Getting Paid

Kurt —  September 4, 2008

When we talk about Lakers looking to get paid lately, it’s been about Andrew Bynum and what he is worth. (Apparently he is doing well this off-season, by the way.) I’ve said what I think he should make, but whatever the number is this is something the Lakers need to get taken care of in camp.

Which leaves a few Lakers playing for their next contract during the coming season. Odom is one, although at this point his career we have a pretty good idea what he brings to the table. His situation will be an interesting one to watch this season. Ariza is another interesting case.

But maybe the most interesting and important long term will be Jordan Farmar. He will be playing the key year of his rookie deal, his third year. (While the Lakers have a team option for his fourth season, with players you want to keep traditionally you negotiate a long term deal after the third season.) Farmar wants to get paid. Without talking out of school, he wants to get paid starter money. Can’t blame him for wanting that.

But he has to earn it. This is the year I think we’re going to see just how good Jordan Farmar can be in the league. Is he a good starting PG, someone who can be trusted to handle the ball for a team going deep into the playoffs? Or, his he a nice PG, a guy who can be a solid backup and role player for quality teams, but is not starter material.

I don’t think we know the answer to that yet. We know he has a good work ethic and his game made big leaps between his first two seasons — true shooting percentage jumped from 51% to 55%, his three point shooting jumped from 32.8% to 37.1%, his assists were up while turnovers were down, his PER was up three points to 15.7 (about the league average). Those kinds of improvements just don’t happen without a lot of work. He gets called out for his defense, but opposing PGs shot just 47.5% (eFG%) against him and had a not great but not bad PER of 16.4 (those numbers were pretty comparable to the previous year).

The question now is, can he make another leap forward? On both ends of the floor? More importantly can he show us that he is the PG of the future, can he basically rip key minutes away from Fisher because Phil can’t just keep him on the bench?

If he does that, he gets paid. Maybe not as much as he dreams, but he’ll get a good offer. Good PGs matter. But if he doesn’t, if he really is a role player, he’ll get paid at that level. And that is not what he’s hoping for.

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Here are a few other Dim Sum free comments and links:

• Everyone in the basketball blogsphere has linked to the Periodic Table of Basketball Bloggers. And with good reason, this is an impressive piece of work and a fun read. Plus, this site correlates with titanium on the table of elements, and I can live with that just fine.

• I’m not a fan of the idea, but there are a lot of people suggesting bringing Odom off the bench this season. And making their case.

• I think everyone is being a little hard on Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur. I think what they were doing was vintage Hunter S. Thompson straight out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — get stoned in the one place you are not supposed to. Maybe it’s NBA rookie camp, maybe it’s a meeting of drug enforcement agents, but the attitude is the same. Fear and Loathing. Those two are my new favorite guys (no need to tell them about the bats, they’ll find out about them soon enough).

Kurt

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42 responses to Getting Paid

  1. Kurt,

    Your post brings me back to a much younger Derek Fisher. I see Jordan following a similar unfortunate trajectory.

    It’s not just Andrew, Lamar, and Jordan–there is the little matter of Trevor Ariza–and Chris Mihm if he really comes through. Especially if the team does as expected, the Lakers will not be able to resign all of their expiring contracts for next year.

    Even if Jordan has a spectacular season, I could imagine the Lakers allowing him to walk rather than “paying him” the way you mean.

    Like Ronny, it might actually be better for Jordan anyway.

  2. I believe Farmar’s verdict should be next summer but you are right in saying that his 3rd year is a very pivotal part of making his image. Guys usually get it on the 3rd year, some of them later and some don’t get it at all. We hope Jordan does find it this year – that alone increases our chances of contending as some “expect” us to do.

    Andrew Bynum is the biggest decision Mitch makes in his utterly useless career before the magical pau Gasol trade. That said, it will be interesting how he can “tame” Drew’s agent to accept “less-than-Okafor” money.

    Going back on topic, I think J-Farm’s market value will also be affected by one of his fellow draftee PG of the 06 Class – Rajon Rondo. Look for the Celts to negotiate something in the next off-season. Then we can talk bout our boy Farmar.

  3. the other Stephen September 4, 2008 at 7:04 am

    that’s a depressing thought.

  4. Man Kurt,
    I so enjoyed that Thelonious Monk U-Tube link in the last post that I bookmarked it for future reuse. Thank you! What a wide variety of interests we have here.

