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NBA / Apr 15, 2010 / 10:00 am

10 Players Who Will Get Rich from the NBA Postseason

Tyrus Thomas, Dime #54

File them in somewhere between Jerome James and LeBron James.

Back in ’05, Jerome James was in a contract year with the Sonics, and even as a full-time starter averaged only 4.9 points and 3.0 boards in the regular season. But in the playoffs, ‘Rome broke out: Starting with a 17-point, 15-board, 5-block line in Game 1 against Sacramento, he averaged 12.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg in the postseason. Solely on the strength of those three weeks, he signed a 5-year, $30 million deal with the Knicks. And you know the rest.

Then there’s LeBron James. If you haven’t heard, he’s in a contract year this year, but he doesn’t have to prove himself to anybody. ‘Bron could do a full face-plant and get swept out of the first round of the playoffs, and he’d still get Diddy money this summer even if he had The Stallionaires as his agents.

In between Jerome and LeBron are the 2010 free agents who can use this postseason to springboard themselves — deservedly, we’d all hope — to a higher tax bracket next season.

1. John Salmons — After back-to-back years of playing the “hired gun” role better than Charles Bronson, the 30-year-old Salmons is setting himself up for one last big contract. He’s put up 19.9 points a night since coming to Milwaukee in a deadline trade, and couldn’t have asked for a better first-round playoff matchup: In the three times he faced Atlanta while playing for the Bucks, Salmons averaged 30.6 points on 56 percent shooting from the field, regularly dueling with Joe Johnson in crunch time. Six or seven games of putting up big numbers on the Hawks on the big stage should be enough for Salmons to opt-out of his $5.8M deal for next year and seek a hefty raise.

2. J.J. Redick — It wasn’t that long ago when J.J. looked like he’d be joining Trajan Langdon in Russia before he’d ever be an impact player in the NBA. It took four years, but now he’s finally getting enough minutes and shots to show what he can do. Granted, 9.6 points in 22 minutes a night doesn’t make J.J. the next Dan Majerle, but he’s proven he can be a valuable bench guy on a contender or even a starter on some teams.

3. Shannon Brown & Jordan Farmar (tie) — When Derek Fisher is getting ripped up by Russell Westbrook and Chauncey Billups and whoever else he won’t be able to guard, Brown ($2.2M player option) and Farmar (restricted) will get their time to shine. Whether it’s the Lakers re-upping with one or both to replace Fisher full-time, or another team offering more responsibility, somebody will step up and pay one or both of L.A.’s backup point guards.

4. Tyrus Thomas — Literally from the moment he hit the floor with the Bobcats, Tyrus has been a spark of energy and defensive intensity. More importantly, under Larry Brown he’s been able to prove that he’s coachable. The offensive game still isn’t where some would want it to be, but Tyrus turns 24 this summer and still has the athleticism and potential to draw a lot of attention on the market.

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5. Channing Frye — Call him a product of the Phoenix system if you want, but that label didn’t stop Joe Johnson, Q-Rich, Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa and a few other guys from getting major paid thanks to numbers they put up with the Suns. Add Frye to the list.

6. Matt Bonner — Don’t let his looks fool you; Bonner is not Brian Scalabrine or Brian Cardinal. He is, however, a classic case of a guy who is 18 times better when he’s playing for a good team and borderline useless on a Lottery squad. If Bonner winds up on the Clippers or the Wizards this summer, you might as well call him Steve Novak.

7. Joel Anthony — In addition to Dwyane Wade re-enacting the Season 1 marathon of “Deadliest Warrior,” Miami’s only chance of beating the Celtics in the first round is if their front line consistently out-works and out-hustles Boston’s big guys. Anthony will be crucial in that respect. He’s short for a center at 6-9 and not talented enough for a power forward, but if he sticks to his game by blocking shots and playing solid D and he helps give Boston a scare, he’ll do well for himself come free agency.

8. Wesley Matthews — The undrafted rookie has started every game for Utah since Ronnie Brewer was traded at the dealdine, throwing in a couple of 20-point scoring nights along the way and taking on some tough defensive assignments. Weak defensive teams with money to spend like Sacramento, Minnesota and New York should give him a look.

