Thursday, July 28, 2016

Democrats Are Now the Party That Loves America

This is an excellent description of what has happened in 2016:

The Republican party (largely because it is an older and whiter party) has traditionally laid claim to........well.......tradition.  That America is great and (as Reagan said) a shining city on the hill where people want to come and we are the best and the brightest and the greatest.

That the GOP can claim this message has stuck in the craw of most Democrats.  The party has (at least since 1968) appealed to many who have been underserved by "tradition" (women, minorities, gays, the poor) and don't enjoy the idea that America is great, but no so great to them.

Enter Donald Trump.

The message from the 2016 GOP Convention in Cleveland was well summed up by Trump -- trust me, I am great, America sucks, we are stupid, we always lose, be afraid, be very afraid.  Everything about America sucks and you should be terrified to step out your door any day of the week.  Only I, Donald Trump, can make America great again (cuz it sucks right now).

By going with this message, Trump has ceded the more traditional GOP message of love of country to the Dems.  And who do the Dems have to ram that message home?  Bill Clinton -- raised very poor by a mom who abandoned him for years.  Joe Biden - raised lower middle class in Scranton, PA.  Barack Obama - raised as a mixed race child by his white grandparents and white single mom.
These gentlemen can tell a very compelling story of loving America and loving the people at the lower end of the economic spectrum, because they grew up there.

The Republicans?  Well, they can still hang tight to the hope that they will get enormous tax cuts for the rich (most of whom personally hate Trump, but they still want his proposed ridiculous $34 trillion giveaway) and enjoy the fact that maybe they can get every scared, disaffected, poor and uneducated white person in the nation to vote Trump and that will be good enough for now.   The coalition of the frightened, uneducated, racist and poor may be enough to win.  But winning to what end?  Once this coalition is in power, what will they hope to achieve?  Will dirty jokes become legal again?  Will white people get more power?  Will all fanatics just stop being fanatics? 

Congrats, Republican Party, you have lost the one thing you were really good at --  being optimistic and patriotic.  Your new pitch?  "We will keep Timofey Mozgov's taxes low!"  or "David Duke seems to like us!"??

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Personal Note - The Value of Education

I was sitting in my office today looking at my passport and the two types of foreign money I picked up today for the European trip I will be on next week.  What went through my head was the old Talking Heads song, and the line, "My God, How did I get here!?!?" 

My grandfather on one side worked the factory line for Westinghouse.  His wife never worked for pay.  They had like 6 kids.  A 20 year old sibling missed graduation ceremonies for an 18 year old to babysit the 1 year old baby.  When the 18 year old became 20, it happened again. 

My grandfather on the other side was a dairy farmer with a farm wife who also did not work outside the home.  They also had like 6 kids.  The floor of the main room of my grandma's house was so slanted that if you dropped a marble from one inch off the floor, it would roll to the far, far corner, very quickly.  They were not wealthy, to say the least.

My father did well in high school, though not that well (top 20%) and went to the Ag School at Cornell to study animal science.  He always notes that he went to the STATE school at Cornell, not the fancy private school.  Eventually got a teaching certificate, eventually went and got an advanced degree in guidance counseling.  He met my mom, who was working as a secretary at Cornell.

They had 5 kids.  We regarded ourselves as "middle class."  I mean, we drove old cars and we shared a lot of hand me down clothes with our many cousins and my dad cut my hair (very badly) until I was 17.  And we never really had much money.  But we were not "poor".   I remember when I was 16 or 17 my dad showed me he had a net worth of $80,000.  We are 27 years apart, so my dad would have been mid-40s.  He was really happy and proud to show me how well he was doing.

Anyway, I got to go to college, and I did well, so I got to go to law school, and I did well, so I got a job.  Today, 27 years out of school, being my father's son, I always complain about how much things cost, and I always complain that I have no money or that someone is taking all of my money for frivolous stuff like college tuition.  But, in my head, I know I have money and when things go poorly and the kids wreck a car for the 9th time or get their 4th speeding ticket, I know I can afford to pay.  I don't like to, and I bitch about it pretty loudly, but I have the money, I can pay.  I am doing OK.

As I stared at my passport and my funny looking money, I felt pretty grateful that my dad and mom, both of whom came from very, very little, both valued education so much and funded me all they could and gave me the chance to get to the point where I have opportunities that they never had at my age and that their parents could only dream of.   Anyway, just a personal note.  We will get back to more advanced statistics basketball and hot celebrity women sightings as soon as possible. 

