This summer, while LeBron James was going about his decision and Decision, there was an interesting question floating around:
What would James be worth on an open market?
The NBA, with its max salaries, limits what guys like LeBron or Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant might make in a truly free market. Their value goes beyond the court — those are the guys that drive jersey sales, fill arenas home and away, bring in sponsors and increase television contracts. Some agents have called for a truly open market — what you’d end up with is stars who make huge money, a very small middle class and a lot of guys closer to the league minimum. (It is the high price of mediocrity that really hits NBA teams pocket books.)
So what would LeBron have been worth? Author and statistician Dave Berri — working with Forbes — estimated $46.5 million. Which means last season he was the most underpaid player in the NBA. (Remember, this is based on his last season in Cleveland.)
Forbes used Berry’s Wins Produced stat to do their calculations. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of that stat, but for this purpose it’s as useful as anything else, and saying LeBron was underpaid on the open market is a no brainer.
I’m good with the rest of the list, too. Second was Durant, who was still in his rookie contract and made just $4.8 million but led the league in scoring. Third was Rajon Rondo, a guy also in a rookie deal that the Celtics wisely found a way to extend at a reasonable price for the next few seasons.
After that the top 10 rounds out with Jason Kidd, Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Dwight Howard, David Lee, Lamar Odom and Al Horford (who got paid this year but is also having a career year).
Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.
Raptors media relations:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.
Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.
The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.
Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.
The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.
They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).
Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.
The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.
Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.
The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.
The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – one of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.
Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.
Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.
Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.
“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”
The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.
I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his league would look into placing a franchise in Mexico City.
Meanwhile, the NBA’s minor-league has affiliates for 26 of 30 NBA teams and counting. The league also has youth academies in China, India, Australia and Senegal – and also counting.
Jonathan Givony of ESPN:
The NBA will announce a new basketball development and training academy in Mexico City during the Global Games December 7th and 9th, in conjunction with CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport) and the Mexican Basketball Federation, sources told ESPN.
Mexico City could emerge as the 31st G League franchise, where prospects from the seven academies graduate up to, according to sources.
A minor-league team in Mexico City could be a nice testing ground for an NBA franchise. An unaffiliated minor-league team is also an interesting wrinkle, especially how it’d be stocked.
Ultimately, experimentation is a purpose of the NBA’s minor league. This would be running multiple test cases at once.