind enough to save another disappointing would-be superstar contract from the rest of the NBA by taking Rose’s $16 million contract. For those keeping score at home, that’s $93 million in total for guys either lounging on velour couches at their palaces or playing for opposing teams.
Aside from disgusting me and making me hungry, this wastefulness got me thinking about salaries and payroll in general. The salary cap this year is $53.14 million, up from $49.5 million last season. Theoretically, with a league wide salary cap, every team should have the same opportunity to win games. Clearly, this is not the case. Franchises are allowed to go above or below the cap to certain degrees with possible penalties. The Luxury Tax threshold is a penalty that a team pays if its payroll is $65.42 million or above. If a team spends above that number, it is penalized on a dollar for dollar basis.
Theoretically, if teams were to go above the cap, one would expect they would only do so to win more games. Last year in the NBA, only Charlotte and Atlanta were below the salary cap. Both teams missed the playoffs. Obviously, of the remaining 28 teams, 16 were invited to the dance. That means that 12 teams went above the salary cap only to miss the playoffs. Essentially, how high your payroll is does not predict how many wins you will have. The worst part is that being above the cap makes it much more difficult to retool your team after missing the playoffs.
This season, the NBA is no better. Three of the top five payrolls belong to teams unlikely to play this postseason: New York, Philadelphia and Portland. I don’t really know what to say about the NBA’s current accounting statements except that they stink. Far too many teams are overpaying for marginal talent and getting early endings to their seasons in return. Teams need to learn to spend wiser and not buy a decent free agent in the off-season just because it will make the fans happy for a week. No matter what happens, I feel better about the thousands of dollars I have wasted in college on such necessities to help me get through my day such as Red Bulls, cinnamon Teddy Grahams, and “Franzia: The World’s Most Popular Wine.”