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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why There are 7 Guys Likely Leaving this Year


Career NBA Earnings
John Wall (5 seasons): $38,796,165
($70.04 million more over next 4 seasons)
Eric Bledsoe (5 seasons): $19,589,466 ($57.83 million more over next 4 seasons)
Demarcus Cousins (5 seasons): $29,501,384 ($47.27 million more over next 3 seasons)
Patrick Patterson (5 seasons): $14,816,628 ($12.32 million more over next 2 seasons)
Daniel Orton (3 seasons): $2,891,672 (out of NBA)

Enes Kanter (4 seasons): $18,776,594 (not under contract after this season)
Brandon Knight (4 seasons): $11,666,757 (not under contract after this season)
Josh Harrellson (3 seasons): $1,712,094 (out of NBA)
Deandre Liggins (2 seasons): $1,235,799 (out of NBA)

Anthony Davis (3 seasons): $16,127,280 ($7.07 million more next season, team option)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (3 seasons): $14,429,520 ($6.33 million more next season)
Terrence Jones (3 seasons): $4,655,520 ($2.49 million more next seasons)
Marquis Teague (2 seasons): $2,103,120 (out of NBA)
Doron Lamb (2 seasons): $1,438,872 (out of NBA)
Darius Miller (2 seasons): $1,662,476 (out of NBA)

Nerlens Noel (2 seasons): $6,487,440 ($7.84 million more over next 2 seasons, team option in 2016-17)
Archie Goodwin (2 seasons): $2,176,680 ($3.25 million more over next 2 seasons, team option in 2016-17)

Julius Randle (1 season): $2,997,360 ($10.55 million more over next 3 seasons, team options in 2016-17 and 2017-18)
James Young (1 season): $1,674,480 ($6.38 million more over next 3 seasons, team options in 2016-17 and 2017-18)

A couple things to consider when looking at the following projections:
a. Rookie Pay Scale used is for 2014-15 NBA season, subject to change
b. Draft projections from
c. All contracts are 4 years but final 2 years are team options

Karl-Anthony Towns (1st pick): $20.71 million over 4 years
Trey Lyles (7th pick): $11.29 million over 4 years
Willie Cauley-Stein (10th pick): $9.04 million over 4 years
Devin Booker (18th pick): $6.38 million over 4 years
(Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, and Dakari Johnson not projected in 1st round)

CURRENT: 57 seasons, $192,739,307
FUTURE: 46 seasons, $278.79 million

Article written by Bryan the Intern

27 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why There are 7 Guys Likely Leaving this Year

  1. sylvar
    9:19 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    I would like to see the first rounders separate the from the rest. I know why 4 guys are leaving, but if you aren’t guaranteed first round money you are taking a bigger risk. I know ALL 7 of those guys are going to play pro ball, but that up front money can make a huge difference.

  2. Catsby80
    9:33 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    seeing this graphic was actually very helpful. i didn’t realize the money that some of these guys made (i.e Jorts, Liggins, Miller, Teague and Lamb)… i didn’t realize they had made so much money. this definitely opens my eyes a little bit as to why some of the current guys are considering leaving.

  3. RC
    9:35 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Good analysis. I think you have to put these players into two camps: Lottery Locks and Draft Gambles.
    The Locks were obvious: Wall, Cousins, Davis, MKG, Knight, Noel, Randle. These guys weren’t falling out of the Lottery, period.
    The Gambles come down to guys that went higher/lower than anticipated:
    Higher: Kanter #3. Lottery.
    About Right: Patterson, Bledsoe, Jones, Young. Mid-first round.
    Lower: Orton, Harrelson, Liggins, Teague, Lamb, Goodwin. Bottom first or 2nd.

    Of the guys who are out of the league non were drafted mid-first or higher. Only Archie Goodwin is still in the NBA when many people thought he left too early.

    None of the guys who are out of the league made “life changing money.” Yes, a couple of million before the age of 25 is awesome, but these guys are going to have to keep working or playing overseas to earn a living. You need to earn a 2nd or 3rd contract in the NBA to be set for life.

    The key factor in the success or failure of these players is their NBA-level skill set. What do they do that’s elite? What do they do that contributes to an NBA team’s success? None of the gamble guys had an elite NBA skill. Maybe Lamb or Teague gets another shot in the league but it’s going to be very difficult.

    Can the gamble guys earn a nice living playing overseas? Absolutely. But, they could’ve stayed at Kentucky longer and still played overseas later. Foreign leagues are everywhere. We still have plenty of guys playing all around the world. That option will always be available whether they leave after one year or four.

    Bottom line to me- why leave so early unless you’re a Lock? Why leave early without an elite NBA skill?

    • CatsfaninFL
      9:45 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      RC, you leave early for two reasons IMO:

      1) You are confident in your ability to make it to the league and be successful
      2) The risk/reward for where you think you will go if you leave now vs. if you stay.

