While players like Chris Bosh want to do sign-and-trades to ensure they can squeeze as much money out of their next contracts as possible, both Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki proved that they care more about winning by signing for reduced contracts. Why? To ensure their teams could afford to get them the help they know is necessary to win a championship.
Dirk, who like Pierce could’ve signed for a four-year max of $96.2 million, accepted $80 million to stay with Dallas. The Mavericks now expected to be able to re-sign Brendan Haywood, plus of course the always dealing Mark Cuban will continue to look for a trade for a top player. Meanwhile, Pierce, taken just one pick away from Nowitzki when they both joined the NBA, took even less to stay with the Celtics, just $61 million over 4 years, so that Boston can retain free agent Ray Allen’s services.
Due to the fact that they’ve been in the league longer than players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade & Chris Bosh, they could’ve signed for higher max starting salaries (the above trio start at $16.5). However, because of an over-age-36 clause, they also were unable to sign for more than 4-year contracts (versus the trio can sign for 6-years with their current teams or 5 with a new one). That’s why Pierce & Dirk’s maxes were four years at $96.2, while LeBron, et al., would only get I believe around $98 million over five years (or around $128 mill over six with current teams).
Regardless, these two players showed that they cared more about winning (and loyalty to their current teams), and they sacrificed money to prove it. Both would’ve made over $21 million next season had they not agreed to opt out and take lower salaries.