The Wages of Wins in One Sentence

Posted on October 16, 2007 by

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I was going to post a different story today, but I wanted to comment on something posted at SI.Com.  The following is a caption for a picture of Gilbert Arenas: 

Having already stated his intention to become a free agent next summer, Agent Zero is likely to use the coming season as one long job interview for the max-level contract he will surely desire. While bouncing back from a knee injury may pose an obstacle to his efforts, his dicey relationship with Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan could be even more of a problem. The two briefly clashed last season over Arenas’ defensive weaknesses, and, according to a recent story in the Washington Post, Arenas blamed Jordan for the knee injury he suffered. With a contract to play for, Arenas might start paying a whole lot more attention to his numbers than the standings if the Wizards’ season goes south.

Okay, let’s review what’s being said here.  Arenas wants the maximum NBA contract.  That’s clearly his objective.  One might expect that such contracts are reserved for those players who create the most wins.  But that’s not what’s being argued here.  To get the maximum contract, the writer at Sports Illustrated argues Arenas may start focusing on his “numbers” and not on the “standings” or winning. 

And that, in one paragraph (really the one sentence I put in bold) is the story of the NBA as reported in The Wages of Wins.  Pay is not determined by winning in the NBA.  It’s determined by the numbers. 

Actually, not all the numbers. Although rebounds, assists, and blocked shots matter some, the key number is scoring.  We see this in the contract paid to Carmelo Anthony.  And as the writer at Sports Illustrated argues, we might see this with the next contract paid to Arenas.

As I have said before, Arenas is a very good player. He is not, though, as productive as LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, etc… However, if he did become as productive as these players, the Wizards would indeed advance in the standings.  And Arenas would be worth the maximum contract he will likely receive next summer.

– DJ

Hat Tip to Henry Abbott at TrueHoop for the noting this caption.