  5. Ugh, I hate Monk. I’ve disliked Tony Shaloub since his days on Wings.

    Anyway, I’m excited about Bynum’s progress. I think with a healthy Bynum, the sky is the limit for these Lakers. The Lakers need to pay him enough to keep him around a long time. I just hope he doesn’t turn out to be injury prone.

    Also, I don’t know if any of you have read the Pacific Division preview over at SI but they count the non-trade of Odom as a bad summer move.

    I’ve always like Odom and consider the Lakers better with him than without. And I am also in the camp that you start your five best players. In this case, Kobe, Fish, Odom, Gasol and Bynum. I know there is a case to bring Odom off the bench but I don’t agree. I think we will see his skills even more useful surrounded by Bynum and Gasol . . . and of course Kobe.

  6. Jordan has been solid and will continue to be so. I just hope that we doesn’t walk at the end of this year, but I just don’t seem LA paying the kind of dollars that he is going to be looking for. Unless Fish breaks down at some point in the season, this could be Jordan’s last hurrah.

  7. Although Kurt is correct about this being an important year for Jordan because he can negotiate a big extension if he does well, it by no means, means that he might walk if he doesn’t get it this off season. The Lakers have a TEAM option for next year just under 2mil to keep him.

    The Lakers will almost definitely take that option and negotiate with him the Summer of 2010 where they can give him a qualify contract and see if anybody gives him big money. They will decide then if he is worth it or not to them at the time.

  8. I said this last season when we were playing the Spurs…
    Jordan needs to watch and learn from Tony Parker as a good influence on a way to attack the rim and run the offense. they both can shoot the teardrop, TP does it better, but jordan should work on this now. also they both have a quick first step, again, TP does it better, Jordan should work to be as strong in that quick first step and drive to the hoop, this breaks down the D, giving him options to layup, dunk, or dish….and with the front line we’re going to have, I wonder what things this does to work with out triple towers?

  9. I’m not sure what to think of Jordan’s future with the Lakers. I see him playing a larger role this year, and that he and Sasha will take at least 7-8 minutes of Fish’s playing time, but I’m not so sure the Lakers are going to be able to give him what he wants or needs. I think Sasha will eventually move into the starting lineup, not Jordan,and Jordan will be a starter in this League. I love his game, but I could also see the Lakers using him as a valuable trade asset IF they do decide to make a move this year. I honestly don’t expect him to be a Laker after this year no matter how well he plays, but just because it might not be in his best interests.

  10. Oh….Just saw Brian P’s comment…..So, then let me revise my comment.

    I don’t expect him to be a Laker after 2010.

  11. Brian P. you are right, and I should be more clear about that in the post (I may go back and edit some just to make sure). That said, the summer after the third year (or the following fall) is traditionally when you negotiate with guys you want to keep so you do not get into the qualifying offer problems. If Jordan is the long term answer at the point, you want to wrap that up next summer rather than risk letting him go.

    But that only works if he is not easy to replace. If he is, you sign Ariza or whomever then see what happens with Jordan.

  12. This discussion with Farmar – and soon Ariza, along with Kobe and Gasol – are the primary reason I don’t see Lamar here past this year. Not that I wouldn’t want him, but I think the Lakers won’t be able to afford what he wants. Unless his market value really drops, I see his contract handicapping the Lakers ability to sign their other young players.

  13. Kurt –
    Yeah I agreed with your post and understood what you meant, I just noticed some people taking slightly the wrong way and wanted to make it clear.

    Wrong post to say this, but I love your blog and I think you should keep the comment format the same.

  14. If the Lakers win the Chamionship this year, negotiations with any player could turn drastically. Many players are willing to take cuts to play for a champion and management is a little more willing to pay out to keep a winning ball club.

  15. Anyone else having problems getting the site to load?

  16. He doesn’t have to make “a leap” this year. Steady improvement will put him into the “just above average” group, similar to Fisher, which would make him worth keeping.

    But because he does not appear to have “star” potential (at least IMO) his value to the Lakers will also be affected by how Vujacic, and to a lesser extent Ariza, play, and what kind of future Sun appears to have.

  17. I’m not having any trouble getting the page to load.

    Good point about Farmar and his improvement — he clearly has worked hard for it. I hope that next year he is able to make it strong through the whole season, without seeing some of the extended dips/dropoffs that have come in the first two years (and which seem mostly normal for 1st/2nd year players).

