Simply put, NBA teams have given out some ridiculous contracts over the years. There has always been a team or two each off-season that signs a player to a contract and makes us fans wonder what the basketball operations staff is doing. The problem of absurd contracts only increased when the NBA cap spiked this summer. As most of us now know, the NBA announced a major television deal, which pretty much guaranteed salaries across the league were going to go up. As a result, we are seeing some role or average players making more money than superstars like Stephen Curry and John Wall. These players definitely are not deserving of their salary, when you compare what they are making to other top players.
Now to be fair, there are a ton of players around the league that are more than deserving of their salary. In fact, we can find many situations, where it is arguable that a player is underpaid. Overall, the goal of this article will be to show eight NBA players that deserve their salary and seven that do not. To be honest, it was hard to limit players that do not deserve their salary to seven. I also tried to avoid players on rookie contracts.
15 Deserve: Jimmy Butler - $17.5 million
I never understand the trade talk surrounding Jimmy Butler. Quite frankly, the man can play and he is well worth his salary. He is a very good offensive player, can play defense with the best of them, and seems to improve every year. Butler is not the problem; the Bulls front office is. Nonetheless, if I was the Boston Celtics, I would be willing to trade my Brooklyn Nets pick to acquire Butler this summer.
Overall, Butler is making $17.5 million this year, which is a large amount, but consider that players such as DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Rose, and Harrison Barnes are making more then him and it is obvious Butler is well worth his pay. If not for Butler, the Bulls would be a lottery team. Instead, they have put up a good fight against the number one seed in the first round.
14 Doesn’t Deserve – Enes Kanter - $17.1 million
I really like Enes Kanter on offense. Kanter is a scoring machine with great post moves. He can also step out and hit the outside jumper. Furthermore, there are not many better offensive rebounders than Kanter and as a result, he had the second most double doubles coming off the bench in the 2016-17 regular season.
However, Kanter is not worth the $17.1 million he is making this season. Kanter is a liability on the defensive side on the ball. We have seen teams put Kanter into pick and rolls and score easy buckets because he is not capable on that side of the ball. Kanter has such poor defense that we have seen coach Billy Donovan remove Kanter from games despite his offensive brilliance. It is too bad the Thunder have much of their cap tied up to Kanter and Steven Adams. Get Westbrook a star!
13 Deserve – Kyle Lowry - $12 million
Despite all of his playoff struggles, Kyle Lowry is well worth the $12 million he made this season. Lowry is an all-star point guard and is crucial to a Raptors team that has won 50 games in back to back seasons. Lowry can shoot threes, get to the rim, and he puts his body on the line every game. Raptors coach Dwane Casey and other star DeMar DeRozan have called Lowry the heartbeat of the Raptors on many different occasions.
Overall, while I would not pay Lowry anywhere close to the max this offseason, I think a good salary for Lowry is $17 to 18 million. I would not pay him a max contract because of his playoff struggles and the fact he is age 31 and has trouble staying healthy.
12 Doesn’t Deserve - Carmelo Anthony - $24.6 million
I blame most of the Knicks struggles on two people: Phil Jackson and James Dolan. However, Carmelo Anthony is not free of blame either. Anthony was supposed to be one of the best players in the league, yet he has not been able to lead the Knicks to winning seasons. If you are going to be the ninth highest paid player of 2016-17 and are still at an age where you should perform well, I expect you to at least lead your team to the playoffs, regardless of how poor the management is.
Also, remember it is not like Carmelo does not have some good players around him. Kristaps Porzingis is very good and Derrick Rose is still a more than capable starter. These three alone should have been good enough to get the Knicks to the playoffs. Ultimately, the blame falls on Melo since he is the leader and it is obvious he is not worth the $24.6 million he made this season, at least not in New York.
11 Deserve – Isaiah Thomas - $6.7 million
Isaiah Thomas is an amazing basketball player. He is deserving of every penny the Boston Celtics are paying him this year. In fact, Thomas deserves much more than the $6.7 million he is making this season. Thomas is one of the best bargains in the NBA. Do not worry Thomas, your time to get paid as a superstar will come soon.
If we examine why the Celtics are the number one seed, there a couple of reasons. For one, they have a great coach. Secondly, Thomas has carried the Celtics team on his back all year, especially on the offensive end. The Celtics would not even be a playoff team without him, let alone the number one seed. Thomas is a great player in the 4th quarter and has willed the team to many victories this season. I would love to have this guy on my team.
10 Doesn’t - Allen Crabbe - $18.5 million
Portland sure made a lot of headshaking decisions in the latest offseason. The decision to pay Allen Crabbe over $18 million is right at the top of the list, along with another player you will later see in this article. Think about this for a second, a player averaging 8.3 points per game in his career and 10.7 in 2016-17 made more money this year than players like Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. Remember how I said timing is everything? Perfect example here.
My only other thought on the contract is that Crabbe must have been paid based on his potential. Maybe this contract looks good in two years, but as of today, Crabbe is one of the most overpaid players in the NBA and does not deserve what he is making. Hey, I would rather be overpaid than underpaid though.
9 Does – Kawhi Leonard - $17.6 million
Kawhi Leonard has developed into one of the best players in the game and may be the best overall two way player. It is very impressive how Leonard has turned himself into a very good outside shooter. As a result of his play, Leonard has also become the face of the franchise for the most successful team in the league. That right there is enough to justify the $17.6 million Leonard made in the 2016-17 season. In fact, it is quite arguable that Leonard deserves more when you compare his contract to others around the league, such as the aforementioned Allen Crabbe.
