The big news released yesterday was that Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward made the USA Select team. This is the team that practices and scrimmages against the real Team USA, the one that's going to the Olympics in London this year. The full list of players on the Select team (courtesy The Sporting News):
- DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
- Jeremy Lin (New York Knicks)
- Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
- Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- John Wall (Washington Wizards)
- DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
- Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
- Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)
- Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
- DeJuan Blair (San Antonio Spurs)
- Ryan Anderson (Orlando Magic)
- Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls)
- Derrick Favors (Utah Jazz)
So, more or less, some of the top young players in the NBA. Preparations for the USA team(July 5-12) overlap the timeframe of the Orlando Summer League (July 9-13) though, so it would be unlikely for those guys to participate in summer league this year. Also interestingly, it would not overlap the Vegas Summer League, which takes place from July 13-22. So: what would you do? Would you take the Jazz to the Orlando Summer League, keeping them away from Vegas and the evils within (remember: neither Josh Howard or Jamaal Tinsley will be there)? Or would you let them go to Vegas, letting Hayward and Favors practice domination against weaker competition?
Or we could always bring back the RMR. Please do this. I'm begging.
What does this mean for Hayward's and Favors' development? Well, to get an idea, let's look at the 2008 USA Select Team as reported by David Locke:
- LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City NBA)
- Jeff Green (Oklahoma City NBA)
- Luther Head (Houston Rockets)
- Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)
- Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
- Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Robin Lopez (Phoenix Suns)
- Kevin Martin (Sacramento Kings)
- O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
- Rodney Stuckey (Detroit Pistons)
- Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City NBA)
I mean... look at that list. Yeah, Luther Head is on it. But Durant, Aldridge, Westbrook, Love, Rose, Martin, Iggy, Horford? Those are now some of the best players in the NBA, and the incredible part is that they weren't that good way back in 2008. Westbrook, Rose, Love, Lopez, and Mayo hadn't yet played in the NBA, they had just come out of college.
Aldridge, Durant, Horford, Iguodala, Martin, and Stuckey all had though. Check out how they did in the season before the Olympics:
The young guys on that list are approximately average-ish players. And during their current season:
Let's analyze this a little bit. 2007-08 was probably the best season for both Iguodala and Martin, after that they weren't quite as efficient as they were before on the offensive end. However, note that they are older than the other guys studied, both were 24. Hayward, though, is 22, and Favors is just 20. To me, they're closer comparables to the other guys on the list.
And those guys all improved a lot:
- Aldridge passing and shot improved his efficiency.
- Durant (who struggled a lot in his rookie season) improved in every single category to become a top 3 player in the NBA.
- Horford improved everything about his offensive game in order to become more efficient and take a larger percentage of his team's shots.
- Even Rodney Stuckey improved his offensive efficiency by 11 points. Unfortunately, he stopped trying on defense too. He's still a better player now than he was then.
Now, yeah, there's a lot of statistical cherry-picking here. I didn't look at Head or Green. That's because B-R.com only allows me to compare 6 players. But even those guys don't tell a terrible tale: Head got injured the year after he came back, and was never the same. Green had only a 9.8 PER (Josh Howard: 10.5 PER) before his Olympic experience; after, he managed an average 13.8 PER.
Conclusion: the Olympics turns out to be an incredibly helpful process in the development of uber-talented, young players. Yay.
Yesterday's Downbeat talked a lot about our options in this offseason, including a lot of free agency talk. Clark wanted to put the kibosh on some of the more ridiculous talk, and highlight the limited amount of cap room we have to sign free agents this summer.
Unfortunately, I have come to even clarify/obfuscate more, depending on your love of salary cap minutia. The problem is that the players' salaries are not all that counts toward the team salary cap when calculating salary space, indeed, there are lots and lots of things (Larry Coon). If you're curious about the cap math, or want to know about how these calculations work, read the stuff below and the CBA FAQ above, if not, go ahead and skip to beat #4.
Those other things that matter for the Jazz include
- cap holds for our current free agents
- our first round draft picks (if we get any)
- the minimum player salaries needed to get to 13 players
- and the full value of any and all cap exceptions the Jazz can use.
This year's cap is at $58,044,000, it would not be outrageous to expect next year's cap to be about 1 to 2 million dollars higher.
So, we have the $50,258,040 in guaranteed player salaries, plus these cap holds from ShamSports:
|C.J. Miles||$7,030,000||190% of previous salary|
|Josh Howard||$2,580,000||120% of previous salary|
|Jeremy Evans||$1,029,389||QO - cap hold to be $854,389 (two year veteran's minimum) if no QO offered|
|Jamaal Tinsley (opt)||$854,389||Two year minimum salary|
|Andrei Kirilenko *||$18,091,071||Maximum salary, 10 or more years of service - to be adjusted when 2011 max is calculated.|
|Greg Ostertag *||$6,305,000||130% of previous salary|
|Brevin Knight *||$2,600,000||130% of previous salary|
|Francisco Elson *||$854,389||Two year minimum salary|
We have the option of renouncing any of these free agents, which means the cap hold would go away, but then we would not be able to resign them.