P.S. -- things haven't been so stable in Europe lately, so think kind thoughts for me July 30-August 5.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump, Cruz, Hillary and Bernie -- Choosing a Bus Driver

As I was contemplating Trump's speech last night (summary -- the fucking world is ENDING people, ENDING!  No one has a job, everyone is poor, people are dying everywhere!!!!), I asked myself -- this guys is so incompetent and unstable, so why do I prefer him to Ted Cruz?

I arrived at this analogy.

Suppose that in early November I want to attend a Gophers football game and the only way for me to get there is to take one of four buses.  The potential drivers are Trump, Cruz, Hillary and Bernie. 

Trump -- If I choose Trump, I will get on his bus and I literally have no idea what will happen.  It may never get started.  He may walk off the bus and leave us in the parking lot.  We may end up in Des Moines or Madison.  Hell, who knows what will happen?  He clearly doesn't know how to drive a bus.  He doesn't seem particularly concerned about it and keeps shouting "we will get there and quickly!!!"  Terrifying experience, but maybe by some miracle we will get to, say, downtown Minneapolis and we can walk or train it from there, or we may end up right by the stadium.  Or we end up at the bottom of Lake Minnetonka.

Ted Cruz -- the bus will be spotless, we will be forced to pray every 5 minutes, and Ted will have a full tank of gas and freshly changed oil and a full tune up.  He will know everything there is to know about a bus and how to drive it.  He will also close the door and announce, "We are driving straight to Hell."  When informed that I really do not want to go to Hell, he will advise me that the Constitution and his general concept of "Freedom" demands that everyone be taken directly to Hell.  We will end up in Hell.  Everyone there will say, "You selected Ted Cruz's bus, what did you expect?"

Hillary Clinton -- the Clinton bus will be like the Cruz bus, clean, well maintained, she has her license.  She won't be quite the driver Cruz is, and she will be insufferable over the P.A. system.  "Guys, did you see that right turn!  I am so great!"  When she gets lost she will call someone at the bus company and fire them, remarking, "Guys, I am so sorry that my greatness was diminished briefly by that idiot.  Oh well, back to more stories of me and how great I am."  The bus will end up six to ten blocks from the stadium and Hillary will say, "Get out.  My time for you idiots is over.  I have to recall/make-up more stories about myself and how awesome I am."

Bernie Sanders -- he obtained his knowledge of bus driving by watching videos of others driving and remarking how driving a bus must suck and how it would be way, way better if robot chauffeurs would just take us to the game in flying cars.  But now he is driving the bus.  He really doesn't want to drive the bus, he just wants the robots to exist.  As the bus meanders wildly through the Interstate Highway System, Bernie complains about why the roads are not paved with gold, since it is everyone's right to expect gold-paved roads.  As we approach, say, Duluth, Bernie stops the bus and says, "OK, each one of you, how much did you make last year?"  I end up handing over 85% of my money, some of which is given to other riders and some of which goes toward Bernie's goal of the robot chauffeurs.  He ends up with like $300 and says, "Robot chauffeurs, here we come!"  Eventually at a stoplight in downtown Duluth someone knocks him out and drops him in the back seat and we just ignore him and one of us drives the bus back to the game.  Of course we are now 3 hours away, having started only 30 minutes away.  None of the other passengers will give me my money back and they want all of Bernie's robot money as well.

So, as hard as it is to stomach, I will take the Hillary bus.  The Trump bus actually might be less painful and there is a small chance he will get us closer to the game, but we could all die.  The Bernie bus would just be a bizarre experience and I don't really want to give away 85% of my money. In a way, I would feel better about choosing Cruz as a driver because at least he is competent and I would be driven by someone intelligent and willing to work effectively toward his goal. But I really don't want to be driven to Hell, even if it is effectively and efficiently.  Sorry, Ted, you finish last.

1) Hillary
2) (tie) Bernie and Trump
4) Cruz.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Moses Malone, Jr. -- "James Harden Had Me Robbed at a Strip Club at 2:30 a.m."

Um, OK.  Perhaps the worst work done here is the "strip club spokesman" who says Harden had nothing to do with it (which there is no way the spokesman would know one way or the other) and who says that MM, Jr. is a "regular" at the club.  (Thanks.  You really want to identify people who are your actual strip club customers as "regulars".  This isn't something they want to be known for).

