With a new TV deal bumping up the NBA salary cap in two seasons, teams are rushing to sign free agents at max contracts this summer. Teams are ok with overpaying young players because when the new TV deal kicks in, these max contracts will seem like a steal in a league with $110+ million salary cap. Many players and agents have used this as a bargaining chip to get max contracts this free agency. Teams have been more than willing, though, to retain their key free agents from joining their opponents.
12. Reggie Jackson re-signs with Detroit Pistons for 5 years, $70 million
The Pistons gave up Brandon Knight in a 3-way trade that netted former Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson. Although he often struggled to perform at a high level in OKC, Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy views Jackson as a player to build the team around. Some people such as all-star PG John Wall think that Jackson was overpaid, but it was the only way for the Pistons to retain the restricted free agent.
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11. Draymond Green re-signs with Golden State Warriors for 5 years, $82 million
The injuries to David Lee really helped Green to cash in big this offseason, signing a max contract. Green, as a first year starter, was a huge contributing player to the Warriors on their way to a NBA Championship. Giving a player a max contract after only one season of starting is questionable, but this deal set the mark for other free agent PF’s, especially Tristan Thompson, who has yet to sign.
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10. Goran Dragic re-signs with Miami Heat for 5 years, $90 million
Goran Dragic got his wish, as he was traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Heat at the trade deadline. This paid off, as the Heat liked how he played with Dwyane Wade in the backcourt, re-signing him to a max contract. The Heat figure to have the guard with youngster Justise Winslow and Chris Bosh as the post-Wade Miami Heat.
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9. Kawhi Leonard re-signs with San Antonio Spurs for 5 years, $90 million
The Spurs would under no circumstances let their 24-year-old former Finals MVP star join another team, and he definitely deserved the max contract. Leonard is the perfect piece for the Spurs to transition to a new team identity from the Duncan/Ginobili/Parker era, and he is the perfect player to build around. This signing will keep the Spurs in contention for at least the next 5 years.
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8. Jimmy Butler re-signs with Chicago Butler for 5 years, $90 million
Butler had a break-out year, making the all-star team during a season in which he led the Derrick Rose-less Bulls to the playoffs. Although he sometimes makes questionable decisions on the offensive end, Butler is definitely the best perimeter defender on the team. He also made it very difficult for LeBron to score in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, which not many players in the league can do. The Bulls are lucky that Butler didn’t leave to join a different team. Butler’s contract also included $4 million as a signing bonus.
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7. LaMarcus Aldridge signs with San Antonio Spurs for 4 years, $80 million
LaMarcus Aldridge is the only all-star free agent to leave his original team(Portland Trailblazers) to join a contender. It’s safe to assume that Aldridge got sick of carrying the Trailblazers and decided to join a team such as the Spurs, whom are a title contender every year. Aldridge will have the chance to join Kawhi Leonard and become one of the best duos in the league.
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6. Marc Gasol re-signs with Memphis Grizzlies for 5 years, $110 million
Gasol re-signing with the Grizzlies is a no-brainer. He didn’t officially meet with any teams, as he never really wanted to leave. As for the max contract, Gasol is definitely worth it, as he is a consistent all-star, defensive first team, and former defensive player of the year.
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5. Kevin Love re-signs with Cleveland Cavaliers for 5 years, $110 million
Throughout the 2014-2015 season, there were rumors about Love leaving the Cavs this summer. He legitimately thought about leaving, but ultimately decided to stay after meeting with LeBron in Los Angeles. Love definitely deserved a payday, but the hope is that he can play at a higher level than he did last season. This contract will seem like a bargain for the 3-time all-star in a few years.
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4. DeAndre Jordan re-signs with Los Angeles Clippers for 4 years, $88 million
After initially agreeing in principle to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, DJ had quite the change of heart. He contacted Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers about his desire to come back. Long story short, he simply ignored the Mavericks officials from that point on. While he didn’t sign the max 5 year deal available to him, his 4 year contract with a 3rd year player option should come into handy when the TV deal is announced.
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3. LeBron James re-signs with Cleveland Cavaliers for 2 years, $47 million
After opting out of his contract, LeBron did not take any free agency meetings with any teams; he simply waited for the Cavs to spend money on retaining the pieces needed to contend. He then signed another 2 year deal for max money- $23 million this year, with a $24 million option for next season. LeBron’s eyes are set on re-signing when the new TV deal kicks in, when he can sign a max 5 year $200+ million dollar contract.
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2. Damian Lillard re-signs with Portland Trailblazers for 5 years, $125 million
Lillard was simply rewarded for wanting to stay in Portland, despite the departures of the other 4 starters from last year’s Blazers. Lillard has also performed at a high level, making the all-star game after being awarded rookie of the year. He is now the franchise’s centerpiece, and the Blazers locked him down with the hopes of building around him.
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1. Anthony Davis re-signs with New Orleans Pelicans for 5 years, $145 million
This was the biggest no-brainer of all. The Brow is only 22, and he is arguably a top 5 player in the NBA already. This $29 million per year contract makes Davis the highest paid player in the NBA. He’s definitely worth it.