Maybe this is just a rant, but!
For over a year now, media reports have had Chris Bosh
leaving Toronto to sign with New York, Miami, Dallas, and nearly every NBA city except Toronto. The only consistent part of these story lines is a complete lack of creditable confirmation from the player involved that he is even considering any of these teams as a future home. The absolute best recent interview on this topic is when a “reporter” asked Bosh
if he was coming to New York next season and Bosh
couldn’t stop laughing.
hasn’t been alone in this media speculation. His 2003 draft contemporaries, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are facing similar speculation. Most coming under the heading of if you don’t have any real news, make something up! Major media outlets have even gone so far as to poll their own writers to create stories about which stars are most likely to change teams in the blockbuster 2010 free agent pool.
What they are not saying is NBA players who can command maximum dollar contracts almost never leave their original team except by trade. And there are really sound reasons for why max free agents re-sign with their old clubs. MONEY!
It has been widely written (and the math isn’t that hard to do) that if any of the big 3 (maybe 4?) free agents were to directly sign with another team, they would be giving up annual raises averaging more than $1,000,000 per season plus a guaranteed 6th season putting about $30,000,000 of their projected lifetime earnings at significant risk.
sitting down with his agent going,
CB, “I just read over this max offer from the Raptors. It looks like I’m done for the next 6 years? What about that deal from Miami, I really like Wade.”
Agent, “Like I explained before, the Miami deal guarantees you $30,000,000 less. I’m just looking out for your best interests.”
CB, “Couldn’t we shorten it so I’d lose less money or is there something else?”
Agent, “Sure there’s things we could do, but it will cost you something and how’s that knee? That brace you’ve been wearing hasn’t gotten smaller each season! One bad move or unfortunate accident and no one will give you a contract that even approaches the guaranteed money you can sign for right now.”
CB, “So you’re saying the smart move is to sign with Toronto?”
Agent, “You got it! And if you’re not happy in a year or two, you can force your way out. Remember Vince?”
Has the whole world forgotten that this is a professional sport? That the 2010 big free agents are not in their thirties looking for that elusive championship before they retire on the hundreds of millions already made. This contract is “The Contract” for these free agents. The next one will only be for similar or better money if they make it to their thirties in Kobe Bryant type shape with Kobe Bryant type production – and how many players actually accomplish that?
This is their job. It’s not a college game where the players are in it for the glory and a shot at the pros.
It has been proposed by some that the injury issue (of not signing for 6 years) can be covered off by insurance. This is an interesting issue and how the cost of insurance is treated under the CBA is not especially clear, at least to me. There are insurance companies that have underwritten just about every kind of risk. But a policy to guarantee an athlete, no longer under contract, will earn over $20,000,000 five years from now will cost a lot of money!
What should be clear is giving someone an insurance policy that extends beyond their contract has a financial value and a cost that one should expect would be included in the player’s salary. The same concept as CBA defined deferred salary being applied to the earlier years of a player’s contract. (But the insurance idea seems like a blatant attempt to work around restrictions in the CBA.)
There is always the argument, especially from the New York media, that players can make more money from endorsements by being in the major markets (say everywhere except Canada). Let’s ask around. Say, Vince Carter, “How’d that move to New jersey
pan out in terms of better endorsement deals?” (crickets)
Sometimes there are suggestions that teams can arrange off-the-books deals to entice a player to sign with them. The CBA deals with this situation. From the NBA Salary Cap FAQ
“I suppose it could happen, but the NBA will investigate if it suspects that an outside person or organization is paying a player on behalf or at the request of a team. If they find out that such an event has occurred, they will penalize the team. For the first offense by a team, the fine can be up to $2,500,000, forfeiture of a first round draft pick, and/or voiding the player’s contract.”
How about income taxes? Tax rates are different in each state and everyone knows Canadian tax rates are high. Well the CBA addresses this issue too. From the NBA Salary Cap FAQ
“For example, since Florida has no state income tax, an offer from Orlando will offer a higher net income than the same offer from Los Angeles. However, the league added a regulation to help neutralize the tax disadvantage of Canadian teams. All teams are permitted to offer a signing bonus of up to 20%. For U.S. residents in Canada, this bonus is taxed at just 15%. Using this bonus, Canadian teams can nearly achieve tax neutrality.”
So which of the current 30 top paid players in the NBA has actually changed teams by signing a free agent max deal under the 2005 CBA?
Aside from Rashard Lewis, who was coming off career years where he averaged 21 ppg and over 5 boards on a team that had just lost 51 games, the most since the team’s 2nd year as a new franchise over 30 years ago, and the team was under-going some serious ownership issues? Aside from that unusual set of circumstances, no one has. (Even this deal was officially a trade, wink-wink and more than a few people have questioned if it was an above-market offer.)
Gilbert Arenas, who signed as a free agent in 2003 with Washington (before this CBA), now has a rule about free agent signings named after him!
Kenyon Martin who didn’t actually sign a max deal, was traded in 2004 for 3 first round draft picks.
Predrag Stojakovic, who signed for much less than the max in 2006, ended up in a trade deal.
Larry Hughes signed a free agent deal with Cleveland in 2005, but for less than the max.
Elton Brand signed a free agent deal in 2008 with the 76ers. But it wasn’t just for less than the max, it was for less than he was earning the previous season.
Joe Johnson, who reportedly signed an offer sheet with Atlanta in 2005, was in effect traded for Boris Diaw and 2 first round draft picks.
Over half of the top 15 paid players in the league have only ever played for one team. Think of Duncan, Bryant, Nowitizki, Redd, Pierce, Ming, Stoudemire, and Kirilenko. And not all of these players are on perennial championship contenders.
Teams have “lost” free agents primarily because they didn’t want to pay them what other teams were willing to cough up. Teams haven’t lost players when they were willing to offer max money.
While nothing is impossible; and one of the league’s premier free agents could have a mental meltdown. Or financial constraints could stop a team from offering a max contract to a deserving player (Something like this is not going to happen in Cleveland, Miami, or Toronto.) It is going to take a very unusual set of circumstances to get any player to decline a guarantee of the maximum money available under the CBA.
So what’s the likelihood of Chris Bosh
walking away from a max money deal to sign with another team? Not likely. If Bryan Colangelo decides to make the offer, CB4 isn’t going anywhere.
Now the trading of max contract players can and does happen. But that’s a different story.