The Most Overpaid and Underpaid Player on Every NBA Team
Long-term success in the NBA is hard to come by, but owners and general managers can help sustain prosperity well into the future with savvy financial dealings.
Whether it's locking up a young prospect early at a nice rate or picking up quality veteran talent at a reduced rate, there are a number of moves that the league's top-rate franchises repeatedly make in pursuit of championships.
There's also the flip side, when team management doesn't take the financially prudent route. Whether it's signing a big name whose game isn't deserving of a big payday or simply overpaying for role players, we've seen how far franchises can be set back.
For the purposes of this slideshow, first-round draft picks who are still on their rookie deals were exempt for the simple reason that their salaries are determined by the rookie wage scale. Second-round picks, however, were considered because they receive no guaranteed money.
Note: All salaries courtesy of HoopsHype.
Overpaid: Kyle Korver - $6.8 million in 2013
Underpaid: Paul Millsap - $9.5 million in 2013
It's a tad strange that the underpaid player is making more than the overpaid player, but in this case it makes sense.
The Atlanta Hawks signed Paul Millsap to a two-year, $19 million deal this summer, which is an absolute steal. The former Utah Jazz forward will capably replace the far costlier and riskier Josh Smith on offense.
Millsap and center Al Horford should find plenty of success together over the next two years, and Danny Ferry should be applauded for reeling in a player of Millsap's caliber at such a reasonable price.
Kyle Korver, on the other hand, was an offseason signing who came at a rather steep price considering his skill set. Korver cost the Hawks $24 million over four years, which feels a bit pricey for a player whose niche is draining threes. While he's undoubtedly one of the best in the league at what he does, I'm not sure shelling out $6 million annually for a specialist is worth it.
Overpaid: Gerald Wallace - $10.1 million in 2013
Underpaid: Jeff Green - $8.7 million in 2013
The Boston Celtics aren't short on overpaid candidates, but in the end I couldn't resist picking Gerald Wallace, who's due $30 million over the next three seasons. For a player who averaged 7.7 points per game on 39.7 percent shooting from the field (28.2 percent from three), that's going to be a tough contract to swallow for the Celtics if Wallace can't produce more steadily.
Jeff Green wins the underpaid designation by default, as Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee are all appropriately compensated, while Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are still playing out their rookie deals.
After an impressive showing in 2012-13, the Celtics will lean on Green more heavily to produce while Rondo remains sidelined with a knee injury. He's the odds-on favorite to lead the Celtics in scoring this season.
Overpaid: Joe Johnson - $21.4 million in 2013
Underpaid: Andrei Kirilenko - $3.2 million in 2013
Cover your eyes, Brooklyn Nets fans. Joe Johnson is due just under $70 million over the next three seasons. That's $70 million for a player who shot the lowest field-goal percentage (42.3) of his career since 2002-03 last season.
Johnson is still capable of putting up big numbers in big spots on occasion, but in a Brooklyn Nets lineup replete with stars, there simply won't be enough touches for him to earn the massive salary that Mikhail Prokhorov is shelling out to start him at the 2.
The runaway winner for most underpaid in Brooklyn is Andrei Kirilenko, who the Nets somehow convinced to accept a deal for the mini mid-level exception. Slated to come off the bench for Jason Kidd, Kirilenko is one of the early favorites to take home Sixth Man of the Year honors next season.
Overpaid: Ben Gordon - $13.2 million in 2013
Underpaid: Ramon Sessions - $5 million in 2013
Thankfully, 2013 is the last year the Charlotte Bobcats will be shelling out big dollars for Ben Gordon, the 30-year-old who tied his career low with 11.2 points per game last season on a career-worst 40.8 percent shooting from the field.
Gordon's nothing more than an overpriced backup at this point, as the nine-year veteran didn't start one of the 75 games he appeared in last season.
Conversely, Ramon Sessions is an underpaid backup and one of the league's best at point guard. Sessions didn't score the ball efficiently during his first year with the Bobcats but averaged a career-best 14.4 points per game while posting a respectable PER of 17.7.