Overall, Leonard is still a young player and will continue to get better. When the time comes, Leonard will make as much as anybody in the NBA and he will be well deserving of this. Remember, the guy is already a Finals MVP.
8 Doesn’t – Evan Turner - $16.4 million
Evan Turner was another beneficiary of timing. Like most of the overpaid players, Turner became a free agent at the right time. Still, the contract he received last summer was shocking. Four years and $70 million for a player that has never been able to live up to his draft status, or prove he can be a consistent starter on a good team was just not a smart move by Portland. Add in the fact that Turner has had a rough 2016-17, and he has become one of the most overpaid players in the league.
To be fair, Turner does have some good moments. He is a good defender, can handle the ball and provide a spark off the bench, offensively. However, there is no way his $17.5 annual salary can be justified. Portland would like to have the summer of 2016 back.
7 Does – Draymond Green - $15.3 million
Say what you want about Draymond Green and his antics, but he is absolutely deserving of his $15.3 million salary. Think about this for a second: a player like Bismack Biyombo made more this season than Green. There are not many other players in the league that can do what Green does. Green is probably going to win the defensive player of the year. He gives the Warriors the luxury of being able to switch on pick and rolls because Green can stay in front of many guards. Green is also a great rebounder and shot blocker. He just is one of those players that the ball seems to find.
It is also important to acknowledge Green’s offense. He can hit the three ball, forcing defenses to be honest. In addition, Green is one of the best passing big men. I guess we can sum it up by saying Green does the little things that make Golden State go. No question he is deserving of his salary.
6 Doesn’t – Timofey Mozgov - $16 million
Who knows what Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were thinking when they signed Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov is a good post player, but his style of play does not fit the “new” NBA. Mozgov cannot step out to shoot the three, he cannot keep up with a fast-paced style of play, and he is unable to guard players on the perimeter.
Probably would not be the best idea to give him a large contract, right? Well, tell that to Buss and Kupchak who gave Mozgov a 4 year $64 million-dollar contract. This was to a 30-year-old by the way. I just do not get it. Mozgov has not lived up the expectations of his contract and we saw many games where Luke Walton subbed him out of games early due to poor play.
5 Does – John Wall - $17 million
For one of the better point guards in the league, John Wall is sure underpaid. Remember, point guards like Reggie Jackson are making money than Wall. Wall is also the best player on his team, yet there are two other players on his team making more money than him in 2016-17, including Ian Mahimi! If this does not show John Wall is deserving of his salary, I do not know what else does. I can understand why Wall feels undervalued and underpaid.
On the court, Wall has been a double double machine. He is great at driving to the basket, getting his teammates involved, and has taken a big step this year playing under Scott Brooks. Wall is definitely a superstar that deserves his money. The next step for him is to lead his team to at least the Conference Finals.
4 Doesn’t – Joakim Noah - $17 million
I understand Joakim Noah is a heart and soul type player. In his prime, every team in the league would have loved to have him. He does the little things that every teammate can appreciate.
However, if I was a NBA player, I would be lining up to hire Joakim Noah's agent. Noah was clearly on the decline in his last season in Chicago, but the Knicks still decided to throw the bank at him. Four years and $72 million for a player that is injury prone, shoots a poor percentage, and is overall pretty poor on the offensive side? How can anyone expect Noah to justify this contract? It is clear he does not deserve this much money, but hey good for him for getting the Knicks to pay him.
3 Does – Stephen Curry - $12.1 million
Stephen Curry is another player that more than deserves his salary. Curry should be making more and come this summer, he will be. Whatever Curry does sign for is justified. Curry is the best shooter in the NBA, and more importantly to me, has shown he is the ultimate team player. Curry took a step back this year, mostly because he sacrificed his game for Kevin Durant. If Curry wanted to, he could average 30 a game. Just look at how he played with Durant out. Any superstar that is willing to sacrifice justifies their salary.
Move on from the fact that Curry is a stud on the basketball court, but let's dive deeper into the issue. Curry is a huge box office attraction for the NBA and imagine how much money he makes them in merchandise. Whatever money Curry gets, he deserves.
2 Doesn’t – Chandler Parsons - $22 million
I just do not understand when teams sign injury prone players to long term, big money contracts. A short term prove it type deal, sure, but long term contracts, really? Why would Memphis throw so much money at a player that has not proven he can stay healthy? Even when he has been healthy, Chandler Parsons has not proven he can be an all-star. Sure, he has had flashes of being a good player, but does that mean much when you cannot consistently play this way?
Regardless, based off the $22 million Parsons is making this year, he should be a star on the Grizzlies. Too bad that is far from the case and Parsons contract is probably the reason the Grizzlies are going to lose early in the playoffs. The money should have been allocated elsewhere.
1 Does – LeBron James - $30.9 million
It is obvious that LeBron James deserves salary. In fact, it is so obvious that I thought about not including him in this article. However, it would be unfair to discredit King James. On the court, we all know how great LeBron has been. Three championships, three Finals MVPs, and four league MVPs says it all.
People also take for granted just how valuable James is to the NBA as a whole. His merchandise sales are always at the top of the league, and he is popular internationally. Just look at the Cleveland Cavaliers networth with and without LeBron. The team's value jumps up exponentially when LeBron is in Cleveland and plummeted when he left. LeBron deserves more than he is making, even if it is max dollars in the CBA.