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Value of head coaches vs players: Looking at their salaries

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by meh, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    Quite long, so spoilered intro for those who don't give a damn
    There are a wide array of opinions on the impact of NBA head coaches on teams here on this board. Ranging anywhere from "McHale will do just as well if not better than Adelman", to "The Rockets are a bunch worthless rejects that only played well because of our coach." Me? I don't really know. Although I tend to believe that all good coaches are more or less created equal. That is, they all have their strengths and weaknesses that in the end results in roughly the same number of wins. Sure, some coaches might fit better with certain players, but if you give all good NBA coaches a clean slate and a fair way to build their own team, they likely end up with similar win totals.

    As a fan, I honestly don't have enough knowledge about how much a coach is worth. So I figured maybe we'd look at how coaches are thought of by front offices. After all, coaches and players share the same market, that is 30 NBA teams. So how much they make should be decided by market value.

    So let's take a look.

    Average Head Coach salary: $4 mil
    Adelman's salary: $4-6 mil(depending on whether you use starting salary, average, or final year of his $20 mil/4yr contract)

    Thought #1: Under the assumption that Adelman is a great coach and resigned with the Rockets with a raise, say to a contract starting at $7 mil. This would put him among the highest paid HCs in the NBA.

    Adelman salary($7 mil) - Average salary($4 mil) = $3 mil extra. With this extra money, a team can pay a player $3 mil a year. Let's just ignore salary cap/luxury tax for a moment.

    Some free agents that were given ~$3-5 mil in the offseason: Jordan Farmer, Derek Fisher, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, Hakeem Warrick, Ryan Gnomes

    Average Player salary: 5.8 mil, 5.3 mil in 2007 when Adelman came on board, so Adelman back in 2007, with all his accolades, signed a contract worth less than the NBA average.
    Some free agents who signed better contracts than Adelman in the offseason: Wesley Mathews, Jon Salmons, JJ Redick, Drew Gooden, Travis Outlaw, Richard Jefferson, Amir Johnson, Kyle Lowry, Al Harrington

    Thought #2: A different comparison. This one straight up between coaches and players. However, there is no marginal value in adding a coach to a team(i.e. you can't have Adelman + JVG + Rudy T for triple awesomeness). Whereas adding a role player can be useful for a team. So this aspect skews towards the players. But also keep in mind that players are hamstrung by the salary cap, luxury tax, and MLE money that teams can only spend on one player. Also, the definition of "average NBA player" is nerfed by the fact that 1st round picks and superstars get much less than market value. So restrictions go both ways.

    Superstar Coach: Highest Paid Coach today and in NBA history: Phil Jackson at $10 mil is by far the highest paid coach in the NBA, and no longer coaching partly due to the Lakers unwillingness to keep paying him that. Popovich makes $7-8 mil, I believe
    Kevin Martin: Higher than Phil Jackson
    Superstar Player: Today, Kobe Bryant at $24 mil. In the past, Micheal Jordan once was paid the the same as the NBA salary cap, I believe $28 mil when the cap itself was $30 mil. By today's standard, that salary would be $50 mil/yr. Lebron James' market value last year, assuming no max, would likely have been at least $30+ mil in starting salary.


    Thought #3: Even arguably the best or 2nd best coach in NBA history has trouble beating out a player who plays no defense, has never played meaningful minutes in a playoff game, and is routinely blasted by his own fans for being one-dimensional. The difference between him and superstars is so far off it's not even funny. From here can see the limits of coaching. In that the difference between them is quite low compared to superstars and average NBA guys.

    Conclusion: Coaches salaries compared to players, IMO, passes the common sense test. That is, we see Phil Jackson getting rings with Shaq and Kobe, barely getting to the playoffs with just Kobe, and getting rings again with Kobe and Gasol. We see Adelman having losing records at Golden State, rebuilding years in Sacramento and Houston, but great with talented rosters led by Webber, Drexler, or Yao. And Larry Brown not exactly setting worlds on fire after his run with the Sixers and the Pistons. So they hardly change teams monumentally, even the best ones.

    However, the thing that strikes out the most at me is how little the difference is between coaches salaries there are. Basically, even Phil Jackson is more or less valued the same as "average coach + MLE player". And the difference between him and Adelman, under a hypothetical slight raise he get with the Rockets, is that of a Jordan Farmer-type FA signing. Or buying a 2nd round pick for $3 mil.

    So in the end, it seems that NBA front offices view coaches simply as more or less role players. They're useful. Having a good one can really change the dynamics of the team. Having a good fit matters a great deal. And ultimately all of them are quite replaceable regardless of how the team plays.
     
