The 25 most expensive NBA players per minute
By WILL LAWS
Most casual NBA fans can list off the players who command the highest salaries. But how many people know which guys are paid the most for every minute they spend on the floor?
PointAfter set out to determine just that. While lengthy absences are always magnified when the athlete in question is a highly-paid star (ahem, Blake Griffin), teams can also waste plenty of payroll space on lesser-known players who barely receive any court time while earning seven-digit yearly paychecks. The types of players highlighted in this article range from pricy veterans to underused journeymen, and even includes a first-round pick from the 2015 NBA Draft.
Four of the league's 25 highest-paid players make this list, which features per-minute salaries of at least $13,000 and one guy who's raked in more than $75,000 for every minute on the hardwood this season.
To rule out the dozens of minimum-salary players who only receive a handful of minutes over the season, PointAfter set minimums of 10 games and 100 minutes played for the 2015-16 season. Though some of the players on this list will accumulate enough playing time after the All-Star break to escape the top 25, many per-minute salaries are set in stone due to season-ending injuries or mere ineffectiveness.
Notes: 2015-16 salary figures are courtesy of Basketball Reference. All statistics are updated through games on Feb. 10.
#25. Derrick Rose
Salary per minute: $13,867
2015-16 Salary: $20,093,063
Largely sapped of the explosiveness that helped him ascend to the peak of the sport, Rose's mediocre jump shot has been exposed in recent years. He's converting just 25 percent of his three-point attempts this season, the lowest mark since his rookie year, and has logged a 12.5 PER — substantially below the league average of 15.
That production certainly doesn't warrant a salary north of $20 million, but Rose will continue to rake in a top-10 salary until the 2016-17 season concludes.
#24. Omer Asik
Salary per minute: $14,031
2015-16 Salary: $11,000,000
The Turkish seven-footer has posted a career-worst 11.2 PER this year, reaching double-digit scoring in just two games. He's also dropped off on defense, making his presence on the court a net negative. Even though Asik is technically starting for the Pelicans, he's only averaging 17.4 minutes per game.
#23. Udonis Haslem
Salary per minute: $14,204
2015-16 Salary: $2,854,940
Udonis Haslem is a shell of his former self whose skill set hasn't translated well to the faster pace of the modern NBA. The 6-foot-8 power forward is merely a lumbering body who's shooting 34.9 percent, as his jump shot has abandoned him.
Haslem might have his No. 40 jersey retired by the Heat when it's all said and done, considering his loyalty to the franchise through thick and thin. But the 35-year-old is not helping Miami in his current state.
#22. Tyreke Evans
Salary per minute: $14,676
2015-16 Salary: $11,227,000
Tyreke Evans has never quite lived up to the hype that surrounded him after winning Rookie of the Year with Sacramento in 2010. However, the combo guard showed promise when healthy this season by showcasing an above-average three-point stroke for the first time in his career.
Unfortunately, after missing all of November while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, Evans' season reportedly might be cut short after 25 games due to pain in the same knee. The 26-year-old has one more season remaining on his four-year, $44 million contract to rebuild his value before hitting free agency in the summer of 2017.
#21. Tiago Splitter
Salary per minute: $14,680
2015-16 Salary: $8,500,000
Atlanta acquired Tiago Splitter for a song over the offseason (actually a second-round pick, but who's counting), as the Spurs needed to get rid of Splitter to open up cap space for LaMarcus Aldridge. The Hawks seemed to be the lucky winner of a lottery, using the Spurs' situation to shore up their greatest area of weakness (rebounding).
Splitter has indeed improved Atlanta's defense when on the court, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy. The seven-footer has been plagued by hip problems that could eventually necessitate surgery, and the Hawks rank 28th in the NBA in rebounding.
#20. Enes Kanter
Salary per minute: $14,991
2015-16 Salary: $16,400,000
Enes Kanter might be paid like a star, but he doesn't play the minutes of one.
The 23-year-old signed a maximum four-year, $70 million offer sheet with Portland as a restricted free agent last summer, forcing Oklahoma City to match. But the former No. 3 overall pick is still shockingly incompetent on defense.
Oklahoma City's defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) is nearly seven points worse when Kanter is on the floor. That discrepancy forces Thunder coach Billy Donovan to limit Kanter to 20.6 minutes per game.
#19. Josh McRoberts
Salary per minute: $15,064
2015-16 Salary: $5,543,725
When the Heat signed Josh McRoberts in the summer of 2014, it was praised as a shrewd signing. In adding an accomplished passing big man who keeps opponents honest with his jump shot, Miami hoped it could convince LeBron James to stay in South Beach.
James, of course, bolted back to Cleveland. The 2014-15 season was basically a lost one for McRoberts, who battled injuries and eventually underwent season-ending knee surgery.
Another knee injury has cost the 28-year-old more time this year, and his 38.9 field goal percentage in 25 games is simply dreadful. "McBob" is still a quality defender and passer, but he doesn't command respect from opposing defenses.
