Breaking the Bank

In the sports world, every person has a value. NBA general managers are paid millions of dollars to ensure that they sign players to contracts of appropriate value. Sometimes they mess up — like really mess up. Like a got in bed with a 2 when you were drunk and thought she was a 10 type of mess up. But rather than being embarrassed, never seeing that person again, and getting called an idiot by your friends, NBA teams and owners have to fork out millions of dollars, see that player every day, all while being called an idiot by everyone following a bad signing. Let’s take a look at some of the contracts that teams would prefer they hadn’t signed.

Paydays that Make Owners Cringe for 2012-2013:

Amar’e Stoudemire: $19,948,799
I’m not saying that Amar’e isn’t a good player. I am saying that he does not demand the fourth-highest salary in the NBA.  He is also the only player making nearly $20 million while coming off the bench. The Knicks are paying such a hefty sum for an injury-prone player averaging 13.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG.  People have told me that everything is overpriced in New York, but this is ridiculous.

Andrew Bynum $16,899,000
Bynum’s contract has him making more than $16 million dollars this year. You might argue that Bynum is one of the best centers in the league, but when you pay $16 million dollars for a player who may not even play this year, and is a free agent this summer, you haven’t overpaid, you’ve been robbed. Even while making all that money Bynum still can’t afford a proper barber or haircut.   
Perhaps he’s made his money this year by just providing fans entertainment. Keep hoping that he’ll play this year Philly, and pray that he doesn’t go bowling again and injure his glass knees.

Kris Humphries $12,000,000
Kris Humphries will make $12 million this year. No, that is not from royalties for his short stint as a Kardashian, but the salary the Brooklyn Nets will pay him. Right now Humphries is averaging roughly 6 PPG and 6 RPG. I realize it’s probably not even worth Mikhail Prokhorov’s time to bend over and pick up a few million dollars, but if you want to throw ridiculous amounts of money around, throw it in a different direction. I think it’s safe to say Kris Humphries has lived the dream. He’ll make $12 million this year, got Kim Kardashian (even if just for a bit), plays only 19 minutes a game, and is great in this commercial.

I hate to say it, but I’m jealous of Kris Humphries.

Hedo Turkoglu $11,815,850
In 2009, Turkoglu signed a $53 million dollar contract with Toronto that everyone thought was an overpayment. Now back on the Orlando Magic, everyone still thinks that he is being overpaid. Hedo is the post-college child that moved back home and the parents just want him to move out. It’s costing the Magic $11 million to watch him only play 11 games so far and shoot 26 percent while averaging 2.9 PPG. Did I mention that he has a player option for $12 million dollars next year? Charlie Sheen has a better chance going sober than Turkoglu does of declining that. For the team who had huge contracts with Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Dwight Howard, it wouldn’t be the Magic if they didn’t have one terrible contract.

Andre Iguodala $14,968,250
Andre Iguodala is a good NBA player. Does he demand a nearly $15 million salary? No. Whether it’s the legalized marijuana or the high altitude in Denver, Iguodala is playing like he’s high. A player you pay $15 million shouldn’t go 0 for 7 with air balls from the free-throw line and the field (February 19 versus Boston). He’s a good option, but for that kind of money you should be getting a solid number one option.

Honorable Mentions:
Joe Johnson $19,752,645
Joe Johnson is the fifth-highest paid player in the NBA. He’s not the fifth-best player in the NBA, but Prokhorov’s bottomless pockets make the payday a little bit easier to swallow. Also, the overtime clutchness that Johnson has demonstrated this season has semi-legitimized his contract. Coming from a guy whose favorite NFL team has Tony Romo at quarterback, the clutch factor should be a major factor in determining a salary.

There are times that NBA teams are able to secure a player for a low price. Generally, this only happens for a young player still playing on his rookie contract, or a veteran who suddenly thrives in a new system. There’s going to be people who argue that superstars like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are underpaid because of max salary rules, but I don’t buy it. Their endorsements and marketability pretty much make it so they have infinite income resources.  Also, it’s hard to argue that someone making more than $15 million dollars a year is underpaid. It could be wrong to say that the players below that threshold are even underpaid, as they still make millions a year. However, in relation to the income of the players around them and the impact they have on their respective teams, their team is getting a bargain. These players may not be making the big-time NBA money right now, but you can bet their contracts will come.

Underpaid for 2012-2013:

Jrue Holiday $2,674,852
Jrue Holiday is averaging 19 PPG 8 APG and 1.5 steals per game. The 76ers are making up some of their Andrew Bynum losses with the fantastic play of Holiday. Holiday has erupted this year,  making his first ever all-star game. The 2009 draftee signed an extension earlier this season, which kicks in next year and will give him a nice payday of almost $10 million.

Paul George $2,574,120
Once you saw Holiday’s salary for this year, you had to assume that he was the most underpaid NBA all-star. You would be wrong. Paul George is having a breakout season for the Indiana Pacers and was rewarded with a roster spot in this year’s all-star game. His rookie contract will extend to next year allowing the Pacers to keep their bargain star. George is the best player on his team right now even though Danny Granger (who’s currently hurt) and Roy Hibbert each make $11 million more than him. You can bet when he hits the market after next year, he’ll be demanding a huge contract.

Brandon Jennings $3, 179, 493
Brandon Jennings may only make $3 million this year, but the highly-skilled guard will get PAID this summer. Milwaukee failed to reach an extension with Jennings this summer and he’s not going to stay there. Either the Bucks match the offers that Jennings will receive as a restricted free agent, or they watch him go. I’ve never been to Milwaukee, but I’ve had Milwaukee’s Best beer. And if that’s the best Milwaukee has to offer, I don’t blame him for wanting to leave.

Kyrie Irving $5,375,760
The former first-overall pick is helping to heal the wound left by LeBron James in Cleveland. If you didn’t see, Irving dominated all-star weekend winning the 3-point contest, playing well in the rising stars challenge, and the all-star game. The young stud’s play is well worth more than his contract. Rest assured that when his rookie contract lapses, he’ll be demanding a near-max deal. Irving is the future of the NBA and gives the black hole that is Cleveland sports the ability to hope for a championship.  If I were the Cavaliers, I’d pull a Chicago Bulls and sign my star point guard to a $90-plus million extension before his rookie contract closes.

Ray Allen $3,000,000
I understand Ray Allen wanting another championship and the Miami nightlife, but arguably the greatest shooter of all time should be making more than $3 million. Allen would have made twice the money if he had chosen to re-sign with the Celtics. Not only did the defending champion Miami Heat get the greatest 3-point shooter of all time, they got him for a bargain.

Greivis Vasquez $1,191,240
With all the hype of Anthony Davis and the name change from the Hornets to the Pelicans, you may have missed out on the great season that Greivis Vasquez is having. He’s averaging 13.8 PPG with 9.4 APG. For a player barely making more than $1 million, those are great numbers. The Hornets were able to snag a great guard for a bargain and have him under contract for a couple years.

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Tye Masters
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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