  2. Relentless

    Relentless Member

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  3. CXbby

    CXbby Member

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    I've always believed in the overvalued nature of coaching in the eyes of fans from circumstantial evidence, as you've pointed out: Adelman's results in Golden state and the last two years here, Phil Jackson's results with Kobe alone, etc etc. However, tying in their salaries in comparison to players is something brilliantly intuitive that I've never thought of. I mean, it is so simple that it is right in front of our eyes.

    The one thing some might point to is the entertainment nature of the industry. How fans come to see players, which is why they may be valued more. To them, I'd argue that "winning" is a far greater factor when it comes to attendance/fan support. So at the end of the day, the entertainment factor might skew salaries very slightly, but not enough to disregard the point of the OP.
     
  4. VBG

    VBG Member

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    I think coaches make a difference. If Rick Adelman and Vinny Del Negro switched last year, I think our records would switch
     
  5. ch0c0b0fr34k

    ch0c0b0fr34k Member

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    Coaches motivate players to play, they are the "authority" figure. Without coaches, you'd have an unorganized team which would demoralize players.

    They get the best out of what they have - that's what determines a good coach from a bad one.
     
  6. DieHard Rocket

    DieHard Rocket Contributing Member

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    I don't think coach salaries are much of a factor except for the teams that are having financial woes. It doesn't come out of the salary cap, so if the owner wants to win and the right coach is available they should pay him what it takes.
     
  7. CXbby

    CXbby Member

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    Exactly. Player salaries are actually artificially deflated by the salary cap, as well as max salaries. Meanwhile, teams can pay coaches however much they want. So if great coachs can really make a +15, +20 win difference, there is no reason why they wouldn't be paid $20M-$30M/year. Heck, I doubt Lebron James even makes that big a difference, and on the open market without max contracts he would easily command $30M+. The fact that the average coach only gets paid ~$4M, and the highest ~$10M, really shows their true worth, as opposed to fan perception.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. leebigez

    leebigez Contributing Member

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    I'm going to disagree with you about coaching,especially adelman. Adelman has faults and I have said that many times, but using 1 yr in gsw as an example or the last 2 yrs here is way off base. You won't believe it,but he was the difference between 43 wins and 30 wins with the rockets. Why? He played to the strengths of this team vs imposing and asking them to do something they couldn't do. A lot of coaches can't make that adjustment and the team suffers a lot. If adelman were coaching detroit,milwaukee, or some of those other playoff talent type rosters, they would've made the playoffs and won more games.
     
  9. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    +13 wins is almost superstar category. It's more or less like adding a Pau Gasol at least. Gasol is making something like 20 mil year.

    So if you are correct, then a team who hires Adelman over your typical head coach would be like adding Pau Gasol to a team.

    Or to put it another way, subtracting Phil Jackson to the Lakers should result them being a team similar in record with the Rockets(58 wins vs 43 wins = 15 win differential). Of course, assuming you believe Phil Jackson is of similar caliber to Adelman.

    How about a tipjar bet then? Not a lot, $20. Since there's already a betting thread on Adelman vs McHale, let's do the Lakers instead.

    Short of catastrophic injuries to Kobe or Gasol, I predict the Lakers win at least 47 games. Mike Brown is not a star coach, so if you think Adelman is worth +13 wins, then Phil Jackson should at least be +10 wins over Mike Brown.
     
  10. CXbby

    CXbby Member

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    If Adelman was worth +13 wins, why is the market for him only $5M/year? Some of the top players in our league aren't worth +13 wins, and they get paid $15M easy. That is the point of the OP.

    As for his TWO years in GS and last two years here, like I said, that is only circumstantial evidence, not proof beyond a doubt. How much coaches are actually paid by teams is.
     
  11. clippy

    clippy Member

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    A good coach makes all the difference in the world. Look at the talent on the Clippers and the talent on Houston and give me a good reason why Houston should have had a much better record than the Clippers last year.
     
  12. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    Do you think McHale will be a bad coach? If so, how about a tip-jar bet?

    If McHale is bad and Adelman's good, then the Rockets should win around the Clippers number of 32 next year. Here, I'll spot you 2 1/2 games. We set over/under at 34.5, and I'll take the over. If the season gets shortened, we go by percentage. i.e 41 wins in an 82 game season is equivalent of 25 wins in a 50 game season.

    Of course, disclaimer being the Rockets don't make a significant move either way, through tanking or getting a star player.
     
  13. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    What a crap thread. Yet another bizarre attempt to slam Rick Adelman in an effort to somehow make the hiring of McHale make sense. If you dig McHale, fine. Simply say so. If you think Morey and Alexander made a terrific move firing Rick Adelman in order to hire McHale, fine. Simply say so. But why you and a couple of others here feel the need to crap all over a coach with an incredible record, a coach who won a higher percentage of games than any other coach in the history of the franchise, with a roster full of superstars in suits and role players, a future Hall of Famer, in order to justify this hire is, as I said, bizarre. With all due respect.
     
