July 28, 2014

While We’re Waiting… Another Browns Sunday, The James Harden Blockbuster, And MLB Economics

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

First up, from Chris Pokorny at Dawgs By Nature, we get a scouting report of the San Diego Chargers and, specifically here, quarterback Phillip Rivers, “For the first seven years of his career, he was able to limit his amount of turnovers low. That hasn’t been the case the past two seasons, though, and it has cost the Chargers dearly. In 2011, Rivers threw a career-high 20 interceptions as San Diego failed to make the playoffs. Two weeks ago against the Broncos, the Chargers had a 24-0 lead and were well on their way to taking control of the AFC West. Rivers responded with five second-half turnovers — three interceptions and two fumbles — en route to a 35-24 collapse. Rivers now has nine interceptions on the season. He also is not a threat in the least at scrambling like Andrew Luck did twice for a touchdown last week against Cleveland’s defense.” [Dawgs By Nature]

Also, from Dawgs By Nature, Chris takes a trip down memory lane (and likely, your jersey closet) at former Browns offensive weapons trying to hold on elsewhere. For instance, running back Peyton Hillis, now with the Chiefs, “Hillis signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Chiefs. He was expected to play a significant role in the offense, as he was reunited with former Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Hillis has played in three games and only has 21 carries for 93 yards. Then, Hillis suffered a high ankle sprain and has been out since. He returned to practice this week, though, and the idea is for him to factor into the Chiefs’ offensive gameplan again.” [Dawgs By Nature]

The OKC Thunder dropped a bombshell blockbuster on the association last night when they traded star player James Harden to the Houston Rockets for a very lucrative package after Harden refused to give them the hometown discount his teammates had. Bill Nagel at Stepien Rules has already weighed in on the trade, “This must feel awful for OKC fans right now BUT, once the decision was made that they weren’t going to pay him, you could argue their haul for James Harden was comparable to ORL’s for Dwight Howard.  They brought in a solid bench scoring option on an expiring deal in Kevin Martin.  They added a talented young wing player Jeremy Lamb who was at his best when playing second fiddle at UCONN and looked uncomfortable when asked to be “the man.” They’ll also be in a rare position in the NBA:  A title contender with chances to add in the draft as they also squeezed out two first round picks with one being lottery guaranteed.” [Stepien Rules]

MLB economics are rarely a fun topic when you’re an Indians fan. Today is no different as Al at The DiaTribe digs into the disadvantage that Cleveland has, “Cost certainty is a theme that’s been pushed by the Indians front office since the negotiations with C.C. Sabathia. It’s a theme that was re-enforced after the Hafner contract, and as you’ll see later in this article, it’s a theme that the club continues to stress to this day. It’s something that the Indians just don’t have, because they have neither a large generational fan base nor significant dollars flowing in from media rights. And when you compare the Indians to some of the teams that have both of those inherent advantages, it helps illustrate why the team simply can’t compete in the free agent market. It puts the onus squarely on amateur talent acquisition, and all but requires the team to be leaders in the international market as well as the Rule 4 draft.” [The DiaTribe]

Finally, it’s a little tangential from sports itself, but Chris and the late Stefanie Spielman’s oldest daughter Maddie has been getting very involved in her mother’s cause since coming to Ohio State. Here is her story from the Columbus Dispatch that is definitely worth a read during Breast Cancer Awareness Month as we watch our Buckeyes and Browns accented with pink gloves and towels. [The Columbus Dispatch]

  • AJ

    Great article on the Spielmans. Powerful stuff

  • Lyon25

    I like the OKC trade. Besides what’s listed above, try won’t be paying all of their $ to their top 4. Thus they’ll have more money to pay their bench. Hopefully giving them a deeper team. Kind of the opposite of the Heat.

  • Lyon25

    Plus I’m not sold on Harden being worth a max contract.

  • mgbode

    personally, i think it’s the unintended cnosequence of the new CBA. small market team builds from within and is forced to trade one of it’s top players away to avoid harsh luxury tax penalties.
    this trade makes OKC weaker this year (and i’m a J.Lamb fan, but it’s going to take him a few seasons to add the strength needed to play NBA defense)

  • Lyon25

    Agreed. I was looking at it from a long term perspective.

  • mgbode

    yes, long-term I agree this may end up a good trade for the Thunder. it’s just tough that at some point a team like the Thunder has to win it all. be interesting to see if Presti can figure out a way to turn around the short-term while keeping his options open long-term as well.

