Jermaine O'Neal, in his own words, is "able to go" on Thursday night against the Spurs. Ready or not, though, O'Neal would have to morph into some combination of Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Shaquille O'Neal to really earn his paycheck.
Considering that O'Neal made, on average, $18 million per season over the past seven years, the $5.76 million he's getting paid from Boston this year seems like chump change. Yet, consider that he's only played in 17 games this year and that he's averaged just 18.1 minutes in those 17 games, and you could aruge that O'Neal is being overpaid now more than ever before.
As it stands now, if O'Neal suffered another setback and became unable to make his return (perhaps too many Cupcake Pebbles), he will have been paid $18,735.78 for every minute he's spent on the court. When your backup big man (originally the backup to the backup big man) makes more than the median U.S. salary in two minutes of work, you have a problem.
"This has been the toughest year of my career by far!" O'Neal tweeted on Feb. 5, presumably not after checking his bank account.
Here's a breakdown of how much O'Neal makes per game, minute, point, rebound and block (the only statistic in which he's ever led the league), as well as a look at another of his overpaid seasons that stacks up with this year's.
2010-11: $5.765 million salary
$18,735.78 per minute
$339,117.65 per game
$64,775.28 per point
$90,078.13 per rebound
$274,523.81 per block
2007-08: $19.728 million salary
$16,358.21 per minute
$469,714.29 per game
$34,549.91 per point
$69,710.25 per rebound
$226,758.62 per block
Even if he does come back healthy, and, we'll say, for argument's sake, that he plays his average of 18.1 minutes and maintains comparable stats over the final nine games of the year, here's what he'll make:
2010-11 (Projected): $5.765 million salary
$12,265.96 per minute
$221,730.77 per game
$43,389.71 per point
$58,826.53 per rebound
$180,156.25 per block
You can't blame a guy for signing on the dotted line of an absurd contract. In fact, you should probably applaud a guy who's figured out how to make so much money for doing so little. Still, you have to agree that it'd be next to impossible for O'Neal to earn that paycheck over the course of the next two weeks.