Five rules for managing the salary cap (and not paying Rashard the max)

Originally Published: July 13, 2007
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com
They are popping the champagne corks in Orlando this week, celebrating the signing of Rashard Lewis to a six-year, $113 million deal.

Otis Smith, Rashard Lewis and Stan Van Gundy
Associated PressWill Otis Smith, Rashard Lewis and Stan Van Gundy be this happy a few years from now?

Congratulations, Orlando. Good luck with that.

History doesn't look kindly on this type of contract. The NBA salary cap can be brutally unforgiving. Manage it well, as the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs have done over the last five years, and your team has a shot to remain relevant and competitive year after year. Mismanage it, as teams such as the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves have done, and you have painted your team into a corner.

While owners obsess over finding GMs who have a great eye for talent, in the NBA, that's only half the equation. Front-line talent does win championships. But if you can't manage the cap in a way that gives a team a chance to add the right players to your star or stars, talent will take you only so far.

We've seen evidence of that in the past few weeks with Kobe Bryant demanding a trade and Kevin Garnett's agent looking for greener pastures for his client. No one doubts that Bryant and Garnett have been two of the 10 best talents in the league over the past decade. But because of bad trades and poor cap management, their teams have been unable to put the right players around them.

Here are the five rules every GM in the league should follow. As you can tell, most do not. In fact, a handful don't even understand them. And when it comes to the Lewis signing, I believe Orlando GM Otis Smith violated every single rule.


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Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider