Behold the power of the contract year.
Perform incredibly well, and a player can get that Jerome James money. Struggle, and a player might be cast to the bottom of the bargain bin in free agency. There's no hyperbole here: Performance in a contract year can swing a player's value by millions of dollars.
For the sake of this exercise, players that can become free agents next season, restricted or unrestricted, will be considered. Players with early termination options, however, will not be considered. Sorry, LeBron James. You'll have to sit this one out.
We'll also focus more on players who are likely to increase their salaries with big seasons. That means we'll exclude guys on giant expiring deals like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Luol Deng. This one is strictly for the players who are primed to have big contract years and increase their value, not just maintain it.