During the 2011 NBA lockout, NBA owners claimed that their franchises were losing money and they wanted to curb player salaries by implementing a NFL style salary cap in the new CBA. The NBA players claimed that franchises were at fault for overpaying players and that the claims concerning loss of money by NBA owners were exaggerated. Under the new CBA, NBA teams have to be more prudent on how they pay their players. For teams who go over the salary cap, the luxury tax has become more punitive, especially if the team goes over the salary cap in consecutive years.
While players on rookie contracts and team friendly deals have become increasingly valuable, there are some players who are paid more than they are worth in terms of production and whose contracts hamper their teams financially. The following list shows 10 players whose performances in 2013/2014 do not match their salaries. Some players made the list because they simply cannot produce to justify their salary and others made the list because they cannot emulate the past performances which won them their lucrative contracts. All statistics are valid as of February 12th 2014.
10. Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers: 2013/2014 Salary $9,300,500
Steve Nash is one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, but his time spent with the Los Angeles Lakers has been underwhelming to say the least. The two-time MVP has struggled to produce anything resembling his play with the Phoenix Suns and has also struggled to stay on the court. Last year, Nash only played in 50 out of a possible 82 games. This season, Nash has only played in 10 games and seems to re-injure himself continuously. Even when he does play, he does not resemble his old self. Nash is only playing 22.5 minutes, shooting 36% from the field and 31% from three point range. These numbers are a far cry from his career averages of 49% from the field and 41% from three point range. Nash’s injury struggles are sure to continue, as the point guard just turned 40 on the 7th of February. What is even more disconcerting for the Lakers is that Nash has one more year left on his contract at $9,701,000.
9. Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder: 2013/2014 Salary $8,977,437
Kendrick Perkins is touted as a player who is a positive influence in the locker room and who provides veteran leadership. He is a good low post defender in a league that has very few low post scoring threats left. While Perkins has value to offer the Oklahoma City Thunder, it is hard to see why he is being paid just under $9 million. He is playing 20 minutes a game while averaging 3.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG and shooting 43.8% from the field despite being 6’10 and almost exclusively taking his shots close to the rim. Perkins is not a threat offensively and his presence on the floor allows other teams to ignore him, which disrupts the Thunder’s pacing on offense. Perkins has some value, but at his salary you would expect a player who can do more than set screens and guard the handful of low post scorers who remain in the NBA.
8. Omer Asik, Houston Rockets: 2013/2014 salary $8,374,646
Omer Asik is a good NBA center. Prior to this season, Asik had not missed a single game in his three NBA seasons. Last season, was Asik’s first season as a starter with the Houston Rockets and he averaged 10.1 PPG and 11.7 RPG in 30 minutes while shooting 54% from the field. This season saw the Rockets acquire free agent center Dwight Howard and while the Rockets experimented with playing two centers at the same time, it didn’t really work. That’s because both Howard and Asik struggle to shoot from the perimeter, so Asik was relegated to a reserve role. This demotion did not sit well with Asik and he refused to suit up for a game on the 16th of November and asked to be traded. His refusal to play has seen his stock plummet and has made it difficult for the Rockets to trade him. Asik has not played since he refused to suit up and the Rockets have not found a suitor for him. As a result, they are paying $8,374,646 for a player to sit on the bench.
7. Kris Humphries, Boston Celtics: 2013/2014 salary $12,000,000
The group of players that make between $11.9 and $12.1 million include Nikola Pekovic, Al Horford, David West and Rajon Rondo. All of these players are important starters on their respective teams and three of these players have made All-Star teams, while Pekovic is a productive center. The fifth player whose salary fits in the aforementioned range is Kris Humphries. Unlike the players mentioned, the Boston Celtics forward is not a starter and he only averages 19 minutes, 7.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG this season. These numbers are actually better than Humphries’s career averages of 6.6 PPG and 5.5 RPG. Based on his production, he is lucky to have a salary in the same stratosphere as those other valuable players.
6. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: 2013/2014 salary $18,466,130
This season, Deron Williams is averaging 13.3 PPG and 6.7 APG in 30.5 minutes for the Brooklyn Nets. These statistics point to a productive player, but the problem is that Williams is not being paid to be merely a productive player. At a salary of $18,466,130, Williams is the 12th highest paid player in the NBA. As such the Nets, who have a 24-26 record, expect Williams to be one of the best players in the league. Williams is often compared to Chris Paul, as the two were drafted back to back in 2005. Their salaries are nearly identical, yet the difference in their productivity could not be more different. Paul is credited with changing the culture of a historically bad Los Angeles Clippers franchise, while Williams’s tenure with the Nets is most noted for his constant ankle injuries and getting a coach fired.
5. Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings: 2013/2014 salary $17,888,931
Rudy Gay is the 13th highest paid player in the NBA this season and he is also the only player of the top 24 highest paid players not to have made a single All-Star appearance. Gay started this season with the Toronto Raptors and in 18 games, he was averaging 19.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG. On the surface these statistics point to a productive player, but Gay was an extremely inefficient scorer. Gay was scoring 19.4 PPG while averaging 18.8 shots a game and shooting just 38.8% from the field. When the Raptors traded Gay to the Sacramento Kings, most league observers thought they were attempting to make their team worse in order to acquire a high draft pick. Unfortunately for Gay, the Raptors, like the Memphis Grizzlies before them, started playing better as soon as they traded the 6’8 forward and are almost certain to make the playoffs.
4. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: 2013/2014 salary $30,453,805
Kobe Bryant, like his teammate Steve Nash, is a Hall of Fame player. Again similar to Nash this season, Bryant has been unable to play due to injuries. Bryant missed the beginning of the season due to his recovering from an achilles injury and only managed to play in six games before succumbing to a knee injury. Considering the fact that Bryant, who is 35, is in his 18th season and has played over 50,000 minutes (playoffs included), injuries are to be expected. This season, the NBA salary cap is set at $58,679,000 and Bryant’s salary takes up almost 52% of the available cap. Astoundingly, there is no other player within $7 million of Bryant’s salary (Dirk Nowitzki is 2nd at $22,721,381). Bryant’s salary may be fair compensation if he was able to play at his peak, but given his age and recent injury problems, having him take up over half the available salary cap does not seem wise.
3. Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets: 2013/2014 salary $21,466,718
The free agent class of 2010 was one of the best in NBA history. It included players such as LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade. When the free agency signing period ended, the player who received the most lucrative contract was surprisingly Joe Johnson. The Atlanta Hawks resigned Johnson for $123,658,089 over six years. Prior to signing that contract, Johnson had averaged over 20 PPG in five straight seasons and after signing that contract, Johnson has not even averaged 19 PPG. This season, Johnson is the fourth highest paid player in the league and is averaging only 15.1 PPG, while shooting 44% from the field. Unlike others on this list, Johnson has not suffered any significant injuries this season. When an NBA player makes around $20 million, they are expected to carry a franchise both on the court and from a marketing perspective. Even at his best Johnson, could not do either.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: 2013/2014 salary $21,679,893
An obvious entry on this list, because paying $21,679,893 for a player who comes off the bench and averages 10.1 PPG and 4.5 RPG is not ideal. When the New York Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire to a five year $99,743,996 contract in 2010, they expected an All-Star caliber player. After making the All-Star team in his first season with the Knicks, Stoudemire has had a difficult time staying healthy. This should not have come as a surprise to the Knicks who knew of Stoudemire’s history of knee injuries. Making matters even worse for the Knicks is the fact that Stoudemire’s contract is 100 percent uninsured. Amar’e Stoudemire is the third highest payed player in the league this season but does not even play 20 minutes a game.
1. Andris Biedrins, Utah Jazz: 2013/2014 salary $9,000,000
Andris Biedrins is the 66th highest payed player in the NBA this season. Yet it is hard to find a player who makes as much as Biedrins and does as little. To put things in perspective, Biedrins will earn more than twice what Paul George will earn this season. The 7’0 Utah Jazz center has only played in 6 out of a possible 52 games this season and played a total of 45 minutes. At this rate, Biedrins projects to play in 9 games this season and average $1 million a game. Biedrins’s lack of playing time has nothing to do with injury and he is sadly averaging 0.5 PPG and 2.8 RPG. This level of production is not new for Biedrins who averaged nearly identical numbers in 53 games for the Golden State Warriors last season.