Photo: AP Images
Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has ranted as much as anyone about revenue inequities in the NBA that hamper his ability to compete.So how did he just give Mike Conley $45 million?
Heisley complains about the Lakers giving huge extensions to Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, who combine to make nearly as much as the Grizzlies’ entire roster.
Even though the NBA salary cap prevents teams from hoarding superstars like the Yankees do in baseball, big market teams can use exceptions to drive up their payroll and sign quality role players.
And that’s where Heisley argued his team was being hurt. He likes his core of players (“Our four are possibly as good as anybody’s in the NBA”), but didn’t think he’d be able to acquire championship-calibre depth under his budget constraints.
Well now, he definitely won’t be able to. He just signed one of those role players, Mike Conley, Jr., to a five-year, $45 million contract. Conley is a fine player, who may even turn out to be really good, but 12 points per game and 5+ assists are not worth $9 million. Especially given the uncertain future of NBA salaries.
For proof, look no further than those big, bad Lakers.
Los Angeles pays only three players more than $9M annually. Every one of their role players – including key guys like Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, and Derek Fisher – collect less than Conley would under this contract. And the Grizzlies are locked into Conley’s contract for the next five years.
It’s not financial inequities that will plague Memphis — it’s poor management. So the next time some small-market team cries for revenue sharing, remind them of the San Antonio Spurs, who’ve won four championships since 1999 in the NBA’s 4th smallest market. Success in the NBA requires good management not a big market.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.