The Salary Cap-To be Filled at All Cost

This story is legendary among the Yucca family.

When I was six years old, I got paid my allowance. It was something like five bucks. I desperately wanted to buy something with it. I wanted a G.I. Joe action figure: Snake Eyes.

We went to one store, and they didn't have it. We went to a second store and he wasn't there. I could have saved the five bucks and waited until I could get what I actually wanted.

But no.

"When I want to buy something, two stores is my limit," I infamously said. "So I'm getting something now."

I got some stupid Cobra Trooper. I already had four of them. Within a day I had buyer's remorse.

And with that sobering thought, Free Agent season is about to be upon us.

ESPN did a 5-on-5 analyzing what the "experts" would pay the top free agents: Nene, Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Greg Oden, and Jamal Crawford.

Nene is, apparently, the best of the crop. Four of the five say they'd offer between $13 and 15 million per year.

Really?

I mean, REALLY?

In 2009 the Jazz extended Memo's contract for $10 million per year. I thought it was a bad idea at the time and honestly believed the extension was done in part as an "F-U" to Boozer. And yet, let's compare Memo to Nene:

Nene obviously kills it on FG% and TS% (though Memo is better at FT's, threes, and has much better range)—Still, Nene is ridiculous in his scoring efficiency.

But how else do they compare?

Memo scores more, rebound more (!), and their blocks are almost the same (1.1 per 36 minutes for Nene, 0.9 for Memo). Their assists are the same. Their career PER's are identical: 17.4. Basically, their total contributions are equal.

If $10 million is a bit much for a healthy, fully contributing Memo, how can $13 million be sane for Nene?

The other statements declaring the worth of the other free agents were equally funny. Between $9-14 million for Chandler. Between $10-13 million for Marc Gasol. $6-7 million for Oden (and up to a 4-year contract). The "experts" are thankfully more sane about Crawford.

* * *

I can't see any player here legitimately better than Memo, and $10 million was too much for a healthy Memo. In today's NBA, I can't see any wisdom for paying a player 7-digits per year unless he's either THE star or THE number 2 (McHale to Bird, for example).

You have to use the salary cap intelligently. The Jazz of the past 5 years should have been exhibit A for that lesson. How much was the team hurt by paying max money to a guy they pushed into a secondary role? As much as I love AK and have defended him ad naseum. But this is still the truth: paying max money for a guy filling a secondary role was salary cap suicide.

That hasn't changed.

And yet, I suppose teams will continue to do so

* * *

It reminds me of that 6-year-old goober I once was. It's like teams with salary cap space think: "Well, I've got to spend it all today since I have it."

And here's the fallacy, I believe. If the Jazz had tons of cap space and the right guy wasn't available, I'd be thrilled if they said: "No, we're not buying anything right now."

Or if a good player was available, but his price was artificially inflated because the pickings are slim, I hope they say: "No, we can think of about 100 better things to do with that money."

Please, can we end the overpaying madness?

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