  • Steve

    So can we finally put to rest the idea that the new CBA was designed to help smaller markets out? It was solely about taking money from the players and putting it back in the owner’s pockets.

  • Steve

    Have to disagree. He’s no Lebron or Durant, but in a freer market, those guys make probably twice what they are getting now. Harden brings in current-max-contract value back to his team.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Presti is da man!

  • mgbode

    Sigh. Please don’t twist words here. It is designed to prevent superteams no matter where formed.

    And players are guaranteed their percentage by the cba.

  • mgbode

    It’s about if he’s worth it given the cap limitations of the cba.nothing to do with a true free market

  • Steve

    Where am I twisting words? The Lakers (and Knicks) can still afford to pay whatever the luxury tax is, meaning they can still build a superteam. A market like Oklahoma has to be careful building around the cap, like you said. The small markets who are successful are the ones who are going to be most hurt by this CBA.

  • Steve

    I didn’t say it had anything to do with a true free market. But most of the arguments against a guy like Harden getting a max deal have to do with him not being Lebron/Durant. But the latter are worth so much more than a max. But a 23 year old who was good enough to make the team USA roster, and plays highly efficient basketball and sound defense is worth the max, even if he isn’t a MVP favorite.

  • porckchopexpress

    This is a brain twisting argument. on the one hand you claim not to be saying “ANYTHING” about true free markets, then you go on to make arguments about players worth that only make sense in a “true free market”.

    Are Lebron and Durant worth more then they make? Yes. Would Harden be worth the equivalent in a “true free market”? No. So under the current system he can’t be worth the same Max deal as Durant (Lebron isn’t actually on a max contract).

    I don’t know if your criteria for a max contract is sufficient;

    Good enough to make an Olympic roster? check

    Plays highly efficient basketball? check

    And sound defense? check

    Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Anderson Varejao
    As Atlanta found out the difference between a really great complimentary player (Joe Johnson) and a Max Contract worthy player, is small but incredibly important. Harden is absolutely the former.
    Oh and since nobody has had to pay the super tax yet it is way too early to start judging who it would affect. OKC’s ownership made it clear when the stole the team from Seattle that they are interested in making money first and everyting else second, so maybe this small market team is effected but others like the Cavs may not. Or maybe Gilbert is blowing smoke and when it is his turn to pay up for Waiters, Irving and Thompson he’ll balk. Who knows it hasn’t happened yet.

  • Steve

    Whoa, slow down here. We’ve got to clear some things up. You say that because Harden isn’t worth the same in a true free market, that he can’t be worth the same in a capped salary? How so? If the max salary is $15 million, then anyone worth $15 million and up should get that exact amount. Just because someone else is worth $30 million but only gets $15, doesn’t mean that a guy worth $15 should have to get less.

    Also, I didn’t say any Olympic roster. I said team USA. Surely you see the vast difference there. And sure, I could be more specific on efficiency. Harden had a 21.1 PER on a 21.6 usage rate in almost 2000 minutes. Varejao, who just had his most efficient year offensively, had a 18.9 PER on a 16.9 usage rate, in under 800 minutes. Varejao, through his prime, has a 15.0 career PER. Harden, who is just about to enter his prime, already has a 17.2 career PER. Harden is a much more efficient player. And Varejao’s defense has taken a serious decline recently.

    We’ve already seen who the super tax is affecting. The Lakers are stocking up again, while a small market has to give up one of its best player’s to stay in the black.

  • mgbode

    ” If the max salary is $15 million, then anyone worth $15 million and up should get that exact amount.”

    ugh. not true because you cannot use “free market” analysis and then just throw it into the mix when you put a cap on the payroll. you have to structure your payroll to the limitations of the CBA.

    if you pay Durant, Westbrook, and Harden max deals along with a couple supporting contracts, then you are over the luxury line and not only have to pay steep fines (adding to the cost of Harden which you need to factor in), but you also cannot sign other FAs (new rules).

    there are so many variables here and you are ignoring them.