Anyway, some thoughts:

1) Again - who the F wears $15,000 of jewelry to a strip club?  There are few places in the world more dangerous than a strip club.  You got roving wild packs of guys drunk, maybe high, and raging with testosterone.  You are asking for bad things to happen to you.

2) He was leaving the strip club at 2:30 a.m.  You are already poor enough for the night if you are leaving a strip club at 2:30 a.m.; you hate to be robbed as well.  I should note also that the danger inherit in a strip club visit multiplies exponentially after, say, 1AM.

3) The most suspicious part of the event is that the guys who rob him say, "Hey, you are the guy who said James Harden was a bad guy!"  Um, there were somewhere between 4 and 15 guys hanging outside the club at 2:30 who knew MM, Jr. was there and who were intent upon messing with him.  The belief that this is just some random attack unrelated to anyone who knows James Harden personally seems, in my opinion, to be a tough sell.  WTF knows Moses Malone, Jr.?  Who could pick him out of a lineup?  Who would know that he was at a strip club?   Who would bother to wait outside to rob him?   The MM, Jr. story (solely in my opinion, not making a factual allegation here) sounds more plausible than any alternative.

4) Consider the offense and response here -- a) you said on Twitter that James Harden overcharges for camps!; b) hey, we are random James Harden fans, so we are going to rob you at 2:30 a.m.

Is this the proper punishment for a Twitter offense?

5) There was a wholly unproven (and obviously false!!!) rumor that one time a guy messed with Sebastian Telfair in a restaurant and Telfair left, made a phone call, and then the guy was shot later that night.  Obviously false, never proven.  But I am reminded of that clearly and patently false story.

6) It will be interesting to see how much investigation goes on here and whether they check phone records, etc.  If Houston police are Rockets fans, they possibly have no interest in doing so.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Melania Trump -- Loves Her Some Michelle Obama

So, after two days we get an official explanation that says the following:

1) When asked who she most admires, Melania Trump turns to..........Michelle Obama.  The Devil Incarnate for the GOP base.  The person they spent 7+ years saying hates "whitey" and who forces kids to try to eat healthy food -- which is basically the end of the world.

The person who, along with her Kenyan, Muslim, Gay-Loving, Police-Hating, non-citizen, fake-school-going, not-that-bright husband, have ruined America and all that is great about America.  The family that causes her own husband to stand up with a goofy hat on and say "Make American Great Again."  That Michelle Obama.  She admires her.

She wants to quote her.  She wishes she was just like her (or possibly she thinks she is just like Michelle Obama).

Wow.  Question one for the Trump Campaign -- does your wife admire Michelle Obama?

2) Melania tells the writer lady -- "Hey, in her speech, Michelle Obama said these things (fills in what MO said).  I want to say that too." 

So the explanation is that the speech writer thought that the exact things stated by Michelle Obama, that Melania was providing to the speech writer, were not actually in Michelle Obama's speech?  That they were a paraphrase?   

Imagine I told someone, "Hey, you know what Tom Thibodeau said the other day in the huddle?  He said, "Don't give up corner threes and shrink the floor defensively.  Rebound up and through the ball."".   Does the person I am speaking to think that these words are somehow my interpretation of what was said?  That Thibs didn't use these exact words?  I mean, come on. 

What happened here is either that 1) the speech writer lady was asked to look at an old Michelle Obama speech and take the parts Melania liked.  She did so, verbatim.  She thought no one would ever know; or 2) the speech writer changed the words around some and gave it to Melania, who said, "uh, no.  I want to say exactly what my hero Michelle Obama said."  and she changed the words.  .    

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why I Like Tyus Jones, And You Should As Well

Obviously I am pre-disposed to like Tyus Jones.  I am a Minnesota resident, went to Duke Law School, and am a long-term season ticket holder of the Timberwolves.  But that, of course, does not mean that I have to like the guy.  I have been very negative on many Wolves players and Duke players through the years, and certainly there are many, many Minnesota players who aren't the answer as basketball greats, so why do I like Tyus Jones?

1) Tyus Jones is a winner -- high school state champion, national champion and MOP in the Final 4 in his one year as a Duke player.  When games get important, Tyus Jones plays better.

