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Summer 2010 Preview (07/02)

July 1, 2010
Summer 2010 Preview
Updated Team Assets

by Kevin Pelton

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When we started this series previewing the summer of 2010 free agency in February, the potential ramifications of the biggest crop of free agents in recent history seemed far away. Now, after months of ceaseless hype, free agency is here. Teams and players finally began talking to each other as of Midnight Eastern last night. To revisit what we've done, here are the first five parts of the series.

With several teams making moves to increase their cap space over the last week, this is an appropriate time to revisit our valuations of the assets each of the main contenders for the services of LeBron James has to offer on the basketball court. Everything is measured in terms of projected WARP over the next three seasons, based on the development of similar players for current players, the average value of each draft pick and the average worth of cap space (1 WARP for each $2.5 million). Part 5 has a lot more details on the methodology.

Note that we have not adjusted for the players each team actually selected last week. So far, I've been unable to create WARP projections for college prospects that match the same scale as the rest of the projections.

New Jersey Nets

Player/Asset       10-11  11-12  12-13    Tot
---------------------------------------------
Brook Lopez         9.5   10.8   11.1    31.4
2010 Cap Space      5.4    5.4    5.4    16.1
Devin Harris        6.0    4.9    4.3    15.2
2010 No. 3          2.0    3.6    5.2    10.8
Kris Humphries      2.2    2.8    2.4     7.4
Courtney Lee        1.7    2.3    2.3     6.3
Terrence Williams   1.5    1.6    1.1     4.3
2010 No. 24         0.3    0.9    1.4     2.6
2011 Rd 1                  0.7    1.5     2.2
2012 Rd 1                         0.7     0.7
Quinton Ross        0.0                   0.0
2011 Rd 2                  0.0    0.0     0.0
2012 Rd 2                         0.0     0.0
2012 Rd 2 (MIA)                   0.0     0.0
2012 Rd 2 (MIL)                   0.0     0.0
---------------------------------------------
Total              28.6   32.9   35.4    96.9

The Nets' total projected WARP actually dropped by 2.9 because the team traded Chris Douglas-Roberts and Yi Jianlian to clear slightly more cap space, but because of the way we're valuing space, they shoot to the top of the rankings.

New York Knicks

Player/Asset       10-11  11-12  12-13    Tot
---------------------------------------------
2010 Cap Space      7.0    7.0    7.0    21.1
Danilo Gallinari    5.1    6.8    8.2    20.2
Bill Walker         5.5    6.7    7.0    19.2
Toney Douglas       3.2    4.3    3.6    11.2
Wilson Chandler     2.8    3.2    2.7     8.6
2011 Cap Space             4.0    4.0     8.0
2011 Rd 1 (HOU/NYK)        0.6    1.2     1.8
2010 No. 38         0.0    0.3    0.5     0.7
2010 No. 39        -0.1    0.2    0.5     0.6
2012 Rd 2                        0.0      0.0
---------------------------------------------
Total              23.5   33.2   34.8    91.4

At No. 2 are the Knicks, whose asset list remains entirely unchanged other than the fact that the team selected Andy Rautins and Landry Fields in the second round of last week's draft. Statistically, these picks weren't quite as laughable as conventional wisdom would lead you to believe. In particular, Fields' numbers last season were very similar to those of fellow Pac-10 standout Quincy Pondexter, taken in the first round at No. 26 overall. The quibble is that New York might have been able to sign Fields as an undrafted free agent and draft someone else, but at No. 39 this is not exactly a disaster.

Los Angeles Clippers

Player/Asset       10-11  11-12  12-13    Tot
---------------------------------------------
Blake Griffin       9.3    9.8    9.1    28.2
Eric Gordon         4.2    5.6    6.5    16.3
Baron Davis         6.5    5.2    3.5    15.2
DeAndre Jordan      3.6    3.8    3.9    11.2
2010 No. 8          1.2    2.3    3.4     6.9
Chris Kaman         2.8    1.8    1.1     5.7
2010 No. 18         0.6    1.2    1.9     3.7
2011 Rd 1                  0.7    1.5     2.2
2012 Rd 1                         0.7     0.7
2012 Rd 1 (MIN)                   0.7     0.7
2010 No. 54         0.0    0.0    0.0     0.0
2011 Rd 2                  0.0    0.0     0.0
2011 Rd 2 (DET)            0.0    0.0     0.0
2012 Rd 2                         0.0     0.0
---------------------------------------------
Total              28.1   30.4   32.3    90.8

The Clippers added the No. 18 pick (Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe) into the mix in a draft-night trade. The projection overstates how much they gained because the Clippers have not been penalized for the future first-round pick they surrendered to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is unclear what the conditions surrounding this pick will be or when it might actually change hands.

Miami Heat

Player/Asset       10-11  11-12  12-13    Tot
---------------------------------------------
Dwyane Wade        14.5   13.5    9.3    37.3
Michael Beasley     4.9    6.0    7.1    18.1
Mario Chalmers      3.9    4.4    5.1    13.4
2010 Cap Space      4.2    4.2    4.2    12.6
2011 Rd 1                  0.7    1.5     2.2
2010 No. 32         0.1    0.5    0.8     1.4
Joel Anthony        0.9    0.4   -0.3     1.0
2012 Rd 1                         0.7     0.7
2010 No. 41        -0.1    0.2    0.4     0.5
2010 Rd 2          -0.1    0.2    0.4     0.4
2010 No. 42        -0.1    0.2    0.4     0.4
2012 Rd 2 (NO)                    0.0     0.0
---------------------------------------------
Total              28.2   30.3   29.6    88.2

Miami took the biggest hit of any team since the end of the season, dropping by 5.4 WARP. Why? Not only did the Heat lose WARP by trading Daequan Cook and the No. 18 pick to the Thunder for the No. 32 pick, their pursuit of three makes players seemingly makes it unlikely Miami will attempt to re-sign young forward Dorell Wright (10.5 projected WARP), who looked like a possible steal as a restricted free agent. We're no longer including Wright among the Heat's assets.

