Players are naturally paid in dollars, but their salary represents a percentage of each team’s overall payroll.
Some teams overspend on non-productive players; others find heavy contributors who earn just a small fraction of the franchise’s total investment.
The NBA’s current salary cap is $70 million, but most teams have climbed above that line. Next season’s cap projects to jump to at least $90 million. Teams will be required to spend at least 90 percent of that number ($82 million).
With that leap, players already under contract will take up a smaller percentage of the team.
The relative value of good players, under long-term contract — especially on rookie deals — skyrockets with the impending inflation. The top overall pick in the 2016-17 NBA Draft will take up roughly 6.6 percent of his team’s salary.
Productive, inexpensive players won’t stay cheap for long as they reach free agency; draft picks are locked in at an economic rate for their first four seasons.
The following percentages jump out as positives or negatives around the league:
The Atlanta Hawks have invested 42.5 percent of their team salary in All-Stars Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Kent Bazemore takes up just two percent.
Almost a quarter (24.4 percent) of the Boston Celtics’ money is going to David Lee, who now plays for the Dallas Mavericks. All-Star Isaiah Thomas earns just nine percent of the team’s salary.
Joe Johnson, now with the Miami HEAT, still takes up 27.3 percent of the Brooklyn Nets’ payroll. Three current starters (Bojan Bogdanovic, Wayne Ellington and Donald Sloan) combine for just 7.3 percent, with Brook Lopez the highest active Net at 24.6 percent.
The Charlotte Hornets badly miss defensive forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8.1 percent of salary), although the team is still climbing in the Eastern Conference standings.
Pau Gasol joined the Chicago Bulls at a discounted rate, currently at 8.6 percent of payroll. The trio of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and injured Joakim Noah represent 57.3 percent of Chicago’s investment.
LeBron James is one of the highest-paid players in the league, but with the Cleveland Cavaliers $107 million total payroll (not including luxury taxes), he takes up just 21.5 percent of the total.
The Wesley Matthews/Chandler Parsons pairing is at 43.5 percent of the Dallas Mavericks’ expenditure, while long-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki took a discounted 11.4 percent to help the team spend this past summer.
Wilson Chandler, who has missed the entire season with a hip injury, takes up 14.6 percent of the Denver Nuggets’ total salary. Will Barton has proven to a be a steal at just five percent.
Andre Drummond is one of the top bang-for-the-buck players in the NBA, earning just 4.3 percent of the Detroit Pistons’ payroll. Newcomer Tobias Harris, recently acquired from the Orlando Magic, takes up 20.9 percent.
Stephen Curry is arguably the best player in the league over the last two seasons. The Golden State Warriors have just 11.9 percent spent on the reigning MVP. Overall, 69.6 percent of the team’s salary goes to Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Curry.
The Houston Rockets have 43.1 percent invested in Dwight Howard and James Harden, along with 13.8 percent spent on the failed Ty Lawson experiment (now with the Indiana Pacers).
Almost half of the Pacers’ salary is spent on Paul George, Monta Ellis and George Hill — about a quarter of that is to George (23.7 percent).
The Los Angeles Clippers’ big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan earn 62.5 percent of the franchise’s salary.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers’ youthful trio of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle are at just 12.5 percent of team salary. Clarkson is the real steal at just 1.2 percent. Meanwhile, the Kobe Bryant farewell tour is taking up 34.5 percent of the Lakers’ payroll. Roy Hibbert is another big chunk at 21.5 percent.
The Memphis Grizzlies are severely handicapped this year with 23.7 percent of their payroll invested in an injured Marc Gasol (foot).
Hassan Whiteside is another steal at just 1.2 percent of payroll, while the HEAT are spending 79.4 percent on the foursome of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng.
The Milwaukee Bucks just lost 14.7 percent of their investment this season with O.J. Mayo (ankle) and Michael Carter-Williams (knee) both lost for the season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have 29 percent of their money invested in Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Garnett, 17.9 percent in Ricky Rubio and 15.7 percent in players no longer with the team. Meanwhile, youngsters Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine take up 19.2 percent.
Anthony Davis may be signed to a massive contract extension, but currently he’s earning jut 8.7 percent of the New Orleans Pelicans’ payroll. Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon, both injured for most of the season, are taking up a combined 32.4 percent.
Carmelo Anthony is one of the highest paid players in the league at 31 percent of the New York Knicks’ payroll.
The Oklahoma City Thunder spend 39.5 percent on their dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and 70.1 percent on the foursome with Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter.
