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Best Contracts in the NBA

by Photo of Scott Davis

With Nikola Pekovic re-signing with the Wolves, a look at the NBA’s best bargain contracts

Best Contracts in the NBA

Nearly every free agent signing in the NBA is met with mixed responses. People will debate whether a player was worth the price of the contract, the number of years, whether it's good for a team long-term or short-term. Rarely is a signing ever met with almost unison agreement or disagreement, unless it's giving LeBron James a max contract or giving Eddy Curry double-digit millions in the mid-2000s.

Yesterday's re-signing of Nikola Pekovic by the Minnesota Timberwolves once again brought mixed reactions. Pekovic, by nearly all accounts, is a productive player and one of the better young centers in the NBA. But the Wolves committed five years/$60 million to him -- paying him an average of $12 million a year until he turns 33. The Wolves could also be facing a rebuild in 2015 if Kevin Love leaves, meaning they'll still have a large amount of cash strapped to Pekovic when they'll be trying to bring on new players. But on the other hand, that kind of money is not unusual for starting level centers -- just look at the contracts of players like Tyson Chandler, Andrew Bogut, or even JaVale McGee. In this writer's opinion, Pekovic's contract is reasonable. While long and pricey, it's not an unusual number to see for a starting center -- especially one who averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game for a struggling team.

Along with Pekovic, here's a look at six of the NBA's best bargain contracts:

1.) Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets

Chandler Parsons had a quietly solid rookie season and his sophomore year was an even quieter breakout. The Rockets were no doubt James Harden's team, and now with Dwight Howard aboard, he and Harden will be considered one of the best superstar tandems in the league. However, supporting cast members like Parsons will be just as responsible for Houston's make-over into a championship team. In 2012-13, Parsons averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1 steal per game while shooting 48% from the field and 38% from deep. He was a big contributor to the Rockets' sixth-ranked offense and they were a better defensive team with him on the floor. Best yet: he's on a rookie deal that will pay him $1.8 million over two years.

2.) Greivis Vasquez, Sacramento Kings

After several years of seeing limited minutes on the Memphis Grizzlies bench, Greivis Vasquez finally had his NBA breakout in 2012-13 as a starter for the New Orleans Hornets. Vasquez has his flaws like iffy shooting, but his basic numbers last season indicate that he can really play. In 78 games last season, he averaged 13.9 points on 43% FG, 34% 3FG, with 4.3 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. He's still on his rookie contract which will pay him south of $3 million this year and just north of $3 million in 2014-15. The Sacramento Kings traded away Tyreke Evans and got a cheap, talented starting point guard in return.

3.) Paul George, Indiana Pacers

Paul George's rookie class is next in line for contract extensions -- much like John Wall got this season -- and George himself will certainly benefit from the due and deserved extension. George shined as the Indiana Pacers' centerpiece this past season, exploding to career-high averages in points (17.4 per game), rebounds (7.6), assists (4.1), and steals (1.8). He's a reliable three-point shooter (38% and 36% the last two seasons) and the Pacers' best wing defender. In the playoffs he looked ready to become one of the NBA's most elite players as he locked down the opposing teams' best players (Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James as much as they can be locked down) while carrying Indiana's offense. His contract extension will have him making over $10 million a season, but as of now, he's set to make $3.2 million this season.

4.) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Curry, unlike the players above him, is no longer under his rookie contract, but has been extended by the same rules that allowed John Wall to get a new contract and will get Paul George one. Curry is set to make over $9 million this season and then will make over $10, $11, and $12 million in the coming seasons. He's certainly not underpaid, but considering the production that he showed last season, Curry will be a candidate for a max. contract when his current one expires. This past season he exploded for career-high averages over 22 points and 7 assists per game while shooting an absurd 45% from three-point range and setting the single-season record for three-point makes. In the playoffs he shouldered even more responsibility for the Warriors' offense, lighting up the Spurs in Game 1 for 43 points. He set Madison Square Garden ablaze mid-season with 54 points, too. If he can stay healthy and continue to produce like last season, giving Curry anything under $15 million is a steal.

5.) Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

While it may not be proper to list a former number one pick on his rookie deal on a best bargain list, it didn't stop us earlier in the post. Kyrie Irving is the future of the Cavaliers (if he stays, of course) and is already a top point guard in the NBA. Stephen Curry and Irving produced somewhat similarly in 2012-13, but Irving will make just $5 million this season and $7 million in 2014 when the Cavs will most definitely pick up his team option. Irving was a sole reason to watch the Cavs last year as he dazzled his way to 22 points and 6 assists per game while shooting 45% from the field and 39% from downtown in 34 minutes per game. He could very well be the best point guard in the NBA by the time his rookie deal is over.

6.) Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

It sounds strange to list Duncan as a bargain in the NBA, but the ageless big man is on the final deal of his career, making about $10 million a season while producing at an elite level for a power forward. Duncan's 17 points, 10 rebounds, and nearly 3 blocks per game is impressive enough, but looking at his advanced numbers, at age 37, Duncan had his best season in nearly seven years. Per 36 minutes, in 2012-13, Duncan averaged 21.3 points per game, 11.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 3.2 blocks per game -- simply unreal numbers. The Spurs managed to draft arguably the best power forward of all time, the ultimate glue guy, a highly coachable big man, and an ageless wonder who cares more about winning than his bank account. Cheers, Tim Duncan.

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