The knock on the Los Angeles Clippers for years was that owner Donald Sterling wouldn’t pay to put a winning team on the court. You can’t say that about Sterling now, because he's been willing to foot the bill for arguably the deepest team in the NBA this season. That doesn’t mean the Clippers aren't getting the most bang for the buck when it comes to the cornerstones of the franchise, however.
According to ESPN’s Larry Coon, the Clippers have two of the top four “most underpaid” players in the NBA based on their expected salary and ESPN’s recent #NBArank poll, where ESPN analysts ranked 500 NBA players. While the rankings are current, the salaries Coon used were from last season.
Paul came in at No. 4 in #NBArank with a score of 9.52. Paul’s expected salary should be about $26 million, but he made “only” $16.3 million last season.
Griffin finished at No. 14 in #NBArank with a score of 8.25, down from his top-10 finish last season. Griffin’s expected salary should be about $14.8 million, but he made “only” $5.7 million last season.
While Paul and Griffin will continue to be bargains for the Clippers this season, both players are in line for big pay raises beginning next season. Griffin agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Clippers that could be worth as much $95 million. His new deal begins next season. Paul is eligible to sign a five-year extension with the Clippers after this season that could be worth as much as $108 million.
Interestingly enough, two former Clippers who were the cornerstones of the franchise’s last playoff team before 2011 ended up on the “most overpaid” list.
Elton Brand came in at No. 84 in #NBArank with a score of 5.75. Brand’s expected salary should be about $4.9 million, but he made more than $17 million last season. Meanwhile, Chris Kaman finished at No. 113 in #NBArank with a score of 5.24. Kaman’s expected salary should be about $3.9 million, but he made more than $14 million last season.
The lesson to be learned, at least for Sterling, is there’s nothing wrong with giving out big contracts as long as you’re giving them to players who can give you a significant return on your investment.