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Comparing NBA Free Agency Contracts To Other Sports

NBA Free Agency

(Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

LeBron James Kevin Durant Joe Murphy Getty Images
LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the biggest faces in the NBA (Joe Murphy Getty Images)

The 2016 NBA Free Agency period has gotten off to a wild start. We have seen mediocre players such as Timofey Mozgov cash in on $64 million and other above average players like Mike Conley cash in on a record $153 million deal. While other ignorant sports writers who don’t understand the cap inflation need to realize either the players will get their fair share or it will go into the pockets of the owners. As far as contracts are concerned we need to start asking a different question. How much is player x worth in terms of the percentage of the salary cap not the dollar amount? Of course these general managers could have easily traded for a late first round pick to fill the same bench role while paying them on a rookie pay scale but, that’s a story for a different day. With unwarranted outrage makes you take a second look at what kind of contracts other sports receive in comparison to the NBA.

The NFL:

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Andrew Luck just cashed in on a record deal worth $140 million. Now there is two levels to getting paid in the NFL, quarterback money and everyone else. If your an elite player you’re going to want quarterback money. In fact the 13 highest paid players are signal callers and they make up 20/25 of the league’s highest paid players. The craziest part of the NFL is these contracts are far from guaranteed. Andrew Luck for example, his deal has only $87 million guaranteed. Should the NFL fully guarantee all contracts? Probably but it becomes a little tricky considering rosters can expand upwards of 75 players in the preseason. This would probably prevent less diamond in the roughs to get through the cracks. NFL free agency has proven to be more of a bust than boom end result. Did Ndamukong Suh make the Dolphins any better? The answer is an obvious no. This allows smart organizations such as Green Bay, New England, and Baltimore to cash in on compensation draft picks for free agents leaving the organization. The truth of the matter is the NFL salary cap is $155 million, 60 percent more than the NBA’s. The challenge is splitting that number between 53 players instead of 15.

The MLB:

Baseball writers who complain about the recent NBA spending define ignorance. Baseball of course has NO SALARY CAP and allow teams to spend as much as their heart’s desire. There is a luxury tax set at $189 million but is pretty difficult to reach that threshold.

The Yankees and Dodgers are the two biggest criminals of the sport. Entering the 2016 season both the Yankees had Dodgers had payrolls north of $230 million over 30 million more than the 3rd highest team. Marlins outfielder Giancarlo owns the largest contract in baseball worth $325 million. Of course due to NBA rules players are maxed out due to experience and their previous contract. LeBron James could have gotten a contract worth far more than he will actually get due to these rules. The problem is some teams of course field payrolls that realistically shouldn’t be able to compete. The Tampa Bay Rays payroll ranks 30th at $73 million. The only way to realistically compete as a small market team is to sell off all your high paying players for prospects only to repeat the process every 5 years or so. That sounds like more of a crime than paying NBA players their fair share.

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While the 25 man roster is one thing the amateur baseball ranks have many more evils. One that comes to mind is dragging high school kids out of school and handing them millions of dollars before they ever take the field. For example Khol Stewart, a former 5 star quarterback recruit for Texas A&M faced a difficult challenge, football or baseball? When the Twins selected him in the baseball draft out of high school that became an easy decision for any high school kid. Do I take $4.5 million right now to go play baseball or get my kicked teeth in playing in the SEC for Texas A&M not receiving a penny. C’mon, and we complain about the NBA guys going one and done in college, take a look in the mirror baseball.

The NHL:

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The NHL is far and away the lowest paid of the 4 major sports in America. The highest paid NHL players makes 10.5 million annually, a mark shared by two Blackhawks (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews). The NHL salary cap is set at $73 million, far lower than other sports. The popularity of the NHL is far lower partially due to the lockout season in 2004-2005 that cancelled the entire season (that’s at least when I lost some interest). The NHL is allowed to suit up 20 active players while playing the same amount of games (82). A lower cap with more players makes the NHL a bit of a laughing stock in terms of players salaries.

The MLS and Other European Leagues:

We all know that soccer is a far cry in terms of popularity. What some people don’t realize is that players in the Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain), and Seria A (Italy) make far more. Real Madrid super star is the highest paid soccer player earning 53 million annually. Leo Messi from Barcelona is 2nd on that list with $77 million per year. Kobe Bryant is the only athlete to have made more than Ronaldo including endorsements in a career that lasted 17 seasons.

As for MLS you can see that the salaries are much less. In fact most of these players are older having spent the primes of their career with other clubs. For example Andrea Pirlo spent time with Milan and Juventus while Kaka spent time with Milan and Real Madrid. Nevertheless the MLS has grown exponentially in the past few seasons adding clubs like NYC FC and Orlando City to the mix. A bold prediction: The MLS will surpass the NHL as a big 4 sport.

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In terms of trading, this is a concept foreign to soccer clubs. The trading market in this case is known as the transfer market. Teams can approach other clubs to either loan a player or to buy him outright. When the media tries to implement concepts from soccer such as relegation in order to prevent tanking is foolhardy to say the least. The clubs with the most money can buy whoever they choose making it impossible for small market teams to compete. Now every once in awhile a good underdog story may slip through the cracks such as Leicester city but for the most part that doesn’t exist. The Transfer market is free agency on steroids. Imagine if the Lakers could now pay Kings $80 million for the rights to DeMarcus Cousins. Who says no? This kind of market keeps the big market teams always at the top of their game as they do not have to trade for a player so to speak. While a match up between Barcelona and Real Madrid is packed with talent and fun to watch at the end of the day there is no parity in the sport, pick your poison.

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