NBA salaries will explode in the next few years thanks to the gigantic TV deal the league signed last month, but these five players didn't have to wait and saw their contracts skyrocket this season already.
DEMARCUS COUSINS, SACRAMENTO
How does a player whose character has been constantly questioned react when he lands a big deal? In DeMarcus Cousins' case, supremely well. Cousins' rich contract extension kicked in this season and he's playing the best basketball of his young NBA career following a successful run with Team USA at the World Cup last summer. The Kings center will make $62 million in the next four years. If he continues to play at this level, he will be worth every penny.
ERIC BLEDSOE, PHOENIX
Bledsoe's reps played hard ball the last offseason asking for a max contract for a guard with career averages of 8.7 ppg and 3.4 apg and a history of injuries. After much posturing from both Phoenix and Bledsoe's camp, the strategy paid off and the so-called Mini LeBron signed a deal worth $70 million over five seasons. Just like that, Bledsoe went from being the sixth-best paid Sun to making nearly twice the money borderline All-Star Goran Dragic will be paid this year.
GORDON HAYWARD, UTAH
The Jazz passed on signing Hayward to a contract extension in 2013 and let him hit the market as an unrestricted free agent. It was a risky move for both Utah and Hayward that resulted in a great payday for the latter. The 6-foot-8 forward agreed to a four-year offer sheet for the maximum salary with the Hornets in early July and Utah, who's hardly a free agent magnet, decided to match. Hayward is now making more money than 11 of the players selected to the All-Star Game last season.
PAUL GEORGE, INDIANA
George became an All-Star his third season in the NBA, signed a max extension, returned an even better player his fourth year in the league and then this happened. Can PG live up to his contract when he comes back from the ugliest injury an NBA player has suffered since Shaun Livingston's knee exploded in 2007? For now, there's perhaps some comfort for him in the fact that his salary grew 381.4 percent this season.
CHANDLER PARSONS, DALLAS
A rare case of a second-round pick that gets the chance to play consistent minutes, delivers big-time and hits the market early – courtesy of a Houston team that passed on exercising his contract option. It gets weirder: Rockets go all out for Chris Bosh and leave the door open for Dallas to get in the mix and sign Parsons to a massive deal worth $46 million over three seasons. He goes from six to eight figures a year… But the pressure is on.