Slam-dunk runner up Aaron Gordon earns 6.6 percent of the Orlando Magic’ payroll.
Almost half (46.4 percent) of what the Philadelphia 76ers are spending this season is going to players not even on the team’s roster like JaVale McGee and Gerald Wallace.
A major reason for the Phoenix Suns’ demise this season is 39.6 percent of payroll to injured players (Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and T.J. Warren). Knight is finally returning to action, but the damage is done.
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the league’s great bargains in C.J. McCollum (four percent) — and he’s still under contract next season. Damian Lillard and McCollum at 10.8 percent combined may be the most productive duo in the league for the money. Meanwhile, the Blazers have 22.7 percent invested in cut players like Anderson Varejao and Mike Miller.
The Sacramento Kings have a much higher percentage invested in two players, (38.9 percent to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay), but without the same level of success as the Blazers.
David West is earning just 1.4 percent of what the San Antonio Spurs are paying this season. Tim Duncan helped the team put it all together by taking just 6.1 percent this past summer. The tandem of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge earn 41.6 percent.
The Toronto Raptors have a pair of All-Stars at 30.5 percent of salary (DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry). Currently-injured forward DeMarre Carroll is the team’s highest paid player (18.8 percent).
The Utah Jazz are still on the playoff bubble in the Western Conference, despite a 20.4 percent investment in injured players Dante Exum and Alec Burks.
Finally, the Washington Wizards are heavily invested (47.6 percent) in the trio of John Wall, Marcin Gortat and Nene. Bradley Beal earns just 6.8 percent of team salary, just a hair above waived forward Martell Webster’s 6.7 percent.
Note: Minimum salaries for experienced veterans are factored in at the discounted rate of $947,000 or 1.4 percent of the current salary cap.
Dejounte Murray: The Spurs’ Latest Steal
The Spurs have a history of drafting talented players late in the draft. Dejounte Murray is emerging as their most recent steal, writes David Yapkowitz.
It seems like almost every NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs end up selecting a player late in the draft who unexpectedly goes on to become a valuable contributor, sometimes even a star. The entire draft in itself can often be a crapshoot, but the lower the pick, the lower the chances of a team finding a solid rotation player. But with the Spurs, it’s as if they hit far more often than they miss.
Their pick from a year ago is shaping up to be no exception as the injury to starting point guard Tony Parker has opened up a huge opportunity for Dejounte Murray; one that he is taking advantage of.
There is a lot of preparation by analysts leading up to the NBA draft. Several mock drafts are created up until draft night itself. Murray was often projected to be a high first-round pick, possibly even a lottery pick. He had a solid freshman season at the University of Washington where he averaged 16.1 points per game, six rebounds, and 4.4 assists.
Draft night arrived and he ended up slipping to the bottom of the first round (29th overall), far later than he had anticipated. Following his selection, LeBron James himself, who is represented by the same sports agency as Murray, tweeted out some words of encouragement for the young rookie. He let Murray know that he may not have been drafted where he wanted to, but that he was with the best organization in the league.
Murray pretty much rode the bench last season as a rookie, which is not at all uncommon for a first-year player on a veteran team with championship aspirations. He was inactive for most of the final two months of the season. In the first round of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, and most of the second round against the Houston Rockets, he was relegated to garbage time duty. Perhaps if he’d been drafted as high as initially projected, he might have had a bigger opportunity at getting minutes right away.
That all changed, however, against Houston in Game 2 when Parker went down with the injury that he is still recuperating from. Murray was thrust into the starting lineup and he responded as well as an inexperienced rookie under the bright lights of the playoffs could. In Game 4, although the Spurs lost, he had eight points on 50 percent shooting along with three assists. He actually didn’t play in Game 5, but in the Spurs closeout Game 6 win, he poured in 11 points, ten rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Even though the Spurs were ultimately swept in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Murray continued his steady play with 8.3 points, 3.8 assists, and three steals.
At the start of this season, Murray has taken his momentum from the end of last season and carried it over. He was given the starting point guard spot in place of Parker on opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He responded on national television with 16 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
It’s still too early to tell, but it’s highly possible that the Spurs have found their starting point guard of the future once Parker eventually decides to hang it up. At 6-foot-5, Murray is a tall point guard and his length gives him the potential to develop into an elite defensive player. He can score the basketball and he is improving his court vision and playmaking.
