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.