Quick Free Agent Update and introducing the Automated Free Agency Scorecard

“Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war

How to divide the conquest of thy sight;

Mine eye my heart thy picture’s sight would bar,

My heart mine eye the freedom of that right.”

Shakespeare  Sonnet 46

Often in life, when we love or are passionate about something that colors our perception and prevents dispassionate analysis. What you feels colors what the analysis tells you. Sports is an area were this is particularly true. When it comes to basketball,  I am a very  passionate person and perhaps that can get in the way of a dispassionate rational evaluation of the game. Mine eye and my heart are at mortal war. Passion tend to cloud statistical analysis. For the NBA Free Agency Guide, I’ve decided a truce is in order. Passion will still feature but I will add Statistics to the mix.

Here then is my Free Agent guide updated with two sets of evaluations. The first is my passionate perspective, the second is a straightforward & systemic analysis of the numbers (an automated scorecard). The updated Free Agent Guide is here. As before, the table included all player options, restricted and unrestricted free agents and all players with ridiculous ETO’s  that did not exercise (like Jason Kapono). I’m including Tmac  to Detroit as well.

Updated Winners & Losers

Here’s my quick table on winners and losers. Top 10 in green, next ten in yellow and everyone else in red :

My Quick Thoughts & Grades by Team (the heart’s part) :

The order for the teams is based on the value over market.

