In every major professional sport, if an athlete heats up at the right time, then he can suddenly become disgustingly rich practically overnight.
It’s known as the "Contract Year." It’s an entity in professional sports that occasionally forces deserving players to become underpaid and allows flash-in-the-pan sensations to be grossly overcompensated, all as a result of timing.
Heat up at the right time and your market value explodes. Even if the realistic value is much more modest, it doesn’t matter. The hype machine is a powerful tool in modern sports.
With that in mind, here are five NBA free agents who accepted deals that they likely won’t be able to earn on the court.
Jeremy Lin ($25.1 Million)
After Jeremy Lin is done with his basketball career, he’ll sign a deal with a publishing company and release his own “How To” book: How to Become a Multi-Millionaire in 12 Simple Days
Lin’s 12-game stretch leading up to the All-Star break was nothing short of phenomenal. He averaged 22.5 points per game and 8.7 assists, while leading the New York Knicks to nine wins.
He eventually cooled off, and after starting only 25 games on the season, he was unable to show whether or not he’d be able to repeat that kind of production and stay consistent over a lengthy period of time.
But that wasn’t a major concern for the Houston Rockets, who made a three-year offer for Lin worth $25.1 million.
Sure, it’s not a mind-blowing contract, but $25.1 million is an awful lot of money for someone with a 12-game sample size.
Omer Asik ($25.1 Million)
Omer Asik is valuable weapon on defense for the Chicago Bulls, primarily due to his towering 7'0" height, but his numbers are very modest for a guy who’s about to get a major payday.
The Turkish center is relatively nonexistent on offense after averaging 3.1 points per game last season. And his average of 5.3 rebounds a game is unacceptable considering his height.
But regardless, the Houston Rockets were intrigued with his defense and made a $25.1 million offer for his services, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Rockets are waiting for a response from the Bulls, who are considering whether to match the offer or not.
Whichever team eventually pays him $25.1 million will likely regret it.
Michael Beasley ($18 Million)
Michael Beasley was a No. 2 overall pick for the Miami Heat in 2008. He was eventually traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a pair of second-round picks in an effort to free up salary cap space.
Beasley showed signs of improvement a year ago after averaging a career-high 19.2 points per game, but his scoring dropped to a career low this past season with just 11.5 points per game.
The forward signed a three-year deal for $18 million with the Phoenix Suns, but it’s hard to tell if they’ll get a considerable return on their investment.
As a former No. 2 overall pick, he certainly has the potential to be a great player and one of the better scorers in the NBA, but his questionable character and antics will likely hold him back.
Landry Fields ($20 Million)
In 2010, the New York Knicks used a second-round pick on guard Landry Fields, who was able to provide some value during his rookie season.
He averaged 6.4 rebounds a game and put up 9.7 points, which was a promising start to his young career even if the numbers were somewhat modest.
Those numbers dropped to just 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds during this past season, but that didn’t worry the Toronto Raptors, who offered a three-year deal worth $20 million, according to CBS Sports.
For a second-round pick who has only spent two seasons in the NBA, it’s hard to claim we have already seen the best of Fields. The potential for improvement is certainly there, but it’s a hefty payday for an average performer.