#18. Kevin Garnett
Salary per minute: $15,288
2015-16 Salary: $8,500,000
The third-oldest player in the league, Kevin Garnett has started all 38 games he's played for the Timberwolves despite averaging just 14.6 minutes. That's a testament to KG's iconic status in Minnesota and the NBA in general.
Though The Big Ticket's offensive game isn't what it used to be, he can still immensely improve the defensive capabilities of a young squad like the Wolves. Opponents score 99.4 points per 100 possessions with Garnett on the floor, compared to 111.5 with him on the bench. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Garnett is currently sidelined with knee soreness and simply can't play the minutes he used to.
#17. Dwight Howard
Salary per minute: $15,746
2015-16 Salary: $22,359,364
With the Rockets stunningly sitting in ninth place out West entering the All-Star Game, the entire organization is under scrutiny. Accordingly, trade rumors are swirling around Dwight Howard. It's an intriguing dilemma for what interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff called a "broken team."
Despite his career-high 61.2 shooting percentage, Howard's 14.6 points per game and 18.1 percent usage rate are his lowest marks since his rookie year. That indicates Houston doesn't know how to properly use the fifth-highest paid player in the NBA.
As crazy it sounds given the Rockets' Western Conference Finals berth nine months ago, maybe it's not a bad idea to trade Howard to a team where he can fulfill his potential. He's expected to opt out of his current contract at season's end, anyway.
#16. Terry Rozier
Salary per minute: $17,211
2015-16 Salary: $1,824,360
The Celtics confused draft analysts when they selected Terry Rozier No. 16 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, earning the lone "F" among CBS Sports' first-round draft grades. The Louisville product is a defensive hound at guard, but it appeared pesky backcourt defenders Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley would block Rozier's development, barring a trade.
That scenario has played out exactly as the experts predicted. Rozier has played sparingly in Boston, with Isaiah Thomas maturing into an All-Star while Smart and Bradley eat up most of the two-guard minutes. If there's any roster in the league ripe for a trade, it's Boston's. But until something is actually consummated, Rozier's presence will continue to be superfluous.
#15. Blake Griffin
Salary per minute: $18,042
2015-16 Salary: $18,907,725
For the first time in his career, Blake Griffin is not an All-Star this season. Of course, this is largely due to a pair of injuries (torn quadriceps, broken hand), rather than a drop in production.
Still, Griffin's value has been called into question lately, as the Clippers have won 19 of 24 games without him.
#14. Greivis Vasquez
Salary per minute: $18,283
2015-16 Salary: $6,600,000
Greivis Vasquez has been quietly valuable for most of his entire career. The former Maryland Terrapin led the league in total assists (704) back in 2012-13 for New Orleans, and the Bucks made a sound trade for him last summer to provide some insurance behind Michael Carter-Williams.
Unfortunately, Vasquez was forced to undergo ankle surgery in December, and probably won't return until the regular season is nearly complete. He wasn't even playing all that well before getting injured, shooting a career-worst 34.8 percent from the field with a dismal 9.2 PER.
#13. DeMarre Carroll
Salary per minute: $18,367
2015-16 Salary: $13,500,000
Hawks fans sorely miss DeMarre Carroll, who was the glue guy on Atlanta's 60-win team last season before inking a four-year contract with Toronto during the summer. "The Junkyard Dog" hasn't proved his worth to the Raptors faithful yet, though.
Confronted with the responsibility of a larger role on offense, Carroll shot a measly 38.8 percent from the floor in 23 games. He then succumbed to a potentially season-ending knee surgery in January.
#12. J.J. Hickson
Salary per minute: $18,405
2015-16 Salary: $5,613,500
The Nuggets have welcomed an influx of young frontcourt players over the past couple years, rendering the services of J.J. Hickson largely irrelevant.
The 27-year-old has been out of Denver's rotation for a while now, and with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, Hickson is a prime trade target before the trade deadline on Feb. 18.
#11. Kobe Bryant
Salary per minute: $18,954
2015-16 Salary: $25,000,000
Countless pundits have debated whether Kobe Bryant earns his lucrative $25 million salary, which makes him the league's highest-paid player. Heck, even U.S. men's soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann weighed in a couple years ago.
While Bryant's current on-court production certainly doesn't merit such a pay grade, there's no question he's the guy luring Lakers fans to Staples Center seats this season. Kobe's retirement tour is the main focus for Los Angeles right now, so it really doesn't matter how much he's paid.
#10. Kyrie Irving
Salary per minute: $19,027
2015-16 Salary: $14,746,000
Kyrie Irving has crawled back to a normal workload after fracturing his kneecap in last year's NBA Finals, and has shown no sign of any lingering effects from that potentially devastating injury.
The former Duke star should escape the top 25 of this list by the end of the season. Though the Cavaliers do take on some risk by paying an injury-prone point guard like Irving big bucks (just ask Chicago how they feel about Derrick Rose's contract), as it stands now, Cleveland ultimately benefits from paying Irving less than $15 million.
#9. Brandon Jennings
Salary per minute: $20,059
2015-16 Salary: $8,344,497
Detroit acquired Brandon Jennings in 2013 for Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov, a trade that has proven disastrous for Detroit. Though Jennings was perfectly adequate as the starter, Knight and Middleton have both blossomed into better players.
