Even in an era of small ball, it still helps to have effective big men, as this summer’s free agency attests. Quality centers were scarce, but they drew top dollar, and their deals are for an average of more money than their peers at the four other positions. That’s thanks in large measure to Chris Bosh‘s maximum-salary deal with the Heat, though Marcin Gortat‘s five-year, $60MM contract with Washington figures in heavily, too. Still, only seven free agents who spent last season primarily at center signed for more than the minimum salary, showing how top-heavy the position is.
There was a more prolific crop of above-minimum power forwards on the market, and the 20 of them combined to sign deals worth $381.102MM, a total greater than players at other positions. It helps that Carmelo Anthony, who signed the league’s richest contract, and LeBron James played mostly power forward last season, as one effect of small ball has been to push talented wing players into positions that are the traditional domain of interior players.
With the help of the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Tracker, I’ve broken down the figures for each position. The number of above-minimum signings is listed first, followed by the total payout on those deals, and the most lucrative contract at each position is in parentheses.
- Point guards: 22 players, $248.204MM (Kyle Lowry, $48MM)
- Shooting guards: 13 players, $166.761MM (Dwyane Wade, $31.125MM)
- Small forwards: 15 players, $220.115 (Gordon Hayward, $62.965MM)
- Power forward: 20 players, $381.102MM (Carmelo Anthony, $124.065MM)
- Center: 7 players, $247.819MM (Chris Bosh, $118.705MM)
- For free agents who play multiple positions, the one that Basketball-Reference lists as their primary position during the last season they saw NBA action was used.
- John Salmons split last season between the Kings, who played him mostly at small forward, and the Raptors, who slotted him chiefly at shooting guard. He spent the vast majority of time with Toronto, so his $2MM deal goes in the shooting guard category.
- The values seen here include all seasons of a contract, whether or not they’re guaranteed.
- This account takes into consideration free agent deals only, and not draft pick signings or deals with “draft-and-stash” players.