Overpaid: Carlos Boozer - $15.3 million in 2013
Underpaid: Mike Dunleavy - $3 million in 2013
The Chicago Bulls will be relieved when they no longer have to pay Carlos Boozer a hefty sum after the 2014-15 season. As of now, Boozer is due $32.1 million over the remaining two years of the max deal he signed with the Bulls in the summer of 2010, and unfortunately, his production is starting to decline.
There hasn't been a particularly noticeable dip in Boozer's scoring or rebounding averages, but it's important to note that he's coming off of the worst shooting season of his career, one in which he hit on just 47.7 percent of his looks from the field. With a healthy Derrick Rose by his side, perhaps Boozer will find ways to more efficiently produce in 2013-14.
The bargain of the summer for the Bulls came in the form of Mike Dunleavy, who Chicago snagged on the cheap at $3 million annually over the next two seasons.
Dunleavy is not only a proficient three-point shooter (42.8 percent last season), but he's a capable defender and has a chance to be one of the league's better sixth men if he produces the same way he did last season in Milwaukee.
Overpaid: Anderson Varejao - $9.1 million in 2013
Underpaid: C.J. Miles - $2.2 million in 2013
If Mike Brown is in fact planning on starting Andrew Bynum at center, as noted by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, then Anderson Varejao may soon be relegated to a backup role. At $9.1 million, Varejao would be one pricey bench body.
Now, that's not to say that Varejao can't be effective in a role off the bench, because his skill set is perfectly tailored to being an energy player on a second unit. However, posting league-leading rebounding figures will be hard to do in shorter stints. Assuming Tristan Thompson starts alongside a healthy Bynum instead of Varejao, Brown will be hard-pressed to equally distribute minutes in a crowded frontcourt.
Sticking with a bench theme, it's time to give C.J. Miles some props. Miles hasn't always been a consistent scorer for the Cavs as a reserve, but he's coming off of arguably his best pro season to date—one in which he averaged 11.2 points and shot 38.4 percent from three.
Last season also marked the first time that Miles posted a PER over 15, a positive sign of things to come as the Cavs gear up for a run at a postseason berth.
Overpaid: Monta Ellis - $8.4 million in 2013
Underpaid: DeJuan Blair - Veteran minimum in 2013
There's an argument to be made that Shawn Marion is the Dallas Mavericks' most overpaid player, but the 35-year-old is far and away Rick Carlisle's most dependable defender and was steady offensively last season to the tune of 12.1 points per game on 51.4 percent shooting.
Instead, Monta Ellis, the dreaded volume shooter and scorer, is the Mavs' most overpaid player. Ellis was signed to a three-year, $25 million deal this summer, which is by no means ridiculous. However, for what Ellis brings to the table, a shade over $8 million a season feels just a bit steep. A complete defensive liability, Ellis is a boom-or-bust candidate during his first season in Dallas.
As far as underpaid Mavericks go, DeJuan Blair is the runaway winner. Blair penned a deal with the Mavs this summer for the veteran's minimum.
The primary backup to Dirk Nowitzki, the rebounding machine is playing for long-term security beyond 2013-14 and should post nice numbers in a bigger role than the one he had in San Antonio.
Overpaid: Danilo Gallinari - $10.1 million in 2013
Underpaid: Wilson Chandler - $6.3 million in 2013
Danilo Gallinari possesses a unique blend of skills, and his 6'10'' frame makes him a tough cover on the perimeter. Gallinari has the build to play as a stretch 4 but has operated at small forward since joining the Denver Nuggets. And therein lies the problem.
Gallinari has averaged just around 15 points per game since joining the Nuggets but has done so on inefficient shooting percentages of 41.6, 41.8 and 41.2. Shelling out $10.1 million for that sort of production when you have Wilson Chandler on the books for $6.3 million next season puts those numbers in a different light.
Chandler's coming off a season in which he averaged 13 points on 46.2 percent shooting (41.3 percent from three) and posted a PER of 16.6, so the Nuggets will need Chandler to sustain that production while Gallo rehabs from a partially torn ACL.
Chandler also rebounds more efficiently than his Italian teammate, pulling down 7.3 boards per 36 minutes last season compared to 5.7 from the larger Gallinari.
