Bucks Diary

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Who's ripping BucksNation off?


Looking at the comments posted on various Bucks blogs across the web, it appears that yesterday's "Debacle in Detroit" has Bucksnation at the Tipping Point. Phrases like "blow this team up!" are rampant.

The question is, who is ripping us off? We, after all, are the ones who ultimately pay the player's salaries.

I decided to answer this query by examining the major free agent signings of the Larry Harris regime: Michael Redd, Dan Gadzuric, Bobby Simmons, Maurice Williams, Desmond Mason, and Charlie Bell.

To determine who was ripping us off and who wasn't, I calculated the wins each signee has produced over the course of their contracts and the amount of money they have been paid by the Bucks. Then I determined the going rate per victory in the National Basketball Association and compared the two sets of numbers.

The Market Rate per victory in the NBA

If you take the entire salary amount paid this season by NBA franchises, and divide that by the number of available victories, you come up with a rough market rate of $1.6 million per win. Obviously, this is a bit of a fiction because of the rookie salary structure and minimum salary amounts, but nevertheless, that it provides us with a rough baseline cost.

By the way, using my calculations, the Bucks need to win about 39 games to break even on their 62 million dollar salary investment. Unless something drastic happens, they ain't gonna get there. Using PVOA and the "Efficiency Win Model", I project the Bucks as a 24 or 25 win team. To date they have paid about $2.1 million per victory, which is already over market cost. On the sunny side, the Knicks are paying for a 55 win team. Think they'll make it?

Evaluating Larry Harris' expenditures

Here are the number of victories, and the cost per victory delivered by each of the major free agents of the Larry Harris era. I won't bore you with the calculations, I just give the results. I also give, in parenthesis, the "AFLAC result", which indicates what each player made per victory if the Bucks only had to pay the player for games in which he was physically able to play. The players are listed according to value. As you can see, the big money contracts are sometimes monetarily sound investments, while these "middle class" signings that Harris loves can often be money losing deals.

1. Maurice Williams: $924,000 per victory
Mo has been a major bargain thus far, delivering 3.06 victories already on his $7.75 million per year contract. He is the rare player who actually seems to be getting more productive as he gains experience.

2. Michael Redd: $1.3 million per victory ($1.1 million per victory)
I've gone back and forth over the years trying to decide if Redd is a huge cost to the Bucks or not. Obviously, he isn't. If every player were as productive as Redd, a 50 win team would cost the Bucks only $65 million. If you discount the time when he was hurt, it would be even cheaper than that.

3. Desmond Mason: $1.65 million per victory
Desmond looked like a total ripoff to me when the Bucks signed him. Based on his performance with the Hornets the last couple of seasons, he looked like a Win Stealer, not a Win Producer. But, to his credit, thus far he has produced (at a below average rate, but beggar's don't make good choosers). The question is whether he can keep it up, which I am skeptical about.

4. Charlie Bell: $3.8 million per victory
How is Bell's cost per victory to this point more than the Bucks are actually paying him for the entire season? Because he's been taking away victories with his extremely poor play, so he owes Larry money back. Sort of like when you break something at work and then you have to work for free for a couple of weeks to pay it off. At this rate, he will have to play some free seasons just to pay back the damage he has wrought. Anyway, I thought this was a curious signing from the get-go.

5. Dan Gadzuric: $3.9 million per victory
In fairness to Larry, the Dunking Dutchman looked like a better Win Producer at the time the contract was signed, but a combination of misuse by various coaches and Dan's own deteriorating play has wiped any benefits away. But, on the other hand, Larry hasn't done anything to rectify the situation, so the cost is still on him.

6. Bobby Simmons: $4.74 million per victory ($2.63 million per victory)
This signing wasn't the worst bargain in the first year of the contract, as Simmons cost a little over $1.7 million per victory. But since then its been bleeding red. Simmons didn't play at all last year, and this year he's actually taking victories away from the Bucks at an increasingly alarming rate. Maybe the team should just release him and cut their losses.

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