Teams getting the most (and least) bang for the buck
Posted: Friday April 4, 2008 11:58AM; Updated: Tuesday April 8, 2008 12:14PM
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This season alone, players are receiving more than $2 billion in league salaries (the exact total being $2,048,860,079, according to official NBA payroll figures).
This money is dispersed among 469 players (including 18 who didn't play in a game this season), from the $23,751,934 million that the Celtics are paying to Kevin Garnett, to the $8,088 the Cavaliers paid to Hassan Adams and Darius Rice before waiving them in the preseason. In total, the players' earnings are greater than the gross domestic product of Liechtenstein ($1.79 billion), Liberia ($1.49 billion), Monaco ($976 million) and 42 other known countries, republics or regions, according to the 2008 CIA World Factbook.
Here are a few ways of looking at how that money is being spent:
5 Most efficient franchises
What is the price of winning? Try dividing each team's payroll by the number of wins.
Many teams perform this exercise at the end of the regular season to see if they spent their money efficiently. With two weeks left in the season, I have forecast the final win total for each team based on its winning percentage as of Wednesday morning. This isn't a perfect formula -- it doesn't account for luxury-tax payments, for example -- but it gives a sense for the different strategies of each team and how those plans paid off this season.
5. Boston Celtics, $1.15 million per win. The Celtics took on a huge financial risk when they committed to paying Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen a combined $56 million this season. Their $74.5 million payroll hikes them over the luxury-tax threshold of $67.9 million, but the resulting increase in ticket sales and the extra home dates in the playoffs will more than compensate. As you'll see from other teams detailed in this week's Countdown, it's not enough to lay out big piles of cash -- the Celtics have also spent wisely.
T-4. Orlando Magic, $1.14 million per win. Their six-year, $112 million gamble on Rashard Lewis (18.4 points, 5.4 rebounds) won't create pressure on their overall payroll until next season, when Dwight Howard's salary more than doubles to $13 million. For this season the Magic ($58.1 million payroll) are cashing in on the surprising improvement of Hedo Turkoglu (a relative bargain at $6.4 million) and the cost-effective play of point guard Jameer Nelson, though the perspective on him will change next year when his salary jumps to $7.6 million from its current $2 million.
T-4. Detroit Pistons, $1.14 million per win. The Spurs of the East continue to benefit from financial discipline. The best players make the most money, there isn't a bad contract on the roster, and they remain under the luxury tax at $67.1 million. The Pistons are preparing for the future by developing an inexpensive, young bench led by Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell, Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson, who are making a total of $7.2 million this season. The next big decision won't come up until 2009, when Rasheed Wallace (currently getting $12.5 million) will be a free agent as a 34-year-old.
2. Utah Jazz, $1.12 million per win. Maybe Andrei Kirilenko is overpaid at $13.7 million, but he's also a full-court game-changer capable of making the big defensive plays in the postseason. Carlos Boozer ($11.6 million) and Mehmet Okur ($9 million) have turned out to be worthy of their salaries, and the Jazz ($60.7 million payroll) get important contributions from Matt Harpring ($6 million) and Kyle Korver ($4.6 million). Issues will arise by 2009 when Utah must contemplate new deals for Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap, who are working on relatively cheap rookie contracts.
1. New Orleans Hornets, $1.11 million per win. Owner George Shinn has made big investments over the last two years and look how they've paid off: David West ($10.7 million) has turned into an All-Star while Peja Stojakovic ($11.7 million) has recovered from back surgery to join Tyson Chandler ($10.3 million) as key contributors to the Western Conference front-runners. The short-term beauty of the payroll is the $3.6 million rookie-contract salary of team leader and MVP candidate Chris Paul. His command of a maximum salary within two years may force the Hornets to unload one of their big contracts. But who knows the future for Paul or the Hornets themselves in New Orleans? Much can change in two years, but for the time being no team is realizing more production from its payroll ($63.1 million) than the Hornets.