2) Tyus Jones makes his teammates better -- you will note that in the Summer League the Wolves were struggling mightily when Kris Dunn was playing, despite Dunn's constant forays to the hoop (some of which were rather impressive) and his ability to get steals, rebound, block shots, etc.  Then when Dunn got a concussion the Wolves were basically forced to give Tyus the ball and let him run the offense.  When Tyus is in charge of the offense, guys get open shots.  It is as simple as that.  He wants to run the offense, and if your offense gets guys open, he will hit them.  Why do you think Jahlil Okafor so badly wanted to play with Tyus at Duke?  If you are open on the post, Tyus will look for you and get you the ball.  Reid Travis went from a top 120 player to a top 40 player in one AAU season with Tyus.  Brock Bertram played at Apple Valley with Tyus - his stock was never higher.  Then he had to play AAU without Tyus; stock not so great.

3) Any Coach Who Has Relied Upon Tyus Has Done Well -- Apple Valley, champions, Duke, champions, USA Basketball, champions.  Sam Mitchell plays him almost not at all -- 29 wins.

My Response to Detractors

The general statements of detractors regarding Tyus Jones are that 1) he is too small; 2) he is not very athletic; 3) he is a mediocre shooter; and 4) he is a terrible defender.

Too Small

Tyus is roughly the same size as Chris Paul and slightly bigger than Mike Conley.  Tyus, at 6'2" and 195 pounds, certainly isn't appreciable smaller than Steph Curry or Damian Lillard or Kyrie Irving. 

Not Very Athletic

Tyus can dunk.  Ricky Rubio has a very hard time dunking.  My son was a very good athlete and always one of the top 2-3 fastest guys on any team he played on.  He played against Tyus in baseball -- Tyus is way, way faster.  Tyus was a great youth league pitcher.  To say he is a poor athlete is ridiculous.  Tyus played at Duke against Louisville's guards and Carolina's guards and Virginia's guards and Michigan State's guards.  The higher the level of competition, the better Tyus played.  Duke was the national champion.

Is Tyus as athletic as Russell Westbrook?  John Wall?  Of course not.  That means he is not one of the top 8 most athletic guards in the league. 

Mediocre Shooter

Guys who are 17-18-19 years old are generally nowhere near complete as shooters.  I can name you dozens of guys who could not make a mid-range shot as a young player and who improved greatly as they went along in the NBA.  Magic.  LeBron. Jordan.  Karl Malone.  I mean, I am not talking about just schlubs who struggle to make a roster here.  Anyone willing to work on their shot and gets consistent playing time generally becomes a significantly better shooter (Ricky Rubio perhaps being the exception that proves the rule).

Terrible Defender

NBA Basketball is not an "individual defense" game for most players.  If you are Kawhi Leonard or Draymond Green or LeBron, or if you are a center, you may be able to make a positive difference defensively.  The other guys?  They just need to know where they are supposed to be defensively, get in the way, and do their best to occasionally get a steal or dive for a loose ball.

Tyus's defensive rating last year was 111.  That is bad.  The Wolves' overall defensive rating last year?  110.8; almost exactly as bad.  Among the guys who had worse DRtg than Tyus last year?  Andrew Wiggins (113), Shabazz Muhammed (114). 

Haters of Tyus Jones are acting as if playing for only spot minutes as a 19 year old PG on one of the worst defensive teams in the league means Tyus's best defensive effort is a 111 DRtg.  If he plays at all under Thibs, that rating will go down 4 points immediately, just because his teammates are trying to play defense.  And even if it doesn't, since 1979 there are 27 small guards with at least two All-Star selections and a career DRtg of 108 or worse, including Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Steve Nash and Deron Williams.  Nash's career DRtg is 111.  Mark Price (named a top 100 player of all-time by ESPN) is also on the list.

And a Final Note:  the negative reviews of Tyus Jones' ability confuse me.  For example, what do we hear about Tyler Ulis's selection by the Suns?  "Great pick, steal of the draft, really can run a team, good offensively."  The Suns, despite not having to do so for a second round pick, signed him to a guaranteed 2-year deal.  Consensus -- He is AWESOME!  But he played against Tyus Jones yesterday.  Tyus destroyed Ulis.  Had it been a fight, they would have stopped it.  Jones was bigger, stronger, faster, better shooter.  Yet, while Ulis is something akin to Nate Archibald, Tyus sucks?

