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How's our pecking order working out?

Over at, Ian Thomsen takes a look at Ben Gordon's ongoing contract saga and the ramifications for him and the Bulls.  The subject content isn't relevant to Bullets Forever (though it is a nice read, like the rest of Thomsen's work) but I thought this quote from Bulls GM John Paxson was interesting:

"I think what has happened a lot in the league now is that guys do want to be able to compare contracts to other guys,'' he said. "From what I see, it's pretty simple: Everybody knows what everybody else makes -- players, agents, everyone. And in some ways it becomes a contest, and you don't want to lose that contest.''

I believe the same dynamic exists among owners. When they gather at All-Star weekend or other meetings, they judge each other based on frugality and efficiency and which of them squeezed the most out of payroll investments.

"San Antonio has done it as well as anyone -- they have a pecking order,'' Paxson said. "Every team would love to have a pecking order in terms of players, from your best player all the way down. In the perfect world, the best players are paid the most, and San Antonio has done such a good job with that. But that's hard to emulate in this business right now.''

A quick check of San Antonio's salary breakdown reinforces just how well the Spurs manage their cap space with the most money going the best players and vice-versa.  It makes things so much easier for a team when you roster is set up so efficiently.  Now, let's compare that with the Wizards current structure, going from highest-paid to lowest-paid.


  1. Gilbert Arenas
  2. Antawn Jamison
  3. Caron Butler
  4. Etan Thomas
  5. Antonio Daniels
  6. Brendan Haywood
  7. Darius Songaila
  8. DeShawn Stevenson
  9. Andray Blatche
  10. Nick Young
  11. Oleksiy Pecherov
  12. JaVale McGee
  13. Dee Brown
  14. Juan Dixon
  15. Dominic McGuire

Overall, that's not bad.  Ideally, you'd like to see Caron go up a spot, see Etan drop a few spots, and make some other minor swaps here and there, but all in all I'd say that Ernie has done a fine job of putting together a roster where players who perform the best get the most dough. Some might disagree with me, and that's fine but at least compare it with our 2001-02 roster


  1. Loy Vaught
  2. Christian Laettner
  3. Jahidi White
  4. Kwame Brown
  5. Tyrone Nesby
  6. Chris Whitney
  7. Hubert Davis
  8. Michael Smith
  9. Richard Hamilton
  10. Lorenzo Williams
  11. Tyronn Lue
  12. Popeye Jones
  13. Etan Thomas
  14. Courtney Alexander
  15. Michael Jordan
  16. Brendan Haywood 
  17. Bobby Simmons


Ouch.  For those of you keeping track at home, the players with the three highest PERs on the team (Michael Jordan, Richard Hamilton, and Etan Thomas) had the 15th, 9th, and 13th highest salaries on the team.  In fairness, Jordan was playing for the vet's minimum and Rip and Etan were still on their rookie contracts, but you just can't expect to be a contender when the player with the highest salary doesn't even play, the player with the second highest PER averages 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and the player with the third best player averages 5.4 and 4 per game. 

Going forward, it's going to be interesting to see what happens next year as guys like Etan Thomas and Antonio Daniels come off the books and we get closer to negotiating new contracts for Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler how that order will change.  I feel confident in saying that Ernie Grunfeld will be able to sign Butler and Haywood to contracts that are appropriate for their role on the team, but where it could get interesting is with the trade scenarios that could open up next year with the expiring contracts that we'll have to deal with.  If done correctly, a trade could resolve just about every quibble with the current hierarchy.  Likewise, a bad trade could completely mess up the order that Ernie has worked hard to set over the last five years.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and maintaing a strong pecking order shouldn't be a dealbreaker for an otherwise good deal.  But as Ben Gordon's negotiations have shown, establishing a strong salary hierarchy will be a key factor in personnel decsions moving forward.