    Regarding his defense — one extra number you might want to add is the defensive adjusted +/-, which is noisy but does suggest that he’s having a positive effect on the D.

    http://www.countthebasket.com/blog/2008/06/03/offensive-and-defensive-adjusted-plus-minus/

    Odom and Gasol worked so well off of each other last season, that I’d like to see them play as many of their minutes as possible together — that’s the main reason I’d rather not see Lamar off the bench . . ..

  18. kurt, the site was having difficulties around mid morning for me, (on both my mac and PC), but that was only for a short time, and has been fine ever since.

    and I personally like FB&G the way it is. I do think that “recently said” on the main page is nice, especially when we get into the season, and if the start of this year is anything like the end of last year, we could be seeing 200 plus comments per game, and that’s where the recently said link is really nice.

    any thoughts on how to incorporate a SPOILER ALERT feature for delayed road games?

  19. OT

    Despite his comments about his Heat championship being the best in his career, looks like Riley is still bleeding Forum Blue and Gold.

    He will be inducted into the HOF by Magic Johnson and Jerry West…

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/nba/20080904-1258-bkn-halloffame-riley.html

  20. First let me say that I like Farmar. How can you not like hard working players that show improvements in there game(s) and play hard?

    That said, I think that Farmar is a good player but not one that is worth more than what Sasha makes; so basically I see him as a backup player or a “split time” player that plays about half the game. I think his size limits him to ever being more than that, as only truly special players can excel at a really high level when they are 6’0″ or so. This becomes even more pressing when you consider the offense he plays in (the Triangle) and the need of Guards in that system to be able to play inside and out both off penetration and off hard cuts into the teeth of the defense and the occasional post up. Basically I see Farmar as a BJ Armstrong type. I think you can win with him (BJ has rings), but you’ll still want that other guy who can do the things that he (Farmar) can’t do and will ultimately take up minutes that a more useful starter would not relinquish. It’d be another thing if his defense was actually really strong and not just average. If he was a defensive minded player or had better defensive instincts (like Fisher, for example) I think that Farmar would be more useful and would be able to provide more to the team and hence be a more valuable player. But I’ll believe that when I see it. To my eye, Farmar’s defensive instincts are just okay and he isn’t the type to get steals (like an Iverson) or draw charges (like Fisher) and ultimately his size (moreso bulk rather than height) limits his ability to play strong D in the post and be an effective “switcher” on defense in P&R situations. And ultimately, bigger guards give him problems. Combine that with his instinctive issues that don’t let him consistently stay in front of the quicker guards and I’m not sure if that big leap of improvement is coming on defense.

    In the end, I like Farmar, and would really like him to be on the team for the future, but he’s not a *keep at all cost* guy for me. I think if he made 3.5-5 mil a year over 3-4 years, that would be more than enough for a player of his skill set and ceiling. But, maybe that’s just me and I’ll be wrong in the end. It wouldn’t be the first time…

    RE: Odom as a sixth man. Really quickly: I think that the point made at the top of the linked article is the best one made but it really supports the opposite position. Odom played his best ball of the season (and as a Laker) when he was the 3rd option and was able to move off the ball rather than dominate the ball off the dribble. His ability to cut and finish or catch and then read the D to make a play for a teammate is what made our Offense really efficient after the Pau upgrade (realizing too that Pau had ALOT to do with that efficiency too). Simply put, Odom played his best with the best players surrounding him. So, relegating Odom to the 2nd unit, where he’d be asked to be more of a focal point and have players play off of his creating for them doesn’t maximize his value to the team, imo. Will there be issues with spacing? Sure. But it’s not like Odom is useless beyond the 3pt. line, it’s that he’s soooo much better closer to the basket. I really look at Odom like I looked at Ron Harper during the Bulls run’s in the late 90’s. Those bulls teams only had 2 players in their starting lineup that were effective behind the 3pt. arc: Pippen and Jordan. The other players (Longley, Rodman and Harper) were not shooters. Ron Harper has a career 3pt % of less than 30%. Sound familiar? Our offense can be just as efficient with good ball and player movement with some timely shooting sprinkled in. Harper lived off of those hard cuts and opportune post ups in the Triangle. Why can’t the same be said for Odom? The truth is, we assume that all Odom’s going to be doing is standing around the arc all day. But with the passing bigs that we have now (in contrast to Kwame and (even) Mihm before) player movement will be rewarded and cutters are going to be getting the ball. Basically, I wouldn’t relegate Odom to the bench just yet.

