Thursday, August 30, 2007

Scouting Report: Andrew Bynum

It appears the Los Angeles Lakers will not be adding any other major pieces to their team. Therefore, internal development will be essential for the Lakers to improve. The most likely player to develop into a star is Andrew Bynum.

Player Name: Andrew Bynum
Current Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Ideal Position: C
Drafted: 28
Height/Weight: 7'0"/275
Birthdate: 10/27/87
Hometown: Plainsboro, New Jersey
High School: St. Joseph
College: -

2005-06 $1,888,680
2006-07 $2,030,280
2007-08 $2,172,000
2008-09 $2,769,300 (Team Option)
2009-10 $3,771,786 (Qualifying Offer)

Originally committed to play college at University of Connecticut; Was the youngest player ever to be drafted; Has worked closely with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; On November 7, he became the youngest Laker to post a double-double; McDonald's All-American.

Improved greatly at getting a good angle at the basket offensively; Quick feet; Great hands; Great size for NBA center; Huge physical presence; Great mobility; Effective baby hook, especially going to the right; Reportedly has a 33' vertical and 7’3” wingspan; Generally has an aggressive mindset offensively in the paint.

Does not explode well to the rim; Very raw; No range on his jump shot; Needs more post moves in his repertoire; Passing out of the post is poor; Court awareness on defense needs work; Anticipates poorly on defenses, specifically when wings have beaten their respective defenders and then get to him before he has a chance to properly react; Needs to become more active defensively; Lateral movement on defense is weak.


What Are the Clippers Thinking?

When the Los Angeles Clippers today signed free agent veteran forward Ruben Patterson, it got me thinking about the strategy that Elgin Baylor and the franchise have decided to take on.

With Elton Brand possibly out for the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair his left Achilles tendon, the Clippers should consider this season a loss and begin to look forward. Brand has a player option after this season where he is set to be owed $16,440,000. If he opts out of his contract and becomes a free agent, the Clippers are immediately right back to the bottom of the NBA.

With this season a loss, the Clippers should look to build for the future rather than salvage this season. Meaning, they should look to trade the expiring contracts of Sam Cassell and Aaron Williams. Combined, these two players are set to make nearly $8,000,000 this season. Cassell is most likely in his last season and could be a big help to teams looking for a veteran point guard, like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, or Orlando Magic. Each one of these teams would give up assets to bring in Cassell for his last season in the NBA.

Trading Aaron Williams and Cassell to the Heat for Michael Doleac ($3,120,000 with one year remaining), Chris Quinn ($687,456 with one year remaining), Dorrell Wright ($2,040,746 with one year remaining), and a future draft pick would be beneficial to both teams. The Heat would bring in another veteran who could help them in the playoffs and the Clippers would receive a young, promising player in Wright. Wright is a 6'8" small forward, who is still only 21 years old. They would have a full year to evaluate his abilities and then have the opportunity to resign him to a longer term deal once the season ends.

This season, coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. needs to give significant playing time to many of their young players, such as: Shawn Livingston, Jared Jordan, Quinton Ross, Guillermo Diaz, Al Thornton, and Paul Davis. Ideally, going into next season the Clippers can mix some of these players with the remaining veterans like Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, and Chris Kaman, plus Elton Brand if he returns.

The additions of Brevin Knight and Ruben Patterson are two moves I certainly do not agree with. Both of these players are veterans and would be a nice addition if the team were a true competitor. However, without Brand for most of this season, they will not have this opportunity. Although both of these players signed short and relatively small contracts, their playing time should go to younger players. Targeting younger free agents who still can develop like Anderson Varejo, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Hassan Adams, James White, or Dee Brown would have been more sensible.

The Clippers caught a bad break with the Brand injury, but they made it worse by making later moves that were illogical. When Brand injured his Achilles tendon on August 3 during a regular daily workout, Elgin Baylor and the Clippers should have decided that this would be a rebuilding and development season. Without Brand, the Clippers may only be better than Minnesota, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and Memphis in the Western Conference. They should have focused on bringing in more young players to develop and gain future salary cap flexibility.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Salary Cap 101 created a comprehensive FAQ concerning the NBA's salary cap several years ago.

This article can be found at:

What is a salary cap?
The salary cap is simply a limit on the amount of money that NBA teams are allowed to pay their players. The salary cap varies from year-to-year as it is calculated as a percentage of the League's revenue from the previous season. If the League did not have a salary cap, the teams in larger markets with more revenue streams would have an even larger advantage over the smaller market clubs.

Has there always been a salary cap?
The League had a cap in the mid-1940s, but the modern NBA instituted a salary cap prior to the 1984-85 season, striving to level the playing field for all teams and to maintain competitive balance throughout the League. Prior to the salary cap, teams were allowed to spend whatever they desired on players. The salary cap that first year was $3.6 million. The 2004-05 salary cap was the highest in history, $43.87 million.

Does the NBA have a "soft" cap or a "hard" cap and what is the difference?
The NBA has a soft cap meaning there are certain significant exceptions that allow teams to exceed the salary cap in order to sign players. Having a soft cap also helps teams keep their current players. A hard cap would not allow teams to exceed the salary cap in any circumstance. The NFL has a hard cap with very limited exceptions.

What is the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)?
The CBA is a contract between the NBA and the Players Association that dictates the rules by which they operate. The current CBA, which is up at the end of this month, has been in effect since 1999. Both parties have been working on a new agreement since last year.

