They're not quite MLB salaries, but NBA deals are beginning to get pretty heavy in the money department.
Being paid the most doesn't always reflect the talent level of that player. Take for instance a solid player like Rashard Lewis who is making $118 million over six years despite despite not averaging over 20 points per game since 2007. Compare that to Derrick Rose, who is making less than a quarter of what Lewis will be making next year.
There will be players who will be overpaid, we're looking at you Jermaine O'Neal, but there will also be those with talent who will be paid the salary of an average NBA role player. Those players will be paid that sum either because they accepted the deal in their first years or simply because they were willing to take a pay cut for the purpose of signing other players, i.e Udonis Haslem.
Each team has at least one player that is cutting their team a deal by being paid less than what they're probably worth and it helps the team in the long run. If that team sees improvements and have quality role players that are willing to join, they can afford those players because their underpaid player allowed the team to have the money to pay other players to join that team.
These players all play a huge part on their franchise with the value contracts that they possess. Here are those discount players that are helping their teams out with their 'small' contracts.
The deal: $5.5 million over the next three years
After his coming out party against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in the Conference Semi's, Jeff Teague is set to receive a pricey contract when he is able to either re-sign with the Atlanta Hawks or a team that is prepared to offer a lot of money to one of the best up and coming point guards on the league.
Only starting in the Hawks series against Chicago because Kirk Hinrich was hurt, Teague turned heads with his superb performance against the league MVP with three games of scoring 21 points. That series was the first time Teague had received significant minutes in his two year career and he was able to take advantage by exploiting Rose's defense.
Teague only averaged five points and two assists last season, but expect him to start receiving plenty of minutes in the future since he's set to be the Hawks only pure point guard.
The deal: $4.5 million for one year with a qualifying offer worth $5.9 million
Acquired in the deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, the Boston Celtics latest acquisition is set to receive his first big contract soon with a qualifying offer next year worth nearly $6 million. With no help in the middle for the Celtics, Green is going to be a valuable commodity to the team if he decides to re-sign.
However, Green always didn't appear to fit in to the Celtics system. He was tentative at times and would sometimes look out of place compared to where he looked perfect in the Thunder's rotation. In 26 games with Boston, he only averaged 10 points and three rebounds, numbers far less than what he had averaged with the Thunder for three previous seasons.
The deal: $5.7 million over two years with a qualifying offer in 2012-'13 worth $4.3 million
Much like Teague, Charlotte Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin also benefited from the loss of his franchises regular starting point guard. The third year guard was given the starting position after the team had lost Raymond Felton to the New York Knicks over the off season.
In his first year as a starter, Augustin posted up his career best numbers. He averaged 14 points, six assists, and three rebounds and showed plenty of potential as a shooter and passer. The impressive season came only a year after he averaged six points and two assists in his second season. Now that he has a season where he started under his belt, Augustin can look forward to improving and attempting to help the Bobcats escape out of the Eastern Conference basement.
The deal: $12.5 million over two years with a qualifying offer in 2012-'13 worth $9 million
Probably the lowest paid MVP in recent history, Derrick Rose has been worth every penny over his first three seasons in the league with the Chicago Bulls.
Rose won MVP after averaging 25 points, eight assists, and four rebounds per game, while also leading the team to 62 wins and their first number one seed since the Michael Jordan-era. Derrick has been one of the most dynamic young talents the NBA world has seen in quite some team and has already left his mark in the league despite only being 22 years old.
Derrick is currently attempting to lead the Bulls to their first NBA Finals since 1998.
The deal: $3.8 million over two years with a qualifying offer in 2012-'13 worth $3.4 million
One of the more lesser known young forwards of the league thanks to the departure of LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward J.J. Hickson has taken advantage of his newly found role on the team as one of its main producers.
In his third year as a member of the NBA, Hickson started and averaged 14 points and nine rebounds per game after averaging a career high of 28 minutes per contest. He is extremely athletic and powerful and could be recognized as one of the better forwards in the league once he improves his overall game. He also has the ability to possibly being leading this Cavs team from the basement in the East to an actual legitimate team.
The deal: $1.8 million for one year.
Within the next few months, J.J. Barea will never be on a list like this again.
Currently in the middle of the best post season of his career, while also helping the Dallas Mavericks come within one game of an NBA Finals appearance, the Puerto Rican product has been the spark off the bench that the team has used alongside Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic. Barea has had four games where he has scored in double-digits off the bench and has stunned crowds with his ability to score in the lane despite standing at only 6'.
