Crooked Scoreboard Investigates: Why Do Teams Keep Signing Ronnie Price?

ROnnie PriceRonnie Price is a 31-year-old point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to that, since his entrance into the league in 2005, he had played for the Kings, Jazz, Suns, Trail Blazers, and Magic. That is, six different NBA teams, a full 20 percent of the Association, has deemed it a good idea at one point or another to pay Ronnie Price to play for them. The ten-year NBA career that Price has carved out for himself has been especially unlikely. First of all, he went undrafted out of Utah Valley University, which is, shockingly, not a for-profit degree mill that advertises during episodes of “Jerry Springer.”

He is the only NBA player in history to go from Utah Valley to the NBA. The second, more glaring reason for his unlikely longevity is the fact that he’s not a particularly good basketball player.

Let’s take a look at the stats. The following things are true of Ronnie Price in his nine completed NBA seasons:

  • He has never appeared in more than 61 games in a season.
  • He has never started more than 17 games in a season.
  • He has never averaged more than 14 minutes per game
  • He’s a career 29% 3-point shooter.
  • He’s averaged 3.6 points per game for his career, never topping his dazzling 4.3 point-a-game 2009-10 campaign with the Jazz.

You might think, “Hey, he’s a facilitator. It’s his job to set up the offense, not to score!” You’d be right about most traditional point guards, but Ronnie Price has also only averaged 1.7 assists per game in his career.

You might also think, “You’re using only traditional statistics. Maybe if you got with the times you would find that advanced analytics LOVE Ronnie Price.”

Also potentially a good point, but also very wrong. Ronnie Price’s VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) is actually NEGATIVE over the course of his career. This means that, over the course of his career, he’s provided LESS value to his teams than some dude they could readily sign from the D-League. Since basketball prowess isn’t a particularly strong case for Ronnie’s continued presence in the league, our crack Investigative Team has done some extrapolating to identify some reasons why this might be:

He’s a Nice Guy and Good Teammate
This is definitely the most plausible (and most boring) of the potential options. There’s a chance that Ronnie provides veteran guidance to young players and shows them a good example when it comes to work ethic and professionalism. Maybe he knows how to find a party in every NBA city (even Milwaukee), to the point where players beg their front office to get Price’s agent on the phone every offseason. An interesting footnote to Price’s career is that he’s never really played for that good of a team (except maybe the 2007-2008 Jazz team he was on that made the conference semifinals). Maybe teams sign Price when they know they’re not going to be that good, because he tells good ghost stories on team flights. Imagine that, a bunch of very large men huddled around Ronnie Price, his face illuminated by the dim glow of a flashlight, telling tales of werewolves and chupacabras.

They Don’t Pay Him
The most memorable character in Office Space is probably Milton, the weasel-like middle-aged paper pusher who suffers a series of increasingly egregious indignities, such as the confiscation of his prized red stapler, and relegation to a basement office. In the course of the film’s plot, it’s also revealed that they haven’t been paying Milton his salary for many months, and he goes on to burn the entire office building down. Ronnie Price, as it happens, has been relegated to the basement office of the Western Conference: the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m not saying that Ronnie Price is going to burn down the Staples Center but… STAPLES center. RED STAPLER. Hmmm. Somebody better make sure Ronnie Price is getting his checks.

He Knows Where The Bodies Are
American sports leagues, generally, are no strangers to controversy. There’s baseball’s doping scandal, football’s ambivalent stance on domestic violence, basketball’s own Tim Donaghy game-fixing scandal. What else is there? Ronnie Price might know. Have you ever heard Ronnie Price give an interview? No? Interesting. We have no clue what Ronnie Price knows. It would sure be convenient for him to masquerade as a player and collect on a minimum salary from an NBA team (he’s always made the minimum salary), in exchange for his silence. He changes teams often enough to not become a fan favorite anywhere he goes, so as not to integrate himself in a community that will find out the truth about him. He knows what’s happened. The moon landing? Ask Ronnie. Is Bill Clinton actually a reptilian? Ask Ronnie. The whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa? Maybe Jimmy Hoffa is somewhere out there, coming off the bench for a mediocre NBA team, hiding in plain sight.