Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce all took salary slashes of more than $10 million to extend their careers with contending teams. They head the list of the top 10 individual pay cuts this summer.
Our list uses exact salary figures from last season. In some cases, this season’s figures are averages of multi-year deals received by players. For example, Ben Gordon signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Orlando Magic. But until we receive exact figures sometime next month, we are assigning Gordon an annual average salary.
The list also includes last season’s highest-paid player, Bryant, who despite the pay cut remains the highest-paid player – and three others who took veteran’s minimum deals to secure themselves roster spots.
There are unsigned players who could eventually crash the top 10. For example, Emeka Okafor made $14.49 million while sitting out last season with a neck injury. If a team were to take a chance on Okafor this summer, he would definitely make the list. But if he remains unemployed, he remains off the list.
We also did not include amnesty payments when compiling the list, so you will not see Carlos Boozer or Drew Gooden here.
Let’s run down the top 10.
1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas. Pay cut of $14.75 million: One of just two players on this list who did not change teams in the offseason, Nowitzki went from among the top five in salary to making less money than Avery Bradley. It was initially reported that Nowitzki took $30 million over three years. But it was later discovered that he received just $25 million, creating extra cap room that allowed the Mavericks to sign Chandler Parsons.
2. Pau Gasol, Chicago. ($11.98 million): He might have been further down on this list had the Bulls and Lakers been able to work a sign-and-trade involving Carlos Boozer. He also might have topped the list had he accepted Oklahoma City’s predictable penny-pinching offer of the mid-level exception. He ended up taking a cut of nearly $12 million – and made the Bulls the favorites in the East in the eyes of many.
3. Danny Granger, Miami. ($11.94 million): The former All-Star joined his fourth team in six months, signing with the Heat for the bi-annual exception. That represents about a 700 percent cut in salary from the last year of his max deal signed with the Pacers. As a Sixers fan, I will fondly remember his time in Philadelphia.
4. Paul Pierce, Washington. ($10.01 million): Despite a pay cut of over $10 million, Pierce has the fourth-highest salary on this list, taking the midlevel exception from the Wizards. This seems like a strange landing spot for “The Truth,” who spent years in Boston, talked long-time teammate Kevin Garnett into accepting last summer’s monster trade to Brooklyn and figured to end up with either the Clippers or Lakers, returning to his Inglewood roots. But with Trevor Ariza gone and Martell Webster hurt, Pierce figures to get most of the minutes at small forward ahead of Otto Porter.
5. Richard Jefferson, Dallas ($9.6 million): No surprise here as Jefferson took a veteran’s minimum deal from the Mavericks. The bigger surprise was that Jefferson not only lasted the entire 2013-14 season on the roster of the rebuilding Utah Jazz but started 78 games and averaged double figures.
The list continues below the chart.
|Dirk Nowitzki, DAL||$22,720,000||$7,970,000||$14,750,000|
|Pau Gasol, CHI||$19,280,000||$7,300,000||$11,980,000|
|Danny Granger, MIA||$14,020,000||$2,080,000||$11,940,000|
|Paul Pierce, WAS||$15,330,000||$5,310,000||$10,020,000|
|Richard Jefferson, DAL||$11,050,000||$1,450,000||$9,600,000|
|Ben Gordon, ORL||$13,200,000||$4,500,000||$8,700,000|
|Kris Humphries, WAS||$12,000,000||$4,250,000||$7,750,000|
|Rodney Stuckey, IND||$8,500,000||$1,230,000||$7,270,000|
|Kobe Bryant, LAL||$30,450,000||$23,500,000||$6,950,000|
|John Salmons, NOR||$7,560,000||$1,450,000||$6,110,000|
6. Ben Gordon, Orlando ($8.7 million): The former Sixth Man Award winner became Charlotte’s 16th man when he was waived by the Bobcats/Hornets – after the March 1 deadline, preventing him from signing with a playoff team. All in all, he landed pretty nicely with the Magic, who gave him $4.5 million even though they have young shooting guards Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier. By the end of this season, he could be a 16th man again.
7. Kris Humphries, Washington ($7.75 million): The best part of his appearance on this list is imagining him still married to lifestyle monetizer Kim Kardashian and picturing her face when he tells her that he took a 200 percent pay cut.
8. Rodney Stuckey, Indiana ($7.27 million): Another one of the, ahem, shrewd deals negotiated by former Pistons GM Joe Dumars, who thought a third guard was worth $25 million over three years. Still just 28, he definitely is worth more than the veteran minimum but got squeezed by the market. But he may be able to rebuild his value by playing on a good team for the first time in his career.
9. Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers. ($6.95 million): His fans will point out his presence on this list and make him out to be some sort of “Magnanimous Mamba.” But the truth is he is one of just two players to actually make $30 million in a season, his salary reduction wasn’t enough to help the Lakers quickly rebuild, and his new salary is conveniently $90,000 more than what Amar’e Stoudemire gets, making Bryant – you guessed it – the highest-paid player.
10. John Salmons, New Orleans ($6.11 million): With a $1 million buyout on a $7 million salary for the 2014-15 season, he was a valuable trade chip that allowed Toronto to land Lou Williams and Atlanta to create cap room. Even if you add the buyout cash to his veteran’s minimum deal, he still is making over $5 million less than last season.
Et cetera: As of July 24, the next player on the list is Heat forward Luol Deng, whose $10 million is nearly $4.3 million less than what he made last season. … In addition to Okafor, another player who could crash the top 10 is Shawn Marion, who is headed for a huge reduction after making $9.3 million with the Mavericks last season. … Dallas already has two players on the list and could add a third. The Mavs are talking with Jameer Nelson, who made $8.6 million last season with Orlando and was scheduled to make $8 million this season before the Magic bought him out for $2 million.
Tomorrow: The top 10 pay raises of the offseason
Chris Bernucca is the managing editor of SheridanHoops.com. His column appears every Monday during the season. You can follow him on Twitter.