Being a benchwarmer in the NBA job might sound demeaning, sympathy earning, and a lousy gig, but once you realize the amount of money these benchwarmers make, 99% of the world would trade their jobs in a heartbeat to be a towel waving benchwarmer that never breaks a sweat. And out of respect to these professional cheerleaders, even though they may not be the crème de la crème of the NBA, they are some of the best athletes in the entire world.
Your Matt Bonnor’s, Beno Udrih’s, Reggie Evans’s, might seem like unathletic, uncoordinated, and goofy, but put them in the D-League, the Euroleague, or in Division I basketball, and they will look like men amongst boys.
Furthermore, benchwarmers are an indispensable part of a team. There are just too many injuries that can take place during a 82-game season that make a 12-man roster absolutely necessary for the duration of such a long season. Okay, maybe not 12, but at least 10. The San Antonio Spurs play eleven to twelve players in a game on a regular basis, especially with Pop’s recent Kentucky substitution style where he subs five players at a time. However, there are teams like the Portland Trailblazers that pretty much have an 8-man rotation. This means that there are a whole lot of players that never even break a sweat in Portland, but earn millions of dollars.
We all know about the salary cap restriction that you cannot go over unless you want to get penalized with the luxury tax. However, there is also a lower salary cap that every team must pay up towards. The maximum salary cap is $63.065 million, which is an increase of 7.5% from last year. The minimum salary requirement for this season is $56.759 million, which is approximately 90% of the maximum salary cap. What this means is that every team must spend at least this amount with a roster of a minimum of 12 players. The result of this is a plethora of players that get paid handsomely for practicing hard, but playing little. And this is a list of the top 15.
15 Elton Brand - $2,000,000
The veteran big man is not getting as much run as he used to with the health of Al Horford and the remarkable run that the Atlanta Hawks are on right now. Brand has only played in 11 games thus far and is averaging about 13.5 minutes per game. This has led Brand to average 3.1 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, and 0.5 assists per game. The 35-year-old has had a stellar career up to this point, but it is obvious that the wheels are about to fall off.
14 Luke Ridnour - $2,750,000
The veteran point guard has only been playing 15.6 minutes per game during the 20 games that he has played so far this season. The 33-year-old signed a two-year deal this past summer on July 25th, 2014, however, the second year is not guaranteed. This season, he has only averaged 3.9 points per game, 1.9 rebounds per game, and 2.6 assists per game. It is hard to believe that Ridnour has already been in the league for 12 years now and it seems as though his age is finally catching up to him in this modern age of dynamic point guards.
13 Furkan Aldemir - $2,963,232
I have to confess that I have never even heard of Aldemir before. The 6-10 forward has come over from the Turkish league and has played in eight games so far this season. Aldemir is averaging about 11 minutes per game and during this time he is averaging 1.6 points per game, 4.5 assists per game, and 0.3 assists per game. In all likelihood, the Sixers don’t have Aldemir in their future plans and they just needed to fill up their roster to meet the minimum salary required.
12 Joel Freeland - $3,013,512
The big man has averaged about 13.5 minutes per game this season, but is collecting a decent sized paycheck. This year he is averaging 3.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 0.4 assists per game. His minutes have picked up recently, but that is because of the injury of Robin Lopez. Once Lopez gets healthy again, it is hard to see him getting any minutes.
11 Alexey Shved - $3,282,056
Shved got some playing time playing for the lowly Sixers, but now that he is on the Rockets, he has been averaged less than 10 minutes per game. Playing behind James Harden, Corey Brewer, and Trevor Ariza, it will be nearly impossible for Shved to get any playing time unless it is a blowout game or injuries take place. The Rockets will be hoping for the blowouts.
10 Andrei Kirilenko - $3,326,235
AK47 has only played in 7 games this year and has only averaged 5.1 minutes per game. Prior to being traded from the Philadelphia Sixers, AK47 was in the doghouse in Brooklyn, falling out of favor with new head coach Lionel Hollins. This has led to career lows across the board with 0.4 points per game, 1.1 rebounds per game, and 0.1 assists per game. It is hard to say when AK47 will play again because the Sixers are tanking this season and they would not want to have AK47 mess with their plans. He is healthy to play, but his main job will be warming the bench till the end of the year.
