I recently got my hands on a list of how much money every 2007 NBA second-round pick will be making. It's not the best-kept secret anyway -- the Players' Association distributes these lists to NBA agents. A copy appeared in my inbox (wonderful thing, that inbox) and I have confirmed the basic numbers with others who have access to the same list.
At the time of this list's creation, 12 second-round picks had signed contracts. They are Nick Fazekas (Dallas, 34th pick), Jermareo Davidson (Charlotte, 36th pick), Josh McRoberts (Portland, 37th pick), Kyrylo Fesenko (Utah, 38th pick), Sun Yue (Lakers, 40th pick), Adam Haluska (New Orleans, 43rd pick), Dominic McGuire (Washington, 47th pick), Aaron Gray (Chicago, 49th pick), JamesOn Curry (Chicago, 51st pick), Taurean Green (Portland, 52nd pick), Sammy Mejia (Detroit, 57th pick), D.J. Strawberry (Phoenix, 59th pick).
Here's the fascinating part: they will all make precisely the same amount of money, otherwise known as "the minimum." That's $427,163 this season. What varies between the contracts is how much of that money is guaranteed, and what happens in the second and third years. In the case of Yue, none of the money is guaranteed. Most others have all or most of the first year guaranteed, with a second year team option of $711,517. McGuire has the second year guaranteed, with a third year team option of $825,497.
But there's one exception. One of those dudes will have a WAY bigger contract.
Stop reading here, look at this list, and tell me which one you think it is.
I'm guessing you probably didn't guess it was the Ukrainian quote machine, Kyrylo Fesenko. "Fes" will, according to this list, be making $750,000 in year one, $810,000 in year two, and there's a team option in the third year for $870,000. In addition, the Jazz reportedly forked over a half-million to buy him out of his contract with his European club.
Anyone have access to good historical salary data? Has a second-round pick ever had this much guaranteed money in a rookie contract?
Why is Fesenko worth so much more? Several reasons.
For one thing, he's agile, hard-working, athletic, and extremely big. Watch him play. Seriously. (There's a little highlight collection of some summer league blocks, as well as a coordinated move off the dribble and a putback dunk.)
For another thing, he was not well known. People who have seen him play -- I have seen the DVDs -- are convinced he would have gone much higher if he had been on everybody's radar for longer. So you can make the case that in basketball terms he's a first-round pick, so it's no crime to pay him like one.
For another thing, promising young overseas players with reasonable buyouts always have leverage. If they re-up their deal in Europe, and the European team knows an NBA club is interested, that buyout could get a lot bigger in the future. Certainly the amount the NBA club can pay is capped, but you know the player will have to recoup at least a good chunk of that buyout money from the NBA contract; you can't have a big buyout and then play for the minimum, you know?
One thing I like about seeing that big contract, is that it makes you think the Jazz are committed to Fesenko. As someone who likes his interview style, I hope he'll be around for many years to come.