If we get the GSW draft pick at #8, then we'd also have a hold of $2,136,100 to add on to the number. Finally, because we have only 9 players under contract for next season (10 with the draft pick), we'd have to account for 4 (or 3) minimum salary players with cap value of $854,389.
So, with draft pick, and renouncing everyone: we'd have a salary number of $54,957,307. Without the draft pick, and renouncing everyone, we'd be at $53,675,596. Remember, this means we would definitely get no C.J. Miles, no Josh Howard, no Jeremy Evans, no Jamaal Tinsley, and no Andrei Kirilenko.
But at this point, we'd have cap room, right? Unfortunately, no. Remember, we must also count the value of all of the exceptions the Jazz can use. That includes:
- The Bi-Annual Exception: $1,957,000
- Non-Taxpayer Mid Level Exception: $5,000,000
- The Memo Trade Exception: $10,890,000
The Jazz can renounce those, too, but then they couldn't use them, naturally. And really, we'd have less room available to sign free agents, because the cap room we'd have ($4-6 millionish, if we renounce everything and everyone) would be less than the value of the two exceptions (although you can't combine them), plus then we couldn't use the trade exception (which, important note, can not be used to sign players, only acquire single players in a trade), plus, then we couldn't resign any of the cool players in the table above.
What makes sense, then, is to renounce less. In order to use the Non-Taxpayer MLE rather than the Taxpayer MLE, our team salary number will need to be less than the Luxury Tax line, probably a little more than $70 million. So if we're going to pay someone in the range of $5 million, we'll need to renounce players to get under $65 million or so. (Cough, Andrei, cough). We definitely can't pay anyone more than $5 million, unless we literally renounce everything, and that's pretty foolish, and even that would get us to, like, $5.5 million. But! If we renounce a lot of things, like all of those randoms who retired forever ago, we could get to keep the TPE and use the MLE, and still possibly use the Bird exceptions to retain Tinsley, and Evans. This is probably what I would do.
Okay! Welcome back everyone! The point of the above is that, more or less, we have the ability to sign a $5 million per year player, plus probably a player for less than $2 million. Note especially that we cannot use the traded player exception to sign players, it can only be used in trades. Naturally, this limits us quite a bit. Steve Nash is definitely worth more than that, heck, JJ Redick might be. Andrei Kirilenko probably is (though, to be clear, we can sign him using a Bird exception, no matter the cost). Goran Dragic probably/definitely is.
What names do you see in this list that would be realistic to sign now for the MLE or less? If you want to sign a player that would likely cost above $5 million, propose a sign-and-trade in the comments below that the player and team would consider accepting. I'm curious to see what creative ideas you SLCDunkers come up with in the comments.
To me, I'm all about improving at the wings. Therefore, some player names that I find interesting include: Gerald Green, O.J. Mayo, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry, Willie Green, and Michael Redd, as well as the players mentioned above.
And now, a more personal note.
I quite like the Jazz. Perhaps the most interesting conundrum of my life is that I realize that it is completely nonsensical to do so. In real, economic and social terms, the Jazz winning gives me very little. No one gives you anything or treats you differently because the Jazz won (well, McDonalds gives us Big Macs after each Jazz victory, but that's not much, and I never take them up on it). On the other hand, it is definitely irrational to be upset as much as I am about Jazz defeats. There are just so many more important things to be caring about. My liberal arts education, which is somewhat expensive, has been broad enough to teach me about all of these different things that truly matter to people more in the world, and I try to make a difference in the fields I can. On the other hand, the Utah Jazz are a group of men who play a weird sport for questionable incentives.
And yet despite this, the Jazz are not only a priority to me, but a base. The basketball schedule is not something to be compared with other activities, but is instead a given, a foundation around which other events must fall. I've tried to figure out why this is, and truthfully, I haven't completely solved the problem. The most poignant and practical solution I've found thus far is that the Jazz, rather than a basketball team, are more importantly and truly a community.
I found the Utah Jazz community when I was growing up in the same way many Utah kids do, from the Jr. Jazz program. Doing so gave me a common activity with a base peer group, and even a topic of discussion. I liked that, and a few years down the road when I could scrounge up enough money from a summer job, I bought season tickets with my dad. I loved the atmosphere of the first Deron/Boozer/Memo playoff year, and have had them since.
Then, I applied to be a blogger with Jazzbots, the official team blog, and was incredibly excited when they let me write for them(You can read some of them here and here, if you'd like). I even got some posts featured on the front page of UtahJazz.com, a real thrill. I then joined Twitter (@andyblarsen), where I found more great NBA and Jazz conversation; the community grew even further. Then, my followers' tweets took me here, to SLCDunk.
The community's grown again. Again, I've found an even larger, better, and more informed group of people following the Jazz, rooting for the same outcome; supporting each other whether it's time for Life Off, Game On, or vice versa. Seriously, you guys are amazing. It's that sense of community that's appealed SLCDunk to me, and why I decided to write here, first with a few posts earlier this season, and now as an official writer. I'm really, really excited to be a part of it all.
And I can't wait to see what happens next.