Overpaid: Charlie Villanueva - $8.5 million in 2013
Underpaid: Will Bynum - $2.8 million in 2013
Josh Smith was in the running for the Detroit Pistons' most overpaid player, but in the end it was just too hard not to choose Charlie Villanueva.
Villanueva has played a combined 82 games over the past two seasons, and last year he averaged a career-worst 6.8 points on 37.7 percent shooting (55.1 percent from the free-throw line).
Although the Pistons have some ugly contracts on the books for next season, they did well to re-sign backup point guard Will Bynum to a two-year, $5.75 million deal. Bynum is coming off of a season in which he averaged 18.8 points and 6.8 assists per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference, and is a strong option to counterbalance the many inefficiencies of Brandon Jennings.
Golden State Warriors
Overpaid: David Lee - $13.9 million in 2013
Underpaid: Stephen Curry - $9.9 million in 2013
We're only 10 teams in, and this is the third time a player signed to a massive deal in the summer of 2010 has been listed as overpaid—and for good reason. David Lee is slated to earn $44 million over the next three years, including a shade under $14 million in 2013-14.
Lee's still a quality contributor at 30 years old and proved that last season with averages of 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds. The problem is that Lee is a defensive nightmare and is seemingly at a disadvantage against all opposing power forwards. Lee is far from the rim protector the Golden State Warriors need on the interior, especially with Andrew Bogut so injury prone.
On the underpaid side, we have Stephen Curry. The Warriors signed Curry to a four-year, $44 million deal in November of 2012, and the contract is looking like highway robbery after the 25-year-old set the single-season record for three-pointers made.
Curry's best years are still ahead of him, and when you consider that he's making the same amount of money as Jrue Holiday and only $4 million more than DeMar DeRozan, the contract is a massive steal.
Overpaid: Omer Asik - $5.25 million in 2013
Underpaid: Chandler Parsons - $926,500 in 2013
With Dwight Howard in tow, the Houston Rockets will need to find innovative new ways to maximize Omer Asik's value—especially because he's due $20.1 million over the final two seasons of his current deal. At $5.25 million this season, Asik is a reasonably priced backup. But when his deal escalates to $14.9 million next season, the Rockets will be searching for ways to rid themselves of such a large salary.
On the other end of the spectrum is former second-round pick Chandler Parsons. While first-round picks are exempt from selection for this list, there's no such rule for second-round picks, as their contracts are not guaranteed upon selection or dictated by the rookie wage scale.
Parsons is a stud in the making and is coming off of a successful season in which he averaged 15.5 points (on 48.6 percent shooting), 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. A tailored fit for Kevin McHale's uptempo offense, Parsons should find even more success now that defenses will have their hands full with both Howard and James Harden.
Overpaid: Danny Granger - $14 million in 2013
Underpaid: Lance Stephenson - $981,349 in 2013
Paul George's breakout 2012-13 campaign means that Danny Granger is starting at a diminished role in his first season coming off of knee surgery. And considering George has usurped Granger's starring role, the $14 million he's slated to make this season is looking awfully pricey now.
The silver lining for the Pacers is that Granger's contract expires after this coming season, so they will have a bit of salary cap flexibility next summer.
On the underpaid side, the Pacers are benefiting from the emergence of a second-round pick, much like the way the Houston Rockets are with Chandler Parsons.
Lance Stephenson capitalized on Granger's absence last season to the tune of 72 regular-season starts and 19 playoff starts, and he crafted a name for himself with an intense defensive attitude and a willingness to crash the boards. In the final year of his contract, a pay raise is undoubtedly in Stephenson's future.
Los Angeles Clippers
Overpaid: DeAndre Jordan - $11 million in 2013
Underpaid: Jared Dudley - $4.25 million in 2013
DeAndre Jordan's game has improved steadily over the past few seasons, but is the athletic specimen really worth $22.4 million over the next two years? Clearly the Los Angeles Clippers were paying for future production when they matched the Golden State Warriors' offer sheet for Jordan in December of 2011, but in retrospect it seems like a rather poor decision.
