Bernucca: Money for nothing, checks for free

Now that we are about a month into the NBA season, are you disappointed in the performance of a player or two on your favorite team?

Take a number and get in line.

There are dozens of players who are not coming close to meeting expectations this season. And when you factor in their salaries and how much they limit their team’s financial flexibility, it can be downright infuriating.

We are not talking about guys like Andrew Bynum. Yes, he makes $16.47 million and probably won’t take the court this season. But injuries are part of the game, and the last time Bynum played he was producing at an All-Star level. The only difference between Bynum and guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Derrick Rose is that his injury is worse.

No, this column is for guys who are totally healthy and providing as much bang for the buck as the dance team. They also have to be making at least $5 million this season. So, Atlanta center Johan Petro’s two missed shots, one foul and one turnover in eight minutes may not seem like much. But hey, what do you expect for $3.5 million?

Before we get into our top 10, honorable mention should go to Lakers forward Pau Gasol ($19 million, one 20-point game), Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu ($11.8 million, one game, broken hand) and Raptors swingman Landry Fields ($5 million, 2.4 ppg, wrist injury). Every team needs depth.

But here are our rotation players:


Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana: He parlayed his first All-Star appearance and a fallow secondary free agent market into a four-year, $58 million maximum deal that pays him $13.67 million this season. Instead of picking it up when teammate Danny Granger went down with knee woes, he is averaging 9.6 points and shooting 38 percent, his worst numbers since his rookie season. Could be turning a corner, though, as you will see below.

Tyrus Thomas, F, Charlotte: Yes, we know he is injured. Before he   got hurt, he was averaging 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 17.8 minutes. He is making $8 million this season and has two more years at a combined $18 million, making him a prime amnesty candidate next summer. He also cost the Bobcats a first-round pick in another of Michael Jordan’s shrewd moves.

Ersan Ilyasova, F, Bucks: Another complete regression upon receiving huge money. He turned career highs of 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds last season into a four-year, $31.6 million contract and is repaying Milwaukee with 6.3 points and 4.9 boards, rivaling his career-low rookie numbers. Want more good news? He’s not the only Bucks player on this list.

John Salmons, G-F, Kings: What is Sacramento getting for its $8.08 million? Certainly not veteran leadership, given the suspensions of teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson. His 6.6 points per game is less than half what he averaged for the Bucks just two seasons ago. Due another $7.6 million next season, he also is an amnesty candidate – and also not the only Kings player here.

Francisco Garcia, G, Kings: An indicator of how time flies even when you’re not having fun is that “Cisco” is now in the final year of the ridiculous four-year, $23.2 million mid-level exception deal he got in 2009, pulling in a cool $6.1 million. He is rewarding Sacramento for its generosity with 1.8 points per game, or one-seventh of what he averaged to get the deal. On the bright side, he is a nice trade chip.


  1. Evan says

    Unless I completely managed to miss it, one glaring omission would have to be Jeff Green. The man is making bank and doing zilch. He’s had one good game against OKC, and then what does he for an encore…an 0-fer-9’er. Youch. Pity points are available for his heart surgery, but that’s not the topic at hand. Green by technical salary knock-out.

    • says


      You might be right, at least for the honorable mention area. He is averaging 8 ppg which is not bad for a bench player but unacceptable for a $9 million bench player. And just so you know, I’m not a pity guy. Thanks for reading. CB

  2. Jim says

    I couldn’t agree more with your regarding Hibbert, Ilyasova, and Biedrins. They have been awful. But, while he makes less money, Kirk Hinrich for the Bulls has been dreadful. He can’t shoot, defend, or run a team anymore.

    But Tyrus Thomas, has anyone really expected anything out of him the last 2 years? I get your point with the money he makes, but if any Bobcat fan was expecting anything out of him this year they haven’t watched much basketball the last few years.

    And A.J., seriously, you don’t understand when someone is doing a play on words?

    • says


      Thanks for reading. Have to admit haven’t watched much Bulls so can’t speak to Hinrich but it does seem like Nate is playing an awful lot. Bobcats paid Thomas like they expected something. Oh well. At least they saved their amnesty provision. CB

    • says

      WOW this must have been an amazing night! Congratulations on fidning homes for some of these exquisite pieces of art. I understand that you used bespoke tailoring patterns of deceased Savile Row customers for these pieces? How intriguing, I love this idea, thanks for sharing it. I’m gutted I discovered you just too late to see this show! I shall be following you anyway. Happy Friday! Tan

  3. A,J. says

    Umm, Chris … the Dire Straits lyrics said “chicks for free,” not “checks for free.” I’m guessing you also thought the Jimi Hendrix “Purple Haze” lyrics said, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”

    So for the sake of accuracy in reporting, you may want to completely update your post. Discuss all the times Pat Ewing got his apple polished at the Gold Club. Or Jeff Garcia still making the neighborhood gloryhole his home away from home.

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