The Sub-Prime Small Forward

Justin July 21, 2009 0

For those of you (us) struggling to understand exactly how the economy ended up in the crapper, the sports world has been kind enough to provide a perfect personification of the situation.  His name is Quentin Richardson, and he is the sub-prime small forward.

The situation began in the heady days of summer, 2004, when Q-Rich left the Los Angeles Clippers to sign with the Suns. He had a standout season, leading the league in 3 pointers while helping Mike D’antoni and the new look Suns take the league by storm. Phoenix, being wise investors, decided to unload their investment at it’s peak value. They contacted the Knicks, who agreed to make a trade, even after finding out the Q-Rich’s history of back issues meant his contract was un-insurable.

In our analogy, the Knicks are like an American homeowner and RIchardson is a house they can’t afford.  The Knicks decided they really wanted a sweet shooting small forward, and decided his skills in the short term far outweighed the risks of taking him on in the long term. So, they made the deal.  Many homeowners decided having a nice house in the short term outweighed financial risk in the longterm, so they made the deal and signed up for a subprime mortgage.

Well, Richardson’s back did become a problem, affecting his play and making him far less valuable for New York than he was for Phoenix, and turning his contract into a ridiculous expenditure. In fact, the contract became worth more than the player. The same way subprime loans ultimately became more valuable than the homes they had been taken out on.

And so, Richardson went from being an above average player to being an expiring contract. He’s been traded three times this off-season, sent from team to team in an effort to clear cap space for next summer with little or no interest in whether or not he can actually contribute on the floor. He is a commodity, meant to be bundled with other commodities and dealt from investor to investor.

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