Thursday, October 16, 2008

Throwing Good PT at Larry Hughes After Ben Wallace

In this thread, Bullshooter left a comment that got me thinking. With regards to the playing time of Larry Hughes, Bullshooter writes:

They gave Hughes a few minutes to see if any miracles had occurred over the summer. At $13 million, you'd like the guy to at least practice hard, right? And you know he isn't going to do that if you bury him on the bench from the beginning of training camp.

Leaving aside the admittedly old-fashioned notion that being paid a salary of $13 mil. might require you to practice hard regardless of your playing time, there's another problem at work in the logic here. In fact, the problem has a specific name and a Wikipedia entry and everything: The Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Maybe everyone else is aware of it already, but an econophobe like me didn't know anything about this until about two years ago, when Nocioni (not the real one) was thinking about writing a piece about it with regards to the War in Iraq, only to find out that Slate had already done it. (Luckily, his own sunk costs into the story idea had not been considerable.)

Colloquially, the SCF is expressed by the phrase "throwing good money after bad." What this means for the Bulls is that they need to accept that signing Ben Wallace was a bad idea, and that there's no need to compound that error by giving playing time to Larry Hughes. That money that you used to sign Ben Wallace (and which is now basically going to Hughes)? It's gone, sunk, and there's nothing you can do about it.

What you can do about it, though, is not let the pain of that loss enter into your future decision-making, at your own detriment. And I think it's safe to say that when it comes to the Bulls' future, Larry Hughes has absolutely no place in it. Yeah, it might suck that he's getting paid all that money to sit on the bench; but it's better than getting paid all that money to be actively hurting your team on the court. A large part of the Bulls' success this season depends on whether they recognize this fact.

UPDATE: I'm reminded that the Bulls did recognize this back when they let Tim Thomas basically hang out for year. So maybe there's hope for this season.


Anonymous your friendly bullsblogger said...

bullshooter still thinks the Bulls are showcasing Hughes.

Or more accurately, he thinks that there should be more comments from other people thinking the Bulls are showcasing Hughes.

(it's always meta with that one)

Besides, 31 minutes is more than a few, and basketball teams shouldn't believe in miracles over track records.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous your friendly bullsblogger said...

Although the real question is: can we now determine there will be no miracle?

I'm not even that worried Hughes will start, or get significant time. The Bulls are often silly with how they treat minutes, but Hughes over Rose is beyond even their odd-ness.

I'm more perplexed that two beat writers thought it wasn't such a bad idea.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous your friendly bullsblogger said...

though I must say (in case anyone thinks I've softened) that the latest preseason game where Hughes played more than Rose is a complete failure. I'm just not ready to call it a trend.

(last one, I promise)

4:30 PM  
Anonymous bullshooter said...

"that one" sounds like code for something...

I agree, Hughes still sucks. If only BG were healthy enough to show how much he improved his game this summer...

8:13 PM  
Blogger KRF said...

Larry should undoubtedly be given the Tim Thomas treatment, as he has shown rumblings of lacking professionalism with regard to reduced playing time / not starting. With Rose, Gordon, and Hinrich the Bulls have a very good 3 guard rotation, no need to give any minutes at all to Larry and in fact, giving him minutes would be a huge negative. Better to tell him to go home and count his money.

4:05 AM  
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10:50 PM  

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