by Chip Crain
I love this time of the year. Training camp is about to get started and fans are nearly catatonic about their teams...either with joy or depression. Very few rumors are floating around after a summer of nothing but rumors and the ones that are around are generally so over-covered that you tune them out until something gets announced anyway.
Then there are the rare stories that raise your eyebrows in wonder.
Yesterday I saw that ESPN has the Memphis Grizzlies salaries listed for the upcoming season. Now I know it is not exactly accurate but it is usually close enough for government work (which these days means within a billion or two but that is another matter entirely).
Listed among the salaries were Marc Gasol at $3,093,333 for next season and Hamed Haddadi at $1,572,221. That seems like a lot of money for two rookie free agent big men. I started to wonder if these guys had been draft picks instead of free agents where would they have had to be drafted to earn these salaries?
So I started off with Marc Gasol to see where his salary fit among the rookie pay scale. Now you have to understand that Marc was Player of the Year in the 2nd most difficult basketball league on the planet so naturally his salary was going to be close to the top of draft.
Yes the Spanish league has higher quality teams than the NCAA. Sorry homer USA fans but that is the truth.
Getting Gasol involved a not insignificant amount of bidding against the major European squads and their seemingly endless Euros. $3 million seems pretty inexpensive but when you consider that $3 million a season is equivalent to the #6 pick in the draft this year you have to wonder is that such a bargain?
Who was picked 6th in the draft you may ask?
Interestingly it was Danilo Gallinari, an Italian and son of Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's roommate when D'Antoni played in Italy. Since the two players are making approximately the same amount of money we now have a general baseline to compare Gasol against. Sure it won't be perfect as both players are expected to contribute in different ways with their teams but it should be interesting to track none the less. It is interesting that the salary negotiated by Gasol's agent prices him in line with Gallinari, a less experienced and younger player. If Gasol had made a few dollars more he would be compared to the #5 pick, Kevin Love. Now that should be interesting to watch in comparison. Whether intentionally or not, Gasol was wise to take less than Love to prevent any unjust criticism of his contract.
What about Hamed? Where would his rumored salary of just over $1 million place him in last summer's draft? What player is his salary making him comparable to?
As luck would have it Hamed's salary is nearly identical to the 17th pick in the draft. So the man who led the Olympics in scoring and rebounding is priced as high as a player just out of the lottery.
This also means that Hamed will be making more money than draft night acquisition Darrell Arthur and this was true prior to Arthur's $20,000 fine for screwing around (some would say up)) at the Rookie Transition Camp. Arthur was an important player on a NCAA national championship team. Hamed was the most important player on his nation's team. Will the parallels never stop?
Who was taken 17th? None other than Georgetown big man Roy Hibbert. Now there couldn't be a better comparison than Hibbert for Hamed. Perhaps the similarities between the players is how Wallace came up with that number for Hamed's contract. I have no proof of that but I do find it interesting that a 7-2 highly skilled player who is considered very slow of foot (Haddadi) is going to be paid a nearly identical amount of money as a 7-2 highly skilled player who is considered slow of foot. Of course no one has ever questioned Hamed's heart yet. People expected a lot more from Roy Hibbert this past year than they got.
So now we know where Chris Wallace values his two prize signings this summer not acquired in the draft. Gasol is slightly behind Kevin Love and the same as Danilo Gallinari. Hamed Haddadi has nearly the same upside as Roy Hibbert. All this assumes of course that rookei free agent contracts are associated with rookie draft pick contracts. It should be interesting to see how well the young Grizzlies stack up against their peers.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
by Chip Crain