Then you look at guys around the league -- Mike Conley is signed for $150M.  Delly (6'4", 198 pounds) gets $37M.  Tyler Johnson (6'4" 186) gets $50M.  The Hawks won 60 games with Jeff Teague at the point, and they basically abandoned him shortly thereafter for Dennis Schroder, now both Teague (6'2" 186 lbs.) and Schroder (6'1" 172) will be making big money and starting. 

If this is the market for NBA PGs, then why do local media seem to have so much glee that "Tyus will never play"?  Why are you happy about that?  Cuz he is a local?  Cuz he played at Duke?  Any objective review of the kid's ability will show you that he is a good solid backup PG, and he should, in the right situation, be a good starting PG.   This is a guy who you want to jettison? 

I like Tyus Jones, and you should as well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top 100 NBA Free Agents -- Where Did They Go? What did they Get?

Thanks to for the chart.  I will identify my thoughts by grade.

General thoughts -- a lot of guys who get B's are good but are slightly overpaid.  C's are kinda like I feel "ehhhh, Ok, fine"

D -- that is a bad idea.

F -- inexcusable, simply cannot be explained.

Rondo gets an F+ because while he was wretched last year (absolutely did not try) if you could get him to try he would be a low-level starter, so it may be worth a shot but it is pretty close to inexcusable.
Solomon Hill gets a D minus because it is a really bad idea, but he is not so clearly terrible or unworthy of the money that I could place him with an F.