9. Dorell Wright — He’s still only 24 years old, he’s still a 6-9 small forward with athleticism, and you could say he still hasn’t found the right opportunity to showcase his game yet. Potential will take you a long way in the League, and Wright still has that. He’s played well in the month of April, too, scoring in double-digits in six of Miami’s seven games this month. A couple solid postseason games and he’ll get another lease on his career.

10. Ray Felton — He’d rank higher, only I don’t see him having a postseason breakout while the Bobcats are getting smoked by Orlando. Felton has played well against the Magic this year, averaging 13.5 points and 5.0 dimes in four meetings, but barring a sudden explosion, nothing he does this postseason will have too much impact on his free-agent fortunes. But just getting those playoff games under his belt certainly won’t hurt his case.

-Follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinBurton206
-Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag

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  • RC

    I don’t think a lot of teams will give big contracts to these players except maybe Felton and Salmons. Frye has a break out season but he really is a product of the Phoenix offense. Gotta give him credit though that he worked on his long range game. Shannon Brown? he is a bench player and will always be. Unless you put him in the Wolves

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    I think it’s a bad idea for NBA GM’s to give fat contracts based on flash in the pan postseason success. In a majority of cases, a player will have a few good games in the playoffs, get rewarded with a ridiculous contract, then return to sub par performance the following season. You already mentioned Jerome James but what about the recent contracts of Hedo and Ariza? Those were primarily based off last years post season performances.

    I think when a player all of a sudden has a few good games in the playoffs it is more of a red flag. You have to question their motivation. Why now are they playing so well? The money. GM’s should be wary of these players and rely more on regular season success as well as post when giving away those fat contracts.

  • ballin

    when will fisher just retire and let farmar/brown take over?

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    Sorry but this is becoming a young man’s league. Twenty-four is already too old to still be a “potential”. Wright and Ty Thomas are simply athletes now. Their potential is long gone.

  • http://dimemag.com/2010/04/10-players-who-will-get-rich-from-the-nba-postseason/#more-40274 Mike

    The Lakers WILL keep Brown & he’ll be the starter especially if D-Fish retires

  • i am a witness

    am i the only one that noticed the joke dime posted in the corner………. who is rookie of the year ……… steph, brandon, tyreke, collison, or thabeet lol lmaolmaolmolol…..

    ok i gatta new poll since dime got there funny bone on today…….. who is mvp? bron, durant, kobe, dwight, or josh powell?

  • http://NBA.com RapTOr

    The red rocket always comes up big when you need em. He deserves a raise NOW, if anything.

    also agree on Frye. I got the suns playing late into the playoffs. That’s alot of airtime for frye to show people that he is deserving of more money. Not to mention, that’s a pretty easy feat playing along side Nash, and against the Roy-less blazers in the first round.

    Book it.

  • http://dime eyes

    This list is why the N.B.A. sucks & will continue to in the near future. No one on that list is a starter or ever should be aside from Salmons. In a perfect world & stronger league. Salmons would be a nominee for S.O.Y. He’s very talented & is a valuable piece. I’d even like him for Cleveland this year.

    He doesn’t hurt you at all. Aside from him not being a great defender. Good size & great pro. Coachable & valuable you can’t ask for more these days. When you’re pool of talent is this fickle. These are the 2nd & 3rd tier guys. This is why there’s a problem when you rest guys. You should have a team of 10 starters & 5 who are willing to be the 2nd string to WIN. That is the most important stat in winning baksetball. Even fantasy baksetball. Wins & losses in some leagues. LOLOLOL

    Jason Kidd doesn’t suit up to play. He comes to win. The most undervalued line I’ve heard this year. These GM’s have no clue & a lot of money. By bad talent you suffer the outcome most teams & cities are facing. A superstar alone will not win you games or a championship.