Barea averaged ten points and four assists this season and is set to receive an inflated contract after his impressive post season.
The deal: $2 million for one year with a qualifying offer in 2011-'12 worth $2.9 million
With no Carmelo Anthony taking up all the scoring, players like Arron Afflalo are there to pick up the slack.
After two disappointing seasons with the Detroit Pistons, Afflalo has not only become one of the better defenders of the league, but also as one its best shooters. He hit 42% of his four three-point attempts in his second season with Denver and averaged career bests of 13 points and three rebounds per game. Afflalo is another player that we probably won't see on a list like this again after two productive seasons with Denver.
The deal: $2.8 million for one year with a qualifying offer in 2011-'12 worth $3.9 million
In only four seasons, Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey has already averaged over double-digits in scoring for three years, including last season when he averaged 17 points per game.
Stuckey's role diminished this season, but he was able to keep his stats up averaging 16 points and five assists on a depleted Pistons squad. Stuckey tied his career best from the field, shooting 44% and has given the Pistons hope for the future. With only one year left on his contract, Stuckey is set to receive a heavy amount of money from Detroit or any other team that is willing to take on a quality point guard.
The deal: $9 million over three years with a team option and a qualifying offer for 2013-'14 worth $5.3 million
Because of all the young talent on their team, Stephen Curry wasn't the only player on the Golden State Warriors to be considered.
Despite only making $3 million per year, Curry plays one of the largest roles on the team as the main passer and the second scoring option behind Monta Ellis. In his second season as a member of the NBA, Curry averaged 19 points, six assists, and four rebounds per game, while also shooting 44% from deep and making two three-pointers per game.
With the numerous young stars on this team set to have their contracts renewed soon, the Warriors will need plenty of money to throw around if they want to keep their future All-Stars.
The deal: $3 million over three years with two team options
Houston Rockets power forward Chase Budinger is one of the few NBA players to receive significant playing time despite making less than a million dollars this season.
The second year forward has proven to be a quality shooter once again despite only shooting 33% from beyond the arc this year. He also averaged career highs of 10 points and four rebounds per game, while also beginning to receive significant minutes off the bench and in the starting lineup.
Budinger is making so little due to being a former second round pick and will most likely receive a larger contract when his deal with Houston ends three years from now.
The deal: $5.3 million over three years with a team option and a qualifying offer for 2013-'14 worth $3.3 million
After playing the role of a crutch to the New Orleans Hornets when losing Chris Paul to an injury last season, the Indiana Pacers decided it would be best to go after and get point guard Darren Collison at all costs.
Collison had quite the impressive rookie year and was able to follow it up with an even better sophomore season where he averaged 13 points and five assists in his first season with Indiana. He has proven to be the Pacers point guard of the future with the $3 million he is set to receive in a few seasons if he is willing to take the deal from the Pacers.
However, with a few more seasons to play, Collison could see that priced raised if his game continues to improve.
The deal: $6.8 million over two years with a qualifying offer in 2012-'13 worth $5.1 million
The best player you probably never heard of, third year guard Eric Gordon is coming off of a season where he absolutely shut it down with the down with the Los Angeles Clippers.
After averaging nearly 17 points per game in his first two years with the Clippers, Gordon had his breakout season during the 2010-'11 campaign and averaged 22 points and four assists despite receiving nearly the same amount of minutes that he was receiving the two seasons prior. He was shooting 36% from three and hitting two three-pointers per game, while also proving to be one of the better aerial acrobats.
If he can continue to average over 20 plus per game, Gordon will receive a huge contract from a team in need of a shooting guard.
The deal: $28 million over four years with a player option
It was tough picking Ron Artest, but nearly every player that plays a large part on the Los Angeles Lakers already has a contract that suits their talent level.
Despite averaging a career low of nine points and three rebounds per game, Artest was still extremely valuable to the team because of his staunch, hard-nosed defense. For $7 million per year, the Lakers need a player like Artest to provide toughness in the starting lineup and to also be called on to hit three-pointers from time to time.
Artest hit 36% of his three-pointers in his second season as a member of the Lakers.
The deal: $3.5 million for one year
By the end of the summer, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol could be getting paid just as much as his brother in Los Angeles.
Despite averaging career lows of 12 points and seven rebounds during the regular season, it was his work during the playoffs that is going to help Gasol receive a hefty contract over the off season. He had 11 double-digit scoring games out of 13 post season games and was instrumental in the teams huge upset victory over the number one seeded San Antonio Spurs.
