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Eric Gordon and the max contract that isn't one anymore

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Max contract doesn't mean what we think it means.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I took a look at the point guard position and how the New Orleans Pelicans expenditures measure up to other teams around the league. Jrue Holiday, while considered an expensive player, is actually paid like an average point guard in the league. Shocking, I know.

We move on to shooting guard this morning where Eric Gordon's max contract can be put into some revealing light. The very term max contract is a bit of a misnomer as what a player can earn is determined by when he signed that contract, how many years he has played in the NBA, and what the salary cap was that season among other variables. In Gordon's case despite being on a max contract he is just the 7th highest paid shooting guard in the league while coming in at 32nd overall. None of this is to say that Gordon's $15.5 million is a pittance. A max contract where 31 other players make more, sometimes a lot more, really calls into question what that term actually means to the average fan.

Position 2015-2016
Kobe Bryant SG $25,000,000
Joe Johnson SG $24,894,863
Dwyane Wade SG $20,000,000
Jimmy Butler SG $16,407,500
Wesley Matthews SG $16,407,500
James Harden SG $15,756,438
Eric Gordon SG $15,514,031
Klay Thompson SG $15,501,000
Khris Middleton SG $14,700,000
Brandon Knight SG $13,500,000
Tyreke Evans SG $10,734,586
Monta Ellis SG $10,300,000
DeMar Derozan SG $10,050,000
Danny Green SG $10,000,000
Alec Burks SG $9,463,484
Lance Stephenson SG $9,000,000

All from Basketball Insiders. Note that ESPN's salaries list has a number of omissions.

On the other side of the ledger we find Tyreke Evans. Once it was said that Evans received a monster offer and that the Pelicans committed a serious overpay when giving Evans almost $44 million over four seasons. Of course the very next summer that contract started to look like a bargain and it continues to look more cost effective as time passes. Tyreke Evans will not be among the 70 highest paid players in the NBA this year; not bad for a guy ranked 58th according to Sports Illustrated.

Gordon's contract expires this season. At no point has he produced at a level commiserate with his salary allocation. Evans should continue to be a steal. Next summer the Pelicans should look to move a great deal of salary from shooting guard to small forward to create a more balanced roster. For now, let's hope that Evans and Gordon can build off a solid second half of the year and put all that additional conditioning work to good use under Alvin Gentry.