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NBA commissioner David Stern said he wants to cut player salaries by 33 percent.
"We would like to get profitable, have a return on investment," he said. "There's a swing of somewhere in the neighborhood of $750 to $800 million that we would like to change. That's our story and we're sticking with it."
Sure you are, Commish. There's no way Stern thinks he can shave one third of the players' salaries. But he's right -- something needs to change. To humor Stern, I've identified a way for him and his poor, cash-strapped owners to shed the $750 million in salary (with some slight fudging here and there, of course).
33 PERCENT CUTS: For players who just downright aren't actually worth their wage.
Savings: $120 million (with potential)
Casualties: Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson, Emeka Okafor, Hedo Turkoglu, The Spurs Trio (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker), Rashard Lewis, T.J. Ford, Zach Randolph, Troy Murphy, Jason Richardson, Kenyon Martin, Kirk Hinrich, Samuel Dalembert, Vince Carter, Jason Kapono, Baron Davis, Boris Diaw, Nick Collison, Travis Outlaw, Andrew Bynum. You make cases for a few more on this list.
Don't fight it, accept it: Taking a pay cut is only right -- they'd still be well paid.
LEAGUE MINIMUMS: Some players aren't worth anywhere near their current salaries, but don't deserve to be kicked out the league. They can stick around for a mil' or so.
Savings: $70 million (with potential)
Casualties: Gilbert Arenas, Nazr Mohammed, Mike Bibby, Michael Redd, Hasheem Thabeet, Dan Gadzuric, Luke Walton, Marko Jaric, Vladimir Radmanovic, DeSagana Diop. And, really, feel free to add to this one.
The ugly truth: Gil has tried to get fired all preseason, culminating in his faked injury stunt. A $16 million pay cut will break those pockets. Bibby had some great moments in his career, but at this stage he can't create and couldn't check a bag on a flight, let alone an NBA point guard.
THE DUKE RULE: Sending former Duke players to greener pastures well, different shades of green.
Savings: $90 million
Casualties: Gerald Henderson, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy, Grant Hill, Corey Maggette, Shavlik Randolph, J.J. Redick, Shelden Williams.
Not because I hate Duke: These dudes typically do as well or better on a college bench in a suit.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE RETIREMENTS: Players retiring for odd, maybe unfortunate reasons and others hanging it up for post-retirement adventures/causes, all at the behest of The Commish.
Savings: $65 million
Casualties/Philanthropists: Dirk Nowitzki, J.R. Smith, Chris Andersen, Steve Nash, Yao Ming, Curtis Jerrells, Brad Miller.
The Stern memo: All these dudes should get some kind of missive from Stern. Stern coaxing Dirk to follow around David Hasselhoff for a year, a la Bill Walton and the Grateful Dead. Stern telling Nash: "You're an activist, not an athlete. Leave your $10 million on the table and go save this Earth."
FORCED RETIREMENTS: Push has come to shove. For a variety of reasons, these dudes are gone.
Savings: $45 million (with potential)
Casualties: Andrei Kirilenko, Peja Stojakovic, Eddy Curry.
You're done here: Kirilenko once whined about wanting to go back to Russia to play -- actually, I think real salt rivers came out of those eyeballs during that saga. Well, here's his chance. Peja and Curry have been stealing big, huge, humongous money for years. Time's up, fellas.
CONTRACTIONS: Sorry, Seattle, you can't get one of these franchises. They're done -- the players (some really good ones), too. It's what you would call "desperation."
Savings: $360 million
Casualties: Toronto, Detroit, Indiana, Minnesota, Charlotte and Cleveland.
It was mediocre while it lasted: Well, not entirely for the Detroit and Indiana franchises, but definitely as of recently. Toronto's roster is so atrocious, it's not worth discussion. North Carolina will always be a college basketball state and won't miss the Bobcats. And Cleveland? Poor Cleveland. Mo Williams already said he contemplated retirement after LeBron left the Cavs. I'm sure he's not alone. Let's just fold 'em.
Vincent Thomas is a SLAM magazine columnist and a frequent contributing columnist and commentator for ESPN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @vincecathomas on Twitter.
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