The free-agent fandango

NBA and NHL players are switching teams willy-nilly, money is flying, and in nine months it'll all mean something.

Published July 2, 2008 11:00AM (EDT)

This is a great time of year. Hot weather, barbecues, kids blowing their fingers off with fireworks. And it's always nice to be reminded how much money you don't make when various NBA and NHL players sign contracts for figures like $65 million and $39 million and, one of my favorites, $40 million.

It's free-agent season in the NBA and the NHL, and the personnel movement is dizzying. I can't follow it. My approach is similar to the advice Bob Uecker gave about how to catch a knuckleball, which was to wait till it stops rolling and then pick it up. I wait till the fall and see where everyone landed.

Do I need to know before then that Baron Davis has reportedly signed with the Los Angeles Clippers? I don't even know what I'm going to be doing around Halloween other than predicting the wrong team to win the NBA championship. What color pajamas Baron Davis is going to be wearing starting then isn't real high on my list right now.

Finding a tourniquet for my fingers is way above it.

Davis signed the $65 million contract. It's a five-year deal, so the average is $13 million a year. That works out to $158,536.59 per game if Davis plays in every one, which if he does would be a bigger upset than the Clippers winning four straight championships to one-up the Lakers.

I like to break down these monstrous numbers every once in a while to really get a handle on how big they are, because being sports fans we get inured to numbers like 65 million. We start talking about how the local team can get this or that player "cheap," which in the NBA might mean $7 million or so, and I think we forget what an incredible number 7 million is, even though most of us don't have to think too hard to realize we'll never make that many dollars in our lifetimes.

So Davis' reported average salary for the Clippers over the next five years will be $3,302.85 per minute, even the ones he spends on the bench, or on the sideline. And that's about $55 a second. Two-tenths of a second left in the quarter? The Clippers won't be able to catch and shoot. They can only score on a tip-in. And in the time it takes the ball to travel the few inches from a player's fingertips to the basket, Baron Davis will make 11 bucks.

Not begrudging anybody anything here. Just marveling.

Elton Brand has opted out of his contract with the Clippers and will test free agency, but if he resigns with the team, and Davis stays healthy for the second time in the last seven years, it's a legitimate playoff contender.

And the playoffs start in only nine months!

By King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

MORE FROM King Kaufman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------