1. Kevin Durant (SF) Thunder Warriors *2 years, $54M

Grade A

2. LeBron James (SF) Cavaliers -- --
3. Andre Drummond (C) Pistons Pistons *5 years, $130M

Grade B - have to do it, but a huge risk for

4. Al Horford (C) Hawks Celtics *4 years, $113M    Grade B
5. Mike Conley (PG) Grizzlies Grizzlies *5 years, $153M    Grade D
6. DeMar DeRozan (SG) Raptors Raptors *5 years, $139M    Grade B
7. Bradley Beal (SG) Wizards Wizards *5 years, $128M    Grade C
8. Nicolas Batum (SF) Hornets Hornets *5 years, $120M     Grade D
9. Hassan Whiteside (C) Heat Heat *4 years, $98M      Grade B
10. Dwyane Wade (SG) Heat Bulls *2 years, $48M        Grade C
11. Dwight Howard (C) Rockets Hawks *3 years, $70.5M   Grade C
12. Tim Duncan (PF) Spurs Spurs *player option Retired
13. Dirk Nowitzki (PF) Mavs Mavs *2 years, $40M Grade C
14. Dion Waiters (SG) Thunder -- --
15. J.R. Smith (SG) Cavaliers -- --
16. Chandler Parsons (SF) Mavs Grizzlies *4 years, $98.5M  Grade C
17. Pau Gasol (PF) Bulls Spurs *2 years, $30M    Grade A
18. Kent Bazemore (SF) Hawks Hawks *4 years, $70M     Grade B
19. Ryan Anderson (PF) Pelicans Rockets * 4 years, $80M   Grade C
20. Bismack Biyombo (C) Raptors Magic * 4 years, $72M   Grade C
21. Jordan Clarkson (PG) Lakers Lakers *4 years, $50M   Grade A
22. Marvin Williams (PF) Hornets Hornets *4 years, $54.5M Grade C
23. Evan Turner (SG) Celtics Blazers *4 years, $70M Grade D
24. Festus Ezeli (C) Warriors Blazers *2 years, $14.7M   Grade B
25. Courtney Lee (SG) Grizzlies Knicks *4 years, $50M     Grade B
26. Harrison Barnes (SF) Warriors Mavs *4 years, $94M   Grade C
27. Matthew Dellavedova (PG) Cavaliers Bucks 4 years, $38.5M Grade C
28. Evan Fournier (SG) Magic Magic *5 years, $85M   Grade B
29. Jeremy Lin (PG) Hornets Nets *3 years, $36M   Grade B
30. Allen Crabbe (SG) Blazers Blazers *4 years, $75M   Grade B
31. Gerald Henderson (SG) Blazers Sixers *2 years, $18M Grade C
32. Ian Mahinmi (C) Pacers Wizards *4 years, $64M Grade F
33. Darrell Arthur (PF) Nuggets Nuggets *3 years, $23M Grade D
34. Arron Afflalo (SG) Knicks Kings *2 years, $25M Grade C
35. Boban Marjanovic (C) Spurs Pistons*3 years, $21M  Grade D
36. Marreese Speights (PF) Warriors Clippers*vet minimum  Grade A
37. Trevor Booker (PF) Jazz Nets *2 years, $18M Grade B
38. Meyers Leonard (PF) Blazers Blazers *4 years, $41M  Grade B
39. Joakim Noah (C) Bulls Knicks *4 years, $72M Grade C
40. Al Jefferson (C) Hornets Pacers *3 years, $30M Grade A
41. Donatas Motiejunas (PF/C) Int'l -- --
42. Mirza Teletovic (PF) Suns Bucks *3 years, $30M   Grade C
43. Luol Deng (SF) Heat Lakers *4 years, $72M Grade A
44. Matt Barnes (SF) Grizzlies Kings *2 years, $12M   Grade D
45. Eric Gordon (SG) Pelicans Rockets *4 years, $53M    Grade D
46. E'Twaun Moore (SG) Bulls Pelicans *4 years, $34M Grade D
47. Brandon Jennings (PG) Magic Knicks *1 year, $5M   Grade B
48. Jared Dudley (SF) Wizards Suns *3 years, $30M   Grade C
49. Joe Johnson (SG) Heat Jazz *2 years, $22M Grade D
50. Ty Lawson (PG) Pacers -- --
51. Tyler Johnson (SG) Heat Heat *4 years, $50M  Grade D
52. Jerryd Bayless (PG) Bucks Sixers *3 years, $27M Grade C
53. Maurice Harkless (SF) Blazers -- --
54. Langston Galloway (SG) Knicks Pelicans *2 years, $6M   Grade D
55. Andrew Nicholson (PF) Magic Wizards *4 years, $26M Grade C
56. Leandro Barbosa (SG) Warriors Suns *2 years, $8M Grade D
57. Deron Williams (PG) Mavs Mavs *1 year, $10M   Grade A
58. Lance Thomas (SF) Knicks Knicks *4 years, $27M Grade B
59. Austin Rivers (PG) Clippers Clippers *3 years, $35M Grade C
60. Manu Ginobili (SG) Spurs Spurs *player option
61. Jared Sullinger (C) Celtics Raptors *1 year, $5.6M  Grade B
62. Timofey Mozgov (C) Cavaliers Lakers *4 years, $65M Grade F
63. Wesley Johnson (SF) Clippers Clippers *3 years, $18M Grade D
64. Randy Foye (PG) Nuggets -- --
65. Richard Jefferson (SF) Cavaliers Cavaliers *2 years, TBD Grade B
66. Garrett Temple (SG) Wizards Kings *3 years, $24M Grade F
67. O.J. Mayo (SG) Bucks N/A N/A Suspended for 2 years
68. David Lee (C) Celtics -- --
69. Raymond Felton (PG) Mavericks -- --
70. Alan Anderson (SG) Wizards -- --
71. Hollis Thompson (SG) 76ers -- --
72. Marcus Thornton (SG) Wizards -- --
73. Cole Aldrich (C) Clippers Timberwolves *3 years, $22M Grade C
74. Tyler Zeller (C) Celtics -- --
75. Brandon Bass (PF) Lakers -- --
76. Miles Plumlee (C) Bucks -- --
77. D.J. Augustin (PG) Thunder Magic *4 years, $29M Grade D
78. Jamal Crawford (SG) Clippers Clippers *3 years, $42M Grade F
79. Rajon Rondo (PG) Kings Bulls *2 years, $28M Grade F+
80. Seth Curry (SG) Kings Mavs *2 years, $6M Grade A
81. Solomon Hill (SF) Pacers Pelicans *4 years, $52M Grade D-
82. David West (PF) Spurs Warriors *1 year, $1.55M Grade A
83. Nene Hilario (C) Wizards Rockets *1 year, $2.9M Grade A
84. Kevin Seraphin (C) Knicks -- --
85. Quincy Acy (SF) Kings -- --
86. Dwight Powell (PF) Mavs Mavs *4 years, $37M -- Grade B
87. Isaiah Canaan (PG) 76ers -- --
88. Lance Stephenson (SF) Grizzlies -- --
89. Zaza Pachulia (C) Mavs Warriors *1 year, $2.9M -- Grade A
90. Markel Brown (SG) Nets -- --
91. Troy Daniels (SG) Hornets Grizzlies *3 years, $10M -- Grade F
92. Greivis Vasquez (PG) Bucks -- --
93. Luis Scola (PF) Raptors -- --
94. Anthony Tolliver (PF) Pistons Kings *2 years, $16M -- Grade B
95. Ish Smith (PG) 76ers Pistons *3 years, $18M -- Grade C
96. Alonzo Gee (SF) Pelicans -- --
97. Luc Mbah a Moute (SF) Clippers Clippers *2 years, $4.5M -- Grade F
98. Amar'e Stoudemire (PF) Heat -- --
99. Jeff Green (PF) Clippers Magic *1 year, $15M -- Grade B
100. Jon Leuer (PF) Suns Pistons *4 years, $42M -- Grade D