      #2 is the big one. Yes, some of those guys you listed COULD have stayed (although Kanter could not (deemed ineligible) and Harrelson was a senior). But Patterson, Bledsoe, Jones and Young were all guaranteed first rounders (not lottery picks) and guaranteed money is guaranteed money, especially if you risk slipping a little bit into the 2nd round if you have a bad season/get injured. There is something to be said for striking while the iron is hot. Yes, you can get better, but that is a risk that some don’t want to take and quite honestly, I don’t blame them.

    • RC
      9:57 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Patterson, Bledsoe, Jones & Young > Harrison Twins, Dakari. And it’s not even close.

      Towns, WCS, Lyles and Booker have elite NBA skills and enough upside to go high in the draft. They should all be gone by #20. They have the skills now to likely earn 2-3 contracts after their rookie deals are over.

      The Harrisons are borderline first rounders. Dakari is taking a massive gamble.

      I wish them all luck but as a fan of the program I don’t like to see guys leave who aren’t ready.

    • CatsfaninFL
      10:03 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      See my reply in #6. Same thing goes. Harrisons and Dakari stuck around one year for the hopes of “going higher” and what did it get them? Same thing or slightly worse. Hopefully that is perception and they blow away folks at combine/individual drills but one more year in college is one more year you could have been playing SOMEWHERE for 6 digits+.

      They might not be ready to play in the NBA but they are ready to start earning money. And that is something that is hard to ignore when you are left with a finite number of years to make money playing a game.

    • Al B. Frank
      10:04 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Technically, James Young is currently in the D-League playing for the Maine Red Claws. He is still under contract with the Celtics, and one would assume that he would be called back up within the next season or so.

      Also, Goodwin is getting quality minutes and playing well as late. He credits the time he spent in the D-League for upping his game and helping him to be more successful in the NBA.

      From :

      “While Goodwin never publicly complained about his role, you could tell in body language that he wanted more than the back and forth trips to Bakersfield, the Suns D-League affiliate. Now that the 6-foot-5 guard may have an every night role as a back-up guard after the trades that shipped Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas and Tyler Ennis out of town, Goodwin credits those D-League trips for keeping him ready for a role with the Suns.

      “The things they were doing like sending me to the D-League and consistently having me play down there made me ready,” Goodwin said. “They did a good job of keeping me in game shape and getting me ready to play.”

  4. jdblue
    9:35 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Hey BTI, Can you give your source for this info? (or provide a comparison against UL for the same time period?)

  5. Al B. Frank
    9:39 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Although they are out of the NBA, the following players are currently getting paid to play in the NBA D-League:

    * Doron Lamb: Westchester Knicks (Knicks)
    * Daniel Orton: Idaho Stampede (Jazz)
    * Marquis Teague: Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder)
    *** Also in the D-League are Eloy Vargas (LA Defenders), Ramon Harris (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), and Joe Crawford (Erie BayHawks)

    So there might be some opportunity to return to the NBA at some point for these guys.

    Last I heard, Miller, Liggins, and Jorts are playing overseas… and Randolph Morris.

    • catdaddyd
      1:49 pm April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Orton was playing in China or some other country this past year. He said the boxer was a horrible bball etc…

  6. jsh2001
    9:40 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    To me this proves exactly why it is not the best decision for the twins or Dakari to leave. Looking at our guys who were very late first round or second round picks, most were out of the NBA in 2 years and earned 1 to 2 million. Certainly 1 to 2 million is better than nothing, but it is still probably the worst case for all of them whether they leave now, next year, or two years from now. However, nothing will be guaranteed and they have a high chance of playing in the D-league or overseas within a few years. They could return and not improve at all, in which case they are in the same position but if they can work their way into the first round it could make for a dramatically different life.

    • CatsfaninFL
      9:50 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      You’re also leaving out that if these guys are good enough to play pro anywhere right now (NBA, D-League, over seas), coming out and starting to earn money is more money in the bank than risking not moving anywhere in the draft as you say, being in the same situation a year or two from now and having lost 1 or 2 years to earn money elsewhere in the world. Overseas players still get paid well into the 6 digits.

      Not to mention you use both the Twins and Dakari who, oh by the way, didn’t go anywhere or actually went backwards in draft projections after staying around another year. Perception can be the unfortunate reality for some of these players so if the perception is they’ll always be a 2nd rounder, get out now and prove otherwise or start earning money overseas.

    • catdaddyd
      1:53 pm April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Getting a college degree isn’t a bad thing. Maybe learning how to manage your money is a good thing. Ask all those players who are broke within years of ending their career.

  7. GoUKJTV
    9:55 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    If you think 1.2MM (Deandre Liggins, the worst case scenario) over 2 years isnt life changing you are high.

    Not to mention the fact that he is still making money, probably close to what most right out of college grads make, playing in the D league. The thing that people don’t understand is that there is an opportunity cost to staying in college and losing a year of your career. The window these guys have to make money playing basketball inst that big and I can certainly understand them wanting to cash in while they can. Sure, they could help their draft stock by staying another year (WCS), or they could hurt their draft stock by getting injured, or playing avg (Dakari). There are tons of examples on both sides of the equation.

