SH Blog: More on Grizzlies-Cavs trade: NBA Taxonomics

The margin for financial error is microscopic.  As owner Robert Pera continues to suffer his own financial woes, it is likely that the Grizzlies will begin to clear cap-space at a rapid rate after this season to avoid the luxury tax penalty.

In a similar situation, Thunder GM Sam Presti planned ahead and utilized his leverage while he still had it when he traded James Harden. How could Presti consciously decide to break up the core of Durant-Westbrook-Harden and still compete for a title? The only way was to get as much value as possible in return at a low rate – Kevin Martin as a one-year rental, and a high draft pick (Toronto’s) in order to draft another talented player on a rookie contract. To the business mind this was the only alternative.

The business of sports gets bigger every day, and more often than not we are going to start seeing personnel moves made with the bottom line in mind.

Starting in July, each year Durant and Westbrook’s contracts will increase in salary while the cap remains virtually the same and the penalty increases. So while the seemingly frugal disparagement in dollars that Presti and Harden could not agree upon – somewhere between $54 and $60 million – becomes more meaningful every year. In order to land those role-playing veterans, OKC has to saddle up and pay more than their market value to get them to come to Oklahoma over Miami, Los Angeles or New York, a luxury they wouldn’t be able to afford (no pun intended).

Memphis did not trade three role players and a first-round pick for Jon Leuer today, they traded $6 million in salary, just enough to get under the cap and buy some time to figure out whether and where they can trade Gay or Randolph – or both – this offseason.

Welcome to the new NBA.



Ben Baroff is an aspiring sports journalist and marketing professional who blogs and writes columns for Follow him on Twitter


  1. Josh says

    You did a great job of laying out the landscape of the “new” NBA. It is kind of sad to think that less teams will have the opportunity to compete unless they have really deep pockets. The same teams will continue to spend, while the rest will continue to trade guys to get under the cap. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be figured out so there can be more parody in the league.

  2. Ben Baroff says

    Thank you, and I do agree with your opinion that it is more about perception than reality. That is the problem Memphis is facing right now. Yes, Gasol-Conely-Gay-Randolph are all excellent players but are currently being paid at star level maxing out their roster/cap flexibility. They will be a tough out in the playoffs nonetheless.

  3. stepxxxxz says

    Good analysis and all true………but…………the Griz dont have sub-elite players. Zach Randolph is arguably as good a four as any in the league. Who is better? Kevin Love….I dont think so, Aldridge….not close………pau, not any more………al horeford is close…underrated….buy Zbo is elite. Conley is woefully underrated. Gay however is that danny granger level guy who invariably does get over paid. Thats the problem in memphis. Indiana over paid Hibbert….but at least hibbert is 7 2″. I think the perception is wrong because memphis is a defense first team. People dont appreciate Conley because his real strength is defense. No, he isnt Kyrie Irving, but you could argue he’s as good as Rondo. And Marc Gasol is as good as any big right now. Chandler is probably better on the whole, Lopez is still better offensively, but not close on defense. Howard is just a pain in the neck. Gortat is good, but not as good as Gasol. So really, its not sub elite, its just a team of defenders. Denver is another example. No super stars…BUT they have depth and Iguodala and Galinari…..both close to elite….and Faried who is rapidly becoming all star level. Lawson is good, not great. But put them altogether and denver is a legit contender. The marketing of this league is about stars, but its more perception than reality.

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