  21. Darius-I agree with the idea that Lamar will be able to be a productive small forward along with Kobe,Drew, Pau and Fish, but there is a difference between the example you gave of Harper and the late 90’s bulls versus the Lakers of next season-zone defense. This is how Boston stifled us and kept Odom out of the paint. If LO doesn’t get it going from the outside this season to the point that he makes the opposition respect him, then it will be hard to win the championship

  22. Mario Chalmer’s official comment on the situation was, “huh huh huh. Wait- what?” followed by some giggling and ordering room service even though the room service he had just ordered hadn’t yet arrived.

  23. Kwame,
    I was thinking of that as well, but I also think that Boston had one of the best defenses the league has seen. They were able to control the paint by denying pentration as well as contest the 3pt jumpshot. So, while I agree that a zone can stifle our offense, I also think that most teams do not have the defensive capabilities to defend the way that Boston did, and that we could have cracked Boston’s defensive code with better off ball movement and crisper passing. What I saw against Boston was a ton of ball denials to our preferred pass receivers (either on the wing in the standard offensive initiation and on ball reversals that would have set up our weakside motion), that ultimately threw off our timing and made us more of an isoloation team with either Gasol getting a post entry and going one on one or a Wing player initiating isolations with dribble penetration that was stymied by Boston’s tremendous team defense. In the end, I think after an entire training camp with *this* team of players that are smart and can read the defense so much better than the most recent Lakers teams I do think that we’ll be better with our off ball movement and passing and that Odom will still be able to get his without the benefit of tremendous spacing. I think the combination of ball and player movement will compensate for spacing issues in a lot of ways. Like I said before about Farmar (in my comment about his ability to improve on defense), I could be wrong about that, but I think it will work well.

  24. Good News from the horse’s mouth:

    Andrew Bynum

  25. 24.- On the one hand I get the feeling that Drew actually wrote that and not some anonymous press agent. He comes off as a good, very young, kid. I still have to place a grain of salt on what he says about his condition because of his huge financial interest in saying he’s completely better and the fact that he’s still not actually playing full contact games, but I hope he’s right.

    Also on the plus side, Bynum seems to have 15 best friends. Half of them were traded last season, but I’m sure he still has several remaining.

    It’s “long haul” though, Drew. Though at least “long hall” could make some sense…

  26. Hey Kurt,
    I thought a tshirt was in the works. Any word on it?

  27. first off…can I just say this is the most devoted blog and fan base out there. Kurt – my hat is off to you – thanks for your commitment. Also, EMH – good point earlier about guys being more favorable towards re-signing after a championship..

    It’s tough to envision the Lakers a year, two, or even three years from now…Who really knows where we will be in terms of core roster? But we do know that we will hopefully and almost assuredly have Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant on our team. That’s pretty damn good…

    Lamar Odom is going to be a tough situation this offseason. After this year, we will have the following people under contract (courtesy of Patricia at HoopsHype:
    KB (player option) – $23 mil
    Pau – $16.45 mil
    Sasha – $5 mil
    Luke – $4.84 mil
    Vlade – $6.47 mil (last yr before player option)
    D-Fish – $5.05 mil (last year)
    Farmer (Team option) – $1.95 mil

    That is a grand total payroll of $62.75…The salary cap for this year is $58.68. That means we will probably be right around the salary cap limit going into the offseason next year…Fisher should re-negotiate for a longer contract with a lower salary – and I think he will. That potentially drops us below cap. But what do we do from here with the key parts out of contract:
    LO
    Ariza
    Bynum

    We are going to clearly need to make some moves…perhaps my numbers or logic/frame of reference are off. I assume that collective bargaining allows for some lee-way – I understand we’re already $23 mil over the cap somehow. Regardless, I don’t see us finding away to afford LO for more than $10 mil…doesn’t seem reasonable w/ Bynum, Pau, and Kobe already on the team. But what I hope for is Trevor to step into that role. Unfortunately, and let me VENT – Luke walton is under contract through the year 2013 – YEP – 2013, where he will make $6.1….That money needs to be going towards Ariza, but it’s already accounted for. We can make room…but at what expense?? Somebody help me clarify the situation because it is important – we need solid guys around our KB/AB/Pau core after this season, and hey – maybe even LO TOO!!!

    Lakers 4 Life (Sorry for the long post..rum is good)

  28. 20 – Dead-on analysis of Farmar’s game. Darius pretty much said everything I wanted to, just much more organized, logical, and better.

