Investment report

One way I wish more fans would look at the NBA is in terms of the players as investments. Its one thing, for example, to debate whether Lamar Odom can make the leap from being a good player to a great player. Its another thing to remember that the Lakers have $40 million invested the next three seasons in just that happening.

They have more than $88 million invested in Odom, Vladimir Radmanovic and Kwame Brown. The money available to NBA players is almost beyond comprehension, but it gives you a clue as to what kind of expectations to have and how well one team spends compared to another.

On one hand, the Lakers have four ball-handling guards on a crowded roster for next season in Smush Parker, Shammond Williams, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar. But the total investment in those players over the life of their contracts is only about $6.5 million, most of it in Farmar. Thatll get you 30 games of Kobe Bryant next season.

Its not a perfect system – - the Lakers have a lot more invested in Andrew Bynum than just the $9 million on his rookie contract – - but it is telling. The Lakers had to take back a big salary in the Shaquille ONeal trade and wound up making a $43 million investment in Brian Grant. Thats a big reason why theyve gone 79-85 in two seasons since that trade.

The Lakers also invested some $12 million in Vlade Divac and Aaron McKie as free-agent signings. They have this season with McKie to get any return on that investment; Divacs contract was bought out before last season. Between them, Divac and McKie have combined to play in 29 games for a total of 251 minutes.

One other thing to remember: The Lakers have $106 million invested in Bryant and about $116 million invested in everybody else on the roster. If I were a Lakers fan, Im not so sure I would want to see Bryant on the court during the exhibition season after undergoing knee surgery this summer.

Heres a look at the money the Lakers and Clippers have invested in players. I did the same for San Antonio, Phoenix and New York.

Lakers

Kobe Bryant $106 million, Lamar Odom $40 million, Vladimir Radmanovic $30 million, Kwame Brown $17 million, Brian Grant $15 million, Andrew Bynum $7 million, Jordan Farmar $5 million, Chris Mihm $4 million, Maurice Evans $3 million, Aaron McKie $2.5 million, Shammond Williams $1.75 million, Brian Cook $1.5 million, Luke Walton $1.25 million, Smush Parker, Sasha Vujacic and Ronny Turiaf $1 million or less.

Clippers

Elton Brand $46 million, Cuttino Mobley $35 million, Corey Maggette $24 million, Tim Thomas $24 million, Sam Cassell $13 million, Shaun Livingston $8 million, Yaroslav Korolev $6.5 million, Aaron Williams $3.5 million, Chris Kaman $3.5 million, Zeljko Rebraca $3 million, Quentin Ross, James Singleton, Daniel Ewing and Paul Davis $1 million or less.

The Clippers do have more invested in Livingston and Kaman than their contracts suggest. Kaman is eligible for an extension from now until Oct. 31, and will be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesnt get it. Livingston could sign an extension as early as July 2007.

San Antonio

Tim Duncan $80 million, Tony Parker $58 million, Manu Ginobili $38 million, Brent Barry $10.5 million, Bruce Bowen $8 million, Jackie Butler $7 million, Robert Horry $7 million, Francisco Elson $6 million, Michael Finley $6 million, Fabricio Oberto $5 million, Eric Williams $4.3 million, Matt Bonner $2 million, Jacque Vaughn $1 million, Beno Udrih $1 million.

It will be interesting to see if the Spurs made the right decision in trading away Rasho Nesterovic and not re-signing Nazr Mohammed. Toronto took on Nesterovics $24 million contract and Mohammed signed for $30 million in Detroit. The Spurs made only a $13 million investment in Jackie Butler and Francisco Elson as their replacements.

Phoenix

Amare Stoudemire $73 million, Shawn Marion $49 million, Steve Nash $47 million, Leandro Barbosa $35 million, Marcus Banks $21 million, Raja Bell $19.5 million, Kurt Thomas $15.5 million, James Jones $9 million, Eric Piatkowski $2.3 million, Boris Diaw $2 million, Howard Eisley $2 million, Sean Marks $1 million or less.

Boris Diaw should be getting a major extension between now and the start of the season. Its remarkable how much money the Suns have invested in their roster ($276 million even without Diaws new deal) and that they have more invested in Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion than Steve Nash.

New York

Stephon Marbury $59 million, Eddy Curry $52 million, Steve Francis $49 million, Jamal Crawford $43 million, Quentin Richardson $33 million, Jared Jeffries $30 million, Jerome James $24 million, Allan Houston $21 million, Jalen Rose $17 million, Malik Rose $14 million, Maurice Taylor $10 million, Shandon Anderson $8.5 million, Channing Frye $8 million, Jerome Williams $6.4 million, Renaldo Balkman $6 million, Mardy Collins $4.75 million, Nate Robinson $4.5 million, David Lee $3.7 million.

I put the Knicks on here strictly for laughs. They have nearly $400 million invested in a team that went 23-59 last season. That doesnt even take into account what they will pay in luxury tax penalties. The Knicks also have $108 million invested in Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis, two guys who might or might not be able to play together.

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