Now that we have an idea of what the roster looks like, I thought it might be useful to take a gander at the future salary and how it may impact not just Tyreke Evans, but future moves beyond Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. All salary data and notes below are from ShamSports.
|Total w/o options||$57,674,631||$38,894,276||$24,600,750||$10,815,762||$2,650,000|
- John Salmons final year is guaranteed for a million dollars.
- Team Option
- Final year is guaranateed for 2.65 million
- 2nd season is based off a 4.5% raise and 3 million base salary
- Final season is guaranteed for 100,000
- Final season will be guaranteed if Thomas plays in 50 games averaging 15 MPG in those 50 games
The most interesting thing for me is that while the 164.796 million isn’t a small “total” number, it’s actually nearly unchanged from last season (159,048,574). So when the Maloofs go out and say they spent money this off-season, all they are really doing is switching the mirrors and swapping faces. Long term, when ownership is simply switching places and handy dandy, it really doesn’t mean anything other than how infatuated you are with Shakespeare. Sadly, that’s about all I know. (Or care for that matter.)
The main takeaway for me is that despite the “upgrades” of this off-season, the team has about 5 million more in committed salary beyond this season than last season. That’s despite committing 80.28 million in total salary last December, the Kings managed to add about 5 million more of long term salary this summer over last season despite the long term deals of Salmons, Thornton and Hayes. The Kings have committed to 54,127,978 in total dollars this off-season. Note, that’s simply total dollars. That’s not “dollars owed”. When you factor in partially guaranteed salary for everyone on the roster, the number drops in the 18-20 million dollar range. (I’m too lazy to calculate that. I did quick math and it’s in that range. Feel free to calculate the exact total and leave it in the comments.) Much of that comes from John Salmons (his contract was negotiated by Milwaukee in 2010), Garcia (this was agreed to when Garcia signed an extension in 2008) and Jason Thompson (negotiated this off-season).
Strangely, despite the illusion of spending money, the Kings are not spending much money in the aggregate. All they are really doing is switching the mirrors and blowing a lot of smoke. Which leads to fans being upset about John Salmons not being amnestied despite there being no logistical cap or basketball reason to do so.
I’ve long believed that one measure of long term health of a franchise is commitment to salary dollars well beyond the coming year. For the last several years (and mainly because the Kings had no choice last off-season), the Kings have been in the bottom of the NBA for future committed salaries. (In 2010-11 the Kings were dead last by about 30 million dollars.)
As of right now, whatever contract Tyreke Evans gets, and if gets to that point, James Johnson, could dramatically effect a few things down the road. One is, if the Maloofs insist remaining owners (something that seems inevitable right now although I’m not willing to call it just that yet), the real problem for this roster won’t be paying Evans and Johnson. The real long term problem will almost assuredly be in 2014 when DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Tyler Honeycutt need new contracts.
If one was to assume that Tyreke Evans got a max contract (I’d be shocked by that) that will be somwhere in the range of 13.5-15 million next season (depending on the max contract calculus), and James Johnson gets a 7 million contract (again not something I support either even in the best case scenario), that would mean the Kings, depending on draft picks, would have 46.1 million in salary committed to Thornton, Salmons, Hayes, Thompson, Cousins, Robinson, Outlaw, Fredette, Honeycutt and Thomas. If you throw in Brooks option, you’re talking about 49.25 million for 11 players. Resigning Evans and Johnson in worst case scenario’s means the Kings would be at 71.25 million in total salary.
The likelihood of that option? Again, very unlikely. The good news is that the Kings would have 13 guaranteed salaries and wouldn’t need to add an extra one for that season.
That’s one reason Francisco Garcia is almost assuredly not going to be on the roster beyond this season.
The real problem is not in 2013-14, but in 2014-15. This is where the Maloofs method of ownership will cost the team badly in luxury tax let alone being over the salary cap.
By my count, the Kings would, in the worst case scenario, have about 31.39 million (with Salmons guaranteed million dollars still on the cap) for 6 players before Evans/Johnson count in the cap calculus at the worst case scenario. That takes the Kings to 53.39 million for 8 players without Cousins, Thomas or Honeycutt. Cousins gets a max contract (duh), and that bumps the Kings up to 68.39 million.
Now comes in the decision for Thomas and Honeycutt. Does the Maloofs (hahaha) actually pay luxury tax for the one season knowing that the salary will reset itself the next season after Thornton/Hayes/Outlaw/Fredette all come off the cap for sure?
If you add Honeycutt and Thomas in 7 million at salary (a rather generous figure), you’re talking about 82.39 million dollars.
The good news is that if the Kings pay James Johnson and Tyreke Evans, they will almost assuredly backload all salaries because that’s how the Maloofs operate. Due to the fact that the Kings can literally dodge luxury tax by possibly back-loading deals AND smart negotiating, I’m not especially worried.
What worries me is that the Maloofs are cheap owners who simply have not been able to afford a roster that hits even the salary cap the past few seasons. I’d be surprised if this season was any different despite the “spending” of money. Like most things, the Maloofs do things for show without any real substance. Had the Kings not backloaded Thornton or Hayes’ salaries, the Kings would have reduced the cap strain with new Evans/Cousins contracts coming down the pike.
The Kings did not frontload Thornton, Hayes salaries, or Jason Thompson’s. On the other hand, had the Kings front loaded all those deals, they might not have been able to acquire James Johnson or Aaron Brooks this summer. That’s the trick of all these things: It’s all about the risk reward. It also comes back to one other point: Will the Maloofs, or the next owners whomever that may be, do what it takes to put together a winner when the time comes?
There are many ways the Kings can solve a problem of a money crunch. One is trading a player and freeing up space to absorb a higher salary from a previously lower salaried player (i.e. players on rookie scale deals). One is letting players go as it comes time to pay them. (Like I thought would happen with Jason Thompson honestly.) One is trading a young player before a new contract comes into place.
I suppose the good news, and I like ending these things on good news (I’m more of an optimist than I come off as quite often), is that the Kings have flexibility and options. The bad news is that the Kings have owners who have not shown themselves to be trustworthy or worthwhile as ownership when it comes to anything franchise related. The good news is that I don’t think the Maloofs will have to make all of these decisions when push comes to shove because I don’t think they will spend money long term to keep this franchise afloat. The Maloofs simply cannot afford to pay a reasonable amount on a competitive roster. If nothing else, spending money could be a Jim Thomas gesture of “I won’t have to pay for this roster long term so it’s not my problem after this season” kind of deal.
That might be the best news of all from all of these summer moves.
In the meantime, feel free to wonder how the roster looks like moving forward past next summer and all. If you’re asking me, I’m much more worried (as Jerry Reynolds told James Ham on the excellent podcast you must listen to) whether the Kings or making a playoff run at a time. One step at a time kiddies. One step at a time. Let’s worry about whether the Kings are breaking up a playoff roster next summer provided the Kings actually make the playoffs. Until then, fretting is just that: Being a worrywart.
See? I told you I was an optimist.