Additionally, when Jennings ruptured his Achilles in January 2015, the Pistons responded by acquiring Reggie Jackson a month later and signing him to a five-year, $80 million deal in the summer. That move essentially relegated the former top-10 pick to backup duty.
#8. Joakim Noah
Salary per minute: $21,102
2015-16 Salary: $13,400,000
An All-NBA First Team member less than two years ago, Joakim Noah lost his starting job during the preseason and went on to put up career-worst offensive numbers (38.3 field goal percentage, 4.3 points per game) across the board in 29 games.
Noah has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, and is a pending free agent. It's possible the 30-year-old has played his last game as a Chicago Bull after functioning as the team's emotional leader for many years.
#7. Nene Hilario
Salary per minute: $25,794
2015-16 Salary: $13,000,000
A calf injury, which sidelined Nene for 23 games, contributes to his high ranking on this list. But the first Brazilian to ever be drafted in the first round has also seen his role reduced in Washington, where coach Randy Wittman has experimented with small-ball lineups.
Nene's scoring and minutes averages are the lowest they've been since an injury-shortened 2007-08 campaign in Denver. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, there's almost no chance he'll be on this list come next year.
#6. Al Jefferson
Salary per minute: $28,940
2015-16 Salary: $13,833,333
It's a shame Al Jefferson has never made an All-Star Team (though he was honored as All-NBA Third Team in 2014), because it seems the 31-year-old cannot function as a team's centerpiece anymore. His production has fallen off precipitously in 2015-16, which has seen him play only 19 games due to various injuries and an undisclosed drug-related suspension.
Jefferson was probably underpaid on his $13.5 million salary when he led Charlotte to the playoffs two years ago, but that figure is now bloated considering Big Al's current state.
#5. David Lee
Salary per minute: $32.965
2015-16 Salary: $15,493,680
David Lee was the highest-paid player on Golden State last season despite averaging 18.4 minutes in 49 games. The champs rectified that by offloading Lee to the Celtics during the offseason, but the two-time All-Star has fallen out of favor in Boston.
Lee has played just two games in 2016, and is reportedly on the block ahead of the Feb. 18 trade deadline. The question is: Who wants to take on the expiring contract of a defensive sieve who's having the worst offensive campaign of his career?
#4. Anderson Varejao
Salary per minute: $33,122
2015-16 Salary: $9,638,554
The injury bug has seemingly taken a permanent residence on Anderson Varejao, and won't let go at any cost.
The Brazilian has suffered season-ending injuries before the All-Star break in four of the last five seasons. During that lone "healthy" season in 2013-14, Varejao lost his starting role to Andrew Bynum, was sidelined for a month due to back soreness and finished the year coming off the bench behind Spencer Hawes.
"Wild Thing" simply isn't the guy Cleveland inked to a six-year, $48 million deal back in 2009, but is still guaranteed $10.3 million in 2016-17 thanks to an extension he signed in November 2014. That's a lot of cash for a guy who's averaged less than 10 minutes of playing time in 30 games this year.
#3. Jason Thompson
Salary per minute: $37,610
2015-16 Salary: $6,431,250
A longtime Sacramento King, Jason Thompson was traded to Philadelphia in a salary dump last offseason but never suited up for the 76ers. Instead, he ended up back in California after a swap for Gerald Wallace saw him land with the defending champions in Golden State.
Thompson hasn't been needed much by the Warriors — why mess what works? — and is basically occupying the same role David Lee did last season, except at a salary about $9 million cheaper.
#2. Carl Landry
Salary per minute: $39,877
2015-16 Salary: $6,500,000
Coincidentally, the Kings offloaded Carl Landry to the 76ers along with Jason Thompson last summer. While Thompson was lucky enough to be shipped out of Philadelphia to Golden State, Landry appears destined to play out the rest of his $26 million contract with the NBA's most depressing team until it expires after next season.
A true journeyman who's switched teams five times in the last six years, Landry's best days are behind him. That being said, Landry has actually been pretty good for Philadelphia after recovering from offseason wrist surgery, shooting at a 56 percent clip off the bench in 14 games for the 76ers.
The Sixers aren't interested in playing above-average veterans who might actually give them a chance to win games, however. They're basically only paying Landry to keep Philly above the salary floor in a never-ending quest for the No. 1 overall pick.
#1. Nikola Pekovic
Salary per minute: $77,564
2015-16 Salary: $12,100,000
Once an underrated force in the post for the Timberwolves, Nikola Pekovic has been derailed by injuries to his ankle and Achilles tendon over the past two years. When Pekovic has stepped onto the court in 2015-16, it's been clear those maladies have taken a toll on his 300-pound frame.
Pekovic has made just 38 percent of his shots this season, a pitiful showing for a center. Even though he's signed through 2018, the 30-year-old will find minutes hard to come by with Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng and Kevin Garnett all vying for time in Minnesota's frontcourt.
A trade to another team looking for frontcourt depth is probably the best option for all parties involved. Until some sort of transaction occurs, Pekovic will likely hold onto the title of the NBA's most expensive player per minute in 2015-16.