In with the new and out with the old. As older players finish out the final year of their contracts, younger players are after the money that their team will inherit with the expiration of these older contracts. A lot of these longer contracts cripple franchises towards the final two years or so, because players are not usually worth the same amount that they were in the first year as they were in the fifth year.
The best example of this is Amar’e Stoudemire. Amar’e has one of the worst contracts in the league right now. Stoudemire is on the fifth and final year of his enormous contract that the New York Knicks regrettably signed him to in 2010. This year, Stoudemire is making $23.4 million, but next year his gigantic salary will be coming off the books, which means that his salary could literally decrease by $20 million next year. This decrease would be one of the highest in league history. But there is no need to shed tears for Amar’e’s contract, since he earned a paltry $142.2 million over his injury-plagued career.
The following list are NBA players that have lost the most amount of money from last year to this year. Many of them were signed to mega-long term contracts from four to five years ago, which finally expired this past year. Now, they are signed to contracts that are literally cut in half, and in some cases, even more so. Some players took such a hit that they lost nearly 90% of what they were earning from the year before. So, here are the Top-15 players that are taking the biggest hit in the new 2014-2015 season.
15 Jameer Nelson - $5.9 Million Cut
Last season, Jameer Nelson was making $8.6 million. This season Nelson is making $2.7 million, which is a decrease of $5.9 million. This year, Nelson is the starting point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. Nelson has clearly lost two to three steps since his glory days in Orlando, however, he is still a very reliable three-point shooter. Unfortunately, he is playing in a very crowded backcourt with Monta Ellis, Devin Harris, and J.J. Barea, which does not bode well for his very last contract. However, it does look like he will hold the starting point guard position down, and if the Mavericks win a championship or make a deep run, it could do wonders to get him one last contract.
14 John Salmons - $5.5 Million Cut
Last season, John Salmons was making $7.5 million. This season Salmons is making $2.0 million, which is a decrease of $5.5 million. This year, Salmons is playing for the New Orleans Pelicans who are an up and coming team filled with a lot of young talent. Salmons provides great veteran leadership in this regard, but his game has deteriorated to the point of being worth about the veteran’s minimum. The Pelicans now have enough scorers, so if Salmons can provide a little bit of punch off the bench, in addition to some veteran poise, he is well worth the $2 million he is making this season.
13 Luol Deng - $4.5 Million Cut
Last season, Luol Deng was making $14.2 million. This season Deng is making $9.7 million, which is a decrease of $4.5 million. This year, Deng has changed scenery and has moved to South Beach. Deng cannot fill the large hole that LeBron James left behind, but he is still one of the better two-way small forwards in the league. This season Deng is averaging 15.6 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 1.9 assists per game. These numbers are no where near LeBron's, but they do not have to be if the entire team collaborates for his loss. Deng is now on a two-year contract, but it may be difficult for him to get more than he is getting with the Miami Heat after his contract expires.
12 Hedo Turkoglu - $10.5 Million Cut
Last season, Hedo Turkoglu was making $12.0 million. This season Turkoglu is making $1.4 million, which is a decrease of $10.6 million. This year, Turkoglu is with the Los Angeles Clippers on a one-year contract as the back-up small forward. This may be it for the multi-talented 35-year old, but he has made over $90 million during his 14-year career, which is not a bad career at all for someone that was never even supposed to make it out of Sacramento. Turkoglu will always be known as one of the original point forwards that could pretty much do a little of everything on the court.
11 Kobe Bryant - $6.9 Million Cut
Last season, Kobe Bryant was making a whopping $30.4 million. This season Kobe is making $23.5 million, which is a decrease of $6.9 million. Regardless, Kobe is still the highest paid player in the league and his contract will only go up next season to $25.0 million. This year, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the worst teams in the NBA, but Kobe is making an individual case that he is still one of the premier players in the NBA. His field goal percentage is horrendous, but he is leading the league in scoring and has proven that he can alter his game in order to score in a variety of ways. Clearly, Kobe wants to become the leading scorer in NBA history and is doing everything that he can to go after Kareem's record.
10 Charlie Villanueva - $7.3 Million Cut
Last season, Charlie Villanueva was making $8.6 million. This season Villanueva is making $1.3 million, which is a decrease of $7.3 million. This year, Charlie Villanueva is on a one-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks largely as a bench warmer that may never get any playing time. Villanueva has always had a wealth of talent, but has never been able to put all of the pieces together. And at this point in his career, it looks like Gregg Popovich could not even resurrect his career. Still, he has made $48.7 million already in his career, which is not bad at all for someone that has produced so little.
