Spoiler: The Knicks only made this list once.
It seems as though the easiest route to becoming a multi-millionaire in America today is to have one halfway-decent season in the NBA ahead of free agency. Or at least that’s how things have gone over the last two seasons, which have seen lackluster guys in the game like George Hill, Ian Mahinmi, and Evan Turner get paid like stars. These contracts could have made them the highest-paid players in the Association back in the ’90s, despite the fact that they are only marginally impactful players at best.
And those kinds of NBA player salaries are only going to grow more common in the coming years. With the new CBA kicking in this season, player salaries are going to rise along with a salary cap that’s shot up exponentially over the last 20 years. The cap is at $99 million this season — up from a mere $34 million in 1999-00 and $57.7 million in 2009-10. That’s a pretty sharp increase over a relatively short period of time.
Having a cap that allows these kinds of contracts means that the NBA has a high percentage of players who most would consider “overpaid,” undeserving of the dollars they're receiving—far more than the NFL or MLB. Since revenue is divided into two pools, the players’ pool and the owners’ pool, and since the NBA has fewer players in the league than any other sport, they are naturally going to get a bigger share of the cash.
But some guys are just plain overpaid — not by virtue of a CBA that benefits so-so players, but by the ineptitude of teams (usually the Lakers) or simply by virtue of injuries and age catching up to a once-great star. It was unsightly to see Kobe Bryant play as poorly as he did his last two seasons, and the Lakers probably weren’t thrilled by the fact that they had to pay him over $48 million total for that time, either.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most overpaid players in the NBA.