Centers with Jordan's raw physical attributes are hard to come by, but unfortunately his production has mirrored that of a poor man's Tyson Chandler. Jordan has never averaged more than 10 points or 10 rebounds in a single season, although he did lead the NBA with a field-goal percentage of 64.3 last season.
It must be noted, however, that said number is a result of Jordan's limitations on offense and not a diverse game outside of the paint. Factor in that Jordan shoots 42.4 percent from the free-throw line for his career, and the contract simply isn't worth it.
Elsewhere, the newly acquired Jared Dudley could use a slight raise, perhaps to the $6 million range, where his 3-and-D partner J.J. Redick is sitting comfortably. Dudley is primed to make a shade over $4 million each of the next three seasons, which feels a bit low for a player who is a proven double-digit scorer and effective wing defender who has hit on 40.5 percent of his career three-point attempts.
Los Angeles Lakers
Overpaid: Kobe Bryant - $30.4 million in 2013
Underpaid: Wesley Johnson - $916,099 in 2013
While Kobe Bryant's value to the Laker franchise on the whole feels unquantifiable, an assessment of the current state of the team shows that the five-time champion is consuming about 40 percent of the team's payroll. Factor in that Bryant is the highest-paid player in the league, going on 35 years old and is coming off of a torn Achilles, and it's hard to fathom how he'll live up to his salary.
It's certainly not Kobe's fault that he's overpaid—because he earned every cent of his deal—but with the Lakers out of title contention and in need of several pieces to solidify their depth, Bryant's massive contract isn't helping them from a flexibility standpoint.
Now, let's focus on Wesley Johnson, who could wind up being the steal of free agency for a Laker team that was extremely pinched financially.
Johnson comes to the Lakers after three subpar seasons in Minnesota and Phoenix, but on a veteran's minimum contract, he won't be fighting to meet high expectations. With the athleticism necessary to make an impact defensively on the wing, Johnson is a sleeper candidate to emerge a la Earl Clark one year ago.
Overpaid: Zach Randolph - $17.8 million in 2013
Underpaid: Tony Allen - $5 million in 2013
It isn't a lack of production that makes Zach Randolph overpaid. It's his age (32) combined with the fact that the Memphis Grizzlies have a budding young power forward in Ed Davis sitting behind Randolph who's far cheaper.
Randolph is due $17.8 million this year and $16.5 million in the form of a player option next season, while Davis is owed a shade over $7 million the next two years. Although Randolph is a proven double-double contributor, it's time the Grizzlies handed over the reins to the younger Davis, who was the centerpiece of the Rudy Gay trade last February.
On the underpaid side is Tony Allen, who re-upped with the Grizzlies for four years and $20 million this summer. A defensive stopper of the highest caliber, a $5 million annual salary doesn't feel like a vast underpayment, but there's no denying that he could have earned more money on the open market from a team that's out of the title conversation.
Overpaid: Udonis Haslem - $4.3 million in 2013
Underpaid: Ray Allen - $3.2 million in 2013
A word of caution before we dive into the Miami Heat's overpaid and underpaid players: With three max or near-max players in Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James all deserving of their contracts, Miami's Big 3 were exempt from selection.
Udonis Haslem has been a noble contributor to the Heat's championship cause these past two seasons, but his numbers simply don't reflect the salary he's making. Consider that Tony Allen is only making $700,000 more than Haslem, and it feels like a more appropriate salary for Haslem would be somewhere in the $2 million range.
Haslem's statistical ceiling at this point calls for nothing more than five and five averages, and those numbers simply don't deserve the salary he's earning.
An appropriate solution would be to swap Haslem's salary with Ray Allen's, particularly after Allen ranked second among all Heat players last season in three-point percentage among those who attempted 100 or more treys.
One of the greatest three-point shooters to ever step foot on the NBA hardwood, Allen could stand to earn another million bucks or so.
