Statophile, Volume 13

Salaries are not PERfect Edition:

Trade options

We’re not likely to be active at the trade deadline (ending this Thursday), but I developed a database that compared salary, number of years under contract and Player Efficiency Rating (PER) to see what assets the Raptors’ have versus what the team could acquire. This article shows us how PER is calculated.

TSN’s esteemed basketball writer Tim Chisholm offered these ideas:

  • O.J. Mayo
  • Jonny Flynn
  • Avery Bradley

Mr. Chisholm is correct it looking for “difficult” cases as the reality is Toronto’a assets are either: a) youth they should want to keep or b) difficult contracts to move. This makes the Raptors’ options limited.

Mayo and Flynn are having very tough years and lag in several categories. I believe there is too much risk with both given the Raptors would have to pay at least two more years for either – and they’re certainly not inexpensive deals. Bradley is more intriguing (his MP are so low his stats are meaningless) and his contract makes it a no brainer – the only “little” problem is what Boston would take for him.

PER versus salary

I built a database with every player in the league, their contract length, average salary over that period, PER and other metrics. Here’s a plot of player salary versus PER.

There is certainly some correlation, but its quite weak. Bad contracts, veteran’s minimum deals (e.g. Shaq signing for minimum despite being reasonably effective), rookie scale contracts, players getting max deals for non-elite level players, etc all contribute to this distortion. However, it can still serve as useful analysis on what players appear to be good value versus expensive relative to production.

Trade assets

Here’s a look at the Raptors’ roster and we see there is not a lot of great trade assets.

The “best” trade assets are usually that missing “piece” for a contender to put them over the top OR a large expiring deal which struggling (and/or financial weak) teams will trade for to get longer deals off their books.

Amir Johnson is the most movable piece, but I also believe/hope he is part of the core the Raptors wish to build on. He is still only 23.

Jose Calderon is close, but its likely too long of contract for a contending team to make a big bet on. Leandro Barbosa’s is short enough, but he is likely not productive enough given his salary level. Reggie Evans has endeared himself to Toronto, however he is realistically the most likely to be traded. He is a terrific role player and built for the playoffs. Most importantly, his contract expires after this season. I left Jarrett Jack on the list to show what a good deal that trade was.

I will leave it to the reader to work ESPN’s Trade Machine for options.

The final word on Amir Johnson’s contract

When we compared Amir Johnson’s contract to similar ones this summer (Drew Gooden’s and Travis Outlaw’s), commenter Tristan had a good suggestion. This prompted yet another reason to build this database.

As well, ESPN’s own Bill Simmons just rated Amir Johnson’s contract as the 20th worst in the NBA a few days ago. Really?! Mr. Simmons either needs to watch a couple Raptors games or do a little homework before writing these things. Or he could have simply added Amir just to rile the Toronto fans, which always works. It did with me.

To answer the question, I simply took Johnson’s average salary over his entire contract ($6,050,000) and felt every player that averaged between $5 and $7 million per year would be a fair comparison (i.e. +/- $1 million).

Here is the result:

Class dismissed.

Questions? Email me: [email protected] or find me on Twitter.

Sources: basketball-reference.com

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