These articles come out every once in a while as the intersection of money, sports and production makes for interesting discussion.
These articles have also not been kind to the Magic since Otis Smith went on his spending binge in the summer of 2009 and it continued with the woeful trade. The Magic are still paying Gilbert Arenas.
Forbes Magazine came out with its list of the most overpaid players in the NBA, using win shares as its barometer for "overpaying" and focused mostly on Carmelo Anthony and his struggles to make statheads happy. However, the list, provided by Tom Van Riper, includes two Magic players: Hedo Turkoglu and Arron Afflalo.
He gives Turkoglu no pass for being injured for the majority of this season. In 11 games this season, Turkoglu posted a -0.5 win shares and 2.9 points per game on a salary paying him $11.8 million. Then you add on top of that his 20-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance and a broken hand in the first game of the season and you have a really bad season.
As Van Riper notes, Turkoglu's production has been declining steadily since 2008. The Magic appeared to be right when they declined to match Toronto's offer of $52.8 million for five years. In all likelihood, the Magic will buy him out of the last year of his contract and his time in the NBA will be over.
Afflalo, on the other hand, I have to disagree with. Afflalo might be getting paid a bit more than he should, but for the role the Magic needed, he produced decently well. By win shares, Afflalo has produced 2.0 win shares (on a team with just 19 wins, mind you) and a career-high 16.5 points per game.
Should he be the first option on a team? No. But that is the role the Magic asked him to fulfill. The results were somewhat expected.Afflalo will earn $7.75 million this year and, perhaps more egregiously, $15.5 million the next two years. The Magic are hoping his production can increase in the next few seasons — mainly so they could move him but his leadership and consistency were extremely valuable this season.
Afflalo's shot selection aside, it does not seem like this assessment of Afflalo meets the eye.
In the past, I have measured value as PER point per dollars.
For Afflalo and his 13.0 PER, that gives him 1.68 PER points per million dollars. For a comparison, Dwight Howard posted 1.33 PER points per million dollars. That would suggest the Magic are getting more bang for their buck from Afflalo this year than they did Dwight Howard last year.
Of course, that is kind of silly to think because obviously Howard is a better, more impactful player. It is just a different way of thinking about value — you are free to think about it any way you want.
What I think this thought does show is that the Magic are still in a bit of a salary cap sink hole and still have some salary to shed to clear the decks and really begin this rebuild. It will take some smart spending in the future for sure to get there.