Overpaid: Zaza Pachulia - $5.2 million in 2013
Underpaid: Gary Neal - Approximately $3 million in 2013
The Milwaukee Bucks made plenty of signings this summer, but few, if any, made much sense. The least sensible, in my opinion, was the addition of Zaza Pachulia at three years and $15.6 million. Again, that's $15.6 million for a player who averages 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds for his career. Pachulia offers virtually no upside and is nothing more than a feisty backup center at this stage in his career.
The signing of Pachulia is even more puzzling when you consider that the Bucks have a promising young prospect in Ekpe Udoh at center who's more than capable of posting comparable numbers to Pachulia's were he granted second-string minutes.
Moving on, the signing of Gary Neal for two years and close to $6 million was a nice move for a team that's going to need all the help it can get at point guard behind Brandon Knight.
Neal figures to be given bigger opportunities to produce in Milwaukee than he was in San Antonio, so don't be surprised to see his scoring average creep into double digits while his assist average climbs into the three or four per-game range.
Overpaid: Chase Budinger - $5 million in 2013
Underpaid: Dante Cunningham - $2.2 million in 2013
Chase Budinger is a shooter, and the Minnesota Timberwolves need all of the shooters they can get after finishing last in three-point field-goal percentage last season. With that established, it makes sense that the T'Wolves were willing to shell out $16 million over three years to keep him.
However, Budinger is coming off of knee surgery and, while he's a 35.8 percent shooter from three for his career, is hovering around 43 percent overall from the floor. Factor in that he's never averaged more than 10 points for a whole season, and Corey Brewer is looking like more of a bargain at $4.5 million this year. If Derrick Williams weren't still on his rookie deal, he'd be the pick.
And while it may be a bit nitpicky, Dante Cunningham is one of the few Timberwolves players who qualifiy as underpaid.
According to Basketball-Reference, Cunningham is projected to average 12.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per 36 minutes this season. Cunningham proved his worth in Kevin Love's absence last season and has a chance to prove his worth once again as Minnesota fights to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04.
New Orleans Pelicans
Overpaid: Tyreke Evans - $11.8 million in 2013
Underpaid: Anthony Morrow - $1 million in 2013
If you believe Eric Gordon is the New Orleans Pelicans' most overpaid player, that's perfectly reasonable. Gordon has appeared in a total of 51 games the past two seasons and is slated to make $14.3 million next season.
But the reason for picking Tyreke Evans is his presence on the Pelicans feels redundant given the arrival of Jrue Holiday. At four years and $44 million, Evans is due the same amount as Holiday over the next four seasons. For a player whose scoring average has dropped in each of the last three seasons, that feels like an awful lot of cash to be throwing Evans' way.
Perhaps Evans will rebound in new surroundings, but with Holiday most effective playing on the ball and Gordon dominating touches at off-guard spot, Evans may have a hard time producing numbers that are reflective of the All-Star dollars he's earning.
On the bench, Anthony Morrow was a nice under-the-radar veteran pickup for a team in need of a catch-and-shoot presence. At $1 million, Morrow is a great value. He's a proven double-digit scorer in the past and has hit on 42.4 percent of his career three-point attempts.
New York Knicks
Overpaid: Amar'e Stoudemire - $21.7 million in 2013
Underpaid: Pablo Prigioni - $1.6 million in 2013
No matter how efficient and effective Amar'e Stoudemire was in 29 regular-season appearances last season, there's no way to argue that a backup with shoddy knees is worth nearly $45 million over the next two years.
Stoudemire's 22.1 PER last season was encouraging, as he maximized his 23.5 minutes per game to the tune of 14.5 points and five rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting. Unfortunately, starter's minutes appear to be a thing of the past for Stoudemire, whose body simply can't take the wear and tear of 30-plus minutes a night.
From an underpaid perspective, let's focus on point guard Pablo Prigioni. The Knicks did extremely well to re-sign Prigioni to a three-year deal worth just over $1.5 million annually, particularly because he could wind up logging a hefty number of starts at the 2 should Mike Woodson choose to go with an effective two point guard attack once again.