9 Steve Novak - $3,445,947
The 31-year-old sharp shooter has made a career out of shooting the long ball. On July 12th, 2012, Novak signed a 4-year contract worth $15,000,000. This year, however, it has been hard for Novak to get off the bench. Out of the 18 games that he has played so far, Novak has only averaged 3.9 minutes per game. During these 4 minutes, Novak has averaged 1.3 points per game, 0.6 rebounds per game, and 0.2 assists per game.
8 Joel Anthony - $3,800,000
This season Anthony is only playing 6.1 minutes per game with an average of 0.9 points per game, 1.5 rebounds per game, and 0.1 assists per game. Anthony signed a 5-year deal on July 16, 2010 for $18,250,000 that is set to expire after this year since he wisely opted to use his player option for this year. Joel Anthony was probably hoping to be a key role player on championships teams with the Miami Heat for the duration of his contract, but ended up being moved in 2013 and hasn't been relevant since.
7 Ben Gordon - $4,500,000
On July 11st, 2014, Ben Gordon signed a ridiculous 2-year deal worth $9 million. Most thought that Gordon was washed up two or three years ago, but he somehow convinced the Orlando Magic to give him another $9 million on top of the $80,117,019 he has already made up to this point in his career. The Magic are paying the undersized shooting guard a ton of money for someone that only plays 15.4 minutes per game with an average of 7.4 points per game, 1.1 rebounds per game, and 0.9 assists per game.
6 Chuck Hayes - $5,958,750
The 33-year-old undersized center was only given lemons with a height of 6-6, but he has made more lemonade than any undersized center in recent memory. On December 23rd, 2011, Hayes signed a 4-year contract worth $22,417,500 with the Sacremento Kings. He went to Toronto in the Rudy Gay trade, which has been a huge win for Toronto so far, except with the salary their eating with Hayes. This year he is averaging 2.1 points per game, 1.9 rebounds per game, and 0.8 assists per game.
5 Landry Fields - $6,250,000
On July 11st, 2012, Fields signed a 3-year deal worth $18,750,000. This year, Fields has only played in 14 games and has averaged 12.8 minutes per game. Fields has been battling injuries for the majority of this season, but the Raptors have moved on without him as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. and it's hard to seeing him seeing any time when DeMar DeRozan comes back. This season, Fields has averaged 3.0 points per game, 1.6 rebounds per game, and 0.7 assists per game.
4 Jason Richardson – $6,601,125
Remember J-Rich? Yeah, he is still in the NBA. In fact, he is being paid $6,601,125 to basically sit there on the bench and rot. On December 10th, 2011, Richardson signed a 4-year deal worth $24,000,000, which he is still capitalizing on since he exercised his player option for this year. J-Rich has not played a single minute this season, so there are no statistics to even share, but given the way that the Sixers are playing, even a 33-year-old J-Rich would be better than what they are putting on the floor right now.
3 Steve Nash - $9,701,000
To the dismay of many naïve fans, Steve Nash has said in a brutally honest way, that he is playing for the money. On July 11st, 2012, Nash signed a 3-year contract worth $27,901,500. This year, Nash has not played in a single game. Last year, Nash only played in 15 games total. Yet, he is still collecting his paychecks. Nash is the ultimate benchwarmer who makes millions for doing nothing.
2 Gerald Wallace - $10,105,855
The Crash has only played in 14 games this year and has been relegated to a bench warmer. The 14-year veteran was one of the better combo forwards in the league, which has led him to make $82,613,902 over his career. In fact, he still has two more years on his contract that he signed from two years ago, which was worth about $40 million over four years. Next season, Wallace is also scheduled to make $10,105,855 in the 2015-2016 season.
1 JaVale McGee - $11,250,000
Shaqtin’ a Fool’s favorite whipping boy has only played 14 games this past season. During those 14 games, McGee has only averaged 11.6 minutes per game with an average of 5.4 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, and 1.1 blocks per game. On July 18th, 2012, McGee signed a 4-year contract worth $44,000,00o, however, he has yet to live up to his contract. McGee has been battling a leg injury as of late, but once he gets healthy, he will have the opportunity to live up to his contract once again.