Gasol also had a 20-20 game in the teams game four loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The deal: $20.3 million over four years with a player option
Its players like Udonis Haslem that help you restore your faith in humanity. Despite receiving offers from Denver and Dallas where he could have been making nearly $10 million per year, Haslem opted to take a pay cut with Miami to allow the team to sign other role players to fill out the roster.
Haslem wasn't able to begin living up to that contract this season after an injury that has sidelined him since November, but he was begun to prove how valuable he is with key post season performances against the Chicago Bulls in the Conference Finals.
He is an extremely valuable player to have off the bench as he can help space the floor with his mid-range game, add some toughness to the Heat defense, and help secure rebounds against any player, no matter the size. Since his return to the rotation, the Heat haven't found as much difficult in being able to keep the Bulls off the boards.
The deal: $8 million over three years with a qualifying offer in 2013-'14 worth $4.3 million
I can't even begin to think of the last player that scored 55 points in a game and was making less than $3 million per year.
Brandon Jennings has defied the odds since arriving from Europe as a 19 year old and has impressed in two productive seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. He wasn't able to help lead the team to an improbable post season appearance again, but he did average 16 points, five assists, and four rebounds per game while actually improving his shooting percentage from 37% in his rookie season to 39% during his sophomore campaign.
As possibly one of the better young scoring point guards of the league, Jennings will be paid a handsome sum once his contract ends.
The deal: $8.2 million over two years with a qualifying offer in 2012-'13 worth $4.2 million
Who would have guessed that Kevin Love would be the NBA's next best rebounder?
Certainly not the Memphis Grizzlies who traded Love for O.J. Mayo on draft day.
After averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds in his sophomore season, Love drastically improved in his third year to the tune of 20 points and an NBA-best 15 rebounds per game. Love doesn't have the vertical leap to contend with most forwards and centers, but he has a Zach Randolph-like frame that helps him move around other rebounders in the painted area. He's incredible at boxing out and is also one of the best at beginning plays off of a rebound.
Kevin also hit a career high from deep at 42%.
The deal: $5.5 million over two years with a qualifying offer in 2012-'13 worth $4.2 million
Don't expect Robin Lopez to be making $4.2 million for one season any time soon.
New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez is coming off of his third season in the league, where he averaged a career high of 20 points and six rebounds per game. The six rebounds are certainly a disappointment and will affect his contract with any team he signs with, but the 20 points are unexpected to see from a player of Lopez's size.
He contains a wide offensive prowess where he's able to post up and also hit the mid-range jumper.
The deal: $3 million for one year
With a player like David West already starting, it seems unfair to Carl Landry that a player of his caliber should come off the bench.
However, Landry was able to step up in the absence of West over the post season and helped lead the Hornets to six games against the defending back-to-back champions. He has averaged as much as 18 points per game and is coming off of a year where he averaged 12 points per game with Sacramento and New Orleans.
Now that he is no longer receiving significant minutes, Landry has seen his stats and production decline. He could be in heavy demand for a team that is willing to take a quality scoring and rebounding forward.
The deal: $4.4 million over three years with a team option and a qualifying offer in 2013-'14 worth $3.1 million
Toney Douglas pretty much wins this one by default since every other player on the New York Knicks worth mentioning is making an absurd amount of money that Douglas might never see in his time at the NBA level.
Douglas saw his minutes rise in his second season as a member of the Knicks and took advantage by averaging 11 points, three assists, and three rebounds, while also attempting to prove that he is the Knicks point guard of the future. He also hit two three-pointers per game and hit 37% of his shots from deep and 41% overall.
With Chauncey Billups as his mentor, Douglas could learn a thing or two from the crafty veteran.
The deal: $4.8 million over three years with a team option and a qualifying offer in 2013-'14 worth $3.3 million
Another team with underpaid young talent, the Oklahoma City Thunder are getting their monies worth from their best players with Serge Ibaka possibly representing the teams best deal.
Ibaka has not only proved to be one of the NBA's top shot blockers, he averaged two per game, but to also be one of the teams better mid-range shooters and rebounders. Thanks to the departure of Jeff Green, Ibaka was given the starting the power forward position and took advantage by averaging 10 points and eight rebounds in only his second season at the NBA level.
With defense already his strong point and his offensive game continuing to improve, Ibaka will be set to receive a contract that will match his skill level once his original deal ends.
The deal: $21.9 million over three years
Nelson finished with another productive season averaging 13 points and a career high six assists per game and continues to prove that he is the glue holding this team together. Jameer has an uncanny ability of hitting jump shots and has also proven to be the perfect complement to Howard, which could mean a big contract in Nelson's future from a team who wants to have an inside-outside game with a point guard and center.