One area he could improve in is his outside shooting. Although he did shoot 39.1 percent from the three-point line last season, he only took 0.6 attempts. In his lone college season, he shot 28.8 percent from downtown. If he can improve his range and really begin to put together his entire package of skills, we’ll be talking yet again about how the Spurs bamboozled the rest of the league and found a draft-day gem.
NBA Saturday: Jabari Bird Experiences The NBA Whirlwind
Jabari Bird entered a hostile environment Friday night after being on his couch just three days before.
When Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury six minutes into the Boston Celtics’ season on Wednesday, he wasn’t the only player who saw his season changed in the blink of an eye.
“I was at home in California watching the game as a fan,” Jabari Bird said.
Bird was the 56th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft. After playing his college ball at the University of California, the Celtics gave the 6-foot-6 swingman a shot to continue his career. After impressing throughout the preseason, Bird was signed to a two-way contract with Boston and returned home to the west coast.
That didn’t last long.
“After the game was over my phone was going off that I had to get on the quickest flight to Boston,” Bird said about opening night. “Got in 7:30 the next morning, suited up against Milwaukee, now I’m here in Philly.”
With the massive hole Hayward left in Boston’s roster due to his injury, the Celtics are going to have to turn to some unlikely performers throughout the season to pick up the slack. Bird didn’t light up the scoreboard or stuff his stat sheet, posting just three points and one rebound in 13 minutes of play. But down the stretch in a close game against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night, Bird came up big on defense.
As the Celtics trailed the Sixers 61-53 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Bird subbed in for Jaylen Brown and was tasked with guarding J.J. Redick, who was in the midst of carrying Philadelphia with his lights out shooting.
After wiping away the Sixers lead and gaining an 86-84 advantage in the fourth quarter, the Celtics still had Bird sticking Redick. The Sixers’ shooting guard — and highest paid player — rose up for another three-point attempt which would’ve given Philadelphia a late lead and a momentum shift at home with a raucous crowd behind them. Only this time, Bird’s hand was in his face and the shot attempt didn’t find the back of the net.
In a big-time moment on the road, for a team facing a potential three-game losing streak to start the season, the unlikely rookie answered the call.
“Like I said before, he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, really good perimeter scorer,” Bird said of Redick. “For the team to trust me with that responsibility, with us being down on the road needing to get a win, I was hyped up and ready to go. I was ready for the challenge.”
Placing such a responsibility like guarding Redick on a night where it seemed like the Sixers marksman couldn’t miss on a player who was sitting on his couch three nights ago seems like a bold strategy. Head coach Brad Stevens, however, knew what he was doing.
“All the way through preseason and training camp I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he has huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in preseason practices. His ability to guard off the ball, especially shooters coming off screens is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he’d step up.”
Going from the couch to a red-eye flight from California to Boston, to the bench in Milwaukee, to the court in Philadelphia is nothing short of a whirlwind experience. With such a series of events, it’s hard to be coached into that moment. As a player, sometimes you have to just go out and play.
“I wasn’t prepared at all for tonight. Mentally I just had to lock into the game,” Bird said. “Coach just looked at me and said ‘Bird get Jaylen.’ ‘Alright.’ So that’s what I did.”
After signing Hayward to $127 million contract this summer, the Celtics were expecting the small forward to provide an elite scoring 1-2 scoring punch with Kyrie Irving. Obviously, at least for this season, Boston will need to move forward without that possibility. An opening night loss, followed by another defeat to Milwaukee the following night, had the Celtics 0-2 heading into Philadelphia and searching for answers a lot sooner than they may have anticipated just a week ago.
Bird’s journey during his first week in professional basketball represents how quickly things can change, and how the ripple effects of injuries and other moves have far outreaching waves.
“I was already packed, I was ready to go to the G-League,” Bird said. “We had training camp coming up. My bags were already packed, I was ready to get out the house. Then I got the call to go to Boston and I was like alright I’m ready to go, just gimmie a flight. And that’s what happened.”
All-star point guard, and Bird’s new teammate, Kyrie Irving doesn’t foresee the rookie leaving the clubhouse anytime soon. With the adversity the Boston Celtics have felt in the first week of the 2017-18 season, Bird’s addition and impact are a prime example of being ready when your number is called, and the culture this team is looking to create.
“Jabari is now probably gonna be on every trip with us,” Irving said. “Guys are gonna be called up and called upon to be ready to play. We just have to have that expectation that when we come into the game we’re gonna be able to play, and we trust one another and have each other’s backs.”
Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team
Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.
“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”
Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN