Jalen Rose Explains How The NBA's Contract System Makes It Difficult For Teams To Build Good Locker Rooms
What do you think of Grantland's NBA preview series so far? Here's my review: It's good. I'd say each episode, which run between 12 and 20 minutes, can be broken down as such:
-10 percent weird music or movie clips that don't add much to the proceedings.
-50 percent straightforward review of last season and solid predictions about this season.
-25 percent analogies.
-10 percent animations or title screens.
-5 percent true analytical gems that reveal something we hadn't thought of before.
It's that final 5 percent that we're most interested in. The first gem was Bill Simmons' very prescient remark that NBA owners would prefer Milwaukee not build an arena for the Bucks. Here's another one: The way the NBA's contract system is structured, teams save money by loading up on young guys who don't cost much rather than veterans who bring wisdom, savvy and leadership. It's a short-sighted maneuver that affects the trajectory of the team as well as individuals.
The salary scale used by the NBA limits the amount of money players on a rookie contract can make through their first three or four years. Not only can veterans make more as a percentage of the team's salary cap, but their minimum and maximum salary numbers are higher. For example, a minimum rookie contract in 2014-15 pays a guy $507,336 -- 10-year veterans get nearly three times as much.
When a team is tanking, or otherwise rebuilding, there's an emphasis on loading up on young guys. Not only do teams get to see which players are worth keeping and developing and which aren't, but they also save money in case a big free agent opportunity falls in the team's lap. Meanwhile, these 19-, 20-, 21-, 22-year-olds have no guidance. There's no one (no relative peers, anyway) who can help them steer clear of trouble or help them stay focused and positive. The result is guys like Michael Beasley.
Jalen brings up an interesting point here, one that the league may want to examine. At what point are they sacrificing the careers of young players in the interest of appeasing veterans -- and do veterans, to some extent, miss out on opportunities because of their required minimums? Either way, it sounds like guys are missing out on "life-changing" experiences because of it.
Photo via YouTube
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