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 it seemed last offseason, which was notable for lackluster athletes receiving substantial sums of cash for their services. Guys like Timofey Mozgov, Ian Mahinmi, and Evan Turner make contracts that could have made them the highest-paid players in The Association back in the ‘90s, despite the fact that they were only marginally-impactful players at best.
And those kinds of NBA salaries are only going to grow more common this season. With a new collective bargaining agreement that’s going to kick in, professional athlete salaries are going to rise along with a salary cap that’s shot up exponentially over the last 20 years. The cap is projected to rise to $121 million next season, up from $113 million this season. It was a mere $34 million in 1999-00 and $57.7 million in 2009-10, so that’s a pretty, pretty, pretty big jump.
Having a cap that allows these kinds of contracts means that the NBA has a high percentage of players who most would consider “overpaid”, and don't deserve 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 Knicks) 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.