For a good chunk of this summer's free agents, a newly-signed contract not only provided long-term security but also means a huge bump in annual salary. Take Roy Hibbert, for instance — after earning a salary of about $2.59MM in 2011/12, Hibbert will make close to $13.67MM in 2012/13, an increase of over $11MM.
Not every free agent made out nearly as well as Hibbert did though. For a handful of players, this offseason's free agency meant taking a significant pay cut in salary. Some players had no choice in the matter, while others were willing to accept a discount if it meant landing in the right situation. Here are the players whose annual salary will decrease the most from 2011/12 to 2012/13:
11/12: $15,076,715 (Cavaliers)
12/13: $1,352,181 (Lakers)
11/12: $21,164,619 (Spurs)
12/13: $9,638,554 (Spurs)
11/12: $21,247,044 (Celtics)
12/13: $11,550,000 (Celtics)
11/12: $10,121,000 (Mavericks)
12/13: $3,090,000 (Knicks)
11/12: $10,000,000 (Celtics)
12/13: $3,090,000 (Heat)
11/12: $11,227,250 (Rockets)
12/13: $4,590,338 (Knicks)
11/12: $14,030,000 (Hornets)
12/13: $8,000,000 (Mavericks)
- Rashard Lewis' drop from $21,136,631 in 2011/12 to $1,352,181 in 2012/13 would be the largest decrease by far, if not for the buyout he received from the Hornets. Without seeing the specific wording in Lewis' contract(s), we can't know for sure what his exact 2012/13 salary will be, but even if he receives his reported $13,699,551 buyout in full this year, his overall annual salary still took a $6MM+ hit.
- Mehmet Okur and Leandro Barbosa are two more likely candidates to take significant pay cuts. They made $10.89MM and $7.6MM respectively a year ago, and remain unsigned so far this offseason.
- It should probably come as no surprise that every player listed above landed with a contending team. If productive veteran players are going to play for less money, most prefer to do it for contenders in major markets.
- Honorable mentions to Jason Terry, Kirk Hinrich, Carl Landry, Grant Hill, Raymond Felton, Kwame Brown, Hasheem Thabeet, Ronnie Brewer, and Martell Webster, who will all take pay cuts of $3.5MM+, by my calculations.
- Amnestied players are not included here, since they continue to receive pay checks based on their old contracts.