To the surprise of no one, Eddy Curry told the New York Daily News this week that he’s NOT opting out of his contract this summer, setting himself up to make $11.2 million next season for — assuming he has a repeat of this season — doing just shy of nothing.
You know NFL players, who play a more dangerous sport yet can be cut loose without pay at a moment’s notice, must have a deep-seeded jealousy of NBA players and their guaranteed money. The current NBA system creates situations like Curry’s, where players who became useless years ago are still being paid like All-Stars. On one hand, you have to blame the owners/GM’s for making these ill-fated deals. On the other hand, you can’t help but look at the player like he’s stealing money.
In ranking the top 10 salary thieves in the League, we had to set some rules. If a guy is a regular starter who just happens to be having bad season (Richard Jefferson, Hedo Turkoglu), he doesn’t court. If he’s a key contributor who just happens to be hurt (Tyson Chandler, Yao Ming) or otherwise incapacitated (Gilbert Arenas), he doesn’t count either. And if the guy isn’t too far removed from being a legit star who earned a fat contract on merit before age/injuries caught up (KG, T-Mac), they get a break. This is for guys who wouldn’t get PT even if they were healthy, some of whom aren’t even on the teams that are paying them. The ones who have to hide a guilty grin whenever they get their check. Numbers reflect ’09-10 salary:
1. Mark Blount, Wolves, $7.9M — Even when he is playing, Blount exerts less energy than Phil Jackson on a game-by-game basis. As it is, the Wolves are basically paying him to make himself a stranger.
2. Marko Jaric, Grizzlies, $7.1M — The European version of Blount. He should be on the next season of “Househusbands of Hollywood.”
3. Eddy Curry, Knicks, $10.5M — It honestly feels bad to criticize Eddy because he’s been through so much trauma in his personal life, but the bottom line is he makes the most for doing the least of just about anybody in his profession.
4. Jerome James, Bulls, $6.6M — When Derrick Rose hurt his knee during a Bulls/Hawks game a few weeks ago, Jerome was called over by the assistants to help carry D-Rose off the court in case he needed it. So he’s not completely useless.
5. Darius Miles, Blazers, $9.0M — He only ranks this low because the Blazers were kind of shady about trying to have his knee injury declared “career-ending” to get out of paying him, even though D-Miles obviously still had some basketball left in him.
6. Larry Hughes, Knicks/Kings/Bobcats, $13.6M — Watching last night’s Bobcats/Raptors game, I saw Hughes on the Charlotte bench and didn’t believe what I’d seen. I had no idea he was on the team. After texting some friends and colleagues, I learned I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know Hughes was in Charlotte. How could multiple basketball people lose track of a guy who gets paid almost five times more than Brandon Roy?
7. Kenny Thomas, Kings, $8.5M — Billy King’s enduring legacy in the League. If the ex-Sixers GM was in charge of our national budget, the United States would’ve been bought out by North Korea eight years ago.
8. Brian Cardinal, Wolves/Knicks, $6.7M — The worst player in the NBA gets paid twice as much as Brian Scalabrine.
9. Bobby Simmons, Nets, $10.5M — At least he’s a good locker room guy and provides some veteran leadership for the Nets’ youngsters.
10. Shawne Williams, Nets, $2.4M — So are the checks being direct-deposited into his commissary account, or what? He could hook up the entire yard with cigarettes and toothpaste.
Who makes your list?