Chicago Bulls

Player/Asset       10-11  11-12  12-13    Tot
---------------------------------------------
Derrick Rose        9.1   10.0    9.8    28.8
2010 Cap Space      5.0    5.0    5.0    15.1
Luol Deng           4.2    3.8    3.4    11.4
Joakim Noah         4.2    3.7    3.5    11.4
James Johnson       1.9    3.0    1.4     6.3
Taj Gibson          2.6    2.2    1.2     6.0
2011 Rd 1                  0.7    1.5     2.2
2012 Rd 1                         0.7     0.7
---------------------------------------------
Total              26.9   28.5   26.6    82.0

By trading Kirk Hinrich and the No. 17 pick to Washington (a deal that cannot officially be completed until next Thursday, when the Wizards' cap space will become available), the Bulls gained 2.5 projected WARP in terms of additional cap space. That's perhaps not the slam dunk it was made out to be, but as compared to teams like Miami and New Jersey that lost out by making cap-clearing trades, Chicago looks good.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Player/Asset         10-11  11-12  12-13  Total
-----------------------------------------------
Maurice Williams       5.9    5.3    4.7   16.0
Leon Powe              3.0    2.6    2.5    8.1
Delonte West           2.5    3.4    2.1    8.0
J.J. Hickson           2.1    2.8    2.9    7.9
Anderson Varejao       2.9    2.3    1.8    7.0
Antawn Jamison         2.7    2.3    1.4    6.5
2010 MLE               2.0    2.0    2.0    6.0
Daniel Gibson          2.2    1.4    1.4    5.0
Jamario Moon           1.0    0.8    0.6    2.4
2011 Rd 1                     0.7    1.5    2.2
Sebastian Telfair      1.4                  1.4
2012 Rd 1                            0.7    0.7
2011 Rd 2                     0.0    0.0    0.0
2012 Rd 2                            0.0    0.0
Anthony Parker         0.0   -0.3    0.0   -0.3
-----------------------------------------------
Total                 25.9   23.3   21.7   70.9

The Cavaliers remain unchanged, and not really a part of this discussion in terms of assets. If James re-signs in Cleveland, loyalty and the belief that the Cavaliers can ultimately upgrade their roster by spending freely would seem to be the biggest reasons.

Comparing the assets in visual form:

The Nets have the broadest portfolio of assets to offer, with a strong group of young talent (last season's results aside), a reasonable amount of cap space and help from the draft (note that this year's picks are still included in this category).

However, we know that things might continue to change over the next week as teams make additional moves to clear space and get far enough under the cap to sign two max free agents (three in the case of the Heat), or at least close enough that the money these players would leave on the table is negligible. So what do these projections look like if we add Chris Bosh, under the assumption he plans to follow James, and take away the players each team would need to trade to make room?

Team          Players  Picks Space   Total
------------------------------------------
New Jersey      57.1   16.3   29.8   103.2
New York        59.1    3.2   37.8   100.1
L.A. Clippers   76.6   14.2     -     90.8
Chicago         57.7    2.9   29.8    90.4
Miami           14.4    5.8   67.1    87.3
Cleveland       62.0    2.9    6.0    70.9

In general, we've made assumptions that favor these teams, removing Kris Humphries for New Jersey, Michael Beasley for Miami and James Johnson for Chicago. In all three cases, the team will probably need to add some sort of sweetener to get a team that is newly under the cap to take on these players. Also, none of the three trades will get the teams all the way to having enough room for two max players, though they would be close.

Even with those assumptions, things are much closer at the top, and from this perspective the Knicks may deserve more credit for their current position. While New York's roster doesn't look great at the moment, there are no more sacrifices to be made for the Knicks, who already have the space to sign two players. Whether New Jersey would maintain the No. 1 spot depends on how much they would have to give up along with Humphries; adding Courtney Lee or Terrence Williams to a deal would be enough to move New York slightly ahead.

Meanwhile, the WARP projections are relatively unenthusiastic about the prospect of a Bosh-James-Dwyane Wade pairing in Miami. By far, this would be the scenario that would leave the cupboard most bare--especially if the Heat has to sacrifice Mario Chalmers, one of the best bargains around at a minimum salary, in addition to Beasley. The cost to Miami to clear a third max salary slot will be high since the team would have to give up on Beasley, who is still promising.

Chicago actually moves ahead of the Heat based on possible future moves, and given that the projections likely undervalue Joakim Noah, a reasonable argument could be made that the Bulls deserve to rank much closer to the pair of teams from the tri-state area. So far, Chicago has done the best job of clearing additional space (with a handy assist from the Wizards), putting the Bulls very much in the discussion.

Check back tomorrow, when our Summer 2010 Preview series continues with updated projections for the top free agents on the market.

Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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Selling Hope (06/30)
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Summer 2010 Preview (07/02)

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