When it comes to the Magic and the salary cap, there are not a whole lot of worries. Gilbert Arenas' amnestied deal has kept the team above the payroll floor and the team is going to be shedding cap room this year to have some money to spend in 2014 and 2015.
That is all in the future.
The question that needs some answering immediately is what kind of value the Magic are getting for their buck on the current roster. Who is living up to their contract and who is not? That question is important for Rob Hennigan to answer because other teams will be asking him that question and coming up with their own answers as the team continues to look for ways to improve itself.
Present value is a very important question for the Magic, even at this beginning stage of the team's rebuild. There is a bit of a buy-low, sell-high mentality for sure. And right now the Magic have bought several young players at bargain prices. Not to mention the fact that rookies are cheap commodities that often outplay their contracts.
There is no clear measure for value. I have used $/PER in the past. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post used $/WS to determine value with the average value of a win share set at $1,628,895. Both are imperfect measures. Very imperfect measures.
I would encourage you to read Dunlap's post on the matter for his analysis.
The long and short of it though is what you would expect. The Magic's veterans underperformed in comparison to their contract values while rookies exceeded expectations. The only player not on his rookie contract that had a higher value under this metric was J.J. Redick. That shows how hard it is to find value after the rookie contract.
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Fortunately, only Hedo Turkoglu's contract could really be called a cap killer at this point. There is not anyone that is too overpaid. Maybe you could call Glen Davis overpaid, but really his injuries prevented him from fulfilling his value.
There are a few points worth considering here.
First, the Magic had only 20 wins last year and were not a winning team. It stands to reason that there are fewer win shares to go around then. Win shares, from my understanding of it, attempts to encapsulate how individuals contribute to team success. There was not much team success in 2012-13.
Second, because win shares ultimately rely on team success, it is not the best evaluator of individual play. It ties contract value to wins. This can be a good thing and is the ultimate goal, but it does not tell us the complete picture of how a player performs individually.
Then again, some would say neither does PER.
Let's compare these two methods for determining value — since it seems to be the only ones we have.
The baseline for calculating value is going to be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (typically the average salary) of $5.150 million over the average PER — always set to 15.0. That would mean a value $343,333/PER is about average. A lower number means the player is undervalued, a higher number means the player is more overvalued. Or at least that they are above or below average.
So how did the Magic fare last year?
The table lists only the returning players, and it reaches much of the same conclusions that you would expect for any other measure. The Magic's veteran players were forced out of comfortable roles and their efficiency suffered. Hedo Turkoglu was a complete disaster, it did not take anything more than simple observation to see that.
The big change in this measure is that lower-paid player are not expected to do much more than they already are. This appears to be a method to make sure player are playing up to their salary.
This is where the most curious difference. It appears from these numbers that Glen Davis had only a slightly below average year last year compared to his salary.
Whereas Davis contributed only a paltry 0.8 win shares last year and attained only 20 percent of his salary according to the Win Shares formula, Davis played pretty well while he was on the floor. There is no doubt about that. He might be overpaid, but it does not seem like he is significantly overpaid. At least, if he can return to his form from early last season especially.
This is, admittedly, an imperfect way to measure value. The Win Shares method seems to have a better baseline for figuring out value in comparison to team success.
The Magic right now are likely more interested in seeing how individual players perform. From this measure, it is easy to see who the Magic see as their future and worth developing more.