Jameer also hit two three-pointers per game and 40% from deep.
The deal: $6 million over three years with a team option and a qualifying offer in 2013-'14 worth $3.8 millon
After a slow start to his NBA career, 76ers">Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday has already begun to prove why he is one of the league's top up and comers.
In only his second season, Holiday played a large part in helping the 76ers reach the post season and could soon be the top player on this team if they decide to eventually part ways with Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. Holiday averaged career bests of 14 points, seven assists, and four rebounds per game in his first season receiving significant minutes.
The deal: $2 million for one year with a qualifying offer in 2011-'12 worth $3 million
The Phoenix Suns would be wise to match any offer another team gives to Aaron Brooks considering he's their only hope of having a point guard for the future.
Brooks had trouble fitting into the Suns coming off the bench as he only averaged ten points and four assists per game in 19 minutes off the bench. Aaron has proved before however that he is plenty capable of being able to lead a team and it showed last year when he averaged 20 points and five assists per game as a member of the Houston Rockets.
Not to mention, he's currently obtaining advice and point guard lessons from Steve Nash. Brooks could receive quite the deal this summer if he plays his cards right.
The deal: $4.2 million over two years with a qualifying offer in 2012-'13 worth $3.2 million
At only $2 million per year, Nicolas Batum is one of the best value players in the league.
Especially considering that he is coming off a career best of a season where he averaged 12 points and five rebounds per game in his third year at the NBA level. Batum is a quality shooter, he hit two three-pointers per game and shot 35% from deep, and is most noted for his defense which is some of the best in the league for a player his age.
As multi-dimensional as Batum is, we can expect a hefty contract when his current deal ends in two seasons.
The deal: $13.2 million over three years with a team option and a qualifying offer in 2013-'14 worth $6.9 million
Tyreke Evans is coming off of a rough sophomore season where he only played in 57 games and averaged 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game, but its his rookie season where we need to judge on just how quality of a point guard Evans can be.
At 6'6", Evans is a Magic Johnson-type point guard that has a height advantage over opposing point guards, while also having the court vision and awareness to take advantage. Evans averaged 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds during his rookie campaign and looks to improve after an injury-laden sophomore season where he only shot 41%.
The deal: $3 million over three years with a team option
DeJuan Blair's numbers might not be that impressive, but it's the overall work and effort that he puts in to every game that is going to help earn him a quality deal three years from now.
Blair is coming off of a season where he only averaged eight points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes per game, but he continued to improve his work on the boards above all. He averaged a career high of three offensive rebounds per game and is also very knowledgeable on how to use his wide frame to secure boards on both ends of the floor.
At $1 million per year, Blair is a bargain for the San Antonio Spurs who will need to re-sign him as a means to replace Tim Duncan.
The deal: $8.4 million over three years with a team option and a qualifying offer in 2013-'14 worth $4.5 million
When Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach, the Toronto Raptors needed players to step up in his absence. They received help from Andre Bargnani, but they got a significant boost from second year guard/forward DeMar DeRozan as well.
After only averaging nine points and three rebounds in his rookie season, DeRozan doubled his production by averaging 17 points and four rebounds per game for a Raptors team that is in desperate need of production from all of sources. DeRozan has proven to be capable of becoming the teams next super star and has the offensive game to back it up.
At currently less than $3 million per year, a player averaging 17 points per game is an absolute steal for the Raptors.
The deal: $11.1 million over four years with two team options and a qualifying offer in 2014-'15 worth $4.7 million
Gordon Hayward didn't exactly average star like numbers at five points and two rebounds per game, but he was able to prove on multiple occasions that he is much more than just a scorer.
In the limited team that he did see, Hayward took advantage with quality offense from all parts of the floor. He hit 47% of few three-point attempts and showed an impressive ability on attacking the rim as well. Hayward responded to the preseason criticism of being drafted too high very well and has the potential to become an offensive threat.
The deal: $2.6 million for one year with a qualifying offer in 2011-'12 worth $3.7 million
With no Gilbert Arenas, there needed to be a player that would help fill the offensive void that was left behind.
That player turned out to be third year guard Nick Young, who is coming off of a career season where he averaged 17 points and three rebounds per game. Young has an extremely impressive offensive game, as he is able to hit from deep, inside the perimeter, and around the rim.
He hit 39% of his three pointers this past season and could be the offensive leader for this team if they don't find any significant offensive threats in the off season.