In 2010, the NBA became fascinating not for the on-court heroics of the league’s best and brightest, but for the drama-filled offseason in which Chris Bosh, Lebron James, and Dwyane Wade circumvented the system, contacted each other throughout the free agency period, and formed the “Super Best Friends Club” in Miami. With those three opting out of their contracts for 2014-2015, joining a pool of free agents that includes Carmelo Anthony, this is another NBA offseason that is worth paying attention to.
This list looks at the ten most lucrative contracts signed thus far in the 2014 offseason in the NBA. Free agent contracts and contract extensions/retooled contracts are included in the rankings, so Kyrie Irving’s new contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers counts. Rankings are based on the contract’s total worth, and not the yearly salary. Enjoy.
10 Avery Bradley – Boston Celtics: 4 years/$32 million
Avery Bradley, a former star at University of Texas at Austin, has played his entire NBA career in Boston. Resigning Bradley to a not insignificant contract shows that the Boston Celtics really like this guy, who came into his own last season on a young team that missed the playoffs. Nothing signals that Bradley will develop into a significant part of a playoff team, however. He averaged 14.9 points per game last season, a good average for a fourth-year player, but he only averaged 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, paltry numbers for a backcourt player. He has also struggled with injuries throughout this career. That said, Bradley is not a bad piece at the salary for which he signed. Things can only get better in Boston.
9 Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets: 4 years/$32 million
Since surprising many NBA fans and experts with his stellar play for the Los Angeles Lakers, Trevor Ariza has been up and down and bouncing around the league from team to team. That said, Trevor Ariza is a good player in the NBA, and the Houston Rockets, the team that signed him, will benefit from his polyvalent skill set. Last season, Ariza averaged 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game for the Washington Wizards. Though he is a downgrade from Chandler Parsons, this signing should make the Rockets feel better about that loss.
8 Lebron James – Cleveland Cavaliers: 2 years/$42.1 million
As he opted out of his contract with the Heat shortly after the playoffs ended, Lebron James has yet again made this free agency period in the NBA fascinating. After signing with the Heat in 2010, James boastfully remarked that he and his Heat compatriots—namely, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade—could win upwards of five championships together. Although the Heat won two championships with James, things did not go as he had originally predicted. Last week, Lebron James informed NBA fans and the media, both of whom were waiting with bated breath, that he will return to Cleveland and chase history in his home state.
At first glance, it is surprising to see James, the best player in the league, near the bottom of this list of most lucrative offseason contracts. In signing a two-year deal with Cleveland, however, James affords himself the opportunity of re-upping in two years time when the league should have a higher max-salary ceiling. He will make max money for two years, and will probably resign for maximum money when this contract expires.
Everyone knows what the Cleveland Cavaliers are getting in Lebron James. It is unclear whether or not the team will trade for Kevin Love, a player who could do serious damage alongside James. In any case, the best player of his generation is returning home, and the Cavaliers should be at the top of everyone’s list to win the Eastern Conference next year.
7 Chandler Parsons – Dallas Mavericks: 3 years/$46 million
The Dallas Mavericks have signed Chandler Parsons, a restricted free agent, to a contract worth $46 million over three years. Given that Parsons was a restricted free agent, the Houston Rockets could have matched the Mavs’ offer and retained Parsons. The Houston Rockets, however, chose to sign Trevor Ariza and let Parsons go to the glitzier Texas town. Regardless, Chandler Parsons has cashed in this offseason.
Since being drafted 38th overall out of the University of Florida, Parsons has quickly shown his doubters that he can play. Whichever team gets Parsons will get a young, athletic player who has a more sophisticated offensive game than people give him credit for. He averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4 assists per game last season on 47.2% shooting from the field. With regard to offensive efficiency, Parsons is no joke, but he will have to improve his defending in the years to come.
6 Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors: 4 years/$48 million
Resigning Kyle Lowry is big news for the Toronto Raptors, a team that is no longer a pushover in the Eastern Conference. Although he was snubbed form the All-Star Game in 2014, Lowry was the best and most important player for the Raptors, and the playoffs really signaled his importance to the team. Last season, he averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game on a team that finished third overall in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors offered him a nice chunk of change as a result. The team looks poised now for another successful campaign.
5 Marcin Gortat – Washington Wizards: 5 years/$60 million
Marcin Gortat resigned with the Washington Wizards this offseason. The Wizards were one of the surprising stories of the regular season and the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Led by their still-improving point guard and former first-overall pick, John Wall, the Washington Wizards benefited from Gortat’s steady and reassuring presence in the paint. In the 2013-2014 season, Gortat averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, shooting 54.2% from the field. Resigning Gortat and inking a deal with veteran small forward Paul Pierce, the Washington Wizards are going to be contenders in the Eastern Conference next season.
4 Gordon Hayward – Utah Jazz: 4 years/$63 million
Since his brilliant run with the Butler Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament, it has been smooth sailing for Gordon Hayward. The Utah Jazz did not want to lose Hayward, so they matched the Charlotte Hornets’ offer of 4 years, $63 million. Retaining Hayward, the Jazz know what they are getting and create stability in their backcourt for years to come. He averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game last season, but the Jazz were nowhere near competitive in the Western Conference. As said, Hayward is a familiar piece, but he will not put this team over the top.
3 Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers: 5 years/$90 million
The Cleveland Cavaliers are officially the sexiest pick to win it all next year. Before bringing Lebron James back to town, the team gave Kyrie Irving a new deal worth $90 million over 5 years, making him a very rich man at a very tender age. But the Cavs know what they are getting with Irving. Since leaving Duke, he has improved each season, and he was one of the best scoring point guards in the league last year. He hasn’t won a great deal in the NBA yet but has not played with a player of LBJ’s caliber.
The roster is not set yet, so it is tough to even conjecture as to how the team will come together. However, David Blatt is a winner, Lebron James is a winner, and Kyrie Irving is a stud. What has people unsure of how well Irving and James will play together is Kyrie Irving’s poor spot-up shooting. Off the dribble, Irving is a great scorer, but he ranked near the bottom of the league’s starting point guards in spot-up three-point shooting percentage last season. LBJ needs good spot-up shooters, so that is one area of Irving’s game that has to improve.
2 Chris Bosh – Miami Heat: 5 years/$118 million
Surprisingly, the Heat retained Bosh by offering him a near-max contract over 5 years—surprising in that the Houston Rockets looked to be the front runners for Bosh, if James decided to jilt Miami. James is gone, and Bosh is, ostensibly, ready to step into the role of team leader, a role that he looks unfit for, since he has never led a successful team. Bosh’s teams in Toronto were decidedly weak. That said, Bosh is one of the league’s best power forwards, and probably the best power forward at defending the pick and roll, a play that continues to confound cement-footed big men. He will team up with Dwyane Wade next season, and they probably already have revenge on their minds. It should be exciting.
1 Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks: 5 years/$122 million
After flirting with other offers for a fortnight, Carmelo Anthony has decided to stay put in New York. Money, of course, factors into this decision, as Melo stands to gain a lot more in New York than in other places. He will also continue to play in the greatest sporting market in the US. Israel Gutierrez put it best, as he highlighted that bringing a championship to New York City immortalizes star player.
The Knicks, though, look to be weak next season. They dealt Tyson Chandler, downgrading their frontcourt, but brought in Jose Calderon, who will bolster their backcourt. Anthony is still an elite scorer, so the challenge will be to put the right pieces around him in the coming years. Phil Jackson is probably the best person to do it.