On Wednesday I took a look at the NBA's worst contracts, so it's only fair that today I look at the other side of the coin: The league's most valuable contracts.
But wait … there's a catch. You see, because of the rookie salary scale specified in the league's collective bargaining agreement, picking out the most valuable contracts is like shooting fish in a barrel. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony … all these guys are making a fraction of their true market value because of the distortions brought about by the rookie salary scale.
Thus, a list of the most valuable contracts quickly degenerates into a list of the league's youngest players. So instead, let's make this a bit more challenging (not to mention more informative) by taking a look at the best non-rookie contracts in the NBA right now. As you'll see, finding a decent player for less than the midlevel exception is a relative rarity, and in the salary-cap era those teams that do it are way ahead of the game.
In fact, you'll notice that most of these contracts belong to the NBA's best and most admired organizations. There are a few exceptions -- the list includes two Bucks, two Bobcats, a Grizzly and a Hawk -- but by and large those who shop wisely have reaped the rewards in the standings.
And in an odd twist, this list changes at a much faster rate than the list of bad contracts. Because most low-dollar contracts tend to be short-term arrangements, the majority of these players will be hitting free agency this summer and looking to get a salary that's more commensurate with their production.
But for now, they're the league's most underpaid players. Here's a look at the guys providing the most bang for the buck this year (figures rounded where necessary):