NBA Basketball News

Friday, August 31, 2007

Too much cash? - The NBA's all-overpaid team

Here we are, heading into the final month of the NBA offseason, and there are still plenty of decent free agents milling about in the unemployment line. If guys like Earl Boykins are looking for someone to blame for their lack of contract opportunities, they should look to some of their brethren -- the cap-chewers, players so grotesquely overpaid that they sap the limited amount of cap space teams have. Or, if players don't want to think ill of their own, they can blame the silly general managers who proffered these fat contracts.

With this, we begin yet another edition of the Bryant "Big Country" Reeves Memorial Overpaid List, also known by the simple acronym, BBCRMOL. The annual list honors those NBA players of limited ability but bounteous salary.

We're going to tweak the list a bit. In the past, we've kept injured players out. But I asked myself, why? Even if a guy is legitimately hurt, what if he is taking up, say, $13 million in cap space and not contributing a dang thing? Isn't he still a payroll-killer?

You betcha. So, injured players will be eligible this year. Especially ones who are making eight figures.

Players who have been bought out are not be eligible, though. That spares the likes of Steve Francis and Adonal Foyle. And to be on the list, you need to be scheduled to make a good bit more for the upcoming year than the mid-level exception of $5.4 million. I put the minimum at $7 million.

With that, here is the list for 2007-08:

1. Kenyon Martin, Nuggets. Martin has to be tops on this list because he is making $13 million after playing just two games for Denver. It's easy now to blast the $86 million deal for Martin, whose persistent knee problems have prevented him from being anything close to an All-Star. Martin, remember, was recovering from knee surgery when the Nuggets signed him and there were whispers that the Nets knew he was damaged goods. But the move, at the time, was widely viewed as a coup for Denver and big-time blow to the Nets. Alas.

2. Stephon Marbury, Knicks. Marbury is only 30, but his skills are quickly deteriorating. Last year was a disaster, as Marbury's numbers dipped to their lowest since his rookie season --especially tough to swallow was his 41.5 percent shooting. He is being paid (more than $17 million) to be the leader of this bunch, but he's repeatedly shown that leadership just isn't his thing. Plus, he's been acting like a space cadet lately.

3. Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz. Speaking of space cadets, it's hard not to look back on Kirilenko's 2006-07 and not wonder, "What happened?" A lot of teams still like this guy, which is why the Jazz should move him before he repeats last year's career lows in minutes, points and rebounds. It's not so much that Kirilenko stunk, it's that he seemed so dang emotionally fragile, getting teary-eyed in the playoffs when discussing his reduced role. I have nothing against crying, but not in the first freaking round. Kirilenko's price: $13.7 million.

4. Theo Ratliff, Timberwolves. You can pick your injury with Ratliff -- ankle, knee, back. Whatever. He is 34, and he is done. Still, if the Celtics win a championship this year, they should send Ratliff a ring. He has one year left on his contract, at $12 million, and the cap relief that will bring to Minnesota was a key to the Kevin Garnett trade.

5. Antoine Walker, Heat. It's been a rough summer for 'Toine, robbed in his Chicago home at gunpoint, so I am inclined to go easy on him. But it's impossible to ignore just how bad he was last year. He shot 39.7 percent from the field, which put him 355th in the league. He was 43.8 percent from the free-throw line, which was 432nd. He shot 27.5 percent from the 3-point line, or 232nd. That is an alarmingly low success rate for an NBA player, especially one making $8.5 million.

6. Raef LaFrentz, Blazers. After he played just 17 games for the Celtics in '03-'04, LaFrentz wrote an open letter to Celtics fans, apologizing for his lack of productivity. That was nice of him. Of course, he did not offer to give back any of the millions he was making. He is in Portland now, averaging 3.7 points and earning just under $12 million.

7. Malik Rose, Knicks. Rose is a likable fellow, but the fact is, he is a 6-7 power forward who shot 39.8 percent. He was perfectly healthy, yet averaged just 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12.5 minutes. Such production will cost the Knicks $7 million this year.

8. Wally Szczerbiak, Seattle. Two bad ankles have made Szczerbiak a standstill perimeter shooter. He can still stroke it, but he has been healthy for just 104 games in the last four years. The Sonics got him to make the numbers in the Ray Allen trade work, and will get out of his contract after next year. In the meantime, they owe him $12 million.

9. Ben Wallace, Bulls. I'm a little torn because I know the Bulls brought in Wallace to solidify themselves in the middle and help them take the next step. Wallace's defense on Shaquille O'Neal in the first round of the playoffs in some ways justified the big contract. I knew some of Wallace's contributions would be intangible, but his production was very subpar (6.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks) and Wallace rarely looked like the guy the Bulls thought they were getting. At $15.5 million -- that's about 28 percent of the Bulls' salary-cap space -- it's impossible to keep Wallace off this list.

10. Kwame Brown, Lakers. When it comes to reasons the Lakers can't seem to get any better, Brown and his $9 million salary should top the list. There's something about this guy ... he just seems to be missing a fundamental understanding of what it means to play in the NBA. Brown missed half of last season with injuries and when he did play, he averaged just 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds. The good news: He is in the final year of his contract and is valuable trade bait.



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