The Hoops Rumors Free Agent Tracker makes it easy to see who signed for the greatest total amount of money this summer. Just click on the word "Amount," atop the column farthest to the right, and the tracker will sort by contract value, allowing you to see Chris Paul atop the list. Still, the tool doesn't show the deals by average annual value, so that's where this post comes in.
Paul's five-year, $107.343MM pact with the Clippers is by far the most lucrative in terms of total value, but Dwight Howard has him beat when it comes to yearly take. Both signed maximum salary deals, and Paul got the extra year and higher raises because he re-signed with his club rather than bolt to another team, as Howard did. Yet, thanks to Howard's superior paychecks last season, he was eligible for a new deal with a starting salary nearly $2MM more than Paul's. The fifth year and better raises still aren't enough for Paul to make up the difference in the average annual value rankings.
The player at No. 5 on this list has the 17th most lucrative contract in terms of total value. That's because Andrew Bynum signed for two years rather than three, four or five, as everyone above him did. Bynum would rank even lower on a list of players who signed for the most guaranteed salary, since he's only assured of receiving $6MM. No one else who signed this summer agreed to nearly as much in non-guaranteed pay.
The three players receiving $8MM annually in their new contracts all have ties to the Bucks. Milwaukee reached a deal with shooting guard O.J. Mayo within the first week of free agency, and had the same salary slot in mind for point guard Jeff Teague when they signed him to an offer sheet a few days later. The Hawks matched, making it seem as though Milwaukee was destined to re-sign incumbent point guard Brandon Jennings. The Bucks instead pulled off a surprise sign-and-trade that sent Jennings to the Pistons, and Jennings' contract details revealed an average annual value that precisely matches what Teague got. So, it seems the Bucks clearly would have preferred Teague as their point guard, since they apparently weren't willing to pay Jennings an annual salary equal to what they were prepared to dish out for Teague.
The next two names on the list are a pair of Spanish-speaking guards who signed for identical $7.25MM average annual salaries. Manu Ginobili reached his deal with the Spurs before Jose Calderon and the Mavericks came to their agreement, so perhaps Ginobili served as a model, as he so often does with foreign-born players in the NBA.
The list ends with Martell Webster, the only player to truly receive the full amount of the mid-level exception: a four-year deal with the maximum 4.5% raises on a $5.15MM starting salary equal to the value of the non-taxpayer's version of the exception. The salaries in Webster's deal, like many on the list, escalate with each successive year, so the average annual values shown here aren't necessarily a player's salary in any particular season. They're simply derived from taking the full value of the contract and dividing it by the number of seasons the deal calls for.
- Dwight Howard, Rockets: $21.898MM
- Chris Paul, Clippers: $21.469MM
- Al Jefferson, Bobcats: $13.5MM
- Josh Smith, Pistons: $13.5MM
- Andrew Bynum, Cavaliers: $12.395MM
- David West, Pacers: $12.2MM
- Andre Iguodala, Warriors: $12MM
- Nikola Pekovic, Timberwolves: $12MM
- Tyreke Evans, Pelicans: $11MM
- Paul Millsap, Hawks: $9.5MM
- Tiago Splitter, Spurs: $9MM
- Monta Ellis, Mavericks: $8.36MM
- Brandon Jennings, Pistons: $8MM
- O.J. Mayo, Bucks: $8MM
- Jeff Teague, Hawks: $8MM
- Jose Calderon, Mavericks: $7.25MM
- Manu Ginobili, Spurs: $7.25MM
- Kevin Martin, Timberwolves: $6.951MM
- J.J. Redick, Clippers: $6.939MM
- Carl Landry, Kings: $6.512MM
- Jarrett Jack, Cavaliers: $6.3MM
- Gerald Henderson, Bobcats: $6MM
- Kyle Korver, Hawks: $6MM
- J.R. Smith, Knicks: $5.982MM
- Martell Webster, Wizards: $5.498MM