My annual review of money and how it has been spent finds a total of approximately $2.03 billion was obligated to the players, which, by my count, amounts to a reduction of $82.3 million in player salaries since last season.
As you read on, please note that forecasts of total victories were based on winning percentages as of Thursday morning. Luxury-tax fees are not included in these numbers. This list is compiled from the view of management, and which teams did the best with their resources. The players, of course, will have a different view of how wisely the money has been allocated.
Amar'e Stoudemire, the speculation -- reported Friday by the
But there are also reasons to question whether the Knicks would consummate the relationship. Calipari's credentials as a bench coach will be questioned: Even though he has experience as a head coach for the Nets, he has failed to win an NCAA championship with Memphis or Kentucky. Coaching in the NBA is far more difficult than in college, and anyone who wants to shoot down the speculation can make the case that Calipari would represent a bench downgrade from Mike D'Antoni.
Will the next collective bargaining agreement maintain free-agency in its current form? How important will recruiting be in future?
This story is going to generate a lot of discussion, but it's hard to imagine the Knicks taking such a risk unless they're absolutely convinced Calipari's presence will deliver a third star to New York.
Dwight Howard, you know you have to earn fewer technical fouls -- you've received No. 18, forcing you to sit out Sunday's game against the Bulls. More important is your continuing development as the most intimidating physical presence in the paint since Shaquille O'Neal. You are developing your on-court personality, and the way you behave now, at 25, is different from how you'll be at 28. There has to be a way for you to channel your emotions against opponents without creating friction with the referees. Seeing how much you've improved your low-post game offensively, you ought to be able to do something to fix this irritating issue with the officials.
Derrick Rose, you could not have been more impressive while scoring 30 points in your 97-81 beating of the visiting Celtics on Thursday. However, when Kevin Garnett spoke of developing "some more fight" in the playoffs, you can take him at his word. The Celtics have the ability to raise their level in the playoffs, as they've shown repeatedly in recent years. We know what they can do in the postseason, but we don't yet know what you and your teammates will be able to do. Can you win it all? Yes. Will you? Probably not this year.
They're asking the right person. Last summer, Diaw bought majority ownership of his former club in France, JSA Bordeaux, at close to $100,000. He views it as a wise purchase. "It's the same team where I played when I was growing up," he said. "So it's going back to my hometown and trying to help the team, because they needed some help."
Bordeaux (24-4) is currently No. 1 in the French third division (Martin Diaw, Boris' brother, plays for the team). Diaw's ultimate goal is to elevate the team through the second division and up to the French Pro A. "When I was a kid, I always dreamt of my hometown playing in the first division," he said. "Bordeaux is the fourth biggest city in France. We should have enough to be able to go to first division, but it's tough."
Sponsorship is the most consuming issue. "We have averaged about 1,000 people for the games, and the tickets are like 8 Euros (approximately $11.50), so that's not bad," he said. "With the sponsoring, it's not like here where we are on TV every week -- for us it's very local, so you try to find some national companies that are based locally and are trying to help the team locally."
Diaw wonders how NBA teams would manage if the worst one or two of them faced relegation. "If the worst team in the NBA will go down to the NBDL?" he said, smiling. "Then people would get angry quicker and they would try to change things around quicker, instead of saying, 'Oh, it's all right, it will be better next year. I don't know if it could work, but it would be interesting."
Diaw became a minority owner two years ago. Fellow countryman Ronny Turiaf of the Knicks is a minority owner in Bordeaux, and the Spurs' Tony Parker owns a piece of the first-division club in Lyon. But neither is as vested as Diaw, who is on the phone or email every day as the owner of a small business. "It's always something," he said.
If there is an extended NBA lockout next season, he is certain his business back home will improve. That's because he'll plan to return home: The owner of Bordeaux will instantly become his team's best player.
Does outspending the rest of the league pay off? Teams with records of .500 or better (as of Friday) are in boldface, and potential tax payers are noted by *asterisk.