Much has been made of the 13 teams that have new head coaches, but precious little notice has been paid to the fact that there are 13 teams with a new most highly paid player. Trades and free agency have rendered 11 of those teams with a new name as their greatest player personnel investment, while the other two clubs demonstrate the variance in which contracts are structured.
The most highly paid players on the Hawks, Sixers and Jazz left via free agency to claim those titles on other teams. The Rockets are the only other club that brought in its new highest earner via free agency, though that doesn’t count the Bucks, who signed O.J. Mayo and traded for Caron Butler, each of whom will earn a team-high $8MM this year. Two other teams brought in their current most highly paid player via trade.
Six teams have new top earners who were on the roster last season. That includes the Suns and Kings, who are the clubs who reveal the aforementioned dexterity of contracts. Goran Dragic‘s four-year deal with the Suns pays him $7.5MM for each season, but Marcin Gortat‘s includes raises. Gortat’s raises caught and passed Dragic’s flat salaries this year. Marcus Thornton‘s raise helped him claim the top spot in Sacramento, where he surpasses John Salmons, whose contract includes salary declines instead of raises.
In-season trades will surely add more teams to this list, though one club appears most poised for a change. Hedo Turkoglu remains atop the Magic payroll, but the team is trying to unload his deal via trade. If the Magic don’t find any takers, they’ll likely waive him before his $12MM contract, which is only $6MM guaranteed, becomes fully guaranteed on January 10th.
The Magic are also still paying the amnestied Gilbert Arenas, who would have claimed the top spot had he and the team not agreed to spread his payments out over two additional years. In any case, this list excludes amnestied players who either aren’t on the roster now or, in the case of the 2012/13 salaries listed, weren’t on the roster last season.
- Hawks: 2012/13, Josh Smith ($13.2MM) — 2013/14, Al Horford ($12MM)
- Celtics: 2012/13, Paul Pierce ($16,790,345) — 2013/14, Kris Humphries ($12MM)
- Bobcats: 2012/13, Ben Gordon ($12.4MM) — 2013/14, Al Jefferson (13.5MM)
- Cavaliers: 2012/13, Anderson Varejao ($8,368,182) — 2013/14, Andrew Bynum (12.25MM)
- Nuggets: 2012/13, Andre Iguodala ($14,968,250) — 2013/14, Ty Lawson ($10,786,517)
- Pistons: 2012/13, Jose Calderon ($11,046,591) — 2013/14, Josh Smith ($13.5MM)
- Rockets: 2012/13, Omer Asik/Jeremy Lin ($8,374,646) — 2013/14, Dwight Howard ($20,513,178)
- Bucks: 2012/13, Monta Ellis ($11MM) — 2013/14, Caron Butler/O.J. Mayo ($8MM)
- Sixers: 2012/13, Andrew Bynum ($16.889MM) — 2013/14, Thaddeus Young ($8.85MM)
- Suns: 2012/13, Goran Dragic ($7.5MM) — 2013/14, Marcin Gortat ($7,727,280)
- Kings: 2012/13, John Salmons ($8.083MM) — 2013/14, Marcus Thornton ($8.05MM)
- Spurs: 2012/13, Manu Ginobili ($14,107,492) — 2013/14, Tony Parker ($12.5MM)
- Jazz: 2012/13, Al Jefferson ($15MM) — 2013/14, Richard Jefferson ($11.046MM)
ShamSports was used in the creation of this post.