  14. CXbby

    CXbby Member

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    Deckard,

    It doesn't have to be about Adelman. The OP could have easily used Phil Jackson(he did) or Gregg Popovich(he also did) as examples instead, and the point would still be the same. Although in that case the thread might belong in the Dish. The discussion is about the value of coaching in general. Do you disagree with the OP's premise, or any of his arguments? How many wins do you think a good coach adds to a team? And how much $ in salary do you think those extra wins should be worth? And how's the weather over in SF? I think it broke 100 today here in NYC.
     
    #14 CXbby, Jun 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  15. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    CXbby,

    You don't seriously believe that's why this thread was started. While you admitted recently that you can be an ******* (your words, not mine), and while I'll admit that I'm strongly inclined to agree with you (in regards to this Adelman/Alexander/McHale/Morey Bizarro World post-season), do me a favor and don't act like I'm some 13 year old that can't recognize the purpose of this thread. I'm not that dense or naive, and neither are you.

    The weather is fabulous for SF in June. Just got back from taking our teenage daughter to see Blue Man Group at an old Art Deco theatre here, and it tripped her out. Went to Golden Gate Park earlier and the Japanese Tea Garden for, naturally, tea and beauty. Lord, I love San Francisco. Always have.
     
  16. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    As CXbby said, it doesn't have to be Adelman. What I'm saying applies to all coaches.

    I refer you to my earlier post regarding a tipjar bet involving the Lakers. As you are someone who adamantly believes in the power of coaching, then you should take that bet. 47 wins is only 10 wins less than 57 wins last year by Phil Jackson. This with Kobe and Gasol playing EVERY SINGLE GAME. Not to mention you also have Kobe/Gasol age working for you, as well as having to deal with a new coach who most people view as r****ded.

    So really, take the Lakers bet. At least you'll shut me up forever. I'll say this. If Kobe and Gasol both stay relatively healthy next year, and the Lakers can't even win 47 games(or whatever % that translate to in a short season), then I'll forever shut up about Adelman's value.
     
  17. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    Here's a thought (purely hypothetical):

    1. Great coaches make their players and teams better
    2. #1 allows the players to ask for more money
    3. #2 makes the owner pay more money
    4. This pisses off the owner now that the coach is increasing his team salary
    5. Owner fires coach, trades his best players and tanks


    That logically works, too. Coaches make only $5m because they never resign because they lose the team money by increasing the value of their players.

    btw: what is the point of this thread? Of course coaches make less money. Like do they sell t-shirts and ****?
     
    #17 heypartner, Jun 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  18. CXbby

    CXbby Member

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    Lol, we are all well aware that you are no 13 year old, Deckard.

    I am not saying that the thread was not made with the circumstances surround Adelman in mind. I can't speak for the OP, but I'm sure it has something to do with the sentiment that Adelman "brought up" a "crap team" that without him would have otherwise floundered to 20 or 30 wins. That doesn't mean his point can't hold up on its own though.

    Also, the misinterpretation by you, I believe, is that this is somehow a knock on Adelman. That couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the OP ASSUMES that Adelman is one of the top coaches in the game, on par with Phil Jackson. The point being made is coaching in general, no matter how good you are, may be overvalued by some fans. Again, a topic you and I have broached upon in the past, with you disagreeing incredulously. :)

    Wow, I am jealous. My GF just got back from the Sacromento area, where she just attended a wedding last week. She probably should have just stayed there, though. You get the worst of both worlds here in NY, scorching summer heat, and freeze-your-ass-off winters. Not sure why anyone would want to stay. Most of us are trying to get the hell out.
     
  19. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    Awesome! How about tipjar bet? I bet the Lakers will not tank the season by getting rid of Kobe or Gasol. Since you believe in your logic, you should take this bet.

    I'll even give you great odds. How about I put in $50 and you put in only $10. I'll even make it better for you. If the Lakers get rid of either Gasol or Kobe for rebuilding purposes count as you win. Of course, trading up, i.e. Gasol for Dwight Howard doesn't count. Since that's not for rebuilding.

    Pretty good for your flawless logic, right?
     
  20. CXbby

    CXbby Member

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    You are right, they don't sell t-shirts and ****. But they do win games though, right?

    How many t-shirts and **** do you think a 30 win team sells? How much attendance do they project? How much would increasing their win total to 50 wins and a playoff berth affect their sales of t-shirts and ****, as well as revenue in general?

    If a great coach can really make a 15-20 win difference, there is no way in hell they are worth $5-10M. As for the rest of your post, I'll just chalk that up to you being "silly" again.
     

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