Friday, July 01, 2016

NBA Free Agency Spending Run Amok -- Looking For Analogies

Not that anyone actually reads my stuff, but it is out on the Internet, so I had to scrap my "guy walks into a strip bar and is handed $600" analogy or my "there are 15 available hookers" analogy and move on to one that won't get me labeled as a less attractive and poorer Donald Trump.

So - we will go with something I know

NBA owners are flush with cash due to the new TV contract.  By agreement, they must give the players roughly 50% of league revenues (revenues subject to this split are defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement).  Therefore, to simplify matters greatly, let's say that the league gets $6 billion and must give $3B of that to the players. Dividing by 30 teams - $100 million spent per team.

The league rules also require you to pay 90% of that money no matter what.  If you don't, you pay it to the league who distributes it to the other players.  You need to pay $90M.

If every team were 41-41 and played in the same city, and were run equally well, and every player was a free agent every year, than you'd have no issue.  The talent would be roughly equally divided.  But that is not the case, there are a lot of places that talent does not want to go.

Some places (Miami, Dallas, San Antonio, New York) will attract talent, others (Minnesota, Milwaukee, OKC, Sacramento) will not attract talent.  Some organizations are viewed as horribly run (Philly).  So, what is our analogy here for NBA owners?

NBA owners are like guys who are sitting in one of 30 restaurants.  One guy might be in a Taco Bell in Sacramento or a Applebee's in Minnesota while another guy might be in a 5-star steakhouse in Miami.  Each has been given $100 to spend.  He can spend as little as $90.  He can spend all $100, and if he reads the rules, he can actually spend $150 (but he'd have to give another $50 that will be split between the guys who don't spend $100). 

If you are the guy in a 5-star steakhouse, you won't have any trouble spending $100.  You will probably want to find a way to spend $150, even if it costs you an extra $50.  You have great options.  If you are at a Ruby Tuesday's in Charlotte, it ain't gonna be pretty to try to spend that $100.  A couple steaks, salad bar, dessert, liquor.  You can do it, but you won't feel good about it (Nic Batum 5 years $120M). 

Now imagine the poor guys in the Taco Bell.  You have $100 and you have only spent $30.  $70 worth of Taco Bell food?  Yikes.  Well, maybe that Gordita Crunchwrap Supreme Dos Locos whatever is worth $8?  (Dion Waiters demanding $28M per year) or I know Nachos Grande are good.  Maybe I will just give the guy behind the counter $100 and say "keep it" (Harrison Barnes seeking $28M per year)?    I mean, you have to spend $90.  Do you really want to order like 80 bean burritos?  75 chips and cheese?  You'd really like to order that ribeye steak and Caesar salad combo the guy in Miami is buying, but you are in a Taco Bell.  WTF are you going to do?

Now, since everyone has stopped reading, let's return to the stripper analogy.  You happen to have wandered into a club in some city and because it is National Customer Appreciation Day they hand you $600 and say "spend between $540 and $750 and we won't let you leave until you have."  If you are in a crappy town, you are going to make some really really awful decisions with that money.  If you are in an OK town, you just need to use some common sense.  If you are in the best town, you will have so many options that your head will spin.  You just have to be not an idiot (for example, $72M for Joakim Noah coming off a skein of injuries may not be the best idea).

Anyway -- enjoy NBA free agency.  And if you feel bad for the NBA owners, don't.  They have been handed their money by the new TV deal.  Whatever decisions they make with it, you can be impressed or laugh heartily, but never feel sorry for billionaires handed money.