Only the best doctors and lawyers pull down more than a million a year. Before bonuses, most of the world’s top bankers draw salaries in the low seven figures. Some veteran TV news anchors have climbed above $10 million annually, but most operate in the seven-figure statosphere. And no one in politics comes close to $1 million a year until they leave public office and become a lobbyist, which can pay seven figures.
But if you are an NBA player, it’s almost impossible not to make a million dollars a year.
Annual increases in the veteran’s minimum scale have bumped the lowest allowable salary for a five-year pro to $1,027,424. A player with four years experience will be above seven figures in 2015-16, and a player with just two years experience will be an automatic millionaire in the 2017-18 season.
The rookie salary scale also has progressively climbed to the point where all first-round picks instantly become millionaires.
This year, the final pick of the first round – Nemanja Nedovic of Golden State – was slotted to receive $880,600 in the first year of his deal. But if you factor in that most rookies receive 120 percent of the scale - which Nedovic did – he is making $1,056,000 this season.
So who are the poor, downtrodden schlumps who get “stuck” with a six-figure salary?
Well, most second-round picks do. Washington’s Glen Rice Jr. got a two-year deal that pays him $490,180 this season and $816,482 next season. Fantastic money for you, me and just about everyone else. But McDonald’s money for an NBA player.
And undrafted free agents with less than five years in the league also are at the bottom of the earnings chart. Garrett Temple, another member of the Wizards, made his NBA debut in February 2009. But he spent the lockout season overseas and this summer received his first-ever fully guaranteed contract – for $916,099.
When it comes to good players earning less than seven figures, the pickings are pretty slim. But there are at least 10 we have featured below in our All-Six-Figure Teams. Among them are a couple of the breakout players from the 2013 postseason and Kobe Bryant’s newest caddie.
And in what should come as no surprise to anyone, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey has three of them.
ALL-SIX-FIGURE SECOND TEAM
E’Twaun Moore, G, Orlando Magic ($884,293): Just about a year ago, Moore was waived by the Houston Rockets, days after being traded by Boston following a quiet rookie season. Not only was he scooped up by the Magic, he played 75 games and actually started 21 after Arron Afflalo got hurt, averaging 7.8 points and shooting 34 percent from the arc. He is not the answer in the backcourt and may be watching a lot more this season now that Orlando has drafted Victor Oladipo. But Moore proved he belongs on an NBA bench.
Wesley Johnson, G, LA Lakers ($916,099): Johnson could have been making $5.4 million on the fourth year of his rookie contract. But while draft classmates John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe await potential maximum extensions, Johnson already is living the uncertainty of one-year deals. He has no one to blame but himself, having shot 40 percent over his first three seasons. However, he did average better than 13 points per game while shooting 44 percent over the final two months of last season and will get an opportunity to play while Bryant recovers from his torn Achilles tendon. With his 6-7 frame, he could also slide to small forward, where the competition on the roster is very thin.
Reggie Williams, F, Houston ($947,907): Rockets GM Daryl Morey appears to be trying to catch lightning in a bottle by signing Williams, who averaged 15 points in a 24-game stint as a rookie and shot 42 percent from the arc in a full second season, both with a Golden State squad uninterested in defending. His numbers went into freefall in two seasons in Charlotte, where he became irrelevant. Morey is hoping that minutes alongside Dwight Howard’s dominance of the post and James Harden’s drive-and-kick game will jump-start his game.
Jae Crowder, F, Dallas ($788,872): A personal favorite, and not just because he has perhaps the best hair in the NBA. He sprained his ankle in summer league play, where the Mavericks were hoping he could develop some offensive consistency to go with his energy and defense. This is a big season for him because he is a free agent next summer, as are Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, the veterans in front of him at small forward.
Draymond Green, F, Golden State ($875,500): The stopper half of coach Mark Jackson’s offense-defense rookie platoon at small forward last season, spelling Harrison Barnes and defending everyone from point guards to LeBron James. He has lost 15 pounds and worked on improving his offense off the dribble in the summer league, where the Warriors are unbeaten with Green in the lineup over the last two years. But will he lose minutes to Andre Iguodala?
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