Every once in a while sports teams just get insanely lucky with a particular player. Nobody is more fortunate right now than the Warriors, not only for Steph Curry developing into the player he has, but for the well timed, steal of a deal contract that the back-to-back MVP was signed to.

NBA contracts are difficult to compare from generation to generation. Back in the day, players would work regular jobs during the offseason just to survive. When Larry Bird arrived in the league he became the richest rookie in NBA history … with a five-year deal for a grand total of $3.25 million.

The ’90’s is when we finally started seeing contracts break the bank, but it was still a different league. With a salary cap, but no max contracts, Michael Jordan wound down his career with the Bulls making well over $30 million per season, while Scottie Pippen was locked in for under $3 million.

The modern NBA pay scale (although it has its issues) seems to offer the most fair balance we’ve seen. It makes it tough to pay a player anywhere too distant from their legitimate value. With that said, some teams have still found themselves with some major steals.

Here are some of the most team friendly deals in the NBA, leaving out two exceptions.

No max contracts. LeBron has been making in the $20 million range for years … in my opinion you could double his salary and he’d still be the best value in the league. Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler all made under $18M on max contracts last season. Who wouldn’t take those deals? John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson and even James Harden all make under $16M! Those are no brainer deals.

No rookie contracts.
Um, yeah, I think any GM wants Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns for under $6 million … or Jabari Parker for just over $5M with the Greek Freak under contract for less than $2M! All of these kids are going to sign max deals as soon as their rookie deals are over, and likely be worth every penny.

Jeff Teague

Atlanta Hawks

2015-16 Salary: $8M

Full Contract: 4yrs/$32M

Teague actually signed an offer sheet with the Bucks that was matched by the Hawks, and they’re glad they did. Teague has been Atlanta’s best player at times and made an All-Star game at PG while making less than half what most top tier PG’s bring in.

Robert Covington

Philadelphia 76ers

2015-16 Salary: $1M

Full Contract: 3yrs/$3.1M

Covington certainly isn’t a flashy signing, but wait until you see the money comparable players will get this summer. Having Covington for a million bucks vs. a similar player for $8-10 million is a huge value. Unfortunately his talents are wasting away in Philly, but maybe a contender tries to get its hands on this guy.

Will Barton

Denver Nuggets

2015-16 Salary: $3.5M

Full Contract: 3yrs/$11M

Barton was somewhat of an afterthought last offseason and signed a pretty modest contract with Denver. In the first year of his deal he played his way into fourth place in Sixth Man of the Year voting. Barton has developed into a really nice two-way player that any team would kill to have at this price.

Isaiah Thomas

Boston Celtics

2015-16 Salary: $6.9M

Full Contract: 4yrs/$27M

The Celtics don’t have any elite top end talent yet, and finding it is going to be the most difficult part of their rebuild. But in the meantime, the best Boston can do is keep piling up some of the best contracts in the NBA. Jae Crowder has become one of the league’s most coveted two-way forwards since signing his 5 year/$35 million deal, while Thomas has emerged into an All-Star both for less than $7 million. It’s worth noting that Boston also traded for Thomas, so props for swindling a top contract away from another team. Avery Bradley is another honorable mention making under $8M last season.

Kemba Walker

Charlotte Hornets

2015-16 Salary: $12M

Full Contract: 4yrs/$48M

The Hornets have to be thrilled about the extension they inked Kemba to over the offseason. Walker just finished second in Most Improved Player voting and carried his team into the playoffs. Walker has the potential to develop into a max-type player during the time he’s still under this contract. The future looks bright for Kemba.

Kyle Lowry

Toronto Raptors

2015-16 Salary: $12M

Full Contract: 4yrs/$48M

I’d take Walker over Lowry going forward, but you have to acknowledge the accomplishments Lowry’s had thus far. Toronto is paying him just $12M and he was selected as the starting PG for the East in the All-Star Game. Despite his playoff struggles, Lowry has improved lately and has a chance to take his team to the ECF.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dallas Mavericks

2015-16 Salary: $8.3M

Full Contract: 3yrs/$25M

This is a pure hometown discount based on loyalty and past success, but it’s a damn good deal. Remember, Kobe made $25M in his last season. Don’t try and tell me Dirk isn’t worth a third of that. The deal is loaded with player options, but as long as Nowitzki wants to stick around and help Dallas try and win he’s going to be doing it for a discount.

San Antonio Spurs

2015-16 Salaries: Duncan – $5M, Ginobili – $2.8M, West – $1.5M

It’s pretty tough to top the Spurs’ way. Aldridge and Leonard are on max deals in their prime, so the rest of the crew sacrifices to make it work. This season left them with a sour taste, but no doubt they’ll be right back knocking on the door as contenders next season. Seriously, just go look at San Antonio’s salaries. They sign high character guys to great deals. Never a crippling contract. I feel the most for David West who left $12M on the table in Indy to go for it all with the Spurs this season.

Draymond Green

Golden State Warriors

2015-16 Salary: $14M

Full Contract: 5yrs/$82M

Yes, Steph is clearly, far and away, no questions asked the best contract in the NBA. But don’t sleep on Draymond. He could have gotten about $8M more on a max deal but elected to come back on cheaper money after the championship season. His attitude, defense and versatility are nearly as valuable as Steph to the Warriors. I said nearly…

Steph Curry

Golden State Warriors

2015-16 Salary: $11.4M

Full Contract: 4/$44M

Steph, however, is making half of what guys like LeBron and KD make and took huge leaps during the time of his contract to become a two-time MVP. Curry was suffering from ankle injuries up until he signed his deal, which is the main reason Golden State got such a discount. When he hits the market again in ’17 expect some eye popping numbers.

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