9 Rodney Stuckey - $7.3 Million Cut
Last season, Rodney Stuckey was making $8.5 million. This season Stuckey is making $1.2 million, which is a decrease of $7.3 million. At a decrease of 85.5% decrease, this is the second biggest percentage decrease from last year to this year. Stuckey is now on the depleted Indiana Pacers and was expected to be a big punch off the bench for scoring, especially with the departure of Lance Stephenson and the injury of Paul George. But so far, Stuckey has only averaged 8.8 points per game which is a huge decrease from his 13.9 points per game with the Detroit Pistons last year. If Stuckey can get back to his old Detroit numbers, it is very possible that the Pacers can sneak into the 8th spot.
8 Kris Humphries - $7.7 Million Cut
Last season, Kris Humphries was making $12.0 million. This season Humphries is making $4.3 million, which is a decrease of $7.7 million. This year, Humphries is on the Washington Wizards primarily as a back-up power forward and center. He is averaging 3.7 points per game this year, which is down from 8.4 points per game from last year. He is averaging less than 10 minutes per game, which is hurting his averages, but if he gets playing time, he is still very serviceable as a rebounder and garbage man.
7 Shawn Marion - $7.9 Million Cut
Last season, Shawn Marion was making $9.3 million. This season Marion is making $1.4 million, which is a decrease of $7.9 million. This year, Marion is playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a back-up to LeBron James. Even though Marion took a pay-cut that was somewhere around 84.4%, Marion’s value is worth far more than this. But he took a pay-cut for the chance to win a ring. And if the Cavs can establish chemistry sooner than later, it may pay off dividends for this veteran that has been chasing this elusive championship ring for so long.
6 Ben Gordon - $8.7 Million Cut
Last season, Ben Gordon was making $13.2 million. This season Gordon is making $4.5 million, which is a decrease of $8.7 million. This is a decrease of 65.9% from last year to this year. Still, Gordon is actually being overpaid. No other team, other than the Orlando Magic, would have offered Gordon this kind of money. At this point in his career, he is worth the veteran’s minimum instead of the mid-level exception. However, he does provide veteran leadership and 3-point shooting, which this very young roster needs.
5 Richard Jefferson - $9.6 Million Cut
Last season, Richard Jefferson was making $11.0 million. This season Jefferson is making $1.4 million, which is a decrease of $9.6 million. More than any other player in the NBA, Jefferson suffered the biggest percentage decrease with a whopping 86.8%. This year, Jefferson is on the Dallas Mavericks and does not get off the bench too much. However, he is still a very reliable 3-point shooter if someone else can create off the dribble for him, which the Mavs can easily do.
4 Paul Pierce - $10 Million Cut
Last season, Paul Pierce was making $15.3 million. This season Pierce is making $5.3 million, which is a decrease of $10.0 million. This is a decrease of 65.4% from last year to this year. This year, Pierce has changed scenery and is now in Washington DC. The Wizards made a lot of noise last year by making it to the 2nd round of the playoffs. What they were really missing to take the next step was veteran leadership and championship experience. Pierce provides that and then some. He has already gotten into the face of some of his opponents, so he is clearly trying to establish more of a tough and tenacious culture with this very young and talented roster.
3 Pau Gasol - $12.1 Million Cut
Last season, Pau Gasol was making $19.2 million. This season Gasol is making $7.1 million, which is a decrease of $12.1 million. This year, Gasol has changed scenery from sunny California to the harsh winters of Chicago. However, Gasol was not exiled there, but gladly departed because of the allure of the Bulls roster. Gasol had his pickings and was recruited this past summer like he was the best high school player in the country. But he wanted the chance to compete for another ring, so he wisely left the Western Conference for the thinner Eastern Conference. Now, the Bulls have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA and are considered to be the favorites coming out of the East as the Cleveland Cavaliers look to build some much needed chemistry.
2 Danny Granger - $11.9 Million Cut
Last season, Danny Granger was making $14.0 million. This season Granger is making $2.1 million, which is a decrease of $11.9 million. This year, Granger is now on the LeBron-less Miami Heat and is helping fill the hole that LeBron left at the small forward and power forward slot. Unfortunately, Granger is only averaging 8.2 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game, and 1.0 assist per game this season. He is hardly the player that he used to be, but the 31-year old must step up his game a little bit more to help this franchise.
1 Dirk Nowitzki - $14.8 Million Cut
Last season, Dirk Nowitzki was making $22.7 million. This season Dirk is making $7.9 million, which is a decrease of $14.8 million. This is a major hit in his percentage with a decrease of 64.9% from last year to this year. Dirk’s contract will increase though the next three years from $7.9 million to $8.3 million to $8.6 million. Surprisingly, Dirk is still averaging slightly over 20 points per game and is still proving to be a lethal offensive weapon at the age of 36. If Dirk can keep up this pace at this stage of his career, the Mavericks are clearly getting him for a bargain, which does not bode well for the rest of the NBA, considering all of the other chips that they have on their stacked roster.
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