Are there exceptions to the salary cap and what are they?
Yes, there are several exceptions to the salary cap. These exceptions allow teams to sign players even if a team is over the cap. The exceptions are listed below:

Mid-Level Exception
A team is allowed to sign a player to a contract equal to the NBA average, even though the team is over the salary cap. The mid-level exception, which can be used each season, can be used on one player or split between many players. Contracts can be signed for up to six years. The mid-level exception last season was $4.9 million. Example: The Golden State Warriors signed guard Derek Fisher to a multi-year contract using the entire mid-level exception prior to the 2004-05 season.

$1 Million Exception
This exception, which was actually worth $1.6 million last season, cannot be used in consecutive seasons. The $1 million exception can also be split among more than one player. Example: The L.A. Lakers signed forward Karl Malone using the $1 million exception prior to the 2003-04 season.

Rookie Exception
Teams are allowed to sign their first round draft selections to rookie "scale" contracts even if the club is over the salary cap. Example: Even though the Trail Blazers were over the salary cap prior to the 2004-05 season, the team was allowed to sign both Sebastian Telfair and Viktor Khryapa to rookie contracts.

Larry Bird Exception
Free agents who qualify for this exception are called "qualifying veteran free agents" or "Bird Free Agents" and must have played under one or more contracts covering all of part of the three preceding seasons without changing teams as a free agent or being waived. If such a player is traded, his "Bird" rights transfer to his new team. The team holding the Bird rights can use this exception to sign him to a contract up to seven years in length with annual raises of up to 12.5%. If a first round draft pick finishes his three-year rookie scale contract (or four-year contract if the team exercises its option for a fourth season) the team will have full Bird rights. This exception is known as the Larry Bird Exception because the Boston Celtics were one of the first teams permitted to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own free agent. That free agent was Larry Bird. Example: Damon Stoudamire and Shareef Abdur-Rahim both qualify as Bird players.

Early Bird Exception
Free agents who qualify for this exception are called "early qualifying veteran free agents" after playing only two seasons without changing teams as a free agent or being waived. A team may use this exception to resign a player for 175% of his salary the previous season or the average player salary whichever is higher. Contracts using this exception can be between two and seven years with annual raises of up to 12.5%. Example: Joel Przybilla will qualify for this exception after the 2005-06 season. He signed a two-year deal with the Trail Blazers after completing his rookie scale contract, which he originally signed with Milwaukee and was later traded to the Atlanta Hawks.

Non-Bird Exception
Free Agents who qualify for this exception are called "non-qualifying free agents" meaning they do not qualify under either the Larry Bird Exception or the Early Bird Exception. Under this exception, teams can resign a player to a contract beginning at 120% of his salary the season before or 120% of the minimum salary whichever is higher. Contracts can be signed for up to six years with annual raises of up to 10%.

Can a team use more than one exception to sign a player?
No. Teams can specify which exception they would like to use, but teams cannot combine exceptions in order to sign a player.

What types of free agency does the CBA allow?
There are two types of free agents in the NBA; unrestricted and restricted. An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any team while a restricted free agent is subject to his current team's Right of First Refusal. This means that the player can be signed to an offer sheet by another team, but his current club can match the offer and keep the player. For a first round draft pick, restricted free agency is only allowed after a team exercises its option for a fourth year and the team makes a Qualifying Offer at the Rookie scale amount after the fourth year is completed. For all other players to be a restricted free agent, he must be in his first three years in the NBA and his team must have made a Qualifying Offer for 125% of his previous season's salary, or the minimum salary plus $150,000, whichever is higher.

What is an offer sheet?
An offer sheet is at least a two-year contract offer to a restricted free agent. The original club has 15 days to match the offer or loses the player to the new team. Example: Prior to last season, the Trail Blazers signed Minnesota Timberwolves guard Trenton Hassell to an offer sheet. The T-wolves matched the offer and kept Hassell.

Does a team get compensated when they lose a free agent to another club?
No, the team just loses the player.

What is a rookie "scale" contract?
First round draft picks are slotted in salaries according to their draft position. The first pick receives more than the second pick, the second more than the third, and so on. Each contract is for three-years with a team option for a fourth season. For a fourth season, the team must exercise the option by October 31st following the second season.

What is a sign-and-trade?
Simply put, it is when a team signs one of its free agents and immediately trades that player to another team. A sign-and-trade is beneficial to both players and teams; the player receives more money than they might ordinarily get from a team they would like to play for while the trading club gets something in return for a free agent.

What are player and team options?
Player options give the player the right to invoke an option year while a team option allows the team that right. NBA contracts only allow for one option year and the option year salary cannot be lower than the previous year.

Are there salary restrictions for players?
Players have minimum and maximum salaries, based upon the amount of seasons a player has been in the NBA. The more years a player has played, the higher the salary.

How does the salary cap affect trades?
The total salaries of the players being traded must end up within 115% of each other plus $100,000. The NBA's salary cap is an amazingly complex piece of work that requires a ton of homework, and in some cases, a law degree. It's easy to understand why so few major trades actually take place. The cap restricts player movement, and is designed to give some measure of equality from the teams in the large markets to the teams in the smaller cities. Obviously, it has been successful, but challenges remain. If you've ever wondered why certain players, or teams, make the moves they do, or don't make any moves, it's helpful to educate yourself. If this were offered as course in college it would easily take more than one term to master the cap. Most fans don't have the time, the means, or the drive to full understand the inner workings of the legalities of everything in the NBA's salary structure. But, hopefully this has helped answer some of the basic questions.