Tim Duncan is an indispensable facet of the San Antonio Spurs. His value is not merely reflected in his production — which I valued at approximately $9.2 million based on Basketball Reference’s win shares metric. Duncan’s influence extends to the younger players, allowing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to exert a ton of control on his team without being overbearing or unfair.
His value, unlike Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, is not tied to his national presence. But even the most ardent Spurs supporter realizes that Duncan was and has been vastly overpaid. Duncan earned $21.16 million last season or about four million more than LeBron James.
Salary cap guru Larry Coon, whose extensive Salary Cap FAQ is an essential tool for any basketball fan, took it a step further and outlined the most overpaid players last season for ESPN Insider. Coon used the composite scores from ESPN’s NBA Rank project which are on a scale of 1-10. As expected, players with higher scores earned more money than their lesser talented peers.
Duncan received a 7.67 score, approximately worth $11.52 million, finishing as the sixth-most overpaid player. Only Rashard Lewis, Elton Brand, Antawn Jamison, Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Kaman were more overpaid. (An aside: If you take a gander at the underpaid list, the Oklahoma City Thunder have three players who outproduced their contracts — Kevin Durant (second), James Harden (seventh) and Serge Ibaka (eighth). They are the only team to have multiple players crack the list.)
Not exactly positive evidence for San Antonio if it wasn’t the for the front office’s efficient use of resources. Indeed, if Duncan’s value is around Coon’s estimate, the Spurs will fare well for the duration of Duncan’s three-year, $30 million contract.
As for Spurs fans, I am sure they won’t mind overpaying in this instance. He is Tim Duncan after all — and though he is not playing at the same level as he once was, he is still producing positive seasons thus far.