  1. Miami: Since my first review their roster actually improved. 14 players for about $76 million per year that netted an average of 78 wins per year for the last three years. Again, wow,just wow. The haters really need to recognize. My Grade: Eleventy
  2. Chicago: The Bulls did not get exactly what they wanted but they still massively upgraded. Chicago went four out of six (Korver is marginal). 6 players for about $32 million per year that netted an average of 32 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: A+
  3. Detroit: Detroit kept Ben Wallace and four of their current players. They may add T-mac cheap. That’s real forward looking. 5 players for about $10.5 million per year that netted an average of 17 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: B for good value but not enough
  4. Phoenix: Classic Suns pantsing the league on Childress and cutting payroll. Adding Warrick as well more than replaces the value lost when Amare left.  The only reason I withhold an A is Frye. Looking at their roster they may not be done yet. 4 players for about $20 million per year that netted an average of 19 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: B+ for now
  5. Golden State : A forum on whether or not you like David Lee. Dorell Wright is good. Pargo is very,very,very,very bad . 3 players for about $18 million per year that netted an average of 18 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: B-, no selection bias here but really Pargo?!?!?
  6. Orlando: The Magic keep bringing in average (.100 WP48 players). Great for the regular season not so much for the playoff.  4 players for about $13.6 million per year that netted an average of 15 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: C- for not doing enough to win a title
  7. Lakers: As a Celtics fan, #$#%% #@%@@!!!! And they stole a guy in the 2nd round of the draft (Caracter). The Kobe deal (not included on the list as it happened in-season) could be the turd in the punch bowl in the future. The Shannon Brown deal is a rare misstep this off-season.  5 players for about $13 million per year that netted an average of 13 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: A-
  8. Houston: Better than it looks. Yao re-upping for one year is worth a hundred million easy to that franchise. 6 players for about $47 million per year that netted an average of 33 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: B- (Jared Jeffries makes it so, because he’s no good)
  9. Boston: Better on paper. I heart Pierce & Allen but they sure are creaky. Love me some pocket kryptonite. Jermaine O’Neal? Just Ugh! The Rondo deal (again not counted in the total as it happened in-season) & Shaq at the veteran Minimum keeps a passing grade. I’m hoping the Rudy Fernandez thing is true, oh please, pretty please.  6 players for about $39 million per year that netted an average of 27 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: C+ for My Creaky Celtics (see here for their new theme song)
  10. Portland: Matthews is good but they need minutes for him. 2 players for about $14 million per year that netted an average of 10 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: Incomplete pending whatever trade they make.
  11. Cleveland :Pretty much no one is walking through that door. Blow it up and build through the draft. 2 players for about $2 million per year that netted an average of 3 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: E for bad times on Lake Erie
  12. Washington : Same as Cleveland,pretty much no one is walking through that door. Dan Gilbert take note, this team has already blown it up and is building through the draft. 1 players for about $4 million per year that netted an average of 3 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: B because the first step is to accept that we are powerless
  13. Toronto:Meh. 3 players for about $12 million per year that netted an average of 8 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: D for doubt they’ll make the playoffs
  14. Milwakee: Sneaky. Makes a good team, slightly better and deeper. Fell some Anxiety about the Deer! 3 players for about $15 million per year that netted an average of 9 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: B- for Bucks
  15. Knicks: New York deserves and will get their own post. I will say that by breaking even they lapped the regime of Lord Thomas. They were doing so well and then they went to a past best left forgotten.  3 players for about $29 million per year that netted an average of 17 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: D- (C for the moves, -15 for Isiah, they passed but barely.) Go here for the full review
  16. San Antonio: Love the Splitter deal at a minimum it gives them flexibility and saves Duncan for the playoffs at a maximum it sets them up for a dogfight with OKC and the Lakers for the West crown for the next few years. Don’t like the Jefferson deal.3 players for about $17 million per year that netted an average of 10 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: B for split returns
  17. Clippers : A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. 4 players for about $11.6 million per year that netted an average of 6 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: C- for same old Clippers
  18. Utah : Didn’t this team move to Chicago?  2 players for about $2 million per year that netted an average of 0 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: F for abseentism
  19. OKC : Not a lot done. Presti thinks he has a good hand. Flipped players for picks.1 players for about $1 million per year that netted an average of 0 wins per year for the last three years  My Grade: We will C about Cole
  20. Pacers : Anytime you can overpay for a point guard you gotta do it right? (and to offset any possible bad karma, Larry Bird is the greatest player ever) . 1 players for about $8.5 million per year that netted an average of 4 wins per year for the last three years  My Grade: F for F$%^ if I know what he’s thinking
  21. Kings : Anytime you can bring in a defensive stopper from one of the worst defensive teams in the league you gotta do it right? 1 players for about $1 million per year that netted an average of -1 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: MalooF
  22. Nets: Throwing some good money after bad. They’re getting a new GM though 7 players for about $25 million per year that netted an average of 12 wins per year for the last three years.My Grade: C- comrade
  23. Charlotte: Sneaky. Young above average PF on the cheap (Thomas). Could be good but they need to start him. Shaun Livingston gives them an A for me.  3 players for about $18 million per year that netted an average of 8 wins per year for the last three years. My Grade: A for Air
  24. Atlanta : Question, what Free Agent contracts were signed that were immediately untradeable? Answer: Joe Johnson & Rudy Gay. 3 players for about $23 million per year that netted an average of 11 wins per year for the last three years.  Grade: Z for Zombie franchise killer contracts.
  25. Dallas: Cuban seem to delight at paying full price on day old cheese. Yes it tastes good now but pretty they’re past the expiration date. 4 players for about $43 million per year that netted an average of 22 wins per year for the last three years.  Grade: D for Dirk is Dissapoint
  26. Denver: Meh again. 4 players for about $25 million per year that netted an average of 11 wins per year for the last three years.  My Grade: D
  27. Memphis: At least Atlanta got some wins out of the deal. 2 players for about $20 million per year that netted an average of 3 wins per year for the last three years.   Grade: Omega
  28. Minnesota:KHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 players for about $28 million per year that netted an average of 6 wins per year for the last three years.   Grade: F-

  29. 76ers : The Sixers payed good money to get worse. 3 players for about $12 million per year that netted an average of -4 wins per year for the last three years.   My Grade: Divide by zero
  30. Hornets: The URL Free Chris Paul is still available as we speak. 3 players for about $22 million per year that netted an average of 2 wins per year for the last three years My Grade: H for Hopeless Hornets
  31. Get it now!

Automated Scorecard (with clear eyes):

Now we come to the automated scorecard. Here I’m letting the numbers do the talking. I ‘m looking at net wins acquired and how much was paid per win. I am normalizing for wins & paid (while treating Miami as an outlier (or the grades get ridiculous)) and adding the scores. I then rank the teams by score and use percentile to score them. The automated rankings look like this:

Not completely dispassionate mind you

Miami and Chicago remain numbers one and two. The big gainers are Denver (to the middle of the pack), Dallas  to number six (yes Cuban overpaid but he overpaid for something see Utah for an example) and the Nets to number 13. As for who were the the big losers? Washington, Utah and Cleveland make perfect sense as the big droppers. It does also like the Celtics and Rockets more than just looking at plain value over market.

I hope that this post has achieved the balance that I strove for . As this is a new tool, please feel free to make suggestions. Till tomorrow.

Note: A bright reader pointed out that there is an error in the Michael Redd Contract (blame excel autotype). It makes Khan look a tiny bit better and the Redd contract hurt the Deer. I correct it here (and made some decent jokes)

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19 Comments

  1. 8/9/2010
    Reply

    Great update! I will definitely add this on one my favorite sites. It’s a good way to track teams transactions and updates on their roster.

  2. Chris
    8/9/2010
    Reply

    I was wondering how your numbers for Minnesota added up to $28 million, which didn’t make sense to me. So I looked at your spreadsheet. You have Michael Redd for -$18M on the Minnesota total, which is wrong. He plays for MIL (the Bucks) not MIN (the Wolves). Are you including team options that haven’t been executed? Don’t think the wolves have picked up Nathan Jawai’s option either. Otherwise how are you coming to the $28 million figure? Including Pekovic doesn’t get you there.

    Also, apologies to David Kahn are in order? Okay, maybe not…but still, please check your numbers.

    Thanks. By the way, I’m enjoying the blog.

    • Chris,
      I will make the correction on the next update (auto-complete for excel crossed me up) . Hoopshype has Jwai on the roster

      Much appreciated on the proofread and the redership. I’ll try and keep it interesting :-)

  3. Austin
    8/9/2010
    Reply

    I don’t think it makes sense to include player ETOs that were not exercised (if I understand correctly that you are including those now). The free agency scorecard should only include voluntary decisions by the team.

    Also, are you assigning a placeholder value for rookies? Say based on their draft position’s results over the last x years? Since some teams are relying heavily on rookies for improvements.

    • Austin,
      I agree. Voluntary decisions. I can take out the ETOs and the player options in the future. Two scorecards might make it more fun.

      I’m not really including rookies as of yet. I will do an overall roster change post before the season starts.

  4. Chicago Tim
    8/10/2010
    Reply

    I am very pleased with what the Bulls have done, and yet it sometimes feels so futile. If they manage to beat the Heat after all this, it will be a historic sports story — but I just don’t see it happening.

    And I’m not talking about just this year, but the next three to five years. After so many years of doing things wrong, they could do everything right, remain perfectly healthy, and still come up short. Like Utah in the 1990s.

    But what are you going to do? They still have to play the season. At least they are making all the right moves so far.

    • 8/10/2010
      Reply

      Tim,
      Don’t despair. I think they really do have a shot. They got to have some luck but they’ve put themselves right there.

  5. Dennis
    8/10/2010
    Reply

    I am missing something about Detroit? Looking at their transactions page (http://www.nba.com/pistons/news/201011_transactions.html), they re-signed Wallace and Bynum. They only won 27 games last year. Wallace will be 36 and requires the team to essentially play 4-on-5 on the offensive end. Bynum is a back up PG. Keeping together a team that only won 27 games deserves a “B”?

    • 8/10/2010
      Reply

      Dennis,
      It’s a fair question. The resigned what they had on hand cheap and didn’t go out an pay ridiculous money for bad players (like say Atlanta). With some health they’ll be better. I don’t expect them to win anything but they didn’t do long term damage to their franchise. Keep in mind I’m only looking at the FA moves. A full roster review wouldn’t be as kind (but it also woudn’t put them in the bottom 10 teams I don’t think).

  6. Adam Resnick
    8/12/2010
    Reply

    I appreciate and therefore have looked at the free agent chart and analysis many times. What I think would significantly add to the chart would be if players lost to free agency (with what they had contributed and what they were earning and now will be earning) would be included. To what I am referring is for example, both the Knicks and Magic appear to have made overall wise decisions based upon how much money they have paid and how much they hope to gain from those free agents, yet both of the those teams have lost significant players to free agency. Just as New York acquired Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire, they have lost David Lee. Just as Orlando looks smart by acquiring Quenton Richardson and Chris Duhon, they have lost Matt Barnes. Thus, have these teams made smart moves, lateral moves or even lost by the their moves? I think that a chart including both free agent signing and loses would be more telling. I am not sure if this can be done, but if you could do that, this would be greatly appreciated. Again, thank you for all this interesting analysis.

