As the NBA league office continues the lockout in an apparent bid to create more parity among teams, a professor of economics at Smith College who has studied the issue says there is almost no relationship between the size of a team's payroll and its success.
“The statistical correlation between payroll and win percentage is practically nonexistent,” said Andrew Zimbalist.
Zimbalist said the league does not have a problem with competitive balance. As examples, he cited the excellent results of the Heat, which plays in the country's 16th-largest television market but has appeared in two of the last six NBA Finals, and the poor results of the Knicks, which have not won a playoff game in 10 years despite paying exorbitant luxury tax bills for several seasons.
In fact, it was not until the Knicks reduced their payroll dramatically last season -- getting far enough under the salary cap to sign Amar'e Stoudemire and force a trade for Carmelo Anthony -- that they qualified for the playoffs for the first time in seven years.