    Shannon Brown & Farmar aren’t N.B.A. players. If they start for the Lakers Kobe will never win a title again. JJ Redick is lucky he plays on a good team & has D.Howard to save him

    Joel Anthony is like Biedrins from GSW. You know what you’re getting. All hustle,defense & NO OFFENSE. He could be a valuable role player for a team contending

    Felton & Wright. What you see is what you get. That’s it. Frye,Matthews,Bonner & Thomas are all pieces who can help. They’re talent is much different than some guys in the stands.

    Personally I would only want Salmons on my team & maybe Joel Anthony. Everybody else I’d pass.

    Is Raymond Felton better than Ed Cota or Jeff Mccinis. I don’t think so. Is he better than Khalid El Amin. Nah. The KNicks are dumb enough to offer him. He’s D’Antoni type of player.

    A lot of Bums disguising themselves as N.B.A. players. Hey if you paid me I’d take the money too.

  • life-p

    Don’t agree with Spliff. 24 is not too old. Some people are late bloomers.

  • buffaloballa

    austin you’re losing it.
    first those sorry ass peak buddies the other day,
    now with an upcoming lockout looming,
    a list of 10 scrubs ($5.8M isn’t getting paid?)
    and you still maybe right because you never said they was gonna get paid by the NBA…because they’re not.

  • Nyeme

    I don’t think 24 is too old, but I do think that 4 years in the league is too long to still be a “potential”, so Tyrus still makes that list. Your game is already or should be established in its essence by your 4th year

  • QQ

    Nice to see Reddick in the list. Laughed at the Langdon line, but hey, it’s true. Just 3 years ago, you’ll see JJ and say ‘newest addition to the Great College Players Who Sucks in the NBA’.

  • Celts Fan

    @Spliff – Hedo was the Magic’s best offensive player all year last year, not just hte playoffs, and Ariza had been making plays on D all year (though his deal and sudden semi-franchise-player expectations were more than they shoulda been, but damn good piece. James Posey 2.0 (when he was starting for the Heat’s title team, not near the end but still 90% of what he once was w/ us)

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    @ Celts Fan

    True, Hedo was great all season last year but he showed his true worth during the playoffs. He was clutch. He earned his Toronto contract in the playoffs. No way Toronto gives him that huge of a contract without his postseason performance despite his good regular season numbers.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    @ Celts Fan

    Oh yeah and I agree Ariza is a good piece to a team but he tricked Houston into offering him semi-franchise money with some big playoff performances. I’m not saying these guys are garbage. Far from it actually. I’m just saying playoff performances are misleading in most cases.

    Remember that postseason in 2006 when Bonzi Wells killed San Antonio. He was offered a 5-year $38.5 million contract (which he strangely turned down) by the Kings based solely on that performance. Two years later he’s out of the League despite only being 31 yrs old. Perfect example.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    @ life-p

    That’s cool, you can disagree. But I’m not saying Wright and Thomas can’t be effective role players in the right situation. I’m saying the whole idea of waiting on that “potential” is out the window. These dudes have reached their potential.

  • Dangertronix

    If the Jazz let Matthews go, Kevin O’Connor would be tarred, feathered, and run out of town. SLC loves the under-dog, hard working dudes done good, and he’s the real deal.

    I mean, the uproar in town that occurred when Ronnie Brewer (a shooting guard who can’t shoot, made a living off of cherry-picking reverse dunks, and was an over-rated defender) was shipped was bad enough.

    I don’t see the Jazz letting him walk. Within reason, of course…

  • sh!tfaced

    Yeah, wonder who’ll be the next Hedo. Make a killing in the playoffs, get paid, please the wifey and take it easy then show up for work hungover.

    Spliff might be right, Tyrus is just a slightly better version of Stromile Swift.

    Dammit. LOL. Didn’t see that one. Should have voted for Thabeet in rookie poll…

  • QQ

    Really getting sick of Spliff’s stupid comments. Please STFU when you discuss anything regarding a current or former Orlando Magic player.

  • Joross

    epitome of every not so good basketball player in a play off team becoming a free agent is JEROME JAMES!

    GM beware

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    What the hell? Somebody stealing my identity ha ha. I’ve never beefed with QQ. I rarely agree with Austin but I wouldn’t say some elementary school yard shit like that. Weak.