The highest-paid player on each Eastern Conference NBA team for the 2013-2014 season isn’t always a dynamic shooting guard who pours in 20 points per game.
Rather, in our list we have everything from point guards to centers. There’s also considerable variety in what the highest earners of small/large market teams are making, as would be expected. On this list you’ll see 2013-2014 season salaries ranging from $8 million to $21.6 million.
According to Forbes, NBA players are the highest-earning professional athletes, earning an average salary of $5.15 million. MLB players earn $3.2 million on average, NHL players make $2.4 million, and the average NFL salary is $1.9 million per year.
So, it pays better to shoot the rock for 82 games a year than it does to lace up one’s spikes for the 162-game grind that is the MLB season. Further, it’s nearly twice as profitable to play the 82 games of the NBA season than it is to participate in the 82 contents that make up the NHL season. Certainly, this doesn’t seem just from a physical punishment standpoint, but demand dictates price, and it’s hard to make a comparison with what NFL players endure only 16 times per year (if their teams don’t make the playoffs).
However, there are around 400 players in the NBA at any given time, around 1,200 players in the MLB, and more than 1,600 NFLers. Thus, even though the two latter sports are more popular than the NBA, there are significantly fewer pieces of NBA pie to be cut.
In other words, bigger slices of pie for those running the hardwood. Here’s a look at the highest-paid player on each Eastern Conference squad.
3 Atlantic Division
Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan, Shooting Guard, $9.5 million
Former USC standout DeMar DeRozan is slated to earn $9.5 million for his work during the 2013-2014 season. The shooting guard is presently in the midst of a four-year, $38 million contract with the Canadian team. DeRozan is averaging a career best 21.8 PPG this season.
Brooklyn Nets: Joe Johnson, Shooting Guard, $21.4 million
Nobody on the Brooklyn Nets is making more coin during the 2013-2014 season than Joe Johnson. The Arkansas alum has two years left in his enormous six-year, $123.6 million deal with the team. The former Atlanta Hawk is slated to earn $21.4 million in 2014: A number that is much more impressive than his PPG (15.6).
New York Knicks: Amar’e Stoudemire, Power Forward, $21.6 million
Narrowly edging out Carmelo Anthony for the title of “highest-paid Knick” is Amar’e Stoudemire. The 6’11’’ power forward signed a five-year, $99.7 million deal with the team in 2010. Spoiler alert: Stoudemire is the highest-paid player in the Eastern Conference. Is he worth it? Well, since coming to New York from Phoenix, two of his three campaigns have been shortened by injury and his scoring has only topped the 20 PPG mark in one season.
Boston Celtics: Kris Humphries, Power Forward, $12 million
When Kris Humphries was traded to the Celtics from the Nets in July, the C’s took possession of the two-year, $24 million deal he’d signed with his previous team. Thus, Humphries will earn $12 million for the 2013-2014 season. The former Mr. Kim Kardashian is paid marginally more than Rajon Rondo, who earns 11.9 million bones.
Philadelphia 76ers: Thaddeus Young, Small Forward, $8.8 million
The player eating up the largest chunk of the modest Philadelphia 76ers payroll in for the 2013-2014 season is Georgia Tech alum Thaddeus Young. The 25-year-old is due to earn a base salary of $8.6 million, with the possibility of another $250,000 in performance-based bonuses.
2 Central Division
Indiana Pacers: Roy Hibbert, Center, $14.2 million
There are two players on the Indiana Pacers who will earn $14 million or more for their work during the 2013-2014 season. Bet you can guess who they are. Georgetown alum Roy Hibbert slated to $14.2 for the season (Danny Grainger: $14.0). Hibbert signed a four-year, $58.3 million contract with the team in 2012.
Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose, Point Guard, $17.6 million
The unfortunate saga of Derrick Rose has continued during the 2013-2014 season from an injury standpoint. Over the course of the last two years, Rose hasn’t played a combined 50 games. He has, however, earned more than $30 million. The all-star point guard is due to earn $17.6 million for the season and is in the midst of a five-year, $94 million contract.
Detroit Pistons: Josh Smith, Small Forward, $13.5 million
Josh Smith ($13.5 million) earns nearly twice as much as the next-highest-paid Detroit Piston (Charlie Villanueva: $8.5 million). The former Atlanta Hawk inked a four-year, $54 million deal with the Pistons in July of 2013. Smith is the eighth-highest-paid small forward in the NBA.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Luol Deng, Small Forward, $14.2 million
The Cavs picked up small forward Luol Deng in a January trade with the Chicago Bulls in January. Deng was in the last year of a six-year, $71 million deal with the Bulls. Thus, the Cavs will pay his $14.2 million salary for the 2013-2014 season. It’s interesting that the team’s leading scorer, Kyrie Irving, is its fourth-highest-paid player for the season.
Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo/Caron Butler: $8 million
We have a tie! Both O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler are scheduled to earn $8 million during the 2013-2014 season. Mayo signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the club in 2013. Butler, for his part, is in the final season of a three-year, $24 million deal as well.
1 Southeast Division
Miami Heat: LeBron James, Chris Bosh: $19 million
Both Misters James and Bosh are due to receive $19 for their basketball-playing services for the ‘13-’14 season. Both players, too, have early termination options at the end of the year. If you’re wondering what the third leg of the tripod, Dwyane Wade, is pulling in for the year, it’s $18.6 million.
Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford, Center: $12 million
In 2011, the Atlanta Hawks signed center Al Horford to a four-year, $60 million contract. Although the Florida Gator is the highest-paid player on the Hawks, he’s only the 16th-highest-paid center in the NBA. Horford has improved his PPG from 12.4 in 2011 to 17.4 in 2012, and 18.6 thus far in 2013.
Washington Wizards: Nene, Center: $13 million
There is a symmetry to center Nene’s five-year deal with the Wizards: five years, $13 million each year. The former Denver Nugget earns nearly twice as much as the second-highest-paid Wizards, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza, who are both due to earn $7.7 million for the 2013-2014 season.
Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson, Center: $13.5 million
The 11th-highest-paid center in the league, Al Jefferson is in the midst of a three-year, $41 million deal with the Bobcats. Jefferson is slated to earn $13.5 million for the 2013-2014 season, and is averaging nearly 20 PPG for the year.
Orlando Magic: Jameer Nelson, Point Guard: $8.6 million
St. John’s University alum Jameer Nelson is due to bank 8.6 million bucks for running point for the Orlando Magic during the 2013-2014 season. The 31-year-old is the 13th-highest-paid point guard among starters in the NBA. Who’s the highest-paid PG? Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers has that honor.