||12-05-2011 11:27 AM
simmons - 12 days of nba christmas
i'm posting the last 1/3 or so of this article because it's so damn good, but you shoudl really check out the first parts too:
get ready for another boatload of crappy contracts. he's probably wrong about a few things (toronto being one of them), but there's so much truth to this first installment:
Bill Simmons makes his case that it looks like the lockout never happened - Grantland
Despite the lockout, despite all the bad blood that was shed … there's a good chance we're about to break the record for "most dumb contracts handed out in one month." Yeah, the harsh luxury tax rules will scare off the Mavericks and Lakers from rolling out recklessly expensive rosters again. Yeah, new contracts will be one year shorter for the most part. And yeah, there aren't as many full-boat mid-level exceptions to stupidly hand out like car wash flyers anymore. But there WILL be dumb contracts. Ohhhhhhhhh … yes. There will be dumb contracts. Many of them. Consider …
• The new salary floor guarantees that cheaper teams have to spend money. Every team HAS to spend 85 percent of the salary cap for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons (it's $49.3 million this season), then 90 percent for every season after that.
• By caving on mid-level exceptions (and if they hadn't, we wouldn't have had a season), the owners kept the overpaid middle class intact. They won't be quite as overpaid — not just because of the new restrictions,5 but because BRI dropped the cap ($58 million this season) and the tax line ($70 million this season), and because the luxury tax rules are so much more severe — but still, if you were worried about not seeing overpaid role players anymore, you'll be fine.
• Your amnesty guy can potentially count against your salary floor (85 percent, as mentioned above), if you choose. For example, the Wizards have $44.7 million of guaranteed 2011-12 contracts right now. Once Lewis gets amnestied, they'll suddenly have $23.6 million counting against their cap — putting them $34.4 million under it — but they'll only have to spend another $4.6 million to hit that $49.3 million salary floor, because, again, Lewis counts for that (if they want).
Now here's where it gets really, really good. We just entered a new era for NBA fiscal responsibility, right? Check out the potential spenders this month.
The following teams are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay under the 2011-12 salary cap:
1. Washington: $34.4 million (including Lewis' amnesty clause)
2. Denver: $33 million (including Harrington's A.C.)
3. Indiana: $28.5 million (including Posey's A.C.)
4. Sacramento: $26.2 million
5. New Jersey: $23.1 million (including Outlaw's A.C.)
6. Toronto: $17.7 million (including Calderon's A.C.)
7. Golden State: $16 million (including Biedrins' A.C.)
8. Detroit: $14-$19 million (depends on Villanueva, Gordon or Hamilton for its A.C.)
9. L.A. Clippers: $13.1 million
10. Charlotte: $13 million (including Diop's A.C.)
11. New Orleans: $12.6 million
12. Milwaukee: $12.2 million (including Udrih's A.C.)
13. Minnesota: $11.4 million (including Webster's A.C.)
The following teams are just far enough under the cap that, assuming they get a little creative (dump a contract on someone, use their amnesty on a lesser guy, etc.), they could splurge for a pricey free agent if they really wanted:
14. Houston: $6.8 million
15. Memphis: $5.1 million
16. Phoenix: $3.25 million (not including Childress' A.C.)
17. Oklahoma City: $3.1 million
18. Philly: 2.65 million (not including Nocioni's A.C.)
The following eight teams are currently over the cap ($58 million) but under the tax line ($70 million) before making a single transaction (or re-signing a restricted free agent), making them natural candidates for the full mid-level …
25. New York
The four remaining teams and their payrolls at this moment: the Lakers ($92 million); Spurs ($75.4 million, although Jefferson's A.C. could drop them to $66.2 million); Blazers ($70.75 million with Roy, $55.75 million without him); and Magic ($57.3 million with Arenas' A.C.).
That's a pretty fascinating landscape. Even if we write off 13 spenders (New Orleans, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Charlotte, Phoenix, Atlanta, San Antonio, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Utah, the Lakers and Portland) from adding another major contract this month for a variety of reasons, we still have another seventeen potential suitors for free agents this month.
• Three teams (Denver, Indiana and Sacramento) definitely have to spend just to hit that $49 million floor (amnesty or no amnesty).
• Four teams (Washington, Golden State, New Jersey and Toronto) will almost definitely use their amnesty clauses to help them pursue marquee free agents.
• Four other teams will spend money on someone (or try): Houston will undoubtedly get creative to give itself a chance for one of the three quality centers (Marc Gasol, Nene or Tyson Chandler); and Memphis, Philly and the Clippers will almost definitely match any offer for their best restricted free agents (Gasol, Thaddeus Young and DeAndre Jordan), even if they have to overpay them a little (or in Jordan's case, a lot).
• Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Oklahoma City and Orlando are all contenders; I can't imagine them getting through this month without doing something.
• Miami will definitely use its full mid-level exception. And actually, this labor deal couldn't have broken more perfectly for them: They can splurge for a crunch-time veteran swing guy (probably Shane Battier, Tayshaun Prince or Jason Richardson), sign a chasing-a-ring veteran for cheap (like Grant Hill or Kenyon Martin) AND gobble up one or two amnesty guys (say, Baron Davis and/or Travis Outlaw). I hate to say it, but Vegas is handing out free money right now in the form of a 2-to-1 future bet on Miami to win the 2012 NBA title. The deck couldn't be stacked better for the Miami Heat right now. I'm not saying that to heap additional pressure on them,6 it's just a fact.
Now, here's where it gets really, really, REALLY good. You won't see nearly as many teams use their amnesties — at least right away — as we initially expected when Jonathan Abrams and I had so much fun playing the Amnesty Guessing Game during the lockout. Why turn a serviceable body into a sunk cost unless it chops down your tax bill, gets you under the tax completely, opens up enough cap space to pursue a quality free agent, or, in Baron Davis' case, gets Baron Davis off your team?
My prediction: Only Cleveland (Baron Davis), San Antonio (Richard Jefferson), Los Angeles (Ron Artest), Orlando (Gilbert Arenas), Golden State (Andris Biedrins) and Toronto (Jose Calderon) will use their amnesties this month. That's it.
You know what that means? This year's free-agent pool was already brutal. It stinks. Your three prizes are Nene, Chandler and Gasol (restricted). After that, everyone loves Arron Afflalo and Thaddeus Young (both restricted), and who wouldn't want Shane Battier, Jamal Crawford or Jason Richardson on their team, and then … wait a second, we're already in "DeAndre Jordan/Rodney Stuckey/Jeff Green" range? What the hell just happened???????
We'll cover this motley list in detail on Monday (Day 2 of our NBA Christmas). In the meantime, here's a little teaser: The amount of money every NBA team can and will spend far exceeds the collective talent (both for quantity and quality). In other words … gentleman, start your dumb contract engines!!!! Who's ready to be overpaid??? Step right up! Who's first?