    From a fan perspective Im sad to see them go, but I’m excited to see who steps up next year. If Nerlens wouldn’t have gone pro we would have never seen WCS develop the way he did. If Orton didnt go pro Josh Harrelson would have never gotten the opportunity to do what he did. If Bledsoe stays, Doron Lamb doesn’t develop the same way, and maybe he doesn’t score 5 billion points against KU in the championship game. If Andrew and Aaron stay then we wont see nearly as much Tyler Ullis…personally I cant wait to see more Tyler Ullis.

    • Al B. Frank
      9:59 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Liggins isn’t in the D-League, he is playing overseas in Germany. But, to your point, he is still getting paid to play basketball professionally.

  8. RealCatsFan
    10:05 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Thought this article was interesting and pertinent:

    I was listening to Cal’s radio show on Tuesday, and one thing that stuck out to me was that he sits down with each kid and advised them about wise decisions with their money. He tells them to take that first million and set it aside in a mutual fund somewhere and don’t touch it. Even the kids who are making second round money could set themselves up pretty nicely for life if they followed his advice and set aside as much of their earnings as possible. At that age you can live pretty inexpensively if you want. The problems start when all their friends and families start coming at them with their hands out.

  9. EconProf
    10:13 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Any consideration that the rookie pay is likely to increase dramatically with the new tv contracts, though I guess as I write this, that makes sense *to* leave now–you get in the league, get your minimum years in to get your second contract and that second contract now is going to be massive. Why did LeBron sign the short term deal? Big Big Money is coming.

  10. RC
    10:16 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    You guys raise some great points. A cynic might ask- Why make these kids go to college before turning pro, especially since they can play overseas right out of HS?
    Why not install a mandatory One-And-Done rule in college basketball? If anyone who can dribble or dunk can play professionally, why keep them in school longer than necessary?
    Some of you need to research the financial success rate of professional athletes. Earning a couple of million before the age of 25 is far more likely to end in bankruptcy than happiness. Most college grads don’t make that much but they also don’t go bk either.

    • CatsfaninFL
      10:47 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Excellent question. I’ve asked myself that question a lot (overseas out of HS). I figured it would be happening more by now (and still wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up in the future if the one year rule continues to be run by the NBA). But my guess is college ball is still your best chance to get scouted for the guys who stand a chance to make the NBA, it provides a degree and development for those who won’t make NBA but can make a living overseas or in D League, or just flat out gets you a degree if you’re like most and good enough to have a scholly but not good enough to play professionally.

      As to your question on bankruptcy I would seek out a return question… so does that mean that if you have a greater chance of going bankrupt you shouldn’t earn it first? I get it, and so do most(if not all) professional leagues as they provide financial classes for incoming rookies. But earning money and being good at money management does not go hand in hand. Unfortunately a lot of those guys who do make the money don’t learn how to manage it despite what their coaches and rookie classes suggest. Still though, not sure what that has to do with them being able to earn that money in the first place?

    • RC
      11:07 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      It gets to my point about “life changing money.” John Wall has earned “life changing money.”
      DeAndre Liggins probably not. And that’s not a knock on Liggins personally.

      It has to be a factor when you consider jumping early. What is my long-term earning potential as a Lottery pick vs. low first rounder vs. 2nd rounder vs. undrafted?

    • CatsfaninFL
      11:30 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      I’m not the best at money, but if you give me 1.2 million dollars (Liggins) I could very well be set for life (I’d still have to work, but I could retire WAY earlier than I ever will doing what I do now with just doing simple stock and bond investments). Especially given where he most likely came from. Annual median HOUSEHOLD income in the U.S. is currrently around $51K a year. Liggins has earned 24x that just in NBA salary, not counting what he’s still making in Germany.

    • catdaddyd
      2:02 pm April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Of that 1.2 million 600k went went to taxes, 10% went to agents and $800 went to an ugly t-shirt with an dog print.

  11. UK Big Board Update
    10:23 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    In four more years, John Wall will have earned over $100 million. Jesus.

    • UK Big Board Update
      10:25 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Meanwhile, in Erie, Peyton Siva > Wall…..

  12. theWilkman
    11:12 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Great breakdown. It’s hard to fault these kids for leaving. Wall, Cousins, Davis, etc. are no-brainers, but even the players no longer in the NBA still did pretty well for themselves. If they took Cal’s advice and invested as much of it as possible, they’d be set for life in 10+ years. Especially if they are able to cover expenses either playing in the D League or overseas. There are worse things in life than playing basketball for a living, even if you are just making 50-100k/year.

    • theWilkman
      11:14 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      To illustrate my example:

      You invest $1 mil, earn 7%/year, it doubles in ~10 years (rule of 72). Now you have $2mil, take a 4% draw off it annually you are living off $80,000/year, and can increase it by 3%/year to make up for inflation.

      I’d take it.

  13. plumloopy
    12:58 pm April 9, 2015 Permalink

    A significant portion of these earnings goes to agents, taxes, other fees. They are in the 40% tac bracket.