Taking one for the team

posted by Jason Kottke Jul 06, 2005

Over on TrueHoop, Henry Abbott notes something interesting about Ray Allen's just-signed contract with the Seattle Sonics:

Though the average yearly salary of the contract is $16 million, the starting salary for Allen has not yet been worked out. Allen's side has given the Sonics the freedom to structure the deal however they choose in order to allow the team to surround Allen with talent, possibly by re-signing some of their own free agents or entering the free-agent market and signing top quality players.

Although I'm sure it freaks out the agents and laywers, that concession gives Ray Allen and the Sonics a much better shot at success.

I've always wondered why so-called "franchise" players on pro teams in leagues with salary caps (particularly in the NBA, where the number of players per team is so small) don't do this type of thing more often. Well, besides the fact that their agents, who presumably work on commission, won't let them. You get a guy like Kevin Garnett, who wants to win multiple championships, give him $3-4 million less per year than he could get on the open market (so he's still making millions per year and much more in endorsements) on the condition that the #2-5 guys on the squad are also making below market level by a mil or two, and then spend that money on the bench or on a #3 guy who would be a #2 guy anywhere else in the league. Garnett wins championships, everyone on the team wins championships, everyone's endorsements go up, the team makes more money, and the profile of everyone involved is raised (higher profile = increased future earnings potential). Of course it would never work, but what if it did?