    ———————-

    as per the Lakers, we will see. the real luxury penalties kick in if you go over the line for 3 straight years starting this season (Harden’s max deal would almost assure that for the Thunder). the Lakers have structured their contracts to all be ending in about 2 seasons (other than Dwight if they can extend him).

    do you think that is a coincidence? perhaps it is and they’ll just sign LeBron and a cast of others to go with Dwight and ignore the luxury line, but, right now, it looks like they are trying to avoid the super-tax while going all-in on Kobe’s last couple of years.

  • mgbode

    the new CBA starts THIS SEASON for the tax rules and the super-tax does not kick-in unless you go over the line 3 straight years (it’s something weird like 3 in 5 years or something – forget the specfics)

    so, we don’t know if the Lakers/Knicks can or will pay that super-tax. We don’t know if they’ll pay it but keep closer to the line in those years. We will see.

    the Thunder (as a small market team or as one with a smart GM) decided they didn’t want to lose their leverage with trading Harden, so they elected to do it before they “HAD” to in order to get a better return. Personally, I think they should have waited until next July, but I understand why they did it (lots of risk if they wait — he gets hurt or regresses and they are stuck).

  • porckchopexpress

    James Harden is not worth a max contract because James Harden lacks the skill set to carry a team as the single best player on that team. The amount of money you would wrap up in Harden would limit you from getting the help he needs to contend. I’m sorry but your argument is poorly made, you simply can’t act like a persons production should be valued the same in an uncapped and capped economy.If you give me a million dollars and send me to a car lot to buy whatever cars I want, I could buy 10 cars, one for each activity I engage in. If you give me 20,000 I have to pick car based on gas mileage, size, safety, reliability, the one car has to fit not just my needs but my families. Is Prince Fielder worth 23 million dollars? In baseball yes. If baseball had an 80 million dollar salary cap would anyone pay Prince Fielder 23 million a year? On a very stupid team because you would be filling out your roster with AA and AAA prospects.

    Yes I was making a joke about Andy, but Iggy, Chandler, and Blake Griffin all fit somewhere on the same level as Harden and non should be considered close to a max contract player. Harden has stated openly that he doesn’t want to be “the man”, he likes being a second/third option or a primetime scorer against 2nd teams. Giving him a max deal would put a team in the exact same place as Atlanta was with Joe Johnson.

    The Lakers are actually not “stocking up”, 2 two years when Kobe’s deal expires they will have no salaries on their books. Of course they will probably resign Howard (also not worth a max deal IMHO) so that would leave them 1 guy. They are gearing for a run this year and maybe next, but they are not committing themselves to huge future tax bills. It is still simply too soon to predict what the new taxes will do to teams.

  • Steve

    I’m failing to see why a team shouldn’t take a chance on Harden as their #1. He is an efficient scorer, can distribute the ball, and plays solid defense. I think it’s likely they he works well as a #1, and far from proven that he isn’t one.

    Your comparison fails, because the NBA doesn’t have exactly have a payroll cap, but it does have a salary cap. If MLB players could only get $15 million, just because Pujols would have gotten that much doesn’t mean Fielder should have to take a discount on his value.

    Also, Iguodala and Chandler don’t belong in the same conversation as Harden and Griffin. The former two are 17-18 PER guys who are already 28-29. A 23 year old with a +20 PER is deserving of much more money over the next few years.

    I am highly doubting that the Lakers aren’t intending to throw every last dollar at Howard (who deserves every bit of a max contract).

  • Steve

    Sure, the luxury tax forces smaller market teams to not be able to pay guys deserving of max contracts. That’s my point. The Lakers though, have pretty much ignored the luxury tax, and once again did so this offseason. What makes you think that they are going to curb their spending anytime soon. Do you really think the Lakers would ever trade a James Harden instead of paying him?

  • Steve

    I am as familiar with the terms of the CBA as you are. I think you are giving way too much benefit of the doubt here.

  • mgbode

    we will see on the Lakers. they did NOT ignore the luxury tax as they setup their contracts in a way to give them options.

    they are more able to pay luxury tax, yes. no doubt. however, they are also not currently setup in a way that they will have to pay the super-tax either. we will see what happens.

    ————–

    the Lakers would more likely trade a guy like Ibaka and amnesty Perkins instead of trading their scorer (and bring back cheaper/younger big men). OKC is taking a risk trading a more pure scorer unless they think that last season was more a fluke with his outside shooting numbers (they have more advanced stats than we are privvy to).

  • mgbode

    no benefit of the doubt. just in “wait and see” mode. not sure how you can say anything definitively at this point.