Oklahoma City Thunder: More on keeping James Harden & Serge Ibaka
I got a really good email from Thunder Steve Dixon, who wrote me about the Thunder trying to keep James Harden and Serge Ibaka. My column in the Sunday Oklahoman dealt with the issue. You can read it here:
Steve raised some interesting points, so I thought I’d share his questions and theories, then give you my responses.
Steve: “I agree that the Thunder will have cap challenges in the next few years. Keep in mind, though, that a truly effective salary cap will reduce market value for players and may reduce it substantially. A player with a market value of $10M in 2005 is not going to be worth that much in 2013.
“The new salary cap is onerous enough that there may not be any teams willing to go over it, and it’s almost certain no teams will go over it more that two years in a row. So, if Harden and Ibaka go on the open market, who will be able to bid effectively on them?
“Successful NBA teams play before crowds of 90 percent capacity. They are already wringing out the vast majority of the revenue potential. And the unsuccessful teams are even less likely to bust the cap than the successful ones. Further, the successful teams are likely to be in similar positions as the Thunder.
“A player only has a market value of $10 if there is a team willing and able to pay him that. It’s conceivable that Harden and Ibaka may find their market value to be in the $5M neighborhood. The Collisons of the world may be looking at minimum contracts.
“I’m not a MBA or and economist and can’t make projections and crunch numbers, but I think you have underestimated the cap’s effect on market value. A falling tide lowers all boats.”
Steve’s theory is exactly what the management supporters of the league’s collective bargaining agreement hoped for. But some on management side don’t believe it went far enough.
What Steve says makes complete sense in theory. But that’s not the way it works. It only takes one team to inflate value. And look at what we’ve already seen in one day of NBA free agency this year.
* The Rockets offered Chicago’s backup center, Omer Asik, $8.3 million a year for three years. Asik is a decent backup center. Good defense, good rebounder, but absolutely horrible on offense. And he’s 26. Ibaka will command much more.
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