Stay at Home.
These have been the most famous three words since the coronavirus pandemic broke out last March. For many, staying at home means having no work, and having no work means no income.
Professional sports players who are under contract are still paid despite their leagues going to a hiatus. That’s fair enough. However, there are former NBA stars who are no longer playing in the league but are still receiving salaries as part of a buyout agreement with their former teams. These players continued to receive money in 2020 even if they didn’t play a single second in the league this season.
Here is a list of ex-NBA stars who are getting paid for staying at home in 2020:
Two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng retired in 2019 after signing a one-day deal with the Chicago Bulls, the team where he built his NBA career. Prior to that, he played in just a total of 405 minutes in the previous two seasons due to injuries. Deng had an excellent NBA run, averaging 15.5 points and 6.4 rebounds while making the NBA’s All-Defensive first team in 2012. The Los Angeles Lakers signed him to a rich deal during the 2016 free agency bonanza but bought out his $72M contract in 2018. As a result, Deng has been receiving a cool $4.99M per season through the 2021-22 campaign. Not bad.
Noah isn’t retired yet. In fact, he signed a 10-day deal with the Los Angeles Clippers right before the season went into a hiatus. The former NBA Defensive Player of the year and two-time All-Star played for the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2018-19 season but only appeared in 42 games. No team picked him up this season and the veteran who has a career average of 8.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game was jobless until the Clippers called him last March. Even though he hasn’t played a single game this season, Noah made $6.5M and will be paid that salary until 2021-22 by the New York Knicks who bought him out in 2018.
Timofey Mozgov was another beneficiary of the ridiculous 2016 free agency where even the most mediocre NBA players in the NBA got fat deals from ballclubs. In the Russian’s case, it was the Los Angeles Lakers who signed him to a $64M contract that summer after impressing scouts during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff runs as a back-up center. But Mozgov never made the adjustment from reserve to starter and he struggled during his stint with Lakers. He later played for the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic while becoming a salary cap baggage in the league. He left the NBA and returned to play in Russia but is still making $5.57M per annum until 2021-22 after his buyout with the Orlando Magic.
Josh Smith was the first-round pick straight out of high school and he was a very athletic forward who played 13 NBA seasons and averaged 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game during his career. Smith was the 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Champion and was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team in 2010. After starring for the Atlanta Hawks until 2013, he was signed by the Detroit Pistons in 2013 to the tune of $54M for four years. However, he was bought out a year later and although his last appearance in the NBA was for the New Orleans Pelicans two seasons ago, Smith was paid $5.33M by the Pistons in 2020 as the final installment of his contract.
There was a time when Deron Williams was one of the best point guards in the NBA. Williams was the Utah Jazz’s 3rd overall pick in 2005 and looked like he would be the next great point guard that the Jazz would produce. But his level of play deteriorated when he reached his 30s when the NBA game relied more on the three-point shot rather than physical play. After making three straight All-Star teams, Williams was signed to a $98.7M deal by the Brooklyn Nets in 2012 but he never played out his five-year deal with the Nets. He isn’t officially retired but he hasn’t played in the NBA since 2016. However, he has been receiving $5.5M annually from the Nets through 2020.
Monta Ellis was another high school phenom who made the leap to the NBA. Ellis had a slow start to his NBA career but after he was named as the NBA’s 2007 Most Improved Player, he burst into superstardom with his uncanny scoring ability. Ellis would become one of the best guards in the NBA and although he never made an All-Star team, he was one of the league’s best scorers. But after 12 seasons, his career came to an abrupt end in 2017 and the $44M contract he signed with the Indiana Pacers in 2015 proved to be short-sighted. Ellis has been earning $2.5M since his retirement and will be paid that amount per annum until 2022 as a result of a buyout with Indiana.
Larry Sanders was one of the biggest enigmas in the history of the NBA. Sanders was the 15th overall pick of the 2010 Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. After finishing 3rd in the Most Improved Player voting in 2012, he developed into one of the best young big men in the league. He struggled with personal issues and left the NBA in 2014. Sanders attempted a return in 2017 but was unsuccessful. But because he was bought out by the Bucks, Sanders is receiving $1.9M per year until 2022.