    • 8/12/2010
      Reply

      Adam,
      Thank you. I’m working on something like that. I’m calling it the Build. I’ll have it out before the season (once the rosters are set).

      • Adam Resnick
        8/13/2010
        Reply

        Looking forward. Thanks.

  7. Chicago Tim
    8/13/2010
    Reply

    Arturo, you may be interested in this lengthy article from Sham Sports about the financial maneuvering during this summer of free agency. It makes the Chicago Bulls look even more financially savvy. Note that even Kyle Korver’s deal is better than it looks because of the unguaranteed year with no contract guarantee date. Of course, it also emphasizes how badly even the Bulls were blown away by the Heat, so that “there’s no point even remembering who won the silver medal.”

    http://blog.shamsports.com/2010/08/creative-financing-in-nba-2010_12.html

  8. […] attention to the following two recent offerings:Evaluating a Four (and a Half) Team Trade & Quick Free Agent Update and introducing the Automated Free Agency Scorecard. Arturo is offering daily posts that I think should be essential reading for anyone trying to keep […]

  9. Adam Resnick
    8/19/2010
    Reply

    Another type of chart which I’ve been thinking about for a long time is rating the general manger/player personnel directors/presidents etc. for all of their trades/ free agent signings/drafting and letting players walk over the last 30 years. This would include players stats along with their salaries. Because front office personnel move from team to team, ranking them would show who has done the best job over all of the years. Some of the difficulties would be judging who is responsible for the trade/signing meaning for example in Philadelphia is Rod Thorn or Ed Stepanski responsible for the move. Also if an owner doesn’t want to sign a current player should the gm be responsible if the player becomes fantastic such as Steve Nash leaving Dallas. We know that Isiah would be at the bottom, but so would Chris Mullin for giving Mike Dunleavy such an outrageous contract and so would Donnie Walsh for giving Jermaine O’neal such an outrageous contract. I would think that some type of chart can be made even though looking over stats comparing different years and what the players did before and after would be a bit involved.

    • 8/19/2010
      Reply

      This could be done (and I helped Andres do it over at nerdnumbers for the Nuggets). It’s a bit of a project. I’d include picks too. My GM rankings (see here) cover a lot of this ground.

      • Adam Resnick
        8/19/2010
        Reply

        Once again, thank you for referring me to that article. I do recall reading it and that may have had a lot of inspiration for me thinking more about the gm rankings. An example of what the chart doesn’t show would be how Colangelo traded away or sold many first round picks such as Rudy Fernandez, The Luol Deng pick (which also could have been used to select Andre Iguodala) which turned into the Rajon Rondo pick and how Phoenix got nothing in return, or even Steve Kerr trading of Kurt Thomas and two number one picks just to get under the salary cap. Those 3 moves were so short sighted by Colangelo and Kerr and they were done because of being content with the current club and an escalating payroll. Also, if escalating payroll was a concern, Colangelo should never have resigned Quenton Richardson to his huge deal and instead kept the picks. (Some of these deals are referenced here by Bill Simmons:
        http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/080501
        I understand Kerr having to move Thomas because Sarver made him get under the cap, but still giving up two first round picks is a lot. Colangelo with the other two first round picks being given away is definitely his fault. Thus, even though Colangelo looks like a genius for the short term, he really ham strung the Suns by trading away so many first round picks which are the cheap salaried players. Again, thanks all of your interesting reads and keeping me thinking.

        • 8/19/2010
          Reply

          Adam,
          That’s a good thought for a future piece.
          I have a really long piece related this that I want to finish about the strategies for operating a franchise. The Suns have been extremely effective by staying under the cap but the may just literally be stumbling on wins and not actually getting there through a strategy (i.e. luck vs skill). Cost-cutting for the sake of cost cutting paradoxically seems to be an effective strategy for success in the NBA.

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