Prigioni is a selective shooter who hit on 45.5 percent of his field goals and 39.6 percent of his three-point attempts last season and averaged 6.7 assists per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Overpaid: Kendrick Perkins - $8.5 million in 2013
Underpaid: Nick Collison - $2.6 million in 2013
For what he brings to the table, Kendrick Perkins is arguably the most overpaid player in the NBA. Perkins' contract has caused the Oklahoma City Thunder fanbase to groan plenty over the past few years, especially when you consider that he's one of, if not the, most ineffective offensive starting centers in the league.
Perkins started all 78 games in which he appeared in last season but shot a miserable 45.7 percent from the field en route to a 4.2-point-per-game average. At $8.5 million, the Thunder should be getting near double-double production from their starting center.
Fortunately, Scott Brooks and the Thunder have an underpaid stud coming off the bench in Nick Collison. Although he's undersized at 6'9'' and 255 pounds, Collison is unafraid to bang down low with the game's more physically imposing centers. Averaging 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career, per Basketball-Reference, Collison is an ideal role player for a championship-caliber Oklahoma City club.
Overpaid: Jameer Nelson - $8.6 million in 2013
Jameer Nelson is capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA for a few more years, but it remains to be seen if those years are spent with the Orlando Magic. Nelson is owed $8.6 million this season but has a team option for $8 million the following year. And with Victor Oladipo potentially the future at the point, the Magic won't need to keep Nelson around at such a high salary if the rookie shows promise in his first season.
The 31-year-old is coming off a season in which he averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 assists (a career high) but shot 39.2 percent from the field, which contributed to a lowly PER of 14.4, the second-lowest of Nelson's career.
Considering the makeup of the Magic's roster, there really are no players who stick out as underpaid. The reason for that is they have so many major rotation players still on rookie contracts (Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, Moe Harkless and Oladipo).
Overpaid: Kwame Brown - $3 million in 2013
Examine the Philadelphia 76ers' roster and you'll see that they really only employ players who are appropriately paid or overpaid at this point. That's sure to change with Sam Hinkie now in charge, but for another year there's no escaping some of the hideous contracts the Sixers doled out in the last few years.
A case could easily be made for Spencer Hawes as the team's most overpaid player, but the dubious distinction has to belong to Kwame Brown. Not only did the Sixers pay Brown $3 million last season, but they gave him a player option for 2013-14 worth the same amount.
If you're scoring at home, that's $6 million for a complete offensive liability who played a grand total of 22 games last season, averaging a whopping 1.9 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Overpaid: Michael Beasley - $6 million in 2013
Like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Phoenix Suns don't have many strong contracts on the books for next season. Of course, Eric Bledsoe is one, but he's still on his rookie deal, making him exempt from qualification for underpaid designation.
Ultimately, it couldn't be anyone other than Michael Beasley. Not only is Beasley making $6 million this season, but he's on the books for 2014-15 at $6.25 million. For a player who shot 40.5 percent from the field last season and has no regard for efficient shot selection, that salary is far too large.
Portland Trail Blazers
Overpaid: Wesley Matthews - $6.9 million in 2013
Underpaid: Dorell Wright - $3 million in 2013
Wes Matthews scores enough points to validate a portion of the $6.9 million he's owed this season, but it's the inefficiency of his overall play that brings that figure into question.
Matthews' career PER stands at 14.1 (coincidentally the same PER he's posted the past two seasons), which is below the league average of 15. For a starting shooting guard, that's rather disappointing. Also consider that Matthews, for his career, allows 109 points per 100 possessions on defense, per Basketball-Reference.
The newly signed Dorell Wright was a nice value pickup for the Portland Trail Blazers, one who can stretch the floor in a role off the bench. Portland was desperate to upgrade its second unit, and Wright represents the sort of low-cost, low-risk addition who has the ability to outplay his contract with a steady dose of threes at an efficient clip.
Overpaid: Marcus Thornton - $8.17 million in 2013
Underpaid: Isaiah Thomas - $884,293 in 2013
Marcus Thornton possesses the ability to be an electric scorer, but in no universe should he be a franchise's highest-paid player. And as things stand, Thornton is the Sacramento Kings' top earner with a salary of $8.17 million this season and $8.7 million the next.
Thornton led the Kings in nightly scoring in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, but those outcomes were more indicative of Sacramento's lack of scorers than anything else. With Ben McLemore and a budding star in DeMarcus Cousins, Thornton's days of leading the team in scoring have come to a close.
On the underpaid side, we see the Kings benefiting from the prosperity of a second-round pick, much like the way the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers have.
Isaiah Thomas may have been pushed out of a starting gig by Greivis Vasquez. But considering Thomas was selected with the final pick in the 2011 draft, he's far exceeded expectations by averaging 12.8 points and four assists per game in his two-year career. At just under $900,000, Thomas is one of the better values in the NBA.
San Antonio Spurs
Overpaid: Boris Diaw - $4.7 million in 2013
Underpaid: Danny Green - $3.76 million in 2013
This is hardly a slight at Boris Diaw, for he's a fine player in the role the San Antonio Spurs ask him to play. However, after last postseason it's only fair to consider Diaw overpaid and Danny Green underpaid when the former is making a million dollars more than the latter next season.
In the span of two months Green evolved from steady contributor to one of the game's most feared three-point marksmen after hitting on an obscene 48.2 percent of his treys in the postseason. For the playoffs, Green hit 55 shots from beyond the arc and fell three shy of tying Reggie Miller's mark for the most threes made in a single postseason.
Overpaid: Rudy Gay - $17.9 million in 2013
Underpaid: Tyler Hansbrough - $3.2 million in 2013
The Toronto Raptors have the league's sixth-highest payroll heading into next season, and the massive contract of Rudy Gay is a big reason why. Acquiring Gay last February gave the Raptors a big name, but that's really most of what they're paying for. Based on Gay's production, the 27-year-old is simply not worth a combined $37.2 million over the next two seasons.
Gay's raw physical attributes rank up there with some of the game's best, but he hasn't become the efficient and dynamic scoring presence that so many long for him to be. A 41.6 percent shooter from the field last season who averaged 18.3 points, Gay didn't look worthy of his contract.
Beyond Gay, the Raptors' roster is full of fairly compensated pieces. Thus, it was difficult to hone in on an underpaid player. In the end, I landed on Tyler Hansbrough. While his style of play upset some fans and players, Hansbrough does bring some quality attributes to the table. His grit and intensity on defense and the glass are coach friendly traits, and although he doesn't score in bunches, he thrives on second-chance opportunities.
Overpaid: Richard Jefferson - $11 million in 2013
With the Utah Jazz, it's a pick-your-poison scenario when it comes to selecting the team's most overpaid player. Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins are aboard for a year on expiring deals, while Marvin Williams is in the final year of his contract that will pay out $7.5 million this season.
Jefferson, although his acquisition made sense from a logistical point of view, remains Utah's most overpaid player at $11 million. Want to know how bad things got for Jefferson last season with the Golden State Warriors? Appearing in 56 games, Jefferson averaged 3.1 points in 10.1 minutes a night. At this stage in his career, Jefferson is nothing more than a journeyman—and a pricey one at that.
From an underpaid perspective, there really were no viable non-rookie contracts to choose from. Brandon Rush was an option, but $4 million feels like fair compensation for what he brings to the table.
Overpaid: Trevor Ariza - $7.73 million in 2013
Underpaid: Eric Maynor - $2 million in 2013
There's a case to be made for Emeka Okafor as the Washington Wizards' most overpaid player, but his importance to Randy Wittman's defense kept him safe. Instead, Trevor Ariza is the recipient of the overpaid label for a variety of reasons.
Ariza is a fine wing defender, but he hasn't exactly been the sort of reliable 3-and-D presence that the Wizards thought they were getting last summer. A sub-43 percent shooter from the floor and sub-33 percent three-point shooter for his career, Ariza doesn't pack the offensive punch that the Wizards need to stretch opposing defenses.
With Otto Porter waiting in the wings, Ariza and his $7.7 million salary are expendable.
Eric Maynor was a sneaky-good pickup for the Wizards, who were in need of veteran stability behind John Wall at point guard. Maynor's statistical output over the years makes his $2 million salary seem fair, but his experience on a championship-caliber club will be invaluable to the Wizards' second unit.