The $ucking Chest Wound

Over the past couple of days, there has been some discussion as to what (and whom) is to blame for our current salary woes. From C-Webb's knee to the MLE, everyone has an opinion as to what has caused us to have no cap space and a team that would consider a .500 season a success.

OK, so how are we spending over $70 million this year?  Where have we over spent? The starting lineup is the best place to look first. These guys get the most minutes, make the biggest difference...yeah! I'm sure that it's the money that we're spending on our starting lineup.

Center  Brad Miller will make $11.4 million this year, while the NBA average for starting centers is $8.7 million. Jermaine O'Neal tops this list at $21.4 million, while Joakim Noah looks to be the cheapest at $2.3 million. Miller really is about right smack dab in the middle of the NBA center pool, and $8.7 million would be about right for him. The verdict: Miller is overpaid by almost $3 million.

Power Forward  Pucker up, MLE haters. Mikki Moore will make $5.8 million this year, while the NBA average is almost twice that much at $11.0 million. Kevin Garnett's $24.8 million tops this list, while Hakim Warrick occupies the position in Memphis for $2.1 million. There are only six starting NBA PF's that make less than Moore (ha! less than Moore...), and every one of those guys are working off their first contract. Moore may be miscast as an NBA starter, but this is through no fault of his own. Indeed, this guy is a screaming success story when you look at where he started and how hard he has had to work. Imagine Mikki's heart in Joe Barry Carroll's body. Moore would be fair value as the first big off the bench. As a starter he is at least a $6 million player. I'll call this one a push. Moore may not be the cure, but he certainly is not the cause.

Small Forward  John Salmons was another MLE signing, but I don't think that the Kings paid the full MLE (I could be wrong). Regardless, Salmons will make $5.1 million at a position that averages $8.1 million. Paul Pierce leads at $18.1 million, and Jamario Moon comes in at a tidy $700,000, the lowest paid starter in the NBA. There are about 10 guys that make less than Salmons, mostly youngsters. Salmons is right there with Moore - not a real cure but not a guy that's dragging you down by virtue of his play, contract, or attitude. He made Artest more easily expendable. He is not in the long term plans for the Kings, but like Moore he is an important transitional piece. Salmons is at least a push, and may even be good value should he replicate his numbers as a starter from last year.

Shooting Guard  Kevin Martin will make $8.8 million this year, but that is still below the $10.1 million average for the SG position. Thank Kobe and his $21.3 million contract. Ronnie Brewer (should he hold off Kyle Korver) weighs in at $1.8 million, or about $10,000 a pound. Corey Maggette and Chris Paul were the only other scorers in the top 20 last year that made less than $10 million, and CP3's going to get squared on that deal next year. For all the talk of what Martin needs to do to get to the next level, he is a $12 million dollar player right now if he does nothing more for the next five years than maintain his 62% true shooting percentage. There are 17 starting shooting guards that make more than Kevin Martin. There are not 10 shooting guards that are better than Kevin Martin. Kevin Martin is at least a $3 million value.

Point Guard  Beno Udrih for $5.6 million or Jason Kidd for $21.4 million? On the other hand, how about Rajon Rondo for $1.3 million? The NBA average for starting PG's is $7.8 million. That number will jump next year when CP3 and Deron Williams get paid. Beno Udrih or Chris Duhon? They will both make $5.6 million this year - Duhon may not even start. Udrih is close to being fair value no matter what side of the argument you may be on - he's either slighlty underpaid or slightly overpaid depending on you point of view. Wait and see...

To recap, the starting lineup is about fair value. Not overly talented, but fair value. The starting lineup for the Kings totals $36.7 million, while the NBA average is $45.7 million. Hmmm. That would lead me to believe that the trouble might be further down the bench.

Bobby Brown, Donte' Greene, Quincy Douby, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes make a combined $6.7 million. They might be good value, they might turn out to be no value. But at an average of $1.3 million per player, they can't be bad value. Francisco Garcia at $2 million could be the best value on this team not named Kevin Martin.

Next comes Bobby Jackson at $7 million, and Shelden Williams at $3.4 million. Both of these guys are here as a result of trades that unloaded contract and/or drama. Jackson will lend a veteran presence and some backup PG minutes, but he is at least $5 million short of justifying the salary. Williams could earn that $3.4 million as a banger if he is given the minutes, but if he winds up behind Miller/Hawes/Moore/Thompson, he is overpaid by almost $2.5 million.

So that leaves Shareef Abdur-Rahim at $6.2 million and K9(woof!) at $8.6 million. That's $14.8 million for two guys who will contribue nothing this year. There are only 15 starters in the NBA that make more than $14.8 million. $14.8 million would be the 8th largest investment for a starting power forward. Elton Brand will make $13.8 million this year.

So while the starters are relatively fair value, the bench appears to have about $20 million in fat, most of it coming by way of problem-unloading trades (C-Webb's knee, Bibby's salary, Artest's Artestiness). 'Reef, through injury, is the one bad free agent signing. Interestingly, C-Webb, Bibby and Artest all came here via trade. Win a few, lose a few.

Does this mean that we blame bad trades? No. We blame the situation. Webber doesn't blow out his knee, and we watch as Miller becomes the new Vlade in time to hang the 2nd and 3rd championship banner in the rafters, leaving us to piss and moan about the 4th one that we got jobbed out of in 2002. We blame K9(woof!) for losing his blue collar attitude and degenerating into an untradeable blob. We blame Shareef Abdur-Rahim for being a great guy with bad knees.

Of course, I could be dead wrong. Maybe I am. Too f*cking bad. TZ just signed me to a full MLE.

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