    One question for anyone – where does this notion come from that Farmar wants to be paid more than a backup’s money? I was gone this summer, did I miss a quote? Did he specifically say how much money he wanted? Same question with Odom – I had thought he would be willing to take a sharp pay cut to stay with this team, am I way off-base?

  29. PS – the Lakers, with a healthy, improved Bynum are the most talented team in the league….and it’s really not that close. Boston beat us on hustle and heart. This year that really won’t be a difference maker when they’re outmatched at practically ever position on the floor…That’s all I can say about that…Lakers: 62-20 – best record in NBA next season

  30. 20 – Dead-on analysis of Farmar’s game. Darius pretty much said everything I wanted to, just more organized, logical, and better.

    One question for anyone: where does this idea come from that Farmar wants more money than a backup? I was gone this summer, did I miss a quote/interview? Same question with Lamar – I had believed that LO would be willing to take a pay cut to stay with this team. Has he said something to refute that?

  31. This is off-topic but i read somewhere that Sun Yue played in the ABA. Maybe he is more ready and maybe he can adjust faster than we think. PLUS he averaged 10+ assists.

    what do you think kurt?

  32. “I think everyone is being a little hard on Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur. I think what they were doing was vintage Hunter S. Thompson straight out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — get stoned in the one place you are not supposed to. Maybe it’s NBA rookie camp, maybe it’s a meeting of drug enforcement agents, but the attitude is the same. Fear and Loathing. Those two are my new favorite guys (no need to tell them about the bats, they’ll find out about them soon enough).”

    ^ Amen

  33. 26. A shirt is in the works, but it’s going to be a little bit before they go on sale. Closer to when camp opens. Just have a lot of balls in the air right now outside of the blog.

    30. I can’t get into details, it’s not my story to tell, but I can say with certainty that Farmar has his eyes on a big payday with his next contract.

    31. Sun Yue did play a year in the ABA, and after a slow start came on and eventually made the season-ending all ABA team. That said, have you ever seen an ABA game? I have. I went the season he played, I went to games last year. It is an independent minor league, the talent is way below the NBA level. The jump from ABA to the NBA is like the jump from A baseball minor leagues to the major leagues. Guys go to the ABA hoping to get noticed and picked up by teams in the D-League or overseas. I finally watched Sun in the Olympics, and I agree with the comments here — there were moments but he is a project, several years away from helping.

  34. I never really thought about Farmar;s contract until you mentioned it. I guess I was just thinking that he has only been in the league two years. I do think this year we will see what he is made of though.

  35. chalmers and arthur = not very smart……chick would call it “not phi beta kappa”

    how can you knowingly violate 2 rules of the rookie orientation camp and on top of it, get caught?….what an awesome start to their nba careers………

  36. Farmar has to show he can effectively distribute the ball as a point guard and play some defense before he gets the big money. It’s his third year and time for him to make significant improvement in both of these areas.

  37. By the way, for those of you unhappy with the VladRad contract, here is some fuel: A detailed post about how the MLE is often misused.

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=412

  38. Farmar… 6′ 2″ with a 42 ” leap.Talent AND intelligence. A star of the future,hopefully with the Lakers.Only thing he needs is to play better defense and that will come with experience.Love the guy.

  39. 36-I agree with you Tim. Farmar is a nice prospect, but he has not yet shown he can defend at the level of a starting point guard, much less a star pg. He must increase his lateral quickness to improve his defense, and Im sure he’s working on it.

    Re Vlad’s deal: I think that in and of itself it is not that bad. Coupled with Walton’s deal, and the acquisition of Ariza, it does seem a little high, but inflation is real. I know it hurts some people’s feelings because he has so endeared himself to the fans, but the real contract culprit is Luke, and we are stuck with him (whereas Vlad may be moveable) so I just hope he is healthy and that he has learned to shoot the real basketball (as opposed to the synthetic one he thrived with).

  40. If Luke plays like last year, his contract is a burden. If he is healthy and can contribute off the bench like he did two seasons ago, it’s still a little high but not a dead weight. He needs a bounceback year.

  41. New post up…

  42. I think it’s a pretty pointless conversation right now. More likely than not, the Lakers will let Jordan play out this year and then exercise their option for next year. Then, two years from now, they’ll decide what to do — which may simply be offering the minimum amount to exercise their matching rights.. Jordan hasn’t shown anything up to this point for the Lakers to jump the gun on a contract exrtension for him.