A new trend emerged in the National Basketball Association or NBA wherein superstars band together to form a superpower team. There are 29 NBA teams and this often leaves the balance of power in the hands of a few teams. This article will take a look at the various NBA superpower teams and how they managed the million-dollar salaries of these superstars so they can play together.
Miami Heat: The 2012 NBA Champion
As the newly crowned NBA champion, the Miami Heat has ushered the new era of superpower teams. During the free agency period of 2010, All-Star small forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and All-Star power forward Chris Bosh decided to join Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, instantly created a much-feared Big Three.
LeBron and Bosh reportedly signed similar six-year $110.1 million contracts to play for the Heat. Dwyane Wade gave Miami a bigger discount by signing $107.5 million for six years as well
For the 2010-2011 season, LeBron and Bosh earned $14.5 million while Wade was not behind with $14 million. They reportedly dropped $15 million so the three of them can play together. With their popularity, they could easily earn that money back through endorsements.
The contracts gave LeBron, Bosh and Wade the option to become free agents again in the summer of 2014. Since LeBron and Bosh were acquired through sign-and-trade deals, they can also get a 10.5% raise annually.
For the 2012 free agency, Miami was able to add the veteran star and NBA 3-point leader Ray Allen with the help of a three-year $9.7 million contract.
Oklahoma City Thunder: The Youth Movement
Many were surprised that the Oklahoma City Thunder reached the NBA Finals but it is a testament to the talent of its new trio of young stars NBA Scoring Champ small forward Kevin Durant, mercurial All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook and Sixth Man of the Year shooting guard James Harden. All three were successful draft picks of Oklahoma.
In 2010, Kevin Durant smoothly reached an agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder for a five-year contract extension worth about $86 million. This contract has no opt-out clause after the fourth season unlike the Heat stars. Without the extension, Durant would have only earned $5 million with his original rookie contract.
Durant’s running mate point guard Russell Westbrook also recently signed a multiple year extension with the Thunder so that he will not venture to restricted free agency. The reported extension is at the maximum level of five years and up to about $80 million as well.
As for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden has indicated his desire to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their rookie deals are almost finished and they can negotiate extensions with the front office.
New York Knicks: Talent in the Big Apple
For many NBA seasons, the excitement in the New York Area has been lukewarm at best. But this has changed with the arrival of bona fide stars in the Big Apple. At the start of the 2010 free agency, the Knicks locked up All-Star power forward Amare Stoudemire for a five-year $99.7 million contract. Stoudemire reunited with his old Phoenix coach Mike D’ Antoni.
Although the Knicks failed to land LeBron James, they were successful in luring All-Star small forward Carmelo Anthony away from the Denver Nuggets through a trade. Carmelo is one of the most gifted scorers in the NBA and he was owed $41 million for the past NBA seasons. If he will not exercise an early termination option for the 2014 to 2015 NBA season, he will earn $22.6 million. The Knicks gave away a handful of starters, draft picks and even $3 million in cash just to bring Carmelo to New York.
In the summer of 2011, the Knicks also added free agent center Tyson Chandler from with the help of a four-year contract after the Dallas Mavericks did not advance extension discussions with the eventual 2012 Defensive Player of the Year.
During the 2012 season, point guard Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere to become a breakout star for the Knicks. He became the show in New York and now the Knicks are looking to reward him with a multi-year and multi-million deal to make him stay. To make it more enticing for Lin, they lured the 39-year-old assist king Jason Kidd away from the Dallas Mavericks with a three-year $9 million deal to serve as Lin’s mentor.
Los Angeles Clippers: The New Lob City
After years of becoming an NBA joke, the Clippers earned the respect of teams when it drafted the sensational power forward Blake Griffin. After dominating the NBA highlight reels with his strong dunks and athletic play, Griffin has indicated that he will continue his career with the Clippers.
Griffin stands to earn over $95 million during the course of the reported five-year extension if he gets voted as an All-Star starter or as a member of an All-NBA team.
His All-Star partner point guard Chris Paul has not yet made a full decision on his status as a Clipper. He rejected a three-year $60 million extension from the Clippers with hopes of securing a five-year $108 million this summer. But there is a risk with this move because other teams may line up to secure Paul’s services.
Los Angeles Lakers: a Dynasty on the Verge of Collapse?
The Los Angeles Lakers have had more success with their franchise. Even though it was suspenseful at first, All-NBA shooting guard Kobe Bryant signed a three-year extension with the Lakers that paid him $24.8 during the 2010-2011. Kobe did negotiate an early termination option clause unlike what Kevin Durant did.
Kobe earned $26 million in 2011-2012 and he is in line to receive $28.7 million in 2012-2013 and $31.5 million in 2013-2014.
Power forward Pau Gasol signed a three-year extension in 2009 worth $57 million. He will earn $19 million this upcoming 2012-2013 season and $19,285,850 in 2013-2014. However, Gasol has always been in the center of recent trade talks.
Andrew Bynum, the star center of the Lakers, will be playing with the Lakers this season for $16.1 million. But it is a mystery if he will play beyond that.
He has been in the center of trade talks with Orlando’s Dwight Howard. He has also expressed interest that he will test out the free agent market next year to gauge his value.