Jeremy Lin, Roy Hibbert, Ersan Ilyasova and 5 Toughest Contracts to Live Up to
With great money comes great expectations.
The following five players are all prepared to ink deals that will drastically increase the size of their bank accounts, which means that they're about to have a lot more pressure on them to perform at a high level.
It's one thing to succeed without much pressure. It's another to maintain that level of performance—or keep getting better—with the weight of the world on their shoulders.
These are the five players who have earned the toughest contracts to live up to this NBA offseason.
Omer Asik: 3 Years, $25.1 Million
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Whether or not the Chicago Bulls choose to match the Houston Rockets' offer sheet for Omer Asik, the big man from Turkey will have a lot of pressure on him starting with the 2012-2013 season.
Asik's time hiding away as a relatively unknown bench player is gone. If he's with the Rockets he'll be asked to play a large role and the same is true with the Bulls, even if he remains behind Joakim Noah on the depth chart.
The big man is a great defender and a solid rebounder, but he's still almost inept on the offensive end of the court, as you can tell by his 7.6 points per 36 minutes from this past season.
Asik isn't a proven player, but he's about to be paid like one.
Nicolas Batum: 4 Years, $45 Million
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Just like with Omer Asik, Nicolas Batum isn't quite sure where he's going to end up yet. We don't know if the Portland Trail Blazers will choose to match the Minnesota Timberwolves' offer for the French forward.
Batum is one of those players who seems to appear on lists of players about to breakout before the start of each and every season.
Yet despite his appearances, Batum still hasn't truly broken out, and remains a high upside small forward with potential on both ends of the court.
After a 2011-2012 campaign in which he averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, he's about to be paid like a man who has already truly broken out.
Roy Hibbert: 4 Years, $58 Million
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According to the Indianapolis Star's Mike Wells, the Indiana Pacers are going to match the Portland Trail Blazers' offer sheet and retain the services of their center.
Yes, this means that the max deal player will be balling in Indiana once more.
Anytime there's a max contract, there's a lot of pressure on the player to succeed. However, unlike the other max signings this offseason, Hibbert hasn't shown that he can carry a team and single-handedly win games.
Now that he's getting $58 million over the next four years, he'll have to step up his game another notch and make the rest of the Pacers into his supporting cast.
Ersan Ilyasova: 5 Years, $45 Million
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Ersan Ilyasova broke out this past season for the Milwaukee Bucks, but there's a big difference between succeeding over the span of a few dozen games and excelling for the full length of a five-year contract.
Highlighted by his 29 point, 25 rebound outing against the New Jersey Nets, Ilyasova was a menace in most facets of the game once he earned the starting role. In fact, as a starter he averaged 14.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Now, the onus is on this Turkish forward to prove that he was no flash in the pan.
I'm betting that he does so, but the pressure cooker is now turned on.
Jeremy Lin: 4 Years, $30 Million
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New York Knicks fans, hold your horses please and read what I have to say before you start trying to tear me apart.
I'm one of the people who believe that Jeremy Lin has what it takes to be a successful point guard in the NBA, one who will live up to his four-year, $30 million deal and excel.
That said, you're kidding yourself if you don't think that it's going to be a tough task for him to live up to the expectations, especially if the Knicks do indeed match the Houston Rockets' offer sheet.
Lin has enormous expectations and Linsanity is going to take over the world again as soon as he's healthy and playing at a high level. It's going to take a lot of mental toughness for this Harvard product to succeed.
In the media torture chamber that is The City That Never Sleeps, every move is scrutinized, particularly on the heels of a big contract with a "poison pill" in the third year.
Lin's continued excellence is going to be hard to come by regardless of where he ends up